All material things have a span of useful life. Like an automobile, which has a normal useful life of a number of years and it decreases by the passage of time, its extent of usage and normal wear and tear. Similarly, Allah has made the human body to function properly for a period of time. That period fluctuates on the geographical basis, individual care and maintenance which includes nutrition, level of physical activities, genes etc. Modern science has confirmed that “Mind Controls the Body.” Hence a practicing Muslim, on the average, is likely to enjoy sound health and live longer. It also depends on social awakening like the availability of better medical care, preventive efforts to curtail infectious diseases and immunization etc.
Heredity: The significance and influences of heredity on aging is self explanatory. Heredity could be neutralized by environmental factors and bad habits. The effects of heredity can be linked to a famous proverb: “The age of a person can be gauged by the size of his arteries.” Another factor which may affect heredity is the accidental death.
Environment: This is the second most important factor in aging. The environment which offers moderate climate and clean air, is free of harmful microbes and poisons, and contains safe and peaceful living conditions has a bearing upon the well-being and longevity of its inhabitants.
Profession: The type of work, working conditions as well as the working hours, in addition to spiritual and psychological activities have an impact on aging. When a person enjoys sound physical health and mental tranquility, it significantly influences his aging. On the other hand a life full of stress and lack of physical respite and mental peace reduces his life span. The most important factor of modern life is the “stress management”.
Nutrition: The kind of food and the amount we consume impacts our life span. The majority of people who had reached a Century in their lives were dieters. There is a proverb: “A person digs his own grave with his teeth!” Over-eating results in the disorders of digestion, kidneys, heart ailments etc. It was observed during the First World War that deaths due to diabetes decreased drastically due to the shortage of food. It appears that poverty as a cause of reduced intake of food is a blessing in disguise. It is important to reduce the consumption of red meat after the age of 40. We should remember the “Golden Rule of Moderation”. Hence, poor eating may lead to a surge in illnesses and reduce life span.
Senility (old age) and its causes: Senility or old age is marked by the wear and tear of human organs like, heart, stomach, brain and other internal organs which can no longer perform the functions to their capacity, mainly because they are unable to renew their cells and increase the excretions they need to refurbish themselves. The main reason for senility is the disturbance of equilibrium which is apparent by the deficiency of functioning of body parts.
Human body is constantly assailed by different viruses, bacteria and microorganisms which produce toxic substances which destroy healthy cells thereby obstructing the continuation of life. At that time body has to perform dual function of providing nutrients to different organs and also fight these merciless microorganisms. Due to ignorance man brings about more trouble by eating junk food weakening the internal defenses. Some scientists suggest that the toxic excretions from the fermentation of intestinal microbes may cause senility. People living in mountainous regions of the world consume youghurt which contains lactic acid which in turn kills these microbes. Climate, simple but hard working way of life, and genetic composition also contributes to their longevity.
Spiritual Health: As mentioned earlier, human being’s main constituents are body and soul. The above paragraphs dealt with the causes of ailments resulting in shorter life span. Now let us discuss the spiritual side of man.
Muslims who practice Islam reap the enormous physical and spiritual benefits, resulting in lesser ailments and longer life span. If we ponder, we can appreciate the physical, social and spiritual benefits while practicing the “Furoo-e-Deen” or “Branches of Islam” i.e. Salaat, Saum, Hajj, Zakaat, Khums, Jehad, Amre bil Maroof, Nahi Anil Munkar, Tawwalah and Tabarrah.
Surah al-Nisa Ayah 79: “Whatever good you may receive is certainly from Allah and whatever you suffer is from yourselves.”
Surah al-Baqarah Ayah 168: “People, eat of the good and lawful things on earth. Do not follow the foot-steps of Shaitan, he is clearly your enemy.”
Surah al-Mai’dah Ayah 3: “It is unlawful for you to consume the following as food: improperly slaughtered animal, blood, pork……..”
Suarah al-Mai’dah Ayah 90: “Believers, wine, gambling… are abominable acts associated with Shaitan. Avoid them so that you may have everlasting happiness.”
Surah al-Nahl Ayah 66-67: “In cattle, there is certainly a lesson for you. We provide pure and delicious milk. The fruit of palm tree and (grape) vines which provide you with sugar and delicious food (resins)…”
Surah al-Nahl Ayah 69: “From out of their (Bees) bellies comes a drink (honey) of different color in which there is a cure for the human being.”
Surah al-Isra’ Ayah 82: “We reveal the Qur’an, which is a cure and mercy for the believers.”
Surah al-Shu’ara Ayah 80: “And (Allah) heals me when I am sick.”
Surah al-Fussi’lat Ayah 44: “It (Qur’an) is a guide and cure for the believers.”
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said:
Allah said that he who lives according to the teachings of Qur’an will have a long life.
Stomach is the home of disease, and abstinence is the head of every remedy.
Eat only when you feel hungry and stop while there is still desire to eat.
When you eat take your shoes off so as to give rest to your feet.
Brush your teeth after every meal and rinse out your mouth.
Less food less sin.
Let no one drink water while standing except the one who is suffering from sciatica.