Islam on Prevention of Heart Disease
By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri
Islam is a comprehensive system of life, which proved the best forms of balance between the mundane and the spiritual. Islam strongly believes in good human health, physical, spiritual, mental and psychological. Therefore, it has given the mankind with a life style that guarantees the prevention of diseases.
1. Prevention Through Islamic Life Style
Islamic life Style consists of seven major elements:
(i) Spiritual Activities
(ii) Moderate Eating.
(iii) Physical Labour.
(iv) Tension Control and Contentment.
(V) Elimination of Selfishness and Greediness.
(Vi) Abstention from Forbidden Acts. Foods and Drinks.
(Vii) Adoption of Certain Recommended Acts Habits and Eatable.
If Islamic life style is completely followed, one may find himself capable of overcoming the causes of various diseases and enables him to maintain the enthusiasm of life. Islam has placed maximum stress on removing the strains and providing the man a pleasant life. It is stated in Holy Quran:
The God-fearing men are those who spend in ease and in adversity; those who control their wrath and those who are forgiving towards mankind.(Ali Imran)
Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, " Anger comes from the devil, who was created from fire, which is extinguished by water. Should anyone of you get angry, let him make ablution"(Abu-Tawed)
Control of wrath and anger, helps the man in control of strains and tensions, that is an essential requirement in prevention of the heart problems. In the same way, spending money for the betterment of the poor and the needy and act of forgiving others, provides the man with a spiritual pleasure and happiness, which enhances the enjoyment of life.
Jealousy is the origin of various mental worries, Islam has strongly condemned and forbidden it.
Holy Prophet (PBUH) said,:"Abstain form jealousy, Indeed, Jealousy finishes all the good acts and their rewards as the fire does away with the firewood".
Similarly, greediness and selfishness also create a lot of mental strains and worries. These are in the same way prohibited; Contentment and satisfaction have been commended in their place.
Islamic attitude of thinking becomes the basis of a pleasant life, which certainly helps in prevention of heart diseases.
Moreover, moderation is required to be observed in every respect and not extremism and over indulgence.
Quran Says:"Allah desires ease for you and He does not desire hardship for you".(Al-Baqarah)
Holy Prophet (PBUH) said repeatedly;"Ruined are those who insist on hardship"
Islam commands that one should not overburden oneself, as stated in Holy Quran in the form of a prayer."Our Lord ! do not lay on us a burden that we are unable to bear"(Al-Baqarah)
Although the physical labour is strongly recommended by Islam, but under the principle of moderation and balance.
These are some of the instances of the Islamic life style, just to elaborate and substantiate the idea of a "tension -free and balanced life" that Islam has commended to adopt.
This tension-free and balanced life style provides the man with a very profound basis for prevention of : "Heart Diseases"
Prevention through Prayers
Islam has given a very special attention towards health of the heart, both spiritual and physical. Quran denotes the significance of a "healthy heart" through the words, a peaceful heart. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) explained the same question, stating:
"Indeed there is a muscle in the body; if it remains healthy, the whole body becomes healthy, and if it is diseased, the whole body becomes diseased. Be aware, it is the Heart".
Therefore, Islam has placed a remarkable stress on prevention of heart diseases through its teachings and practices.
Prayer is the most important and fundamental practice of Islam which possesses the highest spiritual and physico-medical significance having positively and effective role in care and treatment of many aliments particularly the heart diseases.
Giving identification of the hypocrites, Quran states:"When they stand up for prayer they perform it lazily". (Al-Nisa:4:142)
It means that hypocritical manner of prayer is based on lethargy and carelessness as they get neither any spiritual benefit from the prayer nor any physical good is done to their state of health.
The Quranic injunction is further stated by the Holy Prophet's (PBUH) tradition:"Verily the prayer has cure in it"(Sunan Ibn-i-Majah)
The constant praying habit resultantly lessens the hazards of heart diseases through the following methods:
(I) Regular prayer habit with real cordial interest and spiritual concentration removes or minimises the strains and provides mental relaxation and contentment which helps in prevention of heart diseases, Holy Quran says:
"Surely the heart strains and tensions are removed through remembrance of Allah"
(ii) There are two main categories of fat in the diet; Saturated fats and Poly-unsaturated fats. Saturated fats tend to raise blood cholesterol levels and poly-unsaturated fats tend to lower them. Raised blood cholesterol may lead to obstruction of the coronary arteries with coronary thrombosis and occurrences of heart attacks.
Normal cholesterol level ranges from 150 to 250 mgs, with the intake of food its level registers abrupt increase in our blood. One of the ways to tackle this threat is that cholesterol should be made to dissolve before it gets deposited in the arterial wall.
Islam has prescribed five mandatory prayers a day, three of them: Fajr (morning), Asr (afternoon) and Magrib (sunset) coincide with times when the human stomach is normally empty. So these prayers comprise less number of Rakaats, which involves less quantum of exercise. On the other hand, night prayers (Isha) is normally offered after having the dinner, that's why it consists of 17 Rakaats. 17 parts of exercise which facilitates the dissolution of excess cholesterol. This quantum of Rakaats has been fixed by the special addition of sunan and Nawafil (non-mandtory prayers).
In the month of Ramadhan, the whole day is spent in thirst and hunger. So naturally at the time of 'Iftal' (breaking of the fast) there is comparatively more intake of foods and drinks, therefore the night prayer (Isha) (consisting of 17 Rakaats) is further added with 20 Rakaats of Taravih prayer. There is a very significant tradition of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in this respect, reported by imam abu-Nuaum.
"Dissolve your dietary cholesterol through the process of remembrance of Allah and offering of Prayers." (Abu Buaym)
Immediately after the meals neither the sleep is recommended nor any hard exercise. Both can be harmful for the heart. Only a soft kind of exercise like the "prayer activitly" is said to be useful. Holy prophet (PBUH) said:
"Don't go to bed immediately after the meals; it will harden your heart. Avoid any hard or large quantum of exercise immediately after meals, it will also cause a damage".(Abu Nuaym)
That's why a very balanced and soft Physio-spiritual exercise had been prescribed in the form of "Prayer activity"
(iii) Fuction of two types of calf muscles called "gastric anemias"and "Soleus" is also worth consideration. These muscles function as "Muscular Pumps" for conveying back the venial blood to the heart. As the heart pumps out fresh oxygenated blood into the body, the blood that passes through arteries to the legs is returned to the heart through veins. When the calf muscles become weak and inert, the return flow of the venial blood is affected, whereas the strong calf muscles render a considerable help in backward flow of the deoxygenated venial blood to the heart.
The prayer that provides 5 times mandatory and another 4 to 5 times non-mandatory routine of light exercise is of appreciable assistance in accelerating the action of the muscular pumps in the calf region. Every time standing up from Sajdah (Prostration) or Qadah (Sitting for a new Rakaah) a sort of pressure is exerted on the claves. Owing to the process of contraction on the calf muscles, the flow of the obstructed venial blood is restored and it rushes back rapidly to the heart. This helps a good deal in decreasing the pressure on the heart and its pumping action is somewhat reinforced.
Prevention Through Recommendation of Certain Foods
An adequate daily diet needs following ingredients to be fulfilled with under-mentioned requirements:
a: Calories: 2900 calories for an average man. 2200 calories for an average woman.
B: Carbohydrates 400 grams.
C: Minerals: In the forms of Sodium Chloride, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Sulphur: Phosphorus, Iodine and Fluorine.
D: Protien: 45 grams (Minimum)
e: Vitamins: Vit- A, Vit-B1, B2, B6, B12, Vit-c, Vit-D, Vit-E
f: Fats: Only that amount, which can be burnt up as energy.
G: Water: Pure and bacteria- free. It contains about 66 % of the body's weight.
The basic thing for up keeping of the health is not the amount and quantity of the food; it is the kind and quality that may fulfil the requirements. If this principle is adopted for intake of the food, most of the heart diseases can easily be prevented. The miraculous aspect of Islamic teachings is that out of many permissible foods, Quran and Prophet's Sunnah have specially recommended a few. These recommended foods have a significant and remarkable effect in prevention of heart diseases.
Holy Quran recommends the Fig and the Olive in the Words:
"By the Fig and by the Olive"
(I) Fig essentially provides calcium, phosphorus and quite high content of Iron, but it is specially rich in fibre. It gives strength to the lungs and chest and is useful in the treatment of mental and heart diseases. Being rich in :fibre", it tends to lower the cholesterol level due to its poly-unsaturated fat value. Thus its use is considerably fruitful for a heart patient.
(ii) Olive being a Quranic fruit has also a very significant role in prevention and treatment of heart diseases. Those who want to cut down on cholesterol in their diet, Olive Oils is the best alternative contain:
0.7 grams of protein.
1.2 grams of saturated fat.
1.0 gram of poly-unsaturated fat.
35 grams of dietary fibre.
8.8 grams of total fat.
And cholesterol content is NIL.
Italy has lower incidence of heart diseases, apparently because the Italians use the valuable Olive Oil instead of butter and other animal fats. It is reported by Zayed bin Arqam that "Holy Prophet (PBUH) recommended the use of Olive Oil for the heart patients".
(iii) Garlic: Quran refers its names in Surah Al-Baqarah in the words: and its garlic it is one of the spices, which provides strength to heart brain, eyes, and other parts of the body and specially enhances the body's power of killing injurious germs. Recent medical research has revealed that Garlic is also useful in treating paralysis, asthma, tuberculosis and pain of the joints. Moreover, it possesses antibiotic and antiseptic properties, Due to its special function in control of hypertension; it is also useful for prevention of heart attack.
(iv) Onion: Quran has also referred its name in the same verse: "and its onion"
it is a major source of proteins, calcium. Potassium, sodium, sulphur and iron. 100 grams of raw onion contains:
1.3 gms of dietary fibre.
0.9 gms of protein.
& 5.2 gms of sugar.
It specially contanins b6 and F0. It is useful in killing worms and eliminating the bacteria causing tuberculosis and ulceration of the lungs. Its most important property is that is helps in dissolution of blood cholesterol and its constant use tends to prevent heart attacks.
(V) Grapes: Quran refers it as "a fruit of paradise" saying:
"There shall be gardens and grapes"(Surah- Al Baba)
Grapes as per recent medical research, in addition to be a source of carbohydrates, phosphorous, potassium and especially of vitamin A, are essentially useful for heart, liver and stomach. It is especially beneficial for mental and heart diseases and for intestinal ailments.
(Vi) White Meat:
There are three kinds of meat:
(a) Beef (Discouraged)
Although beef and mutton are declared to be lawful, but Shariah has preferred the white meat (Fish and Birds etc) which is very low in fat and thus posses no harm for the heart . Holy Prophet has said in respect of red meat:
"There is a curative quality in Cow's milk, a medicinal value in Cow's butter and disease in Cow's meat"
Cow's meat, being a red meat, is essentially very high in cholesterol but modern research had further verified the Prophet's saying that it contains a worm in it, called "Taenia Saginata which also causes various abdominal diseases.
(Table of Calories and Fat)
100 grams of beef contains:
1. Minced (ground) cooked: 29 15.2
2. Rump steak fried: 246 14.6
3. Grilled (broiled) 218 12.1
4. Sirloin Roast 284 21.1
It is also high in fat, as it can be known through the following table:
100 grams of lamb contains: Calories Fats (g)
1. Leg Roast 266 17.9
2.Loin chops (broiled) 355 29.00
3. Grilled (broiled) lean only 222 12.3
4. Roast, lean only 191 8.1Neck is the only part of the lamb that is low in fat and hence not rich in cholesterol, That's why Holy Prophet (PBUH) recommended the meat of lamb's neck to eat, as reported in "Zad-ul-Mad"
Diet Specialists have also recommended to eat only the neck, to get reduction in saturated fat from the meat.
(C) White Meat (Encouraged)
Fish and Birds meat, being comparatively low in fat and tending to cut down the Cholesterol levels, has been preferred by Quran and Sunnah. Quran has declared the bird's meat as one of the paradise meals, saying:
"And they will get the meat of the birds as per their desire"
Moreover the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave a special permission of meat of the fish, due to it's dietary and medicinal usefulness. White fish is very low in fat, whereas the Oily fish contains a lot of poly-unsaturated fat, which itself lowers the cholesterol levels.
Hence its use is remarkably helpful in prevention of heart diseases.
(Vii) More Fibre Consumption
Medical research established that " increase in fibre consumption" in various forms, plays a vital role in prevention and cure of heart diseases. For higher fibre intake, "Whole grains" are highly recommended.
Brown and whole grain-bred made from whole- meal flour is the best natural from of fibre consumption.
Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself always used and preferred the use of "Whole-grain" bread.
5. Prevention Through Prohibition of Pork and Alcohol
Holy Quran has strongly forbidden the use of Pork, saying:
"He has only forbidden you carrion , blood and the flesh of swine and the animal, which is slaughtered other than on the name of Allah.(Al-Baqarah)
Islam protects the larger and long-term interest of man. Islam approves the ultimate benefits and disapproves the ultimate harm. All the unclean items which are detrimental either to human body or soul, have been forbidden.
As per modern medical research, there are two worms in Pork called:
(i) Tania Sodium
ii) Trichinella Spiralis
The former caused Epilepsy and the latter Trichinosis.
Patients who suffer from acute trichinosis, may develop high body temperature, poisonous substances, resulting in paralysing of their heart and respiratory system, may affect their blood stream. It also causes inflammation of brain and other body tissues and may affect the muscles of tongue, neck, eyes and throat etc. But major harm of the Pork is that all forms of its meat are most fattening, containing the largest amount of calories and fat. None of the other meats (beef , lamb, chicken and fish) contains such an enormous amount of fats and calories. Moreover, Pork had very high level of Cholesterol:
a) 100 grams of beef contains a maximum of 284 cal: whereas the maximum number of calories in bacon is 496
b) Certain varieties of bacon contain 44.8 gms of fat per 100 grms. Whereas the maximum amount of fat in beef is 21.1 gms.
Now Islamic wisdom of the prohibition of Pork and Bacon is becoming popular in America and Europe, because the health- conscious people are reducing the intake of Pork drastically. Greater preference is being given to those forms of meat, which are permitted by Islam, particularly fish and chicken.
Quran declares alcohol (even every king of wine, liquor and intoxication) absolutely forbidden, saying:
"O believers, indeed wine, gambling, idols and divining arrows are and abomination. These are the Satanic acts, so avoid it completely, so that you may prosper"(Al- Maidah)
Holy Prophet (PBUH) has put a final end to all possible discussions and controversies on this subject through his two wise sayings:
i) "Every Intoxicant is know to be alcohol and every Intoxicant is forbidden".
ii) If a large quantity of anything causes intoxication, then its small quantity is also forbidden".
The basic medical problem of alcohol is that it provides the human body with calories, but fails simultaneously to supply either the essential vitamins or the necessary amino acids.
Hence, metabolism of the body is badly affected, which results in large number of physical diseases and mental disorders.
Alcoholism is highly harmful and damaging to Liver, Stomach, Intestines, Spleen, Oesophagus, Brain and Heart. In addition to numerous diseases, it specially causes "Cardiomoth" and Isthmian Cerebral Infraction.
Moreover, the regular intake of alcohol creates blood pressure problems and effects the cardiovascular system. Heart attack risk gains higher level due to alcoholism, because alcohol increases the amount of HDL Cholesterol, without undermining the overall cholesterol level in the blood.
As a result, HDL-LDL ratio slightly shifts, which improves the total risk.
That's why a tendency of reducing alcohol consumption is also developing in United States amongst the health-conscious people and most of Heart Association are also considerably stressing the same.
It is definitely a scientific and moral victory of Islamic injunctions being established through the West day by day.