There’s an old saying, “you are what you eat.” Our physical bodies are fueled with what we choose to feed it — so, when we put on extra weight or are a little cranky, maybe we should take a closer look at our food choices (or lack thereof). Exercise is also an added plus; even though the only form of exercise I get is chewing.
I mean we are constantly bombarded with advertisements on ways to lower our cholesterol, LDL vs. HDL, how to keep our heart healthy, and diet and low-fat food commercials with screaming, out-of-control, calorically challenged women chasing trucks filled with food. (Not me.) Then, these advertisements are always followed with images of bubbling cheese pizza or delicious sweet silky chocolate — I mean, talk about mixed messages!
We are living in a fast-paced society, with fast food and fast lanes. We have become the “I want it now and it better be good” generation. What we eat has become who we are. It is one of our desires that has come to define our personalities. We believe we are living life to its fullest when the reality is we have become addicts to our senses and emotions.
What is it that gives us the power to change who we are and where we are going? Simply, the soul. Ah, the invisible, intangible, negated, suppressed and for so long oppressed soul. God has given humanity a high status when He said in the Quran 2:34: “And [remember] when We said to the angels: ‘Prostrate yourselves before Adam.’ And they prostrated except Iblis [the devil], he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers [disobedient to Allah].”
We have been given honor and free will unlike any other creation in order to make choices and to think critically. Our senses were given to us to decode the world of information around us, to help us realize who God is and why we are here; not to suppress them with our addiction to our desires.
In the Quran 41:53, God says: “We will show them Our signs in the universes, and within themselves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?”
Everything has been created with specific order and balance: planets and solar systems move to certain laws, our body has submitted to the laws of God with its circulation, the pumping of the heart, the connection of neurons, etc.; then, there is the water cycle, life and death, and the list can go on. If one were to break these natural laws, then only harm and imbalance would arise.
Yet, when we look at humans who are given free will, we seem to rush ourselves into anarchy by creating and living by our own whims and negating our soul.
Islam creates balance and treats the individual and the society as dynamic — giving us direction for the nourishment of both body and soul. Submitting your will to the one God becomes your personality. Now, you become the master of your desires by not allowing them to take you wherever they please. Your senses become sharp and focused and you realize now clearly why you are here and where you are going. And that is food for thought.
“We” is used in Arabic to illustrate the Greatness of the One God and does not denote plurality.
Jenan Jondy, who has a degree in biology, resides in Hampden with her husband and is the mother of four children. Columns on Islam are published in cooperation with the Islamic Center of Maine in Orono. Voices is a weekly commentary by Maine people who explore issues affecting spirituality and religious life.