Through My Lens: Observations from a Midwestern Muslimah
By Nadirah Angail
Have you ever borrowed a friendâ€™s really nice car? Itâ€™s a weird feeling: Paying extra attention to the speed limit so as not to get in any fender benders, keeping the radio at a moderate level so you can fully concentrate on the task at hand, resisting the urge to fool around with all the cool looking buttons that your car may not have, and definitely not eating in the car for fear that you may return it with the undeniable smell of french fries in the air. These are all things we do out of respect for the fact that we are not in our own car. We know that it has been entrusted to us by someone else. The same goes for borrowed clothes. It might not be that big of a deal if I spill something on my own clothes, but to spill something on a borrowed piece would be horrible. I can imagine myself rushing to the bathroom and praying that the speedy application of soap and water, followed by a stint under the hand dryer, would do the trick. In general, we take much better care of other peopleâ€™s things than we do our own. This is a good thing, to be so respectful. But, why donâ€™t we do this with the most valuable borrowed things we have: our bodies.
As far as this mortal life is concerned, our bodies are our own, subject to our commands and owned by no human being but us. On a grander scale, our bodies are like rental cars, given to us by the Creator for a period of time, ours to temporarily use to complete various important tasks. It is these beautiful loaners that we use to navigate our way through this physical world. But just like a rental car, we will have to return them and answer for their conditions. So whereâ€™s that respect that we show to other peopleâ€™s cars and clothes? So many of us smoke, drink, eat horrible foods, lead dangerous lifestyles and just blatantly disrespect our bodies. Why donâ€™t we feel bad about this? Because, despite the reality, we often forget (or may not even acknowledge) that we are creation, and so must answer to our Creator.
With the many accomplishments of the powerful human brain, itâ€™s easy to become arrogant and think that we are the ultimate creators. Humans can build breathtaking architecture, solve perplexing problems and equations, create beautiful works of art, and invent life-enhancing gadgets. Of course weâ€™re the best thing since sliced bread, or so we think. But what about all the things we canâ€™t do? When the land is dry, we cannot make it rain. Only the Almighty. When the threat of natural disasters appears, we cannot stop it, delay it, or decrease its power in anyway. Only the Almighty. When we go to sleep, and still continue to take in one lifesaving breath after another, we cannot control it. Only the Almighty. Even with our many inventions/discoveries/accomplishments, we cannot take one step or even think one thought without the permission of the Most High.
So, back to this body issue. Are we not intelligent enough to know that the things we are doing to our bodies are detrimental? No, because thereâ€™s more than enough readily available information about the toxicity of the things we put in our bodies. Are we not insightful enough to know that the many physical problems we experience are the result of our own doing? No, again. Many of us know that our lifestyles bring about bad results. Yet and still, we donâ€™t care. There is an insidious sense of apathy that lives among us. For the most part, weâ€™re just lazy. We want to relax, eat good, party hard, and constantly indulge our every whim.
Sure, weâ€™ll respect a borrowed car or dress, because it doesnâ€™t take much effort to do so. We know that, sooner or later, weâ€™ll be back to our own belongings and able to do with them what we please. Our bodies, however, take much more effort. In order to care of them like we should, we have to exercise, eat healthy foods, and avoid unhealthy substances. And who wants to do that in this land of total indulgence? Itâ€™s great to have fun and relax, but at what point will we realize that weâ€™re killing ourselves and disrespecting the Creator in the process? Just something to think about.
The above essay is an excerpt from Nadirah Angailâ€™s book â€œOn All the Things That Make Me Beautiful: Short Inspirational Essays on Life, Love & Self.â€ Available on nadirahangail.com and amazon.com.