There are many places in the Qur’an and Sunnah that highlight the special characteristics of a believer. Many of these verses and narrations speak about the importance of praying, fasting, giving charity, and completing other acts of worship. We often hear sermons and attend classes that elaborate on the importance of these characteristics. We should, of course, be people who focus in our prayer, give regular charity, and fulfill these descriptions. However, today I wanted to focus on one narration that shows the subtle yet intricate connection between our body and our soul.
The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer. (Muslim)
The hadith continues to mention, “and there is good in everyone.” Thus, the weak believer also has goodness. However, the Prophet (ﷺ) particularly showed the position of the strong believer being better — more useful for the community and often more able to bring benefit to him/herself and others — and most importantly more beloved to Allah (ﷻ). In fact, when we see that a Prophet (the name is not mentioned in the Qur’an) sent to Bani Israel was asked by his people to appoint a leader, their Prophet informed them that Allah (ﷻ) chose someone named Talut (Saul). The people objected, stating:
How could he have kingship over us when we are more entitled to the kingship than Him? He has not been given affluence in wealth. (Qur’an 2:247)
The response they were given by their Prophet was,
Allah has chosen him over you and has increased his stature in knowledge and physique. (Qur’an 2:247)
Talut was chosen and further blessed for (and in) not only his knowledge but also because he was robust. People who are trying to become righteous often underestimate and devalue the role of being healthy. They assume piety only refers to spiritual strength. However, a complete believer cares about food consumption, exercise, as well as the tenants of faith and worship. And it is this combination and balance that will make a believer more beloved to Allah (ﷻ).