The Negative Effects of Disbelief Upon the Human Body
As well as its many undesirable effects on society, disbelief is pernicious to the physical and spiritual well-being of individuals. In this section, we will deal with this spiritual and physical harm.
As mentioned earlier, those who are not bound by the morals of Islam live in constant sorrow, trouble and stress. Thus, they suffer from many psychological diseases. Their bodies go through a rapid process of aging. Their spiritual suffering can also attack their bodies.
These effects turn destructive for even the most healthy, young and attractive person. Physical changes-dull hair and eye-color, hair loss or baldness- may appear in a young person, though a believer of the same age suffers none of these. For psychological reasons, the skin thickens, becomes hard and loses its flexibility in a short time. Soon the skin begins to look unhealthy. There is no doubt that not adhering to the recommendations of the Qur'an about cleanliness have a great impact on this. These are the traits commonly seen in societies where people do not live by the morals of Islam and do not adopt the Qur'an as a guide to the true path. They are so widespread that they are considered natural phenomena. They start to bear the consequences of their preference for disbelief in this world, with even worse to come in the hereafter.
In societies far removed from religion, people develop such a cruel morality that they have no compunction over committing all forms of ruthlessness and injustice for the sake of their own trivial personal interests. This morality has its origins in Darwin's theory of evolution, and foresees a constant conflict of interest among people. Bribery, violence, theft and corruption inevitably escalate. Some emerge victorious in this struggle and turn into unscrupulous, uncaring robots. Some, on the other hand, feel too weak psychologically to cope with the struggle, and thus immerse themselves in their own problems.
Believers, however, remain robust, since they stay psychologically healthy and are not dragged down by feelings of sorrow, stress or hopelessness. Putting their trust in Allah, seeing goodness in every incident and the promises and glad tidings of Allah, all have a positive impact on their physical health. This situation applies to people who have a thorough appreciation of Allah and who are conscientious in the real sense.
Of course, believers also become sick and grow old, yet these states do not have psychological causes as they do in the case of unbelievers: disease, death and growing old are inevitable for all mankind. Yet the rapid, intense and destructive nature of these processes bears a direct relation to the negative psychology and attitude a person assumes as a result of the disbelieving way of living he adheres to. A person spending his entire life in a peaceful state of mind, placing his trust in Allah and seeing goodness in every incident will naturally be happy and peaceful and thus prevent the detriment that troubles could otherwise bring to his health.
A society where people do not adhere to religious values is doomed to remain bereft of the peace and comfort religion provides and will encounter the consequent psychological and the physical damage. Society abounds in such examples.
However, it also needs to be made clear here that one does not have faith in order to avoid physical harm or not experience psychological troubles. The manifest proofs of the existence of Allah are the main reason why rational people of good conscience come to believe. The believer is sincerely devoted to Allah and lives by the moral values He commands because he fears and loves Him and takes none other as his guardian or friend. The material and spiritual blessings that come with faith are Allah’s blessings on the faithful in return for their sincerity. It is essential to keep this in mind while reading this section of the book.
In our day, two diseases are associated with the term "the complaints of our age:" stress and depression. These two are not only "catch-all" complaints, but are also linked to physical disorders.
The most known disorders linked to stress and depression are of the mental variety: drug addiction and sleeplessness. Then there are dermatological and abdominal diseases, as well as disorders related to blood pressure, the kidney and respiratory system, allergies, flu, migraine, heart attacks and enlargement of the brain. Of course, it would be wrong to link the causes of these diseases to stress and depression alone. However, a whole body of scientific research proves that they frequently have their roots in psychological problems.
A life in which religious principles predominate always involves putting one's trust in Allah and having faith in destiny. Knowing that Allah is the friend of His righteous servants, the individual is secure in an attitude which is most likely to please Him and gain His approval. Ultimately, doing the best one can whatever the circumstances brings the kind of relief one can enjoy from having acted conscientiously. Encountering even the worst of all circumstances, the believer acknowledges this to be a trial devised by Allah and responds and assesses the situation as instructed by the Qur'an. Never does he fall into despair or feel frustrated or distressed. The attainment of the hereafter being the ultimate goal in his mind, what really matters is to conduct himself in such a way as will earn him the eternal rewards of the hereafter. Due to his strong faith in Allah, seemingly negative incidents do not distress him nor drive him into a desperate mood. Consequently, his calm and positive state of mind builds a strong constitution.
There is basically an unbridgeable gap between living by the principles of religion and adhering to a non-religious way of living. It is the main ambition of an unbeliever to "make the most of living," to maintain his strength and health to enjoy life. In this sense, he is strongly attached to his body which makes this ambition possible. This is the most profitable thing to do, he believes. He is manifestly wrong, however. Not being bound by the values of the Qur'an draws him towards ruin rather than leading a charmed life. Prior to the great grief he will face in the hereafter, he goes into a state of torment in this life. In this way, the body, nurtured to taste every "joy" in life, is unexpectedly subjected to irremediable damage.
Both the human mind and body are created by Allah to be joined together by a religious way of living. They are tuned to a system in which religious values prevail and are accordingly equipped with appropriate attributes. Where the body is used for purposes other than for what it is intended, it is doomed to corruption and ruin. Indeed, the human mind and body are meshed together. Being created by Allah, it is essential that they should be used in compliance with the purpose behind their creation.
In the previous chapters, we emphasized how the human soul is vulnerable to great torment in this world whenever one ignores the principles laid down by Allah. Those who do so also suffer from severe physical harm. The close relationship between spirit and body manifests itself in an abundance of examples in society. Joyful and peaceful people, who evaluate every incident positively and can see goodness in whatever befalls them, and who do not display pessimism or express outrage, remain robust till quite late in life, the aging process taking longer in their bodies. That is why health magazines and newspaper columns emphasize that their readers should stay positive about life as a prescription for a happy life. What they commonly recommend is to remain calm and optimistic, whatever the circumstances may be. However, if one pays due attention, these are all the traits one can in actuality possess, merely by living by the principles of religion. Without complete adherence to the morality of the Qur'an, people are unlikely to have complete mastery over their moods.
Stress Is Inevitable When the Values of Religion Are Disregarded
Stress, an alarmingly widespread ailment, also named the "universal torment," is traceable to psychological origins. It is a general state of tension in mind and body caused by fear, insecurity, hopelessness, anxiety and feelings like fear of losing one's job, concerns over health or losing family members.
The body responds to stress by initiating a series of biochemical reactions. The adrenaline level in the blood increases, accompanied by a peak level of energy consumption and accelerated bodily reactions. Meanwhile, sugar, cholesterol and fatty acids are released into the blood stream, blood pressure increases and the heart begins to pound.
Chronic stress does great damage to the body, mainly to the bodily functions. Due to stress, the levels of cortisone and adrenaline also increase dramatically. Glucose heading to the brain leads to a higher level of cholesterol, meaning danger for the body. Chronic stress leads to heart diseases, hypertension, ulcers, depression, diseases related to the respiratory system, eczema, psoriasis and many other health problems.
Many scientific references say that there is a significant correlation between stress and the tension and pain stress causes. According to scientific studies, the tension caused by stress leads to contraction in the veins, which in return impedes the blood flow to particular sections of the brain. This process ends up in a considerable reduction in the amount of blood reaching these particular sections. Meanwhile, deprivation of blood for an extended period of time inflicts pain on the tissues. Under stress, the tensed tissues needs more oxygen, but, inadequately supplied with blood, it alerts the specific pain receptors. Meanwhile, under tension, adrenaline and noradrenalin, the hormones affecting the nervous system, are secreted which, directly or indirectly, increase the tension of the muscles. This tension causes pain. Then begins a vicious cycle of pain leading to tension, tension leading to anxiety and anxiety to severe pain.
One of the most serious bodily malfunctions that stress causes is surely the heart attack. A large body of research shows that people who are inclined to aggression, anxiety and competition are more likely to have heart attacks than those who tend to control irritations in their lives. According to the scientific references on the subject, excessive stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system initiated by the hypothalamus simultaneously causes excessive secretion of insulin and consequently an excess of insulin in the blood. This is a serious threat to health, since none of the conditions leading to coronary vein disease is more detrimental than an excess of insulin in the blood.
This is an unusual situation for the human body and its persistence over an extended period of time is detrimental to health and the natural balance of the body. The negative effects of stress on the human body are basically the following:
Failure to put one's trust in Allah, feelings of insecurity and fear for the future constantly do people physical and spiritual harm. Stress and depression are the inevitable consequences of that kind of distress-filled life.
Concern and panic: feeling anxiety about losing control over the irritations in one's life;
Sweating: excessive sweating and the frequent need to use the bathroom;
Change in voice: stammering, a trembling voice;
Hyperactive state: sudden explosions of energy, poor diabetic control;
Dermatological diseases: acne, fever, eczema and psoriasis;
Gastrointestinal symptoms: indigestion, ulcers, nausea;
Muscle tensions: clamping or chattering teeth, pain in the jaw, back, neck and shoulders;
Mild infections: flu, etc.
Rapid heartbeat, chest pain, high blood pressure;
Kidney disorders, water retention in the body;
Disorders related to the respiratory system, being short of breath;
Weakening of the immune system;
Diminishing in the brain size;
Sense of guilt, insecurity;
Confusion, poor judgment, failure to conceptualize, weak memory;
Extreme pessimism, a strong conviction that things will invariably go wrong;
Difficulty in standing still;
Failure in concentrating, or having difficulty in concentrating;
Anorexia or extreme hunger.
People who are unaware of the benefits granted by the morals of Islam or those who are far removed from them, are doomed to endure this torment which we call "stress." As long as they remain rigid in their thoughts and outlook on life and incidents, they have no opportunity to save themselves from this torment. This fact is also evident from what experts recommend on how to cope with stress. An example will make this point clear. For instance, one of the commandments of Allah's religion is to "overcome rage." Experts make the following comment on rage, which is considered to be one of the most important factors causing stress: "Do not lose your temper, no matter how provocative the conditions may be. Do not resort to violence (except in cases where you need to defend yourself) even if you feel you have reasons to do so."
As we have seen, whenever the individual succeeds in remaining peaceful, calm, secure and unconcerned, he has more opportunities of avoiding many diseases. This is a scientific fact. It is evident that a peaceful and comfortable state of mind is only attainable through religion.
Immune System Disorders Result from Stress
There is a close correlation between stress and the immune system. Physiological stress has an enormous negative impact on the immune system. It ruins it. Under stress, the brain increases the production of the cholesterol hormone in the body and weakens the immune system. In other words, the brain, the immune system and hormones are correlated.
Studies on psychological and physical stress reveal that after intense stress of long duration, the resistance of the immune system weakens in relation to the hormonal balance of the body. It is today well established that many diseases, including cancer, appear and intensify in correlation with stress.
That is why a peaceful brain and a tranquil mood restore the corporal system in general. This turns out to be a hindrance to the emergence of factors contributing to diseases. Essentially, having faith in Allah builds such an outlook as it enables the individual to attain a strong mental state and constitution. Taking a positive attitude towards every incident is considered as worship, provided that it is done to earn Allah's approval. Having a spirit full of hope and putting one's trust in Allah are the attitudes He teaches to believers in the Qur’an. An outlook compatible with the Qur’an is instrumental in believers attaining the hereafter, as well as providing them with a happy, joyful, blissful life in this world. This is, however, only a minor part of the boundless favor-the part one can enjoy in this world-Allah promises to those who turn to Him and who are willing to be guided by Him. Of course, this does not mean that believers never become sick or encounter any difficulties. It is simply that, compared to other people, believers are less likely to develop diseases, since they never experience stress or foul moods.
One important point deserves mention here: people certainly do not live by religion in order not to suffer from diseases. Yet, in the general course of events, putting trust in Allah, and complying with the rules He has laid down, leads to mental and physical well-being. In other words, the fact that believers are healthy people is consequent upon their strong faith and firm spiritual foundation.
Anger and violence, caused by anger, are one of the most significant characteristics of irreligious societies. Being arrogant and greedy, these people attempt to harm one another even over minor conflicts of interest. Everyone becomes like a bomb ready to explode. In a society where people adhere to the moral values of the Qur'an, however, none of these miseries exist. Allah describes believers who live by these values as follows:
"… those who give in times of both ease and hardship, those who control their rage and pardon other people-Allah loves the good-doers." (Surah Al 'Imran: 134)
People who distance themselves from religion never consider the negative effects of stress on their bodies. They simply accept it as a natural consequence of daily life. The fact is, however, that anger, jealousy and stress do psychological and physical harm.
In plain words, the man of the 21st century needs to accomplish one thing: to turn to his natural character, the one Allah created for him, and to commit himself to the principles of religion. Otherwise, both in this world and the hereafter, he will be the one to lose. Apart from the mental and psychological adversities he faces, one who also remains in poor health in this world will encounter even more torment in the next one. Believers, on the other hand, due to their loyalty to Allah and their attachment to their religion, will always have bliss and a life of abundance.
Say: "Allah rescues you from it, and from every plight."
(Surat al-An'am: 64)