With each passing day, our exciting modern world continues to develop further and further with increasing technological advances and new scientific discoveries. Many new machineries are being introduced to seemingly make our lives easier, and the progress of modern medicine making our life expectancies increasingly longer. But is this modern world and our technological, synthetic advancements really having a positive effect on our overall health and wellbeing?
“We pay the doctor to make us better when really we should be paying the farmer to keep us healthy” – Robyn O’Brien
There are many who would argue that a lot of our modern day developments are actually detrimental to our health. The increase in technological inventions correlates with the increase in our general laziness, putting less and less of our own physical and mental capabilities to use, as we now have machines to conveniently do it for us. And although we have made many incredible medical advancements, we could argue that so many treatments and medicines available today are actually designed to tackle only the symptoms, not the cause, of our various common ailments, therefore totally undermining and even hindering the incredible healing qualities our miraculous anatomic machines are already capable of.
The effects of our over-enthusiastic development are devastatingly obvious in the rapidly deteriorating state of our planet. The air we breathe and the water we drink – neither of which we could possibly live without – are both becoming increasingly toxic due to our own carelessness. This affects not only us, but every living creature and the entire ecosystem our very existence totally depends on. With nature so out of balance, our wellbeing will surely be on an unstoppable decline, which is why it is so important that a healthy, conscious lifestyle needs to be based upon tayyib.
So What Is ‘Tayyib’?
Tayyib is an Arabic word that translates into English as wholesome, pure, natural, and good. It is a word used many times in the Qur’an, often partnering with the more familiar word, ‘halal‘.
“Oh, you people, eat from the earth what is halal and tayyib” (Qur’an 2: 168)
The term ‘halal‘ is much more commonly known, and understood to mean ‘lawful’. But rather than simply being a label with which to set out a series of meaningless rules (as is a common mis-accusation towards religion), Allah’s law – demonstrated by what is and isn’t halal – is a series of guidelines with the effect of none other than directing us to what is the absolute best for our health – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
This is why it’s such a shame that ‘tayyib‘ has become such an unfamiliar phrase in our modern day culture – partnered with the term ‘halal‘ in our Qur’an, but severed from its practice in our daily lifestyle choices. To meet with the ease and convenience we increasingly demand as consumers, the majority of food in our supermarkets and cramming our kitchen cupboards might be deemed ‘halal’ due to the absence of forbidden ingredients (i.e. alcohol, pork…), but can we honestly consider it tayyib? With the presence of so many synthetic preservatives and flavourings, some of our so-called edible produce would be barely recognisable as food to our great great grandparents. Many of our consumption habits and choices are increasingly removed from tayyib; and it’s not just our food that’s effected. Tayyib can also refer to the purity of the funds with which the goods are purchased; it can refer to the goodness of the treatment received by the farmers, manufacturers, or tradesmen; it can refer to the wholesomeness of the product’s contents, whether that be the ingredients, components, or the way in which it was made. Tayyib isn’t just in reference to an object, but also a behaviour or choice.
“The ones whom the angels take in death, [being] tayyibeen, good and pure; [the angels] will say, ‘Peace be upon you. Enter Paradise for what you used to do.'” (Qur’an 16: 32)
Science is exciting; the development of modern technology is fascinating; and the advancement of medicine and other biological industries have been incredible, and in so many millions of cases, life-saving. Regardless of how advanced science, technology, or medicine becomes, however, we will never, ever, come even close to producing something as intricately complex, fascinating, and perplexingly perfect as our very own human bodies. Within ourselves, we have the capacity to grow, strengthen and heal all by ourselves, through the fuel of good, quality nourishment, by the will of Allah. Every nutrient we require is already provided by the earth; our purpose is not to synthetically prolong life, it is to protect and maintain the life that is already here.
Our health and wellbeing is something that we have enormous control over and is something we are hugely capable of managing, simply through our choices and priorities. Of course there are genetical problems, there are accidents, and there are simply unexplained bad luck, but it’s time we stop treating our health as though it’s something guaranteed until some misfortune hits us, and actually wake up and start taking accountability for our wellbeing. We lazily expect to treat every ill and ailment by swallowing a tablet or two, ignoring the synthetic and unfamiliar chemical ingredients that may then cause havoc elsewhere, whether that’s in our organs or our oceans. We have the capability of really pushing ourselves to optimum health, even while looking after the health of the environment too.
To live mindfully of tayyib is to give full respect to ourselves, our bodies, our environment, our world. To be upon tayyib, is to be whole.