The Obesity Within Us

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What is the meaning of Obesity? The meaning provided in dictionaries for this term is “a condition characterized by the excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body.”[1]

Now let’s understand the meaning of this word outside of the physical sense. The word “obese” indicates the accumulation or surplus in something. This surplus or imbalance results in detrimental effects. Therefore, a while an obese person (in the physical sense) is limited in performing activities to the same extent and ease as a non-obese person, this means that they are limited in their inability to reach the maximum potential of an action.

Actually, obesity is a term that can be applied to other aspects in our life, and not limited to the physical realm. In essence, if accumulation, over-indulgence, or imbalance is reached in any aspect of our lives including social, behavior, mental, or spiritual aspect, then we have reached obesity in that realm. With this definition, many or most of us have some level of obesity within ourselves, although we often associate this word to only a certain group of people who meets the medical definition of that word.


For everything, there is a cause and effect which defines the relationship between two things when one thing results in the happening of something else. For example, if we eat too much and do not exercise (becoming obese in the physical sense), then we gain weight and cannot run as fast as an athlete. That’s why an obese person (in the physical sense) is strongly recommended by health experts to observe dietary restrictions for their overall health and welfare.

But what about the cause of obesity in other aspects of our life?

When the heart accumulates with self-love, conceit, egotism and other spiritual diseases, the heart becomes obese with time.

When the eyes are subject to constantly seeing what is wrong and inappropriate, the eyes become obese with time.

When the ears are used to listening to music, gibberish, silly or nonsense talk, the ears become obese with time.

And when our tongues exceed the limits of decent, balanced, and wise words uttered, and instead gear towards gossiping, lying, exaggerating, backbiting, or simply vain talk and the like of these negative habits and practices, it leads the mouth to becomes obese with time.


When such ill behaviors and attitudes accumulate over time, it leads to constipation of thoughts where good thoughts and ideas are blocked from entering the brain. Instead, the thoughts that enter become a result of excessive and obese behaviors and actions that are rooted in our negligence of our spiritual, ethical, and moral state. There is a direct correlation between our thoughts and actions. Good thoughts naturally have the potential of leading to good actions, and likewise, negative thoughts could lead to negative actions. A behaviorally ‘obese’ person is one whose thoughts and ideas focus consistently and abundantly on only the things which his worldly desires direct him to. Therefore, ill thoughts lead to a cycle of more ill behaviors to be elicited and the person ends up living a lifestyle where Imam (AS) advises us, “Beware of allowing vain desire to gain control over you for indeed its beginning is temptation and its end is tribulation.”[2]


The Holy Prophet (SA) has said, “There is no disease that Allah (SWT) created except that He also created its treatment.”[3] When a person over consumes their body with junk and unhealthy food instead of nourishing the body with healthy food with a reasonable balance from the four food groups, then the result is detrimental to the overall health of the person. To reverse that, one must substitute the intake of unhealthy food with a dietary plan that is fit and good for your body. This process takes time until the body can give and show results and transform from one appearance to another, both internal and external health. However, the longer this practice of dietary control and exercise is delayed, the more difficult it is to accomplish and longer it takes to yield results.

To eliminate our behavioral and spiritual obesity, we must develop a calculated plan that would transform ourselves into servants of God who are balanced in our ways and actions. Our plan should be put into practice sooner than later because the more we leave our souls to decay in the abyss of vanity and egotism, the more it becomes obese, thus, increasing in its excessiveness further that may be irreversible. Ameerul Momineen (AS) describes desire to be originating from four factors: Corruption, transgression, desire, and tyranny. He states, “Whoever transgresses, his temptations and faults multiply, and whoever transgresses, does not believe in his evils, and does not deliver his heart. Whoever does not isolate himself from lusts delves into evil deeds, and whoever transgress becomes misguided with no certainty and no justification for him.”[4] In that respect, Allah (SWT) states in the Quran, “Indeed the Nafs overwhelmingly commands a person to commit sin.” [12:53]. Nafs al-Ammara is such a dominating state of soul that a human being becomes powerless in front of its desires and acts remorselessly and blatantly to fulfil the commands of it master.

To control our inciting self, Islam suggests worship that creates positive vibes all around and provides serenity of mind and soul. If a man prays five times and goes to a mosque where he meets people and talks to them in love and respect, it will bring solace and peace in his mind and fitness in his body. The holy Quran describes it in the following verse: “Verily, Salah prevents man from indecency and that which is disreputable.” [29:45] The aim of prayer is remembrance of God which brings peace to the hearts of the believers, and it is this state of peace which results in a balanced actions, behaviors and mental state, as mentioned in this verse, “…the ones who believe and their hearts are peaceful with the remembrance of Allah. Listen, the hearts find peace only in the remembrance of Allah.” [13:28]

True obesity is not the obesity of gain in weight or heavier appearance. The obesity of greater concern is the mismanagement of behaviors, actions, reactions, and attitudes which accumulate in an undesired direction.


[2] Mizan al-Hikmah, Vol. 4, p. 3468.

[3] Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 59, p. 76.

[4] Kitab al-Khesal, Vol. 1, p. 234.

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Jerrmein Abu Shahba

Jerrmein Abu Shahba, originally from Egypt and guided by the grace of Allah (swt) to the truth path of AhlulBayt (as), obtained masters in Chemistry and is a Clinical Research Scientist by profession. She contributes as a writer for different Islamic magazines including AIM, Muslims4peace, The Muslim Vibe, and Stand with Dignity. Jerrmein volunteers as an editor for the website and translates Islamic literature to propagate the teachings of AhlulBayt (as) and serve in any capacity possible.

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