By: Swaleh Arif

In the name of Allah, The most beneficent, The most Merciful.

One of my great uncles once remarked to an overweight woman that God didn’t like fat people. Needless to say she was reduced to tears. Then she lamented, “But how can that be? He’s the one that made me this way!”. He defended his comment by pointing out that overweight people were generally lazy in worship.1

As cruel as this statement may be, it does hold some truth in it. Imam Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him) once quoted, “A full stomach fattens the body, hardens the heart, dulls the intellect, and renders man lazy in worship.”2

However, can someone still be obese and appear physically normal at the same time? As much as this world is physical, it is metaphysical as well. It’s unfortunate how most people have solely focused on the material and ignored the immaterial, thereby creating an imbalance that has caused a negative impact on a global scale.

To answer my question, yes it’s possible. This is achieved through what I’d like to call ‘mental obesity’. It’s similar to physical obesity in the sense that it involves the consumption of filth and junk.Once you notice the similarity, it’s easy to draw parallels between the physical and metaphysical aspects of obesity.

As much as I’d like to explore and elaborate these aspects, I’m inclined at the moment to simply explain how people unwittingly (or deliberately) subject themselves to this illness. As I mentioned above, it pertains to the consumption of filthy and unhealthy material. However, I’ll ignore the physical aspect because it’s quite obvious what it’s causes are i.e. junk food, lack of exercise and so forth.

When it comes to mental obesity, it’s a bit tricky to employ a measurement of scale, unlike physical obesity that can be measured by the use of Body Mass Index (BMI), among others. This is because the full negative impact it creates on the mind and soul is often hidden from the naked eye and it’ll take time and keen analysis to actually make an approximate estimation. Nonetheless, identifying the causes of this metaphysical disease is relatively easy.

When we consider the causes, two things come in play: what we see and what we hear. These two senses form the most immediate routes through which information reaches the brain. Never has there been a time when access to information has been made easy, other than this one. And never has there been a time when access to harmful information has been made easy, other than this one. Majority of the world’s population has been exposed to harmful information in the form of films and music that leave little to the imagination, books and magazines that are explicit, video games that perpetrate violence, world leaders that perpetuate hatred and bigotry, the list is endless.

The effect of the aforementioned causes is this: it puts us to sleep, it robs us the ability to think, to focus on the most important things that will make our lives better if we pay attention to them. Mental obesity is a tool designed with the intention of controlling the masses. As I’m writing this, an attack has occurred in the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul just a few days ago where many lives have been lost and many more have been injured.

Yet most, if not all, of us will simply post a facebook status talking about how our thoughts and prayers are with them, and then nada. Our job is done. Congratulations! We’ve succeeded in making this world a better place yay!

But we actually can make this world a better place. We can turn it into the eutopia that we and our forefathers envisioned it to be, not the dystopian wasteland that it’s going to be. We can only do this, however, if we decide to flex our brains and do those mental push ups while consuming healthy metaphysical food.

So stop watching porn, stop watching pointless Tv shows and films that will not move your soul in the right direction. Stop doggedly obsessing over the lives of celebrities who don’t even know you, who set unrealistic standards in your lives to intentionally make you feel miserable.

Instead, read the Quran or any good book that’ll nourish your mind and spirit, consume good information that’ll open up your mind and see the possibilities of a better future, listen to good music, watch empowering lectures.

You’ll change your life for the better and you’ll be able to change the world for the better.

Stop being a zombie.

Start being human.


1. This paragraph was not meant for people suffering from obesity due to circumstances beyond their control. I pray to Allah he brings them relief in this life and the next.

2. Ihya ulum-u-din, book 1; the book of knowledge.