The Atkins diet… Holford’s Low GL… Banting… Paleo… Weight Watchers… Sure Slim… Intermittent fasting… These are just a few of the many diets that have trended over the last few years, and every few months or so, yet another ‘revolutionary’ diet bursts onto the scene.

People’s insatiable ‘appetite’ for diets highlights the fact that amid today’s sedentary lifestyle, men and women alike are becoming increasingly health conscious, with the expectation that looking after their health will result in them enjoying a better quality of life. After all, obesity brings with it a myriad of serious problems such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), etc. which often prove fatal over the long term.

Nevertheless, when we examine weight loss plans, then we find that a successful weight loss plan generally consists of three elements and two stages. The three elements are; (1) cutting out foods that lead to weight increase, (2) increasing the intake of healthy, nutritious and filling foods, and (3) engaging in regular exercise. As for the two stages, then they are the weight-loss stage, followed by the maintenance stage.

When people incorporate these three elements into their lives, then they gradually lose their excess, unwanted weight, steadily transitioning into a healthier and happier version of themselves, after which they work to maintain and retain their goal weight.

However, all these drastic lifestyle changes are merely for the purpose of losing the physical weight that burdens our skeletons. In contrast to the physical weight borne by the body are the spiritual burdens that people accumulate and carry throughout their lives. These spiritual burdens, also known as sins, are far more devastating as they prove ‘fatal’ in this world and the next.

These burdens are the cause of countless calamities and difficulties during one’s lifetime. In the Hereafter as well, they will be placed in the scale of deeds to be weighed against one’s good deeds, and these burdens will also weigh a person down when trying to cross the siraat (bridge) over Jahannum, causing him to slip and falter.

Hence, ‘dieting’ to get rid of these ‘burdens’ is far more crucial and imperative, as it is not merely our arterial linings and blood sugar levels at risk – it is our very Jannah and Hereafter that is at risk.

The ‘diet’ to get rid of spiritual burdens is similar to a weight-loss diet. The first element is to sincerely repent and cut out all sins and evils from one’s life. The second element is to nourish one’s heart and soul with righteous actions such as engaging in zikr (the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala), recitation of the Quraan Majeed, nafl salaah, fasting, etc. The third element is for one to fulfil all outstanding rights, be it the rights owed to Allah Ta‘ala (e.g. qadha salaah, fasts, etc.) or rights owed to people (e.g. money owed to people, or asking people for forgiveness for hurting them, etc.).

When a believer commences this ‘diet’, then his system begins to be detoxed from all the sins and evil with which it was poisoned and contaminated. Day by day, as he perseveres and remains steadfast in his repentance, avoiding sins and engaging in righteousness, he feels the darkness being dispelled and perceives his heart and soul becoming illuminated with noor. Finally, once he is weaned of his evil habits and ways and has recovered from the spiritual damage he had inflicted upon himself, the second stage commences – the maintenance.

There are countless people who reached their goal weight but failed to maintain it, rapidly relapsing into their former selves. Sadly, in a matter of a few short weeks, months of effort were lost and wasted. Hence, remaining burden-free is a lifelong exercise that continues until our final breath.

The key to remaining burden-free is correct company and exposure. Any form of company or exposure, such as bad friends (i.e. friends who will remind us of sins, thus rekindling the temptation), the cell phone (i.e. social media, websites, etc.) and even places where we will be reminded of sin, exposed to sin or provided an opportunity to sin again MUST be avoided at all costs. Over and above this, we must continue making du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala to assist us in our maintenance plan so that we can remain burden-free until we leave this world.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all to be burden-free in this world and the next, aameen.