Food for Thought
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Category : Health

During Caliph Haroon Al Rashid’s reign in the Abbasid Caliphate, the translation movement that was initiated by his predecessors gained great momentum. Baghdad became a renowned center of learning. Translations of books on medicine, mathematics, astrology, philosophy and many other disciplines into Arabic from Greek, Persian, Chinese, Sanskrit and Syriac, were carried out. Scholars from around the world were invited to carry out the great task. One of the scholars, during his conversation with Muslim scholars, raised the point that he found little awareness about health and nutrition in The Qur’an. The Muslim scholars brought to his notice that the Qur’an teaches the entire health science summarized in just half of one verse which says: “Eat and drink and do not go into excess”
(Qur’an 7:31).

Indeed, this guidance from the Qur’an is a comprehensive knowledge about the quantity of food to be consumed. As for its quality, the Qur’an has instructed in a couple of verses that our food should be pure and lawful. In one of such verses it says: “O people! Eat of lawful and pure things from what is on the earth” (Qur’an 2:168).

The world is today forced into following a toxic diet culture that has encroached upon our ancient food wisdom. This is a result of constant brainwashing by the capitalist system that has made the masses believe that health is equal to being thin. It has spread weight stigma and fatphobia among masses such that social media constantly comes up with weight loss products and exhibits enormous numbers of before-after images. The capitalist system doesn’t care for our health and wellbeing; instead, it is interested in our time and money alone. A single Google search will serve more than 150 crore results for ‘weight loss’ and most of it comes with the tag of ‘instant, proven results’. The capitalist system is also responsible for the outbreak of the global pandemic of obesity by introducing packed, heavily processed, fast food etc.to the masses. While it spreads the idea of a thin body = healthy body, it also ensures that obesity prevails in the world so that it can grab profits from everywhere.

Weight stigma is so widespread amongst us that even the healthcare professionals when approached seeking solutions for any ailment, today have singular advice saying, ‘lose some weight’.

The Qur’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) offers us insights about the quality and quantity of food to be consumed and certain etiquettes to be followed thereof. The indispensable factor in this is moderation.

Weight stigma is so widespread amongst us that even the healthcare professionals when approached seeking solutions for any ailment, today have singular advice saying, ‘lose some weight’.

Gluttony and overeating definitely leads to many health risks. It is said that the stomach is our second brain. Researchers have found that this second brain communicates constantly with our brain in the head and both together play a key role in certain ailments in our bodies and its overall health. Therefore, utmost care should be taken while feeding our second brain and it should never be overburdened with excess food. Gaining a lot of weight due to overeating should be undoubtedly reversed to acquire good health. But fad diets are not the solution. The diet industry has contradicted its own claims time and again. There was a time when fat was demonized. People were forced to believe that consuming fat leads to obesity and ill health. After a while this notion was erased. Then fat turned out to be very good for health and carbs were the culprit. Later protein was demonised and was forcefully thrown out of our plates. Subsequently fruits became the most harmful food to be consumed. This demonizing process is still going based on the interest of the thriving weight loss industry. The global weight loss industry is valued at $192.2bn and is predicted to be worth $295.3bn by 2027. Consequently, diets with fancy names are perpetually projected. These diets constantly stress the need to keep away from any one of the major food groups. Depriving the body of its proper sources of energy will certainly take a toll on one’s health and overall wellbeing in the long run. There are thriving global industries that sell powders that are turned into beverages and consumed as meal supplements, claiming that all the goodness of wholesome food is included in those so-called healthy powders.

What then is the key to a healthy lifestyle? It is definitely the consumption of a wholesome and balanced diet. The formula that the Qur’an says is to eat and drink from the lawful and pure sources of food without going into excess. Food is essential to sustain life. It is a fuel and a source of energy for the bodies to be active and carry out the day to day activities. Pure and healthy food turns out to be a cure for many diseases and prevention from them. A balanced diet consisting of all essential nutrients plays an important role in the life of a believer to keep the physical body healthy which would further lead to the wellbeing of his soul and spirit.

The Qur’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) offers us insights about the quality and quantity of food to be consumed and certain etiquettes to be followed thereof. The indispensable factor in this is moderation.
The Qur’an says:

“O children of Adam! Dress cleanly and beautifully for every act of worship; and (without making unlawful the things God has made lawful to you) eat and drink, but do not be wasteful (by over-eating or consuming in unnecessary ways): indeed, He does not love the wasteful.”
(A’raf, 7:31)

Eating pure also is emphasized. “Eat of the pure things that We have provided for you but do not exceed the bounds therein (by wastefulness, ingratitude, unlawful earnings etc)….” (Qur’an 20:81)

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) teaches us a beautiful principle of moderation that is so comprehensive and profound. His teaching is that the middle way (avoiding extremes) is the best in every affair. He said, “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids and one-third for his breath.”

Every person is different. There are thin people who eat a lot and are unhealthy. We can also find people with larger bodies who eat in moderation are healthy and happy. Every culture has diverse eating habits. One should largely stick to the cultural way of eating so as to include local and seasonal food in their diet. Physiology of people is diverse. Therefore everyone should learn to understand what type of food suits our wellbeing.

As for the diet industry’s claims, one diet will definitely not suit all. Nature has provided us with a wide range of varieties in food in accordance with our geographical location. It includes all food groups without demonizing fat, fruits, carbs etc. The Quran mentions a variety of food, saying: “It is He who sends down rain from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds, and out of it We bring forth thick clustered grain. And out of the date palm and its spate come clusters of dates hanging low and near, and gardens of grapes, olives and pomegranates each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety and taste). Look at their fruits when they begin to bear, and the ripeness thereof.” (6:99) Elsewhere, it mentions meat and milk to be wholesome food. It also guides us towards a miraculous medicinal food – honey.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has advised to refrain from criticizing food. He emphasized on sharing the food and eating together so that there is a stress free environment while enjoying food. He has advised us to be involved in physical activities and used to enjoy sports and games with friends and family. This holistic approach to health helps us remain strong, energetic and healthy. God has given us our body as a trust and a believer should never abuse or neglect it. The Prophet (pbuh) has said that the strong believer is better than a weak believer. This was mostly said in terms of character but it definitely indicates physical strength as well. Performing three out of the five pillars of Islam certainly requires a believer to be of good health and fitness. Therefore the need of the hour is to shun the dangerous modern diet culture, eat a healthy and balanced diet in moderation and embrace the holistic approach to health and fitness. If one adopts these golden principles weight loss will come as a wonderful side effect.

1 Comment

  1. Asma Imtiyaz

    It is rightly said in this article that this capitalist system doesn’t care for our health and wellbeing,,instead it only intrested in our time and money…….

    A Very eye opening thoughts…..

    Reply

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