The best way in my opinion to understand Islam and the many rules and regulations is to follow closely the example of our guide Muhammad (PBUH). In light of the wonderful holiday of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but to remember him and be grateful for his teachings and the wisdom behind it. We often as a nation forget to follow his simple yet profound example of making sure that one is eating well and maintaining a good, balanced diet.
We often look for guidance from Western Medicine and the latest research for the best ‘diets’. More often then not, we are deflated at the numerous efforts which seem to fail and bring us back to square one. These fads, rather are more damaging to our bodies than helping us to reach a better fitness level. Why do we shy away from what has already been written and recorded almost 1500 years ago? Why have we lost faith in our own teachers? Where are our enlightened Muslim brothers and sisters who actually lived by the best examples and rose to an elevated level of humanity? Yes, I am talking about those Muslims that rose to the top in every field of discovery in the ‘Dark Ages’ of the European History that happened to be the “Golden Years” of the Muslim Era. Why have we fallen from Grace to such a low level that our own people have forgotten our own Messenger (PBUH)?
Let me remind you of some of the basic principles of eating and health according to our Prophet PBUH. Yes it requires Jihad! Jihad is the inner struggle of self-improvement that one goes through within oneself for the love of God. It is all about self-control and the training of keeping our desires at bay since all desires stem from the stomach. Prophet Muhammad PBUH said “My greatest fear for you is the appetites of transgression with regard to your stomachs and your privates and the inclinations which lead astray”. (Ahmad and others and its narrators are people of sahih.)
Here are 8 of our Prophet’s (PBUH) ettiquettes regarding food.
- Never Criticize any food:
Despite the fact that you may personally dislike something you should never criticize or say anything about it if you are invited to dinner. Our Prophet (PBUH) never criticized any food that was offered to him but he used to eat what he liked and leave what he didn’t. (Sahih Bukhari).
2. Supplicate before each meal:
Since eating like any other act of a Muslim, is a matter of worship, it begins with the name of Allah (God).
3. Supplication after each meal:
After completing the meal, Muslims praise and thank Allah for the blessings that He bestows upon them by supplicating to Him with Gratitude.
4. Eat Less:
One of the main principals of good health is a balanced diet. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized the habit of eating less as a method of preventing sickness and disease. He (PBUH) 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.” (Trimidhi & Ibn Majah)
5. Eat Slowly:
Eating slowly is recommended for health. Slow eating reduces the consumption of food, as it postpones much of the meal to a time when the absorption of nutrients begin to produce physiological signals of satiety.
Slow eating also helps in chewing the food properly and results in the exercise of the jaws and mixing of the saliva with food. This efficient digestion takes place because the food particles are cut into small pieces that in turn reduce the churning in the stomach (intestine).
A Muslim is advised to avoid extremes and to choose a moderate course in all his affairs, including his eating habits.
“O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink, but waste not by excess. For Allah loves not the wasters.”
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always demonstrated to his followers the pleasures of sharing as opposed to over-indulgence in the good things of life. Sharing food with neighbors, relatives, friends, the needy, and the destitute is really emphasized.
He (PBUH) said: “He is not a believer who eats to his fill but his neighbor goes without food.”(Sahih Bukhari)
8. Eat Together:
Eating with others brings about harmony and understanding among people. People are usually more relaxed when eating in company and this is another reason why families should always try to eat together and this also happens to be a sunnah (example) of our Prophet (PBUH).
He (PBUH) stated: “Eat together and not separately, for the blessing is associated with the company.”(Halal company of course) (Ibn Majah)
If people would just follow these simple yet profound etiquettes of eating, maybe our own habits could change the course of our health and just maybe we could allow our minds to elevate to a level where only enlightenment can enter our hearts and in turn illuminate our minds. This enlightenment is what is missing in todays people. Why do we sell out?