In the modern age, the world has been afflicted by a multiplicity of diseases and epidemics, ranging from social media, to Aids and HIV. Perhaps a disease less often recognised and more often attributed to food-misuse, is obesity. Just as drugs can be mis-used, and social-media, so can food, and perhaps it is one of the most abused resources on our planet.
Following the industrial revolution, factories set up mass-production facilities, and commercial products were sold on mass. Consumerism increased as the world plummeted into an abyss of ease of access.
Previously, food was consumed on limit. People did not necessarily watch their figures, rather, food was not so easily available. Harvests were poor if the rainy season did not come. This in turn meant, less jobs in the agricultural industry and less income for farmers. The industrial revolution changed all of that. Machinery became the way forward for farmers. Research facilities was on the mission to find better ways to grow, preserve, and transport food. Irrigation systems intended to water crops all year round, meant harvests were always good. Furthermore, the introduction of transport systems enabled companies to transports crops worldwide with relative ease. And lastly, the establishment of factories, meant production lines helped speed up food processing and packaging for consumers.
It is no wonder the availability of food is within arm’s reach. However, with such ease, comes a consequence, the rate of obesity is steadily increasing, as everyone wants ‘super size’ food.
This was foretold by our Prophet, when he said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The best of you, are my contemporaries, then those who follow them, then those who will come after them. (‘Imran (the narrator) said, I do not know if he said this twice or thrice). Then, they will be followed by those who will testify but will not be called upon to testify; they will betray the trust, and will not be trusted. They will make vows but will not fulfil them, and obesity will prevail among them.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Our religion is a complete way of life that doesn’t just care for our souls, but our physical bodies too. Hence the Prophet advised us, “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air.” (Tirmidhi, classed as saheeh by Sh Al-Albaani)
Indeed, over eating only depicts greed and gluttony. It makes the heart hard and devoid of feeling. The poor is no longer a concern as the person seeks to satisfy their cravings and taste buds.
Allah gave us counsel, and His counsel is best, and full of wisdom,
“and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al‑Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)
Extravagance in eating and drinking usually results in a person who is over-weight, unfit and unhealthy. Such a person is at higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and in turn heart attacks and strokes. Thus, Islam seeks to preserve the health of a person, for their own betterment, and fulfilment, and so that they can worship Allah with energy and vigour.
The Sunnah encourages moderation in eating, and strongly criticizes extravagance.
Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The believer eats in one stomach whilst the disbeliever eats in seven.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
On another occasion, in a bid to help us in limiting our portion sizes, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The food for two persons is sufficient for three, and the food of three persons is sufficient for four persons.” (Bukhari)
Moderation in food is beneficial beyond any doubt. As muslims we bear a responsibility upon our shoulders to take the middle path in everything we do. We should be weary of the warnings of the Prophet and aim to emulate his Sunnah. Our bodies are an “amanah” entrusted to us, and we will be questioned about it. We should take heed and rectify our eating habits before we fall into a state of disrepair.