The Purpose Of Eating
Issues and manners which have been forgotten
The purpose of eating
When we have our breakfast, lunch, dinner and all those snacks in between, are we aware of the implications that such a simple and casual act can have, both in our lives in this world and in the hereafter? On its most basic level, the purpose of eating is to survive. When hunger strikes, we seek sustenance in order to gain energy, and to provide the nourishment needed to live. For a Muslim, eating has more purposeful meaning. It goes beyond our base desires of filling our stomachs. Islam is ultimately about submitting to the will of our Creator, and worshipping Him. Like other acts of a Muslim, if properly applied, eating can also be an act of worship. It can be the means of nourishing and equipping our bodies in order to worship Allah better.
The enjoyment of food
Food, as in any other provision, is a gift and a trust from Allah. If not used in the way that Allah wants, it is a betrayal of that trust.
Eating is a necessity. However, the enjoyment of food and its variety of flavours, is a mercy and favour from Allah, in order that such necessity is made more pleasurable. A majority of us have taken eating beyond its original purpose, and we gratify our tastebuds to such an extent that we end up worshipping food. This phenomena can be observed by the inordinate amount of time we spend buying ingredients, the laborious preparations of food in the kitchen and the time we spend eating. This is reflected in the way we eat our regular meals, and the degree to which much of our social lives revolve around food and drink. If we lose sight of the original purpose of eating, and instead associate food with the satisfaction of a desire (rather than the fulfillment of a necessity), that desire may transform into a desire for other than Allah. When the original aim of eating is forgotten, our human tendencies will instead form attachments and habits to what we consume. Eating and cooking consume a large proportion of our lives, and in the process, we lose much of our time. We have lost the essence and the original purpose of eating, and have broken the connection between eating and the journey of iman. The danger of forgetting the manner of eating and the cultivation of bad eating habits is not just about consuming excessive calories and developing clogged arteries, it can have the potential of destroying our iman and our relationship with our Creator. The stomach is like the heart, in that we reap the benefits of what we feed it.
Like the heart, we can either enslave it or let it enslave us. By curbing our appetites and being mindful of our eating habits, we do not give in to excesses in our desire for food and drink. By being vigilant and giving the act of eating its due priority, we do not let our appetites become our masters.
However, if we indulge every craving and desire dictated by our appetites, we have a tendency to let these desires become habit forming. The more obsessed we become about food and the more priority we give to satiating our appetites, the more danger we are of nourishing our habits rather than our bodies. From these, negative aspects of behavior penetrate into and influence our mannerism, and we develop traits such as greed, impatience, stinginess and selfishness. Food and the desire for food will affect our personalities, and if left uncontrolled, will compromise even our concept of halal and haram.
The mother of diseases?
It may be astonishing to discover that the mother of diseases is eating. The desire for what is originally intended as a simple and basic act of survival, can be manipulated by shayateen. It is not an exaggeration to say that the implications of such a seemingly harmless act, if corrupted, can go beyond causing health disorders, it can cause social illnesses. The more we fill the stomach out of desire rather than necessity, the more it empties the heart. We build habits which have nothing to do with Islam, but rather originate from habits and culture. We are stuck with our own eating styles without wanting to sample or even consider better eating habits and types of food. Instead of following the sunnah, households eat according to their heritage, each culture believing that their food is the best. This unwillingness to break out of our cultural and habitual fixation breeds arrogance. In terms of mannerism, how many of us become angry and moody if food is not cooked in a way that we like, or is served late? How many of us become irritable if we do not get to eat what we desire? How many of us still insist on eating the type of cuisine enjoyed by our ethnic origins, even if there is an abundance of alternatives? When we get consumed by the madness of eating, we create harmful addictions. Many of us are addicted to caffeine, spices, fizzy drinks, sugar and food cooked only in a specific cultural style. There is also addiction to unhealthy food, which regardless of the harmful side effects, we deliberately and blissfully feast in large quantities. It is not surprising that these actions result in physical problems - side effects such as cholesterol and becoming overweight, heart problems and diabetes are common in society today.
Our body is a trust
We are a guardian of our bodies, and we will be asked about what we did to preserve our bodies in good health and shape in order to worship Allah. We should not betray the trust given to us. If we die from these eating related diseases, we will be questioned about why we caused it to happen.
Competing in the kitchen?
Islam teaches us to be simple, to cook in small amounts and to use spices sparingly. It does not mean that we should be stingy with food, but rather, we are encouraged to avoid excessiveness and wastage. Now food is no longer for serving Allah. Instead, women who take pride in their cooking are now in intense cooking battles. Cooking has become a championship where women are anxious to outdo each other in quantity, preparation, flavouring and garnishing. Great pains and disproportionate amounts of time are taken to decorate, present and plate up various delicacies. Where does all this laborious preparation go? The only enjoyment is in the tongue as the food passes our tastebuds, but the pleasure is momentary and quickly disappears. Hence we spend hours of preparation for fifteen minutes of delight. We are so eager to impress our guests, that instead of following the sunnah of serving guests what we have without burdening ourselves, we overload dining tables with lavish servings. We force guests to eat beyond their fill, and the lack of compliments on the dishes served can be taken as personal insults and blown out of proportion.
When we eat outside of the home, we indulge ourselves by ordering in excess of what we can consume. Fine dining becomes a mania, and the consumption of rich and overpriced dishes in lavish restaurants becomes a status symbol. We are blind to the amount of wastage and leftovers that the waiters clear from our tables. Our bad behaviour is accentuated when domestic disputes occur if the food is not up to the taste of a spouse. In the obsession of eating the perfect dish, we are willing to allow our marriages to collapse because of food which is too salty or served too cold. We then pass the habits down to our children. We either allow the child to indulge in whatever he wants, regardless of nutritional value, or we give in to their fussy demands, letting the food that we prepare for them be dictated by what they want or refuse. We overfeed our children, or we malnourish them by entertaining the picky eaters. When these manifest in various behavioral and health disorders, do we question ourselves why?
Halal and Haram
Once we become slaves of our appetites, we fall into the danger of transgressing the bounds of halal and haram. In the zeal for satiating our appetites, we make concessions and eat substances which are not halal. We are quick to give in to our impatience and desire when we see a tempting dish, regardless of the ingredients and the manner in which it has been prepared. Instead of curbing our appetites and exercising patience and discipline, we eat whatever is delicious or convenient. For a few minutes while the food pleases our palates, we taint our bodies with substances which we know are haram. Also forbidden is food which is bought from forbidden sources of income. We convince ourselves that we are not doing anyone any harm, and that these are minor infractions. Consider this - if someone eats forbidden food, it means that he does not have fear and respect for Allah. The lack of restraint is symptomatic of lack of obedience. If someone does not respect Allah, how can he be expected to treat anyone else with respect?
If a man betrays his own self and takes his body to hellfire with the consumption of the forbidden, how can he be trusted to lead his family to jannah? If one has eaten forbidden food, his deeds will not be accepted for 40 days. If we consistently feed ourselves with a haram diet, allowing such food to become part of our flesh and bones, how do you think it will affect our behaviour? How do you think our standing with Allah will be?
Going back to basics
Eating in itself is not a problem. Rather, it is the addiction to habits and customs related to eating. If this has occurred, then we need to break the cycle. The following are some hints on how to simplify our eating habits and to go back to basics:
• Buy food which is easy to cook, inexpensive and which benefits us the most nutritionally
• Spend minimal time preparing and cooking the food
• Study the different food groups and nutritious values of different types of meats, vegetables and herbs, and apply it to your own personal
circumstances (as individuals react differently depending on their gender, age and genetic characteristics)
• Do not cook excessive amounts of food
• Food is a bounty from Allah, do not let it wait for you once it is served
• Remember the intention and goal of eating. Ask Allah to put barakah in your food and remember His blessings
• Start with “Bismillah” and eat with the right hand, using the tips of the first three fingers
• It is better to eat in a group, preferably from the same platter, and talk in the remembrance of Allah
• Do not feed anyone except for a pious person, unless doing so for the intention of dakwah
• Eat what is immediately in front of you
• Never fill your stomach completely – the best way is to fill your stomach with one third of food and one third of water
• Avoid drinking while eating, and if you must drink, drink water which is room temperature
• Do not mix hot and cold food
• Do not throw away leftovers
• Remember to thank Allah for His bounty, generosity and kindness
Putting food in its right priority
Our cultures have influenced our manner of eating, and while diversity is allowed in Islam, it should be within the parameters of Islam. For example, in most cultures, it is the duty of the women to prepare meals. In Islam, women are not cooks. In fact, allocating her with such a duty is against the sunnah entirely. The Prophet saw did his own cooking, cleaning and mending. If a woman does cook, it is a charity to the husband. The abuse of food can hurt us financially, influence our moods adversely, and along the way, cause us to build bad diseases and lose our good manners. We tend to forget that what we eat is all a bounty from Allah.
“O mankind, eat from the goodness I give you and do not abuse it”
In Islam, food is not supposed to be elaborate or luxurious. Muslims are not to satiate their appetites, but instead should leave the meal before being totally full. This leaves their minds and bodies alert in order to worship Allah, instead of being drowsy and lethargic. The Companions of the Prophet saw were easily recognizable by their lean builds - none of them were overweight, and they demonstrated restraint in the preparation and consumption of their meals. We will be questioned about what we have in this life, hence, before our next meal, we should question ourselves what our intention of eating is. It is to serve Allah? If not there is a problem. Where is the ummah going if we are spending our time obsessing over food, cooking, eating, marketing, championship of cooking? Focusing too much on food eats away at our time.
If we spend all our time with food, indulging in our various eating related habits and disorders, when will we have time to spread Islam?
Food for thought
What happens when a necessity becomes a goal? The goal is gone. For example, when somebody today in general is getting married, the man is looking for a beautiful wife or has a status of money, and most of all she has to be a good cook. In this way, being a good cook becomes a goal. Look for example at how many things we have destroyed already. The man is not looking for a woman who has a beautiful soul, has piety, who wants jannah, who wants to support her husband to develop the nucleus of society which is the family. What about her intelligence? What about is her upbringing? What about her Islamic education and character and manner? Imagine all this has been swapped with only one topic - she is a good cook! Think about the impact in family structure, in the woman's role in life as a teacher of her own children, the backbone of the family, the navigator of all the affairs of the family and her role model in society. We have swapped it to fulfill one habit, which is eating. We diminish our purpose of life, our goal, just for one habit. Imagine today, all the fancy restaurants and meals with all kinds of rarity, while more than one third or more of human beings cannot find even a basic meal to eat. How many rich people consume and even abuse the quantity of food they consume. With no exaggeration, one third to two thirds of what they order or buy, ends up in the garbage. Let's look with the purpose of life and a long vision to society. We will find what we are talking about so far generates massive excessive amounts of spending in a small percentage of society. If you accumulate all leftovers, you can feed the rest of humanity, without anyone feeling it.
The reflection of all what we're talking about is so deep it generates all the mother of diseases of the heart – selfishness, greed, impatience.
All these diseases of the heart will reflect on how we deal with others and the way we carry our goal in life, which is to be a role model to worship and invite others to the mercy and message of Islam.
By Da'ee Ahmed Moait More articles like this can be found here: http://noora1.com/articles_page.htm
Thanks for reading, all feedback welcome! :)
Ramadan Food: When And What To Eat
Ramadan (in Arabic: رمضان, Ramadān) is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. During the whole month, faithful observers of Islam fast from sunrise (Sahour) to sunset (Iftar). During the fast, no food or drink is consumed, and thoughts must be kept pure. Followers of Islam believe that fasting helps the Muslim learn patience, modesty, and spirituality. Meals are served before sunrise and after sunset, and eaten with family or with the local community.
The elderly, sick, and mentally ill are exempt from the fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. In some Muslim communities, people who miss the fasting portion of Ramadan are expected to compensate by feeding the poor and unfortunate during the suhoor and iftar meals.
In 2009, Ramadan ends on September 20th. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, so it retrogresses about two weeks backwards every year. In 2010, Ramadan will be closer to the middle of the summer. The fast is strictly observed, even in higher latitudes. Muslims living in Northern Europe or Canada have to fast longer than Muslims living in the Middle East due to daylight hours being longer.
During Ramadan, two main meals are served; the suhoor, which is served before dawn, and the iftar, which is served after sunset. Since the suhoor is intended to last one throughout the day, it tends to be a heavy and hearty meal. Suhoor ends when the sun rises and the fajr, or morning prayer, begins. At the end of the day, when the sun sets, the maghrib prayer starts, and the day's fast is broken with the iftar meal. Many Muslims break their fast by eating dates before beginning the iftar meal. Muslims can continue eating and drinking throughout the night until the next day's suhoor. At the end of the Ramadan month, Muslims celebrate the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, called Eid al-Fitr.
Both of the suhoor and iftar meals contain fresh fruit, vegetables, halal meats, breads, cheeses, and sweets. Remember that the Muslim world is large and is not only in the Middle East; there are Muslims worldwide in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The types of food served vary by region. The meals are served either at home with family, or in the community Masjids, or other designated places within the Muslim community.
Some foods that may be served at a Ramadan suhoor or iftar:
Dates, pistachios, other nuts, and dried fruits
Fresh seasonal fruits
Fresh seasonal vegetables
Chabbakia - a dessert made of fried dough flavored with orange blossom water and coated with sesame seeds and honey. (Morocco)
Paomo - a bread & mutton soup (China)
Ramazan Kebabi - a dish made with lamb, onions, yogurt, and pita bread. (Turkey)
Sherbet - the world's first soft drink, developed in the Ottoman Empire. Sherbets are made from fruit juices, extracts of flowers, or herbs, and combined with water and sugar. (Turkey)
Chapatis - unleavened flatbread that is rolled up with vegetables and meats. (India and Pakistan)
Lavash - a soft, thin crackerbread. (Armenia, Azerbaijan)
Fattoush - a salad made of vegetables and pita bread. (Lebanon and Arab countries)
Tabbouleh - a salad made with fresh tomatoes, parsley, garlic, and bulgur wheat. (Middle East)
Khyar Bi Laban - cucumber and yogurt salad (Middle East)
Chorba - lamb stew with tomatoes and chickpeas (Morocco)
Fasulia - stew with green beans and meat (North Africa and the Middle East)
Bamia - a stew made with meat and okra (North Africa and the Middle East)
Mujadarra - a dish made with rice and lentils (Middle East)
Konafah - a pastry made with phyllo dough and cheese (Middle East)
Qatayef - a type of Arabic pancake filled with sweet cheese and nuts (Saudi Arabia, Palestine)
Ful medammes - fava beans cooked with garlic and spread on bread (North Africa)
Kolak - a fruit dessert made with palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandanus leaf. Fruits such as jackfruit or banana are added, or mung beans. (Indonesia)
Haleem - a porridge made of meat, wheat, and lentils. (India)
Paneer cheese (Persia and India)
Jalebi - deep-fried dough batter soaked in syrup. (Pakistan)
Shabi kebab - fried patties of ground meat and chickpeas. (India and Pakistan)
• Allrecipes has a good list of Ramadan recipes here.
• More Ramadan recipes, via AsiaRecipe.
• The Boston Globe's Big Picture Blog has wonderful photos of Ramadan food and activities here.
If you are currently traveling in a Muslim country or live in a Muslim neighborhood, please recognize that right now is a holy time for Muslims and they are fasting during daylight hours. If you need to purchase food or drink during fasting hours, please be respectful and carry them in a non-see-through bag back to your home or hotel room where you can consume them in privacy.
Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about Ramadan and meeting Muslims in person, many Masjids and Islamic cultural centers have community outreach programs where they invite non-Muslims to enjoy an iftar meal with the other members of the Masjid. Be sure to check beforehand what the dress code is, as women may need to cover their arms and/or head. Here is a primer on Muslim etiquette.
I am attending a Ramadan Open House Iftar meal in San Francisco this weekend. I discovered it by doing a Google search for "Ramadan Iftar Outreach San Francisco."
As-Salāmu `Alaykum - "May peace be upon you."
(Images: Premshree Pillai, Hamed Saber, Binnur's Turkish Cookbook, Raja Islam, Ghadeer Alqattan, Vit Hassan, and Amazon - thanks!)
Adapted from: http://www.thekitchn.com/ramadan-when-its-ok-to-eat-and-94989
Time Has Come: Tips For Women in Ramadan
Tips and Advice
By Rasha Dewedar
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 00:00
While Sha'ban is approaching its end, Muslims all over the world start counting down for Ramadan with unprecedented motivation and high hopes to do many things; to get the maximum of this holy month.
However, good intentions are not enough!
Muslim women like everyone else have high expectations for the blessed month, as well as more loads and duties.
Achieving what you want in Ramadan is strongly related to time management and realistic plans.
Women have more duties in Ramadan, especially if they are working, however, they still have several opportunities for getting rewards, which makes it even more important for them to arrange and coordinate diversity of activities only in one month.
Charity is a widely open door in which women can participate by different ways. Cooking food for needy people, collecting money from relatives and friends for charitable reasons, among other activities.
Women have also a very important and crucial role in helping their children understand what Ramadan is all about, and in organizing activities and entertaining activities relevant to the holy month.
Ramadan is considered an excellent opportunity for kids to live 30 days in a comprehensive experience that includes fasting, praying, playing, and helping others either physically or financially.
Time management is not only how you manage your time in Ramadan, but extends to how you manage to decrease your tasks and duties during the holy month.
Everyone has different priorities, abilities, and circumstances, nevertheless, you can tailor the following tips to your life style.
Pray that Allah grants you Baraka in your time.
Don't go to one of the extremes; don't put very high expectations that you are unlikely to make, be always sure you are not a superwoman (no one actually is). You are not helpless as well, you can achieve a lot if you put realistic plan that goes along with your abilities, responsibilities, and circumstances.
Make it simple, don't overwhelm yourself with lists of food items you should prepare everyday on Iftar, just make sure meals are nutritious and have all necessary elements.
Get your kitchen prepared; prepare different ingredients for meals before Ramadan, so that in Ramadan, you just do the final steps.
For example, prepare in your fridge a good amount of onions, garlic, and tomato sauce.
Get meat and chicken washed and spiced.
Prepare some homemade drinks like hibiscus, and leave them in the fridge.
Keep your home organized; this way you can get things easier and save time of searching for items.
Set your priorities; Put your plan starting with basic tasks followed by less important to 'you'.
Don't schedule what you think less prior, just focus on more important things and get them done efficiently.
Put a schedule to your appointments and visits; avoid unnecessary outings, and put definite dates and times if you can.
Make it clear to your family and friends that Ramadan is a very special time to you and that you'd rather give more time to prayers and related activities and you can postpone gatherings and errands and do it afterwards.
Be smart when you invite; inviting guests to Iftar no doubt has a great thawab, and spread happiness to both you and your guests, and it can be a great load as well, unless you have a good plan for it.
Cook simple meals that do not need much time or effort. Prepare some or most of the dishes one day before if you can, so you don't have all the work on the same day.
Get someone to help you with preparing, lifting, and washing the dishes if feasible, and if you have kids, let them help you as well.
Dish parties are an excellent choice in this case, where everyone gets a dish and you all share cooking and you also share thawab.
Make a checklist in which you put basic duties as well as extra activities, and make one for each child, this will act as a good reminder as well as an alert if you put too much or too less tasks.
Don't say tomorrow, if you have a task, do it immediately, this will even give you a push to do more.
Take some rest; enough sleeping hours are very important for you to be able to complete the whole month with the same pace.
Eat well; healthy food will give you the energy to work, pray, and do all your duties.
Avoid eating junk food and food with big amount of fats as much as you can, this kind of diet will make you more sleepy and lazy in addition to its health hazards.
After managing your time a way or another, help others to do the same, especially family members.
Exercise; many people think Ramadan is absolutely the wrong time to exercise, this is not true. You can have few minutes of stretching or any kind of work outs that makes your body stronger and make you feel better.
For Working Women:
Needless to say that working women have a harder job that need more care and control.
The good news however, is that working women are mostly used to time management, checklists, and arranging tasks beforehand.
Working efficiently is an important gate to Paradise, so be always sure that you are doing a great job which will essentially reflect on your psychology in a positive way.
Set your schedule carefully, according to your working hours so that you have adequate time to sleep, work, and good time to spend with your family.
Make use of the time of breaks and transportation in reading Qur'an and Dhikr.
Help your Muslim colleagues make the most of the holy month by exchanging information, and encouraging each other.
Get your family involved; you can get the help of your family members in household responsibilities.
You should always know that time management is not a tool for more duties to accomplish. It's rather a system that helps you having a clear vision of what you want to do, identify your responsibilities, feel productive, which will finally grant you control over your life with a sense of empowerment.
I have a small doubt that does chewing gum contains pork cuz some of my friends yes and some said only in some chewing gums!! Am from India so popular chewing gum consumed by teenagers is "boomer"," big bubble" I know names are funny:P so anyone help to confirm about this!!!! Thanks in advance!!:)