FOOD AND NUTRITION IN ISLAM
"O ye people! eat of what is on earth lawful and good; and do not follow
footsteps of the evil one for he is to you an avowed enemy. Q2:168
The Qur'an contains many passages that give Muslims advice about healthful
eating habits and nutrition. These passages not only relate to the
preservation of a human being's physical well- being, but also to his
spiritual health. Encouragement to eat only good and pure foods is
with warnings to remember Allah and avoid Satan. In this way, Muslims are
shown that eating is not merely an action to satisfy the hungry body, but
that, as in all of man's actions, it has an effect on how well or how poorly
a Muslim will serve Allah SWT.
Since a Muslim wants to direct his activities towards serving Allah in the
best way, the object of eating is to nourish his or her body so that it will
be in the best possible condition for doing so. In several verses, the
Arabic word "tayyeb" is used to describe healthful food. Tayyeb
translated as "good" and it means pleasing to the taste as well as
clean, wholesome and nourishing. Foods which are not tayyeb and which
one to lose control of the body and mind will not help one to prosper.
distract from the worship of Allah and cause one to lose sight of why it is
necessary to eat at all. Thus, a Muslim should strive to get the vitamins,
minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and so forth that his body needs to
function well and avoid falling into eating habits that slow him down or
make him weak.
Man's growth should be a balance between the physical and spiritual, but
these two aspects are intertwined. If he becomes obsessed with food, not
only is his time and effort distracted from serving Allah but the diet may
make him physically weak. On the other hand, if he concentrates so
exclusively on spiritual matters that he neglects his body's proper
nourishment, the same result will come about i.e., weakness and illness will
prevent him from carrying out all his obligations to Allah Ta'alaa. The
Qur'an thus guides man to strike a wholesome balance between the two
extremes and advises him on how to create this balance. This policy of the
middle road is a basic theme in Islam in most matters of action and effort.
It is a theme that is easily observed in nature: too much or too little in
terms of substance or action usually yields a bad result. No, to extremism
and no, to laxity but, moderation in all respect.
Some places in the Qur'an specifically mention the benefits of certain
foods. They not only give a list of lawful foods, but also an idea of what
types of things are, in general, good for man. Specific foods that are
mentioned include milk, dates, grapes, honey, corn, grains, nutritious
plants, olives and livestock. It is also mentioned, in conjunction with
these foods, that reflection on their life cycles will tell man something
about his own existence.
Mother's milk is also mentioned and encouraged as the best form of
nourishment for the infant, so much so that even when parents divorce, it is
advised that arrangements be made so that the mother may continue to nurse
her child if she does not live with the child. Islam has therefore taken
care of the issue of breastfeeding of the infant long ago, though it is now
that campaign are all over the place to emphasise this.
There is not an extensive list of lawful and unlawful foods in lslam. Those
things, which are forbidden by Allah, are specifically mentioned, (i.e.,
blood, carrion, pork e.t.c.) and all else is lawful. A Muslim, thus, may
partake of the bounties of Allah, so long as he avoids the stated
prohibitions. This means, however, that a Muslim must use judgement in
eating foods. Besides avoiding forbidden foods, he must also keep in mind
the injunction to eat what is good for him. While sweets, for example, are
lawful, a steady diet of sweets leads to poor health. A Muslim must eat a
variety of foods that provide for all his bodily needs and remember not to
indulge in excesses, but rather use common sense to decide what is good and
On Ettiquettes of Eating
When the Prophet SAW sat down to eat, he would always mention the name of
Allah at the commencement of eating and after eating. At the commencement
he would say: Bismillah wa 'ala barakatillah (In the name of Allah and
the blessings of Allah). After food he SAW would say alhamdu lillahillazee
at'amana wa saqaanaa waj'alana minal Muslimeena. (All praises for Allah who
gave us food and drink and made us Muslims).
It is important that the actual act of eating should be moderate with no
rush or greed. Eat what is in front of you and if it is in a group, (which
is good) you do not do it to irritate those around you. The talkings
also be moderate.
Make your hamdallah and get up when you are full. Preserve left-overs of
food very well and as much as possible avoid wastage. Know that while
getting your rewards from Allah SWT for the obligatory and voluntary fasts,
you are at the same time doing your system some good of over-hauling and
Variety and moderation are essential for good health. Be sure to eat a
variety of foods every day so as to achieve a healthy and nutritionally
A balanced diet is not just about foods you should avoid, it is about foods
you choose to include.
Take lots of fluids, fruits and vegetables to help your digestion. It
adds to the beauty of eating when husbands and wives and the children sit
together to eat, or how else do you talk of Baraka ?
Waste not, want not," according to the English proverb. Here the same
is preached from a higher motive. See what magnificent means God provides in
nature for the sustenance of all His creatures, because He loves them all.
Enjoy them in moderation and be grateful. But commit no excess, and commit
no waste: the two things are the same from different angles of vision. If
you do, you take away something from other creatures and God would not like
"It is He who produceth gardens with trellises and without and dates and
tilth with produce of all kinds and olives and pomegranates similar (in
kind) and different (in variety): eat of their fruit in their season but
render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered.
But waste not by excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters" Q6:141 (An'am)
And as we get ready to take the next meal,(of course, from Halal sources)
let us remember to thank Allah for the sustenance and continue to ponder
over His abundant Ni'ima so that we remain ever grateful to Him on High SWT.
Alhamdulillah, MashaAllah Barakallah.