As my profession ‘kind of’ revolves around food, nutrition and the human physiology, I have recently developed a deep curiosity to find out where food fits in Islam and what Islam says about good health and spirituality. So here is my first blog post, on food and spirituality.
Food has great significance in Islam and is often associated with one’s relationship with Allah. In Surah (20) verse 89, the Quran states “eat of the good and wholesome things that We have provided for your sustencance, but indulge in no excess therein.” No statement have I ever read that pretty much sums up the essence of food and nutrition in 1 perfect sentence. Now that goes without saying.
The physical body is a gift from God; it is given to humans as an amanah (trust) to be taken care of for a limited period of time. How much food is consumed and the choice of food has a direct impact on the physical and spiritual well-being of the person. In fact, the food you consume can actually affect your behaviour and personality. Wholesome, natural and healthy food assists the development of a good personality. At the same time, overeating can cause sluggishness, thereby ‘dampening’ the soul, hampering spiritual growth and increase physical ailments.
The blessed Prophet (pbuh) has said: “The children of Adam fill no vessel worse than their stomach. Sufficient for him is a few morsels to keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then a third should be for his food, a third for his drink and a third left for air”. (Sunan al- Tirmidhi).
Islam makes a strong connection between food and worship and numerous restrictions are placed on what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten (halal, haram etc.). During fasting, being deprived of food during the day is able to significantly enhance your spirituality and closeness to God. Fasting also teaches us to manage and practise spirituality and to not eat excessively. At the same time, we are also taught to be grateful and thankful for the food we get.
And finally, the noble Prophet once said: “God has a right over you; your body has a right over you…” Therefore let us make new resolutions to eat and live healthier, not just for your waistline, but because it is an essential aspect of worship.