WASTEFULNESS– Concerning Health and the Consumption of Food and Drink

Health is one of the underappreciated divine bounties. Our Prophet ﷺ warns of the common ignorance and negligence in this regard. “There are two divine blessings that people do not properly value,” he said, “health and leisure.” (Bukhârî, Riqâq, 1). Thus he warns us, his community, against the remorse we may suffer for wasting these two precious gifts.

Ibn `Umar (RadiAllahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allahﷺ said, “When you reach the morning, don’t wait for the evening. When you reach the evening, don’t wait for the morning. When you are healthy, take precautions for the time when you may be sick. Throughout you life, take precautions for the time you die.” (Bukhârî, Riqâq, 3)

Allah entrusted each of us with a body, and our bodies have due rights over us. In fact, in order to pursue the life of servanthood properly, it is necessary to maintain physical as well as spiritual health. Acts of worship may only be performed fully when a person has a healthy body. Is it possible for someone who is not healthy to offer ritual prayers serenely or to fast with inner peace? So many ritual acts and good works that allow people’s hearts to draw closer 􏰁to Allah depend on the blessing of health.

When one loses one’s health, one’s acts of worship and of service lose their wholeness. Thus when we still have the opportunity to keep ourselves healthy, we should thank Allah properly for this bounty and pay close atten- tion to our worship and the giving of charity.

Just as with all other bounties, health may be wasted if one does not follow the divine instructions concerning its preservation.

To throw your health away is to treat your body profligately. In order to avoid wasting our health, we must protect it by follow- ing the guidance of reason and the divine commands. This involves seeking healthy nourishment, but also protecting our bodies from natural factors like excessive heat and cold, and from the results of negligence, such as traffic accidents. Our religion includes a variety of material and spiritual teachings concerning the protection of health. It orders us to be prudent in the consumption of food.

Our religion informs us that in order to protect our health, spiritual precautions are also necessary. These include being careful to pay the share of the poor out of our wealth, and giving alms. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ indicated the extent of spiritual precautions needed protect health. He said, “An act of charity is due for every joint of the human body. This is why every instance of declaring Allah’s glory counts as charity; every instance of thanking Allah counts as charity, every recitation of “There is no god but Allah” counts as charity; every declaration of” Allah is greater” counts as charity; to give good advice is charity; to warn against something evil is charity. The ritual prayer of two cycles performed before noon has the same status.” (Bukhârî, Sulh, 11).

Certainly being healthy and happy are great blessings that oblige their possessor to thank Allah. The respected Companions of the Prophet, who are presented to us as role models because of their high virtues,(See at-Tawbah, 9/100.) made great efforts in the cause of Allah because they took the bounties bestowed by Allah as capital to invest toward the life of the Hereafter. Allah the Almighty blessed their efforts. The modern lifestyle, with its overconsumption, gluttony, luxury and ostenta- tion, was not practiced by the Companions of the Prophet. They pursued their lives in accordance with their consciousness that “the soul’s mansion tomorrow will be the grave.”

The higher a person’s spiritual state, the greater care that person takes concerning food and drink. For example, according to the religious law, to keep eating after one’s hunger is satisfied is accounted wasteful. According to the Sufi path, to keep eating until one’s hunger is satisfied is accounted wasteful. At the level of truth, to eat without remembering the divine presence is accounted wasteful. And at the level of recognition of Allah, to eat without contemplating the divine disclosure manifested in the gift of food is accounted wasteful.

The hidden guide Khidr (Alaihi Salaam) visited `Abdulkhâliq Gujduwânî one of the Friends of Allah. The conversation between the two concerning the consumption of food and drink is full of lessons, since it displays the peak of spiritual sensitivity.

Showing hospitality, `Abdulkhâliq Gujduwânî offered Kidr food, but Khidr (Alaihi Salaam) refused to eat it, and moved away from the table. `Abdulkhâliq Gujduwânî was surprised. “This is a lawfully obtained food,” he said.” Why don’t you eat?”

Khidr (Alaihi Salaam) replied, “Yes, it is obtained lawfully, but the one who prepared it cooked it with anger and in heedlessness.”

Thus the spiritual quality of our food is influenced not only by whether the food was lawfully obtained, but also by the psycho- logical condition of whoever prepares it. And the spiritual qualify of our inner attitudes and ritual acts is influenced by the quality of our food. So look at how sensitive we must be concerning the food that we eat.

Lawfully obtained food has an important part in purifying the heart. Abdulqâdir Gaylânî قدسسره stated, “Eating unlawfully obtained food kills the heart; eating lawfully obtained food enlivens it. There is food that makes you occupied with the world. There is also food that makes you occupied with the Hereafter. There is even food that makes you love Allah the Exalted.”

Mawlânâ Jalâladdîn Rûmî قدسسره said, “Last night some doubtful bits of food went down to my stomach and closed the way by which inspiration comes.” His statement shows that we must be as careful about the spiritual quality of the food we consume as we are about its material quality.

Mawlânâ also said, “Do not feed your body so much! After all, it is a sacrificial victim that will be delivered to the soil. But feed your heart as much as you can, for it is your heart that will ascend to honor. …Feed your body less, because those who feed it more than is necessary begin pursuing selfish desires, and are destined to disgrace.”

To act immoderately in such matters is not suitable to the dig- nity of a believer.

Our virtuous predecessors said, “Allah summarized the entire science of medicine in a half verse of the Qur’an:

…Eat and drink, but do not waste by excess!… (A’raf, 7/31).

They emphasized the importance of keeping away from waste when consuming food and drink so that one might have a healthy life in spiritual as well as material terms.(See, Ibn Kathîr, Tafsîr, II, 219.)

In a Prophetic saying we read: “Eat, drink, dress yourself, and give charity without falling into profligacy and arrogance.” (Bukhârî, Libâs, 1). This saying indicates the limits the limits that people should observe when they satisfy their needs. In another Prophetic saying, we read: “It would certainly be extravagance to eat everything you desire!” (Ibn Mâja, At`ima, 51).

Greedily devouring everything is what is termed gluttony, and our religion forbids such an action. Again, this saying indicates that having the opportunity to indulge does not justify overindulgence.

Our Prophet ﷺ concisely stated the measure one must observe regarding consumption: “No man filled a cup more dangerous than his stomach. Certainly a few bites of food are sufficient to live. But if one has to eat more, let him allow one third of his stomach for food, one third of it for drink, and one third of it for breathing!” (Tirmidhî, Zuhd, 47).

`Umar (RadiAllahu Anhu) gives the following advice in this regard: “Refrain from entirely filling your stomach with food and drink. Otherwise it will be harmful to your body, will encourage the emergence of disease, and will make you lazy about ritual prayer. Follow the middle way regarding the consumption of food and drink! That is more useful to your body, and will also move you away from waste- fulness.” (Ali al-Muttaqî, Kanz, XV, 433/41713).

Thevenôt, a Western traveler, wrote a book of observations made during his travels and published it in Paris in 1665. In that book he recorded how our predecessors, who carried the flag of Islam for so many centuries, organized their lives. He noted their cleanliness and simplicity and their moderation in consumption, and how all these customs resulted in a society of healthy people. He said:

Turks live a healthy life and rarely get sick. Among them, you do not find the diseases related to the kidneys and so many other dangerous diseases that we come across in our homeland. They do not even know their names. I suppose that the reasons why the Turks have such perfect health conditions are that they bathe frequently and are moderate in their consumption of food and bev- erages. They eat only small amounts of food. And the foods they eat are not mixed, unlike the kind of food commonly eaten among Christians.(M. De Thevenot, Relation d’un Voyage Fait au Levant, s. 58, Paris, 1665.)

A proverb reminds us, “A person should not live to eat, but should eat to live!” The principle describes an important charac- teristic of believers.

Allah the Exalted wants us to be moderate in the consumption of food and drink and keep away from the custom that unbelievers follow in this regard. He warns us:

…while those who reject Allah will enjoy (this world) and eat as cattle eat. And the Fire will be their abode. (Muhammad, 47/12)

All behaviors that remove the blessing of the food are included under wastefulness. So if one begins eating without washing one’s hands and without remembering Allah, and if one does not thank Allah at the end of the meal, such negligence is considered not only ingratitude, but also profligacy.

In a Prophetic saying we read: “The blessing of the meal is in washing one’s hands before and after the meal.” (Tirmidhî, At`ima, 39).

“When someone goes to bed without washing the food off his hands, if he experiences harm, let him not blame anybody but him- self!” (Abû Dâwûd, At’ima, 53).

Observing the rules of hygiene when eating or drinking becomes a means to increase blessing and supports both material and spiritual health and peace. Additionally, if people begin a meal by saying bismillâh (“in the name of Allah”) and end it with alham- dulillâh (“the praise belongs to Allah”), that meal becomes curative, whereas a meal consumed without remembering and thanking Allah produces only negligence and excess weight. Our Prophet ﷺ declared:

If a person says bismillâh when entering his house and when beginning his meal, the Devil says to his soldiers, “You can neither spend the night nor find food here.” But if a person does not say bismillâh when he enters his house, the Devil says to his soldiers, “Here is a place for you to spend the night.” And if that person does not say bismillâh when he begins to eat, the Devil says to his sol- diers, “You have found both a place to stay the night and something to eat.” (Muslim, Ashriba’, 103)

A’ishah (RadiAllahu Anha) related :

Once the Messenger of Allah ﷺ sat down to eat with six of his Companions. A Bedouin came; he ate all the food in two bites. Then our Prophet ﷺ said, “If he had said bismillâh, the food would have been enough for all of us. Thus when any of you begins eating, let him say bismillâh. If he forgets to say it at the beginning, let him say bismillâh fi awwâlihi wa akhirihi, “In the name of Allah be its beginning and its end.”

When drinking water, the proper manners are to say bismillâh and to drink it in three sips; at the end one should say alhamdu- lillâh. Our Prophet ﷺ used to drink water and other beverages by dividing them into three parts. He said, “Don’t drink things down all at once, as camels do. Drink in two or three sips. Pronounce bismillâh before you drink something; and at the end say alhamdu- lillâh. (Tirmidhî, Ashriba, 13). Our Prophet ﷺ also forbade blowing into a beverage for any reason.

Eating alone also decreases the blessing in the food, and is a kind of wastefulness.. Our Prophet ﷺ said that “There is com- passion in community, and fire in solitude.” He advised us to be together when we eat.

Wahshî b. Harb related that some Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah! We eat but we do not feel satisfied.” 

The Messenger of Allah ﷺasked, “Perhaps you have your meals alone?”

They said, “Yes, we do!”

The Messenger of Allah ﷺtold them, “Have your meals together and say bismillâh, so that your food becomes blessed.” (Abû Dâwûd, At`ima, 14)

One feels terribly shaken when one sees the wastefulness dominating our habits of consumption of food and drink, in our daily life and especially during wedding ceremonies and feasts.

Wedding ceremonies and banquets are important means for strengthening community feeling. Unfortunately, when such cel- ebrations are designed egotistically, for purposes of show, they do not function to build community feeling. Instead they push people toward evil sentiments like pride, arrogance, jealousy, and envy, which lead to disappointment. Communities where such celebrations are encouraged fall away from the divine mercy and blessing.

To sum up, the end of a life controlled by extravagance is such a huge disappointment that Allah the Almighty says:

The profligate are the friends of devils. (Isrâ, 17/27)

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ reminded us that in the Hereafter we shall be required to give an accounting of all the bounties and trusts that we received during our worldly life. He urged us to move away from negligence. “No servant of Allah will be able to leave his place before he provides an explanation of where he spent his life, what he achieved with his knowledge, how he earned his wealth and how spent it, and how he spent the strength of his body.” (Tirmidhî, Qiyâmah, 1)

-AN EXCERPT FROM “SUCH A MERCY HE WAS..”

True Education: A Heart that is not hurt and that does not hurt…

The great Sami Effendi had just completed his bachelor’s degree at the Faculty of Law, at the Daru’l-Funun University in Istanbul. Noticing his upright conduct and wonderful demeanor, a righteous man said to him:

“This education is fine, too, but you really should look to complete the real education, son. Let’s enroll you in the school of wisdom, where you can receive training in the sciences of the heart and the secrets of the Hereafter”, after which he added:

“I really do not know how they train one in that school and what they teach. But if there is one thing I know, it is that the first lesson of this education is to not hurt, and the last lesson not to be hurt.

Moral of the Story:

Not hurting is relatively easy. But not being hurt is seldom in one’s control; for it is a matter of heart. Avoiding being hurt and heartbroken, therefore, is possible only by becoming immune the poisonous, heart-piercing arrows shot by mortals. The strength of this immunity depends on the level acquired in cleansing the soul and purifying the heart. On being stoned and insulted in Taif, the Blessed Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- was met with an angel, who assured him that he could, with a word, “…strike the two mountains, surrounding Taif together, and destroy the locals”.

But being the mercy to the worlds he was, the Honorable Prophet –upon him blessings and peace- not only declined that offer, he moreover turned towards Taif and compassionately pleaded for the eventual guidance of her locals.[*]

Similarly, as he was being stoned to death, Hallaj, a devoted lover of the Prophetﷺ, was heard pleading, “My Lord…They know not; so forgive them even before You forgive me!”

This is a mindset acquired only through education in its truest form; a mindset belonging to a heart purified through spiritual training.

On being asked about the traits of a purified heart (qalb-i salim), Abu’l-Qasim al-Hakim replied:

“A purified heart has three traits: It is a heart that does not hurt, a heart that is not hurt and a heart that does goodness only for the sake of Allah without accepting anything in return. For a believer reaches the presence of his Lord with dignity (wara), if he has not hurt anyone; with loyalty, if he has directed his heart solely to his Lord and protected it from being hurt by anyone; and sincerity, if he has not ascribed any mortal as partner to his righteous deeds.”

The poet says it beautifully:

The purpose of man and jinn on the garden of earth
Is to not hurt, devotee, and not be hurt!

(*) See, Bukhari, Badu’l-Khalq, 7; Muslim, Jihad, 111.

-An Excerpt from “Sufi Narratives and Lessons”

The Muhammedan Light

We cannot think of time and space for Allah (جل جلاله), who transcends all dimensions.(*) Existent in pre-eternity, His existence comes from Himself without need for any other. That stated, the Almighty nonetheless willed to be known and hence created existence, the world of plurality (âlam’ul-kasrat), which is also called mâ siwallâh, denoting anything other than Allah (جل جلاله).(**) In the process of creation, He first created a light that is the essence of Haqîqat’ul- Muhammadiya, the Muhammedan Reality.

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A precious gem is kept in an ornamented box, not a rudimentary one. Seen in this respect, the Muhammedan Light is the precious gem hidden in the rest of creation, the ornamented box serving to preserve it. Beings were created only for the sake of his greatness. It could therefore be said that Allah (جل جلاله), created existence to ornament the Muhammedan Light. In the language of divinity, the Almighty is the origin of creation, possessing absolute freedom to do anything He wills, while the cause is the Muhammedan Light, the first creation.

Contrary to the claims of some philosophers, the universe is not eternal and uncreated, on the contrary, it is fashioned by Allah (جل جلاله). Only the Almighty is uncreated and timeless. Created first was the Muhammedan Light, which sheds light on the hadith below:

“I was a Prophet when Adam was between soul and body (i.e. when Adam’s creation was in its preliminary stages)” (at-Tabarani, Al-Mu’jam al-Kabir; Al Khasa’is al-Kubra, vol.1, p.4). (Tirmidhî, Manâqib, 1)

In other words, the Blessed Prophet ﷺ was created and thus entrusted with the mission of prophethood well before the creation of Adam (Alaihi Salaam). His bodily manifestation on Earth, however, marks the final page of the book that is prophetic history, which means that the first page of that very book was turned with the Muhammedan Light and similarly came to a close with the embodiment of Muhammad ﷺ as a Prophet on the physical plane.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is thus the Light of Creation, from whom beings borrow their value, a fact elaborated in the hadith below:

“When Adam was ejected from Paradise due to his sin, he asked forgiveness from Allah through the words:

‘Forgive me, my Lord, for the sake of Muhammad!’

‘How do you know Muhammad’s name when I have not yet created him?’ the Almighty asked.

‘When you created me, my Lord, and breathed into me Your spirit, I raised my head and saw the words Lâ ilâhe illAllâh Muhammedun Rasûlullâh inscribed above the pillars of the Throne. I therefore thought that You would only mention Your name with the Most Beloved of Your creation.’

‘I forgive you, Adam’, the Almighty declared, ‘and were it not for Muhammad I surely would not have created you.’” (Hâkim, II, 672)

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Narrated from Ibn Abbas, Allah (جل جلاله), inspired Hazrat Isa (Alaihi Salaam) to “Believe in Muhammad and command those who live in his time from among your community to believe in him. For were it not for Muhammad, I would not have created Adam; neither would I have created Paradise and Hell. When I created the Throne (Arsh) on water, it started rocking, coming to a standstill only after I wrote over it Lâ ilâhe illâllâh Muhammedun Rasûlullâh”. (Hâkim, II, 672)

Hazrat Jabir (RadiAllahu Anhu) is reported to have one day asked the Prophet ﷺ: “May my father and mother be ransomed for you Messenger of Allah! Could you please tell me what the first created thing was?”

“The first thing Allah created was the Light of your Messenger from His Own Light.” (See Ajlunî, I, 265.)

Ibn Arabi (Alaihi Rehma) affords the following comments in regard:

“When Allah almighty heralded Muhammad ﷺ with Prophethood, Adam was not fully created; he was in a state between water and mud. Thus, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ effectively became, at once, the foremost core of all Divine laws (sharia) to transpire through prophets thereafter. Even as early as then, he had a sharia, as the Prophetﷺ indicates in the hadith that he was a Messenger when Adam was still in a state between spirit and body; he does not say he was a ‘man’ or that he simply existed. Prophethood may only be through a law, a sharia, given by the Almighty.” (Ibn Arabi, al-Futuhat,II, 171; IV, 66-67)

In another famous work, Ibn Arabî says:

“Being the most perfected of all human species, Prophethood thus began and ended with the Messenger of Allahﷺ.” (Ibn Arabî, Fusûsu’l-Hikem, IV, 319)

In his Mathnawi, Rumi (Alaihi Rehma) states:

“Come, o heart! The true festival is unity with Muhammadﷺ, his Majesty; for the luminosity of the universe is from the light of his sacred being.”

Sulayman Chelebi also makes mention of the Muhammadan Light in his Mawlid:

Mustafâﷺ nûrunu evvel kıldı vâr
Sevdi ânı ol Kerîm ü Girdigâr(***)

The Light of Mustaphaﷺ, He first made,
Which He loved, the Generous, the Great.

Thus the Muhammadan Light, labeled also as the Muhammedan Truth, is an essence that represents the spiritual identity of the Blessed Prophet ﷺ. It is he who is the most beloved and the most precious in the sight of the Creator. The reason for the existence of creation is the love of the Almighty towards the Muhammedan Light, the first entity created. The entire universe has therefore been given existence in the honor of the Muhammadan Light, the core which it envelops. Existence is only to expose and explain his reality. Having said that, just as it is impossible to pour an ocean into a cup, it is inconceivable to understand the Muhammadan Light as befits its nature.

(*)The human mind is of a nature that can think only within the bounds of space and time. Through the impressions it receives from the physical world, it can, albeit to a certain degree, reach Truth. Bound by the impressions received from the world of observation to refer to the truths that transcend the observational realm, both in terms designating and insinuating the content of metaphysical truths, man is thus virtually compelled to resort to metaphor.
(**) Ma siwallah is a term used to indicate all that which is other than Allah Y, and which keeps one away from Him.
(***) The other couplets of Sulayman Chalabi’s Mawlid pay further lyrical tribute to the Blessed Prophet ﷺ being the Light of Existence and that the universe was created but in honor of the Muhammedan Light.
-An Excerpt from the book, “THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD MUSTAFA THE ELECT ﷺ”
FOR MORE ON “Haqiqat al-Muhammadiyya”, READ THE ARTICLE AT: http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/masudq7.htm

Seeking means to come close to Allah

It is said in the Qur’an:

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and be with the true ones. (Tawbah, 9/119).

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful. (Ma’idah, 5/35).

With the message of the Qur’an Imprinted on his heart, Mawlana Jalaluddin (Alaihi Rahma) said::

  • “One is judged according to what one searches for.”
  • “Looking for something where it does not exist is the same as not looking for it at all.”
  • “Do not move before your guide moves. One who moves without a head is bound to be a tail.”
  • “It is better to be a slave to a Friend of Allah than to be a crown on the head of king.”

Sulaiman the Magnificent, the great sultan of the Ottomans, was once welcomed by applause on the way back home from a battle that ended in victory. The Sultan was afraid of his own pride, and therefore he recited the following couplet on the necessity of train- ing one’s ego:

  • Being sultan of the world is nothing but stupid struggle. Serving a friend of Allah is a greater glory!

Hadrat Mawlana (Alaihi Rehma) says:

  • “The fabric of wisdom that the soul has lost may be found in the hands of the people of heart.”
  • “If you unite with a man of heart, you will become a pearl even if you are as hard as stone.”
  • “Birds of a feather flock together.”
  • “One who wants to reach Allah must unite with the circle of the Friends of Allah. If you disconnect from them you are bound to perish.”
  • “Make friends with the Friends of Allah, so that the members of their caravan may multiply. The stronger the caravan, the less the risk of highwaymen.”

It is narrated that the word insân, which means “human being” in Arabic, derives from the word uns, which means “intimacy.” This shows that the human being has a native inclination to associate and make friends. One should therefore follow the divine command- ment and use this human attribute to associate with the upright and the faithful believers. For every human being is under fire from the Devil and the lower self. Imam Shafi`i (rah) puts it succinctly: “If you are not occupied with what is right, you will be occupied with what is wrong.”

So in order to protect oneself as an honored servant of Allah, a sincere Muslim should keep company with other committed Muslims from whom he or she can spiritually benefit. Every human being needs a spiritual guide. It is because of this need that Allah Almighty made the very first human a prophet.

Sa`di al-Shirazi (rah) makes a point about the effect of our companions on our condition. He said, “The dog of the Seven Sleepers attained great honor, gaining mention in history and in the Qur’an, for it kept company with the righteous. The wives of Prophets Noah and Lut, on the other hand, were ranked among blasphemers, for they kept company with the faithless.” As this story makes clear, keeping company with ignorant and blasphemous people draws one come closer to their way of life and thought. Mental connection leads to spiritual connection, and the wrong spiritual connection can lead to spiritual corruption.