India observes National Nutrition Week every year from September 1 to September 7 to raise public awareness about nutrition and healthy eating habits. The week is honoured to make people understand the importance of nutritional and adaptive eating habits to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s is what Islam says about Food and Nutrition:
Islam is a religion which Allah (SWT) has perfected and completed for people. It talks about each and everything which effects people and is important to life. Nutrition appears time and again in Qur’an as well as in the Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Findings indicate that aliment/foods, eating, water/drinking words, and their derivatives are repeated 171, 109, and 131 times in the Holy Quran, respectively. An entire surah (chapter) has been revealed, named Al Ma’idah (The Table spread with food).
According to the Holy Quran, except Haram foods (pork meat, wine, carrion meat, blood, and meat of animals not slaughtered properly in the Islamic manner), all foods are tayyab (lawful). The Holy Quran contains many foodstuffs and verses with nutritional concepts and it recommends eating varied and balanced diet.
Prohibited to you are dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allāh, and [those animals] killed by strangling or by a violent blow or by a head-long fall or by the goring of horns, and those from which a wild animal has eaten, except what you [are able to] slaughter [before its death], and those which are sacrificed on stone altars, and [prohibited is] that you seek decision through divining arrows. That is grave disobedience. This day those who disbelieve have despaired of [defeating] your religion; so fear them not, but fear Me. This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islām as religion. But whoever is forced by severe hunger with no inclination to sin – then indeed, Allāh is Forgiving and Merciful.AL QUR’AN 5:3
According to some narratives, the effects of some foods on human behavior and habits are as follows:
- Moderation in eating will bring about morality, confidence and courage, and will lead to heart health.
- Milk gives patience, kindness, calmness and more.
- Honey enhances memory, purity and healing.
- Grapes turn grief and depression into happiness and joy.
- Dates cause patience, forbearance and satisfaction.
- Olive helps to strengthen memory.
- Fresh Fruits reinforce nerves and healthy skin.
Apart from the prohibited (haram) food, Allah (SWT) encourages us to eat varied food which has been made available to us. He (SWT) prohibits us to impose on ourselves self-made restrictions.
Say: “Who has prohibited the embellishment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions?”AL QURAN (7:32)
Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
“Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.”Al-Baqarah 2:173
He Almighty also says,
“Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.Al-Baqarah 2:168
“It is He who subdued the seas, from which you eat fresh fish…”An-Nahl 16:l4
“It is He who sends down water from the sky with which He brings up corn, olives, dates and grapes and other fruit.”An-Nahl 16:l16
“In cattle too you have a worthy lesson. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, between the chyle and the blood: pure milk, a pleasant beverage for those who drink it.”An-Nahl 16:66
“From within their (i.e. the bees) bellies comes forth a fluid of many hues, that provides people with a cure (of illnesses)”An-Nahl 16: 69)
However, this should not be misunderstood to justify excessive eating and gluttony. Islam is a religion of moderation. It teaches to avoid extremism in all sphere of life amd the same applies to eating.
In the Quran, we read:
“Eat and drink, but avoid excess…”Taha 20:81
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“When filled with food, the belly becomes the worst container for the son of Adam. It is sufficient for a human being to have a few bites to keep himself fit (which means that it is sufficient to have only what one needs to maintain strength and well-being). If one must eat, then let him use one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for breathing.”At-Tirmidhi
In another authentic Hadith, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“The food of one person will be sufficient for two, and the food of two people will be sufficient for four, and the food of four will be sufficient for eight.”Muslim
Imam Sadeq (RA) says:
“Eating less is commendable in every situation and among all tribes, for it has an intrinsic benefit and it is beneficial to physical appearance as well”
As practicing extremism in eating is discouraged, similarly practicing excessive penance by not eating anything at all too is discouraged. To abstain from eating without a valid reason is contrary to health protection. Hence, Islam does not approve it. Allah says in the Quran:
“Do not forbid yourselves the wholesome things God has made lawful for you.”Al-Maidah 6: 87
Islam is about taking the middle path. It encourages eating the right amount and right variety, thus having a balanced diet.
“And He enforced the balance. That you exceed not the bounds; but observe the balance strictly, and fall not short thereof”.Ar-Rahman 55:7-9
Also, Islam tells in detail about the importance of cleanliness, and how it is significant for health. Nutritious food alone loses its meaning if not prepared or served with hygiene. It also stresses on the importance of sitting in the right posture while eating and chewing properly.