Food, Health and Islam

foodIn every part of the world, people face challenges in their lives. Some people face financial instability, hunger and poverty; others face violence, natural disasters and homelessness. And then there are those who face health issues. In every country, the problems are different. In the “developed” countries, the majority of our problems are diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and depression, just to name a few. Of course, those are not the only problems here; however, I feel like these problems are the ones affecting a lot of people. These health issues all probably have one thing in common: our food!

Yes, our food. Whether it is fruits and vegetables, rice, pasta, milk or meat, the honest truth is our food is just not grown in the same way compared to the way it used to be prepared and grown 100 or even 50 years ago. There are chemicals used for cleaning, and even growing in order to increase production.

My point: the food we put into our bodies has a lot to do with how healthy or unhealthy we are or we can become overall. Many of the diseases I named can be caused by chemicals found in the everyday food we eat. If you are someone who cares about your health and the health of your family, especially that of your children, you must do the research and try to eat food that has no chemicals and that is grown, handled and prepared the right and healthy way if you possibly can.

So what is the healthy way? 

I’m sure many people want to eat healthy but they just don’t know which foods are exactly ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy.’ Is organic always healthy? How do we even know what is really organic and what is not? These days, food companies find ways to put the best descriptions for their products just to sell them. Unless you put a lot of effort and energy into researching and learning about food labels, organic vs. non-organic and food made from GMOs etc. it’s really difficult to tell exactly what it is that you are eating and feeding your family. So how do we even know what food is made, processed and packaged without hazardous chemicals?

Well, the short and quick answer is, if you buy your food at grocery stores and fast-food restaurants and don’t grow or prepare it yourself, you can never really know for sure how it was grown and prepared nor can you tell if chemicals were used in the process. However, what you can do is at least read and research on which companies sell good, clean food be it vegetable, fruits or milk. Be a well-informed person when it comes to what you eat and feed your family. There are a lot of companies and individuals who work really hard to put healthy and safe foods for their customers.

How does Islam fit into all this talk about food…

As Muslims, we all know one of the very first things we are taught as soon as we learn how to talk and that is  to say “Bismilaah” at the beginning of every meal; what a blessing this is! In fact, we must say Bismilaah when starting anything that’s good—we say it even for daily activities such as dressing, making wudu, when leaving or entering our homes and riding cars and planes. It’s such a simple and short phrase but has so much power behind it, subhanalaah! It really is also very important that we teach our children this great phrase as soon as they are able to speak. The benefits of saying “Bismilaah” are immeasurable. Thus, when we teach our children to say Bismilaah and get them in the habit of always saying Bismilaah at the start of everything, we are setting them up for success.

Have you really thought about why we say “Bismilaah?” Have you really pondered on the importance of this phrase? The full version of Bismilaah, called the basmalah is translated in the English language as “In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” When eating, dressing, leaving or entering the home, Bismilaah (in the name of Allah) suffices. By starting all that we do in the name of Allah, we seek his help and blessing. By starting with His beautiful name we are seeking his protection. It was the sunnah of all the prophets, Prophet Muhamad (SAW) included. It is not only preferred and encouraged to say bismilaah at the start of everything; in some cases it is obligatory in Islam to say “bismilaah” for example, when making wudu.

As I mentioned before, food is not as healthy as it used to be. We might be eating fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides, or even worse, we might drink milk that came from a cow that was injected with growth hormones in order to increase its milk production. Furthermore, we might consume foods that have additives, food coloring and excessive amounts of sugar or salt. These are all things that are dangerous to our health and yet it is in the food we eat every day! My point is that it really is difficult to stay away from these chemicals even with the best of our efforts. This is where Islam, our beautiful religion, comes into the discussion.

The connection

In Islam we are taught to put forth our best efforts in everything that we do. This includes how we eat and what we eat. As Muslims, we have to follow certain guidelines when it comes to our food. Same thing with when we’re actually eating. We have to eat with the right hand, sit while eating and drinking and do our best to not waste food in the process. It’s important to get these things right before anything else. And most importantly we must always start with saying “Bismilaah” before every meal.

As previously mentioned, once we say Bisimilaah before every meal, we are asking for His protection from all harm including all of those chemicals and especially from the shaytan. By always remembering to say Bismilaah, InshaaAllah, we will be protected from whatever harm that’s in our food. Allah (God) is all knowing and all-seeing. He alone knows what we can’t see that can be harmful to us and our loved ones. Despite our best efforts to buy food that is “organic” or “all-natural,” at the end of the day, we don’t really know if those labels are correct. That’s why it’s important to always ask for His blessing and protection through following our religion, Al-Islam.

To learn more about the benefits and history of the Basmalah, please visit the following sites.

http://www.iqrasense.com/allah/the-blessings-of-saying-bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceC9GyjMprk

 

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13 thoughts on “Food, Health and Islam

  1. Assalamu alaikom sister. As a Nutrition student, I’ve already studied more about how the food industry add non-natural ingredients to the food, undergo the food to processes just to make it taste better or to preserve it longer. We can’t avoid eating processed food and we can’t stop the food industry to make ones because, the truth is, we actually need preserved food to safeguard the food from being spoiled. But, there are food industry that are putting some weird or health risky ingredients for the sake of making it taste palatable. As consumers, we have to know what’s in our food by being aware of the ingredients and the ways of preparing the food. As Muslims, we must be aware that there are high chances that the food we ate has a haraam ingredients. So, if you are doubtful of the ingredients of a certain product and/or you aren’t provided with an honest list of ingredients, better not eat it.

    • Walaykum salaam Najmah. I agree with you but in this article I was focusing on the ingredients that may not be haraam for example things such as sugar that is added to food which is too much. Or food colorings. I understand that as Muslims we most certainly have to read the ingredients and stay away from food that is clearly haraam. I just wanted to stress the importance of saying Bismilaah and how Allah adds barakah and gives us protection through saying it.

      Thank you and jazaakilahu kheyran for your input.

      • Alhamdulillah yes sis I just shared those information also. Today, many people forget the importance of saying Bismillah before food. I heard that once the food is not recited with Bismillah, it becomes haraam. Im not sure with the authencity of that though. may Allah guide us through our daily obstacles. 🙂

  2. Assalamu alaikum my dear sisters,

    This is a topic very near and true to my heart.

    I have considered our food plight and myself am making the transition to more whole foods and organic diet for my family and I. Anything we put in our body that causes us harm whether it be immediate or long term is haram. This goes for too much sugar which can cause obesity and diabetes too the preservatives, colorings and artificial flavorings in food which are known to cause childhood diseases and most are carcinogenic which leads to cancer and various other diseases.

    The best approach is to eat whole foods and not take the chance of eating artificial or questionable ingredients. I read an interesting article that spoke about how if we eat what is in season and local it is healthier for us, as it is what Allah intended. If we do this preservatives are unnecessary.

    Allah knows best 🙂

    Wonderful article sister Um Ibrahim 🙂

    • Walaykum salaam sister Vanessa Jazaakilahu kheyran for the tips. Yes I too have heard that eating veggies and fruits that are in season is very good. I believe it is very difficult at first to cut all of the sugar and unhealthy things but it’s worth every effort. Unfortunately it’s something which I still have not mastered…I mean eating all healthy, non processed foods:(

      But inshaaAllah I’m working towards it every day and inshaaAllah can’t wait to see the good results. May Allah make it easy for us.

  3. Fateema Abdullah says:

    Asalam Alaykum sister, what a great article. After my pregnancy I also started questioning what we were eating and I believe it was a sign from Allah because I was someone who loved junk foods. I had become addicted to sugar. But Alhamdulillah, Allah made me become conscious of the dangers of all the food I was eating and giving to my family. Furthermore, the research I had done clearly stated that what we eat is the root of our health issues and on the other hand if we eat the proper foods we can cure the diseases that doctors say we cannot cure.

    I would like to mention the following verse from the Qur’an when Allah says
    “O you People! Eat of what is on earth, Halal and pure, and do not follow the footsteps of the Satan; Indeed for he is to you an open enemy” (2:168)

    For me it is an advice from Allah to eat what is natural and if I consider this verse in today’s world, it is a warning to stay away from chemical ingredients. And Allah knows best.

    For me too, it is hard to shift from processed foods to natural ones but I will pray to Allah to be able to do so and may Allah help you also in your journey to consuming natural foods. Amin (and sorry for my looong answer)

    • Walaykum salaam sister! MashaaAllah jazaakilaahu kheyran for your great tips. That’s great to hear that your hard work and efforts to eat healthy has paid off. InshaaAllah I’m working hard on it as well although it can be very tough sometimes.

      It’s interesting how Allah says not only halal but “pure.” May Allah make it easy for us to eat the halal and the pure! Allahuma Amin. Thank you for reading and commenting ukhti.

  4. Masha’Allah a great read! It’s really scary just thinking of what may be in the food we put into our bodies. It especially scares me when I read the ingredients on a package of food and I have no idea of what these ingredients are. Even the fish and meat we eat are injected with who knows what and our fruits and vegetables are sprayed with toxic chemicals- it’s really frightening! May we all try harder in seeking knowledge in what goes into our bodies!

  5. Asalamualaikum sis. This is a lovely article explaining the importance of healthy food and also a reminder to say bismillah. As a revert I found it very difficult at first to remember to say bismillah all the time as I was not used to it. I always try to make my food from scratch and buy organic when possible. Last year I bought veg boxes from the local farm which I loved but they were working out too expensive for me 😦 I do still get milk from the farm though which is organic and unhomogenised. Although it is more expensive, I don’t think I could go back to drinking normal super market milk now. It is my one food shop indulgence 🙂

    • Walaykum salaam Weronika. I know organic food is expensive which makes it hard for people to eat healthy. InshaaAllah it’s just important to do what we can. Jazaakilahu kheyran for reading;)

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