Eat of the pure things and do good deeds. [The Qur’an 23:51]

The Prophet [pbuh] was reported to have said: “I am a slave of Allah. I eat as a slave eats.

In Islam, one does not eat to meet a physical need or a pleasure.

All acts of a Believer, including the act of eating, are acts of worship [ibadah].

In Islam, the aim of eating is to support the body to worship Allah The Most Sufficient, “Who feeds and is never fed.” [Bukhari]

Eating becomes ibadah when undertaken with the right intention, in conformity to Islamic law, by following the Prophet’s [pbuh] examples and with a deep understanding of the act itself.

In Islam, food is a blessing, a gift and sustenance from Allah The Most Exalted.

When we eat with the consciousness that it is an act of worship, we are more likely to be less wasteful in our eating, eat less and think of others who are in need of food.

When consumed with consciousness of Allah The Most Exalted, food becomes a source of divine grace and blessing [barakah].

In Islam, food consumed must be clean, pure and safe [halal].

The halal food requirement applies not only to the content, preparation and serving but also to the lawful acquisition of food.

Food obtained through theft or purchased from corrupt income is forbidden [haram].

Most discussions today about halal food are actually about a non-halal food: pork.

Pork is amongst the prohibited food mentioned in The Qur’an. [5:3]

Though experts have described the medical dangers from its consumption, the reason why Muslims don’t eat this meat is to obey the commands of Allah The All-Knowing. The health aspects are secondary.

In Islam, all prohibited food can be accepted as lawful when a Muslim is forced by famine or starvation to eat them to save his life.

Muslims are encouraged to eat with at least another sharing his/her food as there is blessing [barakah] in eating in company.

Muslims are discouraged from being in the company of others who are consuming prohibited food [for example, intoxicants] as it may give the impression to others that he/she is approving their act of sin. [Tirmizi]

Islam does not encourage vegetarianism or make the eating of meat obligatory. The rule is that the halal food consumed must be ‘wholesome’ [2:168] or balanced. The benefits of eating fruits, vegetables, animal and sea food are mentioned in The Noble Qur’an and the sunnah.

Before beginning to eat, a Muslim must invoke the Name of Allah [Bismillah] to acknowledge Him as The Provider and seek His blessings over the food.

Invoking Allah’s name is also meant to remind oneself of the divine guidelines relating to food, and affirm that one’s eating is an act of ibadah and not for pleasure.

Invoking Allah’s name also repels Satan form partaking of the food.

Moderation in eating is emphasized in Islam. The Qur’an warns against exceeding the limits when eating the good things provided for our sustenance by Allah The Most Exalted.

The consequence is incurring the anger of Allah The Most Exalted and those who incur Allah’s anger are “bound to perish.” [20:81]

The Prophet’s [pbuh] advised: “A few mouthfuls that would keep one’s back upright is enough. But if he must eat more, then he should fill one third [of his stomach] with food, one third with drink and leave one third for easy breathing.” [Ahmad]

One who is unable to rein in his desire for food may also fail in restraining himself from other prohibited acts.

The Prophet [pbuh] described moderation in eating as a characteristic of the Believer: “The Believer eats in one stomach whilst the disbeliever eats in seven.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

The Qur’an also warns against wasting of food: “And eat and drink, but waste not. Truly Allah dislikes Al-Musrifun [those who waste by extravagance].” [7:31]

The Prophet [pbuh] advised against leaving food on a plate [to be thrown away] as one does not know which portion is blessed.

Therefore, one should not put more food on one’s plate than on is likely to eat.

Muslims should avoid criticizing food as it is sustenance from Allah The Merciful. The Prophet [pbuh] never expressed his dislike of a food. If he liked it, he ate it. If he disliked it, he set it aside.

Muslims are prohibited from using cups, plates and cutlery made of gold or silver.

Such displays of one’s wealth are contrary to the spirit of humility encouraged in Islam and a clear disobedience of the sunnah: “Do not drink in golden or silver cups nor eat in such plates.” [Bukhari]

Eating with one’s right hand, sitting in a posture of humility (and not sit redlining) and not standing while eating or drinking are amongst other sunnah relating to eating.

Muslims end their eating by praising Allah [Alhamdulillah] for the sustenance.

Many recite the prayer of the Prophet [pbuh] that praises Allah “Who fed us, provided us drink and made us Muslims.” [Muslim]

Something as basic as eating becomes worship when approached the Islamic way.

There is certainly a lot of meat in describing Islam as the way of good and healthy life!

By Dr Y Mansoor Marican, Ph. D