Ramadan Mubarak! A blessed month is upon us. A month in which the gates of Jannah are open, and the gates of Jahannam are closed. A month in which any obligatory act can earn up to 70 times its normal reward. A month in which there is a night worth 1,000 nights. A month in which people are more generous and caring with one another. And a month in which people over eat until their guts busts open, they can’t bend to make rukuh properly, and cannot focus properly in prayer, mubarak! It’s time to bust out the Pepto
I know it’s kind of a weird way to wish you a blessed Ramadan, but I’ve been going through some changes in thought when it comes to eating in the past few months. And it’s all I can think about now that Ramadan is upon us.
First, it all started with taking Precious Provisions in June. It’s a class about the fiqh of food and clothing taught by Sh. Yasir Qadhi for AlMaghrib Institute. One of the things that he mentioned was that it is in the perfection of our character to not over do it when it comes time for eating. Of the hadiths that he mentioned, one stuck out in my mind especially. There is no container more evil to fill than your stomach, and just a few morsels is sufficient to keep the back straight [Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]. This is referring to, of course, over eating, and taking way more than is necessary to survive.
After that class I felt a little embarassed to take a big plate of food and eat it like it was my job. Embarrassment faded, and disgust rolled in after I watched the documentary Super Size Me where I witnessed what an obscene diet of too many calories can do to your body! Since then I don’t really like eating out anymore, and I definitely try to keep in mind how many calories I’m consuming. I was convinced… smaller portions are better for me spiritually and physically.
So, I spent the past two months of summer trying to cut back on whatever I could. Unfortunately at a party or two, or while visiting relatives, I ended up indulging a little, but not too much. I’ve been pretty good, alhumdu’lillah. And I hope to continue in this routine insha’Allah.
Ramadan was around the corner a few weeks ago, and I thought to myself, “Will I be able to keep up this down sized diet in Ramadan? The fasts are almost 15 hours long! I’ll need to eat more to keep myself alive, for sure.“ But then I attended jumuah at IFS where Sh. Abdool Rahman Khan gave everyone an ear full about over eating in Ramadan. He said Muslims today waste more food than ever, especially in the month of Ramadan– a time when we are trying to learn what it is to be thankful for the bounties of Allah by restraining ourselves per His request.
My God, he was right. I thought about how much iftar people make, and how if we regularly eat to our fill of pakoray, fruit chaat, patties, samosay, cholay, dahi baray, etc… we end up wasting dinner. Or on the flip side, when we make a conscious effort to cut back on iftar food… we end up wasting that because someone inevitably is going to prepare tons of it because, “It’s Ramadan, and we have to make it. It’s what we do in Ramadan.“ What a tragedy! Wasting so much food on ourselves or in the trash. (A lot of the food does end up in the trash because there are hardly any opportunities to eat left overs in Ramadan)
Then I heard another speech just a few days before Ramadan by Sh. Muhammad Alshareef called The Fasting and the Furious. He specifically mentioned over eating in Ramadan. His main point was that some of us consume so much food when we break our fasts, that we feel absolutely lethargic during the night prayers. Even worse, we are unmotivated to get up for sahur, a Sunnah of the Prophet sallalahu alayhi wasalaam, because “Well, I ate so much last night, I don’t really need to eat in the morning.“ We are doing our bodies and our souls a disservice by consuming so much food in Ramadan. When we don’t eat all day, our metabolism slows down dramatically. So when we gorge ourselves on fried foods and plates of dinner, all that food just sits in our stomachs like a rock when we go to pray, a short 15 or 30 minutes after our meals are done.
Anyway you look at it, over eating is a bad idea, ESPECIALLY in the month of Ramadan. Just because we’re fasting doesn’t mean we can binge on food during the night hours. Instead we should try to maintain our regular eating habits, and really focus on increasing our taqwa–the main purpose of this month. I don’t know about you… but massive indigestion and over eating might get in the way of that for me.
May Allah help us to truly benefit during this month and may He make us more thankful servants to Him with increased taqwa, ameen. Ramadan Mubarak to you all