Refutation: Why Do Muslims Eat More During Ramadan?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Recently, I came across an interesting article by David Wood concerning a question about Ramadan. This is a question that the Muslim community has been asking for sometime, Productive Muslim has covered it:

Qibla ‘Amman’s, Dr. Farouk Haffajee has also pointed out that Muslims to avoid, “Over-eating especially at sehri“, sehri or suhoor is the pre-dawn meal. Shaykh Musa Furber has also stated the following:

One of the hadiths narrated in Bukhari is that the Prophet (Allah bless him and his family and give him peace) said, “Whoever has not left untruthful talk and acting upon it: Allah has no need of him putting aside his food and drink.”

Its etiquette includes not filling up with food and drink at night, but rather eats portions since Mankind fills no container eviler than his stomach – since whenever one eats his fill at the beginning of the night will not be of use to himself for the rest of the night. It is the same regarding eating one’s fill before beginning the fast: he will be of no use to himself until near noon, since too much food leads to laziness and abatement. And besides: the whole purpose of fasting is missed by eating too much, since the point is that one taste hunger, and forgo what he desires.

Therefore, as we can see, over-eating during Ramadan actually subtracts, or removes the very purpose of Ramadan. In response to David, instead of blaming Islam for what some persons do, can you perhaps show us where Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) states that Muslims should eat more during Ramadan? I will concede however, that some Muslims do not understand the purpose of Ramadan entirely and in some cultures (‘urf), there are traditions to eat certain foods which are grossly unhealthy – Yes, I’m talking about you guys who eat the Rotis, the Fried Chicken, the Pakoras, the Samosas, etc. David, you need to learn to separate what is permissible according to Islamic law, and what is ‘urf or cultural traditions which may or may not agree with Islamic law. Just because some Muslims over-eat, there is no evidence to suggest that Islam allows this, to the contrary we read from Shaykh Salih al Munajjid:

Extravagance leads overstepping the mark, which means eating beyond the point of fullness. This is not limited to one or two or three meals a day. A person may eat one meal a day and eat extravagantly during that meal. Or he may eat three meals without being extravagant.

The hadeeth of al-Miqdaad encourages eating small amounts of food and being content with that which is enough to keep one going. It does not suggest the number of meals. These few mouthfuls may be eaten at three times, at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and he will be eating little in these meals. If he wants to eat more than a few mouthfuls – in his meal – he should leave one third (of his stomach) for his food, one third for his drink, and one third for air. If he needs another meal – as is the case for most people – there is nothing wrong with that, but he should pay attention to the same points noted above. The same applies if he needs to have three or four meals. The number of meals varies from one person to another, the type of food and the effort necessary to prepare it.

What matters is taking care of the body and not causing any harm, whether by overeating or starving.

What also matters is eating to have strength to carry out acts of worship, which is achieved by eating moderate amounts, not by eating heavy amounts or going too hungry.

It says in al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah (25/332): Part of the etiquette of eating is to be moderate in eating and not to fill the stomach. The most that is acceptable in this regard is for the Muslim to divide his stomach into three parts: one third for food, one third for drink and one third for air, because of the hadeeth: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is enough for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls to keep him going, but if he must (fill his stomach), then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for air.” That will lead to a lean and light body, because eating one’s full leads to heaviness, which makes one too lazy to do acts of worship and strive. When we say one third of the stomach, it means limiting oneself to one third of what one would have to eat one’s fill, and it was said that this may be done by limiting it to one half of a mudd. But al-Nafraawi favoured the former view, because of differences among people. All of this applies to one who will not become weak as a result of eating less than his fill, otherwise it is better for him to eat that which will give him energy to worship and will be physically appropriate for him.

In al-Fataawa al-Hindiyyah it says: Eating falls into different categories:

Obligatory – which is that which will ward off death. If a person stops eating and drinking until he dies, then he has committed a sin.

That which is rewarded – which is what will give him more energy so that he is able to pray standing up and makes it easy for him to fast.

Permissible – which is more than that, to the point of eating one’s fill, so that he will have more physical strength. There is no reward for this and it is not regarded as sinful. He will be brought to account for it but the reckoning will be light if the food was halaal.

Haraam – this refers to eating more than one’s fill unless the intention is to have the strength to fast the following day or so as not to embarrass a guest, in which case there is nothing wrong with eating more than one’s fill.

Ibn al-Haaj said: Eating in and of itself falls into different categories: obligatory, recommended, permissible, disliked and forbidden.

That which is obligatory is that which will keep him going so that he can fulfil his obligatory duties towards his Lord, because that which is essential to doing something obligatory is also obligatory.

That which is recommended is that which will help him to do naafil acts of worship, acquire knowledge and do other acts of obedience.

That which is permissible is that which enables one to fill one’s stomach in the manner prescribed in sharee‘ah.

That which is disliked is that which is a little more than is enough to fill the stomach but does not harm one.

That which is forbidden is eating a great deal that is harmful to the body.

Al-Nawawi said: It is makrooh to eat more halaal food than is enough to satisfy one.

The Hanbalis said: It is permissible to eat a great deal so long as it does not harm one. In al-Ghuniyah it says: It is makrooh when there is the fear of indigestion. It was narrated from Ibn Taymiyah that it is makrooh to eat that which leads to indigestion; it was also narrated from him that doing this is haraam.

Therefore, according to Islamic law, the over-eating which David has mentioned in his article is haram, forbidden for a Muslim to do and is not a practise encouraged by Islamic law. I’d like to deal with one last claim though and that is the rising of the amount of foods purchased during this month. Speaking from my experience as living in a community that is mixed with Muslims, Christians, Hindus etc, and by having known several restaurant and grocery owners – the rise in the purchase of food stuff can be easily explained.

Iftar or Aftari, is the meal consumed after the setting of the sun, the time for the breaking of the fast. A single family unit usually sponsors meals for over 300 – 4oo adults in my community. If we take this statistic into consideration, and we realise that many families (atleast 30 per Mosque), and even if we assume a single family only does this once, the average amount of food a family unit purchases should rise significantly – they’ve gone from feeding perhaps 2 – 4 individuals to 90 – 100 times this amount!

David then used the mistakes of a few and their improper eating methods, as an excuse to say that Islam allows men to engage in lustful acts of sexual perversion by allowing men to have sexual relations with more than one woman. David, this should not be a problem, for Abraham – the Father of our faiths – did have relations with more than one woman which give birth to the nations God promised him. It is therefore insulting to Abraham (may God’s peace and blessings be upon him) to mock what God has allowed, even if your faith disagrees with it, legally speaking -the Abraham tradition allows for one to have relations with more that one woman. Islam however takes it up a notch and requires that a man marry (and in marriage he assumes the responsibility of feeding, clothing and sheltering the wife), and in marriage sex is allowed. As for a concubine, the legalistic tradition of the Muslims is that it is seen as a form of marriage which then allows the male to have relations with the woman. Mufti Ebrahim Desai says:

Nevertheless, the wisdom underlying the permission granted by Shariat to copulate with a slave woman is as follows: The LEGAL possession that a Muslim receives over a slave woman from the ?Ameerul-Mu’mineen? (the Islamic Head of State) gives him legal credence to have coition with the slave woman in his possession, just as the marriage ceremony gives him legal credence to have coition with his wife. In other words, this LEGAL POSSESSION is, in effect, a SUBSTITUTE of the MARRIAGE CEREMONY. A free woman cannot be ‘possessed’, bought or sold like other possessions; therefore Shariat instituted a ‘marriage ceremony’ in which affirmation and consent takes place, which gives a man the right to copulate with her. On the other hand, a slave girl can be possessed and even bought and sold, thus, this right of possession, substituting as a marriage ceremony, entitles the owner to copulate with her.

He also mentioned Muta, which is a sin in Islam, it’s been a sin for over 1400 years David – you need to update your understanding of Islamic law, Mufti Ebrahim Desai states:

Subsequently, Nabi [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] issued the decree of its impermissibility (Haraam), a ruling that will apply until the day of Qiyaamat. Unshakeable proofs supporting their view may be found in a host of Hadith books including Sahih al-Bukhari (Hadith5523) and Sunan Abi Dawud (Hadith1; Chapter on Mut’ah). The shi’a and innovators still practice Mut’ah supporting their shameless behaviour with feeble arguments and proofs that are baseless in the Shari’ah. According to Ahlus sunnah wal Jamaa ‘contemporary Mut’ah’ constitutes Zina and is a major sin.

Lastly, if a man goes on a killing spree, although it is sanctioned by YHWH and the NT itself never mentioned a prohibition on murder – it is haram (forbidden) and a major sin to kill women or children (whether in Jihad or otherwise):

In the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa sallam) prohibits the killing of women in war. (note: in Islam a women can only be put to death if she commited murder as crime).

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Messenger of Alla;h (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saw the corpse of a woman who had been slain in one of the raids, and he disapproved of it and forbade the killing of women and children. (Bukhari, Vol. 4, Bk. 52, No. 257 & 258).

Abu Bakr advised Yazid: “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirmed person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camel except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.” (Mutta Malik, Book 21, Section 3, Number 10).

David therefore, has been soundly refuted. I will e-mail this to him, but as always, I expect him to be silent for alienating the authentic Islamic views on these matters is detrimental to his money making, fear mongering (argumentum ad baculum) campaign.

wa Allaahu ‘Alam.

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