Processed Food: Fad or Fitnah?

processed foodGo to any supermarket and you will see shelves upon shelves of ready-to-cook meals, canned food, ready-to-use fried onions, frozen vegetables and the like – all tempting you to save your time and try them out. At the same time, you might have heard that processed food is totally unhealthy, and you should avoid it as much as possible. So what should you do?

It is important to remember that virtually everything we eat is processed in some way or the other. Peeling, cutting, mashing, cooking, baking or frying is all referred to as food processing. All cooked food is, therefore, processed food. It doesn’t mean that all processed food is bad food. There is a huge difference between mechanical processing, which may be essential for making food eatable (such as peeling the bananas), heat processing that changes the texture and may change the nutritional value, but at the same time makes food more tasty and easily digestible, and chemical processing that is largely used by the industrial food manufacturers and which can turn good, natural ingredients into nutritionally worthless or even harmful products. Such chemically processed products are most commonly referred to as processed foods and must be avoided.

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My Deen is Green – Final Part



“Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death, and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds which are held between the sky and the earth, are indeed Ayat (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.) for people of understanding.” (Al-Baqarah 2:164)

Allah’s (swt) created world, in which He has placed the humankind, is full of His signs. One of the signs of Allah (swt) is the change that naturally occurs in the world: the succession of seasons, the rhythm of night and day, and the death of plants followed by their revival. The laws of nature and the interdependency of ecosystems are His other signs – we, as Muslims, should strive to understand them and live in harmony with all of Allah’s (swt) creation. After all, living green is part of our Deen. Here are a few tips on how to make your lifestyle more eco-friendly.

Adjust your habits in accordance with the change of seasons: Alhumdulillah, the five daily calls for prayers establish the best rhythm for our days. As their timings change throughout the year, we should also try to adjust our lifestyles to the change. Staying awake after Fajr throughout the year would mean that we can make the most of the natural sunlight, and save on electrical lights. If we learn to accept that summers are hot and winters are cold, we can stop trying to control our environment by excessive use of air-conditioning and heating systems. It’s healthier and more eco-friendly to use fans instead of ACs in summers, and to dress warmly in winter instead of overheating houses. Technical inventions are there to make our lives easier and more comfortable. However, for us Muslims, earthly pleasures should not be priorities; rather we should use modern conveniences in moderation, bearing in mind the burden that their use puts on the planet.

Choose nature-friendly entertainment: To appreciate Allah’s (swt) signs and His blessings on the Earth, we should try to discover more of the beauty of nature. Allah’s Messenger (sa) has described the good things on Earth as ‘wealth sweet and green’, and green is also the colour associated with Paradise. Instead of letting your family spend a day in front of the TV, computer or a video game, go out and discover the natural beauty around you. And once you will learn to appreciate it, you will be more likely to protect it – both on the basic level by not spoiling the landscape with litter, and in bigger ways by embracing a more environment-friendly approach to life.

Walk more, drive less: Technical inventions have made our lives easier but have they changed it for the better? Mass transport using fossil fuels seriously affects the planet, damaging the atmosphere and using up natural fuel resources. The modern habit of driving everywhere along with the design of cities which forces people to use motor transport, also puts more strain on our health – as we walk less and do altogether less physical exercise, we are more likely to develop certain illnesses, such as heart disease, which significantly impact our quality of life. We cannot give up cars and other means of transport completely, and we know that without them travelling great distances would be impossible for most of us. However, we should reduce the negative impact on the planet by choosing to walk instead of drive whenever possible, share our car with more passengers and opt for more eco-friendly fuel solutions, such as CNG installations.

De-clutter and simplify: The more material wealth we possess, the more time and energy we waste taking care of it. At some point, having more things, even useful ones, could make our life more complicated, instead of easier. The solution is to simplify and de-clutter our lives; get rid of all unnecessary things and organize our housework in a more energy-efficient way. Do you know how much water gets wasted if you keep the tap running while brushing your teeth? And how much water could you save if you washed your fruit and vegetables in a bowl, instead of in running water? Turn the temperature on your water-boiler thermostat down, and you’ll save both energy and money. Let the natural sunlight in instead of turning on the electric bulb. There are many such ways to make your household more energy-efficient!

Grow a garden, plant a tree: The Prophet (sa) famously said: “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari) He also forbade cutting the trees of Makkah, as the city has been established as a sanctuary on the earth. (Bukhari) Trees play a vital part in producing oxygen and reducing carbon dioxide levels. The uncontrollable devastation of rainforests and the Russian taiga has been identified as one of the driving forces behind climate change and an increase in extreme weather conditions. So plant trees. It is such an easy way to gain great reward from Allah (swt)! Green-up your surroundings – try to find a patch of land to grow a garden on or make a herb or vegetable garden on your roof or terrace! Growing your own coriander and tomatoes will not only provide you with fresh produce, but also let you and your family appreciate the blessing of fruit and vegetables. Save trees from being cut by reducing your use of paper and wood, by buying wooden furniture from companies that are known for responsible use of forests, and by campaigning for more green belts and parks in your city.

Be the change you want to happen: We would all like to live in a better, greener and cleaner world; however, sometimes we tend to think that others are responsible for all the bad that is happening. “It’s the big companies, the governments, the system…” In reality, we are all responsible for our bit, and if we want the change to happen, we should start with ourselves. Living a greener life may sometimes require more effort, more work, and less comfort, but it should reward us with a clearer conscience, healthier lives and, Insha’Allah, reward from our Lord (swt).

In Focus: The Blessings of Ramadan


Fasting in the month of Ramadan has been enjoined for all mankind in the Quran. We fast because it is an act of devotion and faith and because it is beneficial for our bodies and minds. As we bid farewell to Ramadan, there are also other blessings from Allah worth remembering and reflecting over them may help us be grateful to Allah for making us experience Ramadan this year, plan for the year ahead, and of course, ponder over how to make it even better next year.

The blessing of health

This year, fasting has not been not easy, especially during the hot summer months, and we have all experienced fatigue and discomfort at some point.  However, fasting has had a positive impact on our health, and we should be grateful to Allah to be included among those who have been able to fast. Good health is a blessing that we often tend to forget until we are afflicted with some ailment. This year, instead of complaining about aches and weaknesses as a result of fasting, we should simply say Alhumdulillah, and be grateful that Allah gave us the ability to fast along with good health that we enjoy daily without realizing its importance.

The blessing of family

Ramadan has many joys and one of its delights has been to share it with your family and friends. Fasting is a solitary act of devotion, but together we share the experience and we take pleasure and comfort from each other’s company. The feeling of hunger and physical stress may put us on edge, but fasting tests our patience, self-restraint and control of anger. Keeping in mind that the presence of our loved ones – our parents, spouses, children, siblings, other relatives and friends in our lives – is an Amanah from Allah should help us be more patient towards their shortcomings, act with more love and respect, and be grateful to Allah for their being there, for the days to come. Just imagine a Ramadan with one of your loved ones missing…

The blessing of comfortable homes

Ramadan in the summer months along with tests like loadshedding compel us to lose patience at times. Electricity, gas, clean water running from the tap – we take it all for granted and think our lives would be impossible without these conveniences. Fasting in a cosy, air-conditioned house is certainly easier than fasting in a mud hut without running water not to mention other comforts. If you have been without electricity this Ramadan and felt the brunt of it, let it be a reminder that it is another blessing from Allah to enjoy living in a comfortable house with modern amenities and that not all members of our Ummah are so lucky. Just as we empathize through fasting with those who suffer from hunger, we can show compassion with those living in less fortunate conditions by exercising patience and contentment and being grateful to Allah for what we have.

The blessing of literacy

One of the most memorable events of Ramadan is the revelation of the first verse of the Quran: “Read! In the Name of your Lord who has created (all that exists).” (Al-Alaq 96:1) The ability to read and write is a blessing we take for granted, forgetting that many miss the chance to acquire these essential skills. We forget how privileged we are and we forget to make best use of our advantages. For many of us, the Ramadan experience is not complete without daily recitation of the Quran. It is the best habit worth continuing throughout the year, as incorporating the Quran into our everyday life is sure to enrich it.

Today is an odd night in the last ten days of Ramadan – there is another one to come, Insha’Allah. We search for Laylat-ul-Qadr which is indeed the night on which the Quran was revealed. Let us contemplate over this blessing of Allah to guide humankind to the straight path.

May Allah (swt) enable us to remain thankful and patient, make the most of this Ramadan and continue our best practices of the Deen throughout the year. Ameen!