By Bushra Majid
We all grew up listening, memorizing, and using the following quote in our essays or speeches; Health is wealth. Wealth is described as something that is in abundance and gives you pleasure, benefit, and comfort. As a doctor, I cannot emphasize enough and agree that health tops the list among the many forms of wealth considered and cherished throughout the globe. My granny often used to say that if you have health, you can do anything in this world. But many times, it’s sad to realize that we only understand this notion once we or any of our beloved falls sick.
In this era of urbanization and industrialization, where our routines have apparently given us less time to do cooking and meal prep, one tends to deviate towards opting for easily accessible unhealthy options. Instead of fixing a salad or fruit bowl, it has become so much easier for us to grab a pack of crisps and a can of soda to go with it.
In the last three years that I entered my professional field and practice, I have been shocked to see the alarming rise in patients that are being diagnosed or treated for complications of diabetes. It is well known and proven by the medical literature that people of Southeast Asia and the origin tend to develop diabetes more frequently and earlier because of their eating habits and lifestyle.
Our diet is undoubtedly comprised mainly of carbohydrates in the form of Roti (Chapati/ Nan) and rice. Salads and fruits are gradually vanishing from our meals and fast food has increasingly become a popular and favorite food for all ages. Its times like these that make me ponder why we have forgotten the golden rules and etiquettes of eating taught to us by Allah (swt) and our beloved Prophet (sa).
To begin with, our religion has asked us to eat in moderation. As Prophet (sa) said: “The food for two persons is sufficient for three, and the food of three persons is sufficient for four persons.” Volume 7, Book 65, Number 304
By doing this we not only fulfill our appetite but also refrain from overeating, which is a leading cause of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. This cannot be more emphasized by the following Hadith:
“A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little food), and a Kafir (unbeliever) eats in seven intestines (eats much food).” Volume 7, Book 65, Number 309:
In today’s time, much inclination has been there to consume refined stuff in the form of bread, pasta, cereals, parathas, etc. From a medical point of view, carbs having fibers such as unsifted wheat, brown rice, and bran are beneficial for health as they don’t raise blood sugar levels excessively and pass out from the body as roughage. This has also been highlighted in a Hadith:
I asked Sahl bin Sad: “Did Allah’s Apostle ever eat white flour?” Sahl said: “Allah’s Apostle never saw white flour since Allah sent him as an Apostle till He took him unto Him.” I asked: “Did the people have (use) sieves during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle?” Sahl said: “Allah’s Apostle never saw (used) a sieve since Allah sent him as an Apostle until He took him unto Him,” I said: “How could you eat barley unsifted?” he said: “We used to grind it and then blow off its husk, and after the husk flew away, we used to prepare the dough (bake) and eat it.” Volume 7, Book 65, Number 324
There are various food items that our beloved Prophet (sa) used to love eating. They not only have great health benefits but are a source of delicious meals as well. The list of top ten is as follows with their benefits:
- Barley (great source of fiber, iron, and energy)
- Dates (mentioned in the Quran, source of iron, fibers, energy)
- Figs (mentioned in Quran, helps relieve constipation and piles)
- Grapes (mentioned in Quran, great for kidneys and purifying blood)
- Honey (boosts immunity, best for cold, and flu)
- Milk (a great source of calcium and strength to the body)
- Mushroom (great source of protein, good for eyes)
- Olive oil (mentioned in Quran, beneficial for skin and hair, delays aging)
- Pomegranate (mentioned in Quran, known to have a seed from the fruit in Jannah)
- Melon (best for pregnancy)
Besides these, our Prophet (sa) enjoyed eating pumpkin, gourd, zucchini, onion, chard, garlic, leek, mushroom, and turnip among others.
We can thus conclude that the simpler the diet, the more nutritious it is, and the lesser the health hazards. As Muslims and humans, we have been blessed with guidance from Allah (swt) and his Prophet (sa) on almost every aspect of life.
It is the need of the time that we ponder upon the teachings and habits of our beloved Prophet (sa) in order to lead a healthy life and instill good eating habits among our children as well. Let us strive to adopt healthy eating and promote it as well and reap the reward of bringing a Sunnah back to life, In sha Allah.