Food is the basic need of a biological life. It contains essential nutrients necessary for the growth and development of a body. Whatever we eat, it becomes a part of our body and thus affects our physical and mental health. To maintain healthy mind and body it is important that our food should be healthy; it should contain all essential nutrients. Healthy food not only keeps the body fit for different activities, but it also strengthens the immune system and keeps the body safe from different kinds of illnesses. A careless attitude towards food choices may lead to certain physical and mental health problems. When it comes to the physical and mental health of a person, it ultimately affects social relations and society. Humans are social beings; they need to rely on each other by exchanging their skills, knowledge, and resources. Inflicting harm to oneself by making wrong choices of food is not a wise behavior. Wrong food choices mean nothing is being paid back to society except a troubled/sick body. Social living demands that each individual should take care of everything including himself.
Though food is essential for life, however it is not necessary that every food is healthy. Wrong choices, as mentioned above, may lead to physical, mental, and social problems. Allah thus keeps His people informed about the right choices.
And eat of the lawful and good things Allah has provided for you; and be conscious of Allah, in whom you are believers (5: 88)
It is He who made the earth manageable for you, so travel its regions, and eat of His provisions……… (67: 15)
And the earth He laid [out] for the creatures. Therein is fruit and palm trees having sheaths [of dates]. And grains having husks and scented plants*. So which of the favors of your Rubb would you deny? (55: 10-13) *herbs and spices
And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat …………… (16: 14)
Among the livestock are some for transportation, and some for clothing. Eat of what Allah has provided for you……… (6: 142)
And there is a lesson for you in livestock: We give you to drink*1 from what is in their bellies, and you have many benefits in them, and from them you eat*2 (23: 21) milk*1, meat*2
The herbivore animals [cattle] which Allah made permissible/lawful to people are easy to raise, keep, farm, and slaughter.
…………..He subdued them [livestock] to you, that you may glorify Allah for guiding you. …………. (22: 37)
O you who believe! Eat of the good things which We have provided for you, and give thanks to Allah, if it is Him that you serve (2: 172)
THE PROHIBITED [HARAM] FOOD
Prohibited for you are carrion*1 [dead animal], blood*2, the flesh of swine*3, and animals dedicated to other than Allah*4; also the flesh of animals strangled, killed violently, killed by a fall, gored to death, mangled by wild animals*5 – except what you rescue, and animals sacrificed on alters; and the practice of drawing lots. For it is immoral. Today, those who disbelieve have despaired of your religion, so do not fear them, but fear Me. Today I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed My favor upon you, and have approved Islam [peace] as religion for you. But whoever is compelled by hunger, with no intent of wrongdoing – Allah is Forgiving and Merciful (5: 3)
*1[Already] dead animal or bird, if their cause of death is unknown, can be dangerous for health because they might have died from disease or from poisoning. Moreover, the bacteria that cause disease [pathogens] increase rapidly in a dead animal and make its tissues rot [toxic/poisonous]; thus, it is not safe to consume the meat of such animal or a bird.
*2Blood running in the veins of a living bird or animal is essential for its life. However, it can be fatal for life if consumed [through mouth] as food. Blood not only carries vitamins, oxygen, protein, sugar, and fat but it also carries impurities [waste products such as, urea, uric acid, creatinine, carbon dioxide] and toxins that needs to be expelled from the body through urine and feces. Extra consumption of these impurities [through food] means disease and harm to health. Moreover, blood [outside the body] has an ideal environment for germs to grow and multiply. Therefore, it is always harmful to consume blood even if it is taken from a healthy animal. If it is taken as food from a sick animal, it may transfer various diseases into the consumer’s body.
*3Pig is the filthiest animal, it not only eats feces and urine of its own, but also the excreta of other animals. It also eats decaying animal flesh and even maggots. Unlike other mammals pig does not sweat or perspire. Since it does not perspire, the toxins remain within its body and in its meat. Pigs carry a number of parasites in their bodies [and meat] that may cause several diseases. [Allah created this filthy animal only to test obedience of people to His commands].
*4Allah alone gives life to any living organism, and He alone has the right to take that life back. Mentioning His name at the time of slaughter means that it is being done with His permission, and we are nobody to take away anybody’s life.
*5Wild animals [carnivores] catch diseases or parasites from eating the flesh [and blood] of other animals. Consumption of such animals is thus harmful for health.
OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDS OF ALLAH IS ESSENTIAL EVEN IN THE CONSUMPTION OF FOOD
They ask you, what has been made lawful for them. Say, “Lawful for you are good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah.” Indeed Allah is swift in account (5: 4)
O you who have believed, Allah will surely test you through something of the game that your hands and spears (can) reach, that Allah may make evident those who fear Him unseen. And whoever transgresses after that – for him is a painful punishment* (5: 94) Majority of the painful diseases are food related*.
So eat that [meat] upon which the name of Allah has been mentioned, if you are believers in His signs (6: 118)
And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies to dispute /argue with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associates [of others with Him] (6: 121)
We have appointed a rite for every nation, that they may commemorate Allah’s name over the livestock He has provided for them. Your Allah is One Allah, so to Him submit, and announce good news to the humble (22: 34)
……..all good things are made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Scripture is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them …………..(5: 5)
Due to wrongdoing on the part of the Jews, We forbade them good things that used to be lawful [permitted] for them; and for deterring many from Allah’s path (4: 160)
For the Jews We forbade everything with claws. As of cattle and sheep: We forbade them their fat, except what adheres to their backs, or the entrails, or what is mixed with bone. This is how We penalized them for their inequity. We are indeed truthful (6: 146)
All food was permissible to the Children of Israel, except what Israel forbade for itself before the Torah was revealed. Say, “Bring the Torah, and read it, if you are truthful.” Whoever forges lies about Allah after that – these are the unjust. (3: 93-94)
THE COMMANDS OF ALLAH ABOUT FOOD ARE FOR THE BENEFITS OF HUMANITY
Say, “In what was revealed to me, I find nothing forbidden to a consumer who eats it, except carrion, or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine – because it is impure – or a sinful offering dedicated to other than Allah. But if someone is compelled by necessity, without being deliberate or malicious – your Rubb is Forgiving and Merciful (6: 145)
………….Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful (5: 6)
EXCESS IN THE CONSUMPTION OF FOOD IS ALSO HARMFUL
The consumption of adequate amount of food, neither too much nor too little, [containing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins] keeps our bodies fit and healthy. Excess cause nothing but trouble.
And He it is Who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised [cultivated] and untrellised [wild], and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess (6: 141)
ABSTAINING SELF FROM TAKING HEALTHY FOOD IS EQUALLY DAMAGING AS TAKING HARMFUL FOOD
Wrong choices of food create imbalance of certain chemicals in our body which cause numerous physical and mental health problems. Our body needs about 40 essential nutrients [13 vitamins, 15 minerals, 10 amino acids, and 2 fats]; a little imbalance of even a micromilligram may cause problems/disease. Refraining oneself from healthy food means depriving the body of healthy nutrients.
Everything We created is precisely measured (54: 49)
O you who have believed, do not prohibit the good things which Allah has made lawful to you and do not transgress. Indeed, Allah does not like transgressors (5: 87)
And do not say about what your tongues assert of untruth, “This is lawful and this is unlawful,” to invent falsehood about Allah. Indeed, those who invent falsehood about Allah will not succeed. [It is but] a brief enjoyment, and they will have a painful punishment (16: 116-117)
And why should you not eat of that over which the Name of Allah is pronounced, when He has detailed for you what is prohibited for you, unless you are compelled by necessity? Many lead astray [others] with their opinions, through lack of knowledge. Your Rubb knows best the transgressors (6: 119)
………. Who does greater wrong than he who invents lies and attributes them to Allah, in order to mislead people without knowledge? Allah does not guide the wicked people (6: 144)
Say, “Have you seen what Allah has sent down to you of provision of which you have made [some] lawful and [some] unlawful?” Say, “Has Allah permitted you [to do so], or do you invent [something] about Allah?”(10: 59)
But towards those who do wrong in ignorance, then repent afterwards and reform, your Rubb, thereafter, is Forgiving and Merciful (16: 119)
There is not upon those who believe and do righteousness [any] blame concerning what they have eaten [in the past] if they [now] fear Allah and believe and do righteous deeds, and then fear Allah and believe, and then fear Allah and do good; and Allah loves the doers of good (5: 93)
O people! Eat of what is lawful and good on earth, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is to you an open enemy. He commands you to do evil and vice, and to say about Allah what you do not know (2: 168-169)
SOME FOODS, DRUGS, AND DRINKS HAVE SHORT-TERM BENEFITS AND LONG-TERM DAMAGES
They [people] ask you about wine and gambling. Say, “In them is great sin and [yet some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit.”………. (2: 219)
Some foods, drugs, and drinks influence the way one feels. It seems that they relieve stress, but their effects are not long-lasting. They temporarily increase the level of dopamine but also switches off the brain’s natural mechanism for making the chemical. Dopamine, as mentioned in chapter —-, is a chemical released in the brain which induces pleasure. It causes cravings for more similar kind of experiences and urges a person to have this experience again and again. A person having a surge of dopamine in his brain loses control on his desires [impulses], leading to addiction.
Alcohol causes a surge of dopamine which ultimately leads a person to become addicted to it. Alcohol is injurious to health; it can damage almost every system of a body and its excessive consumption can even cause death. Moreover, it causes liver and heart disease and weakens the immune system. It alters the brain functions and its cognitive process; it impairs memory, deflects attention, and affects moods and emotions. Its excessive consumption can also lead to violence and crime.
In chapter —– we have learnt that Allah has taught humanity some self-controlling and self-disciplinary techniques so that people could live a peaceful mental and social life. As alcohol impairs cognition, weakens memory, and deflects attention, its consumer cannot fully concentrate on self-controlling practices. Deflection from self-controlling practices means deflection from a peaceful lifestyle.
Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist? (5: 91)