Guidance of Islam and the Quran about food and eating habits
The amount of eating
God says in the Quran (7:31): “And eat and drink and be not extravagant”
It is also quoted from Imam Sadiq (PBUH) that: “Nothing harms the heart of the believer more than overeating.”
Imam Reza (PBUH) says: “Eating so much ends in getting diseases and if you eat so little it’s no longer the food for body. People have to quit eating when they still have a desire for food.”
In the Holy Quran (20:118), God introduces heaven as a place where there is no hunger inside it and he states elsewhere (88:7) that hell is a place that nobody can get full. Medicine also has reported that the origin and the root of many diseases is from overeating.
If God asks us not to eat too much that’s because there is acetic acid in many foods. Liver in human body changes acetic acid composition into cholesterol and sends it to blood. So the more we eat, the more cholesterol is sent to blood which causes soreness of the veins-which the freshness and life of man depends on them. Low quantity of any food is like medicine, the right amount is food and high amount of that is a disaster.
God says in the Holy Quran that on the occasions when the sinners are asked as to what has brought them into hell they‘ll say: “We were not of those who prayed and we used not to feed the poor.” This shows the importance of caring about the nutrition of other groups of people, particularly the needy. Imam Sajjad (PBUH) said: “Whoever feeds a hungry believer, God will feed him from the fruits of Paradise.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “I swear by the one who can get my life that anyone who sleeps full while his Muslim neighbor is hungry doesn’t believe in me.”
The cleanliness of the dishes
In Islam, there are several orders about the type of container which is used for eating and drinking like the prohibition of using gold and silver dishes. Gold and silver have little affinity, but they are considered as heavy metals. Vitamin C is destroyed in contact with oxygen or heavy metal particles. On the other hand, the use of gold and silver dishes is a sign of arrogance, hence it helps to make gaps between social classes.
Islam prohibits using containers made of unclean (najis) animal’s skin or not slaughtered ones. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to drink water in glass bowls brought from the Levant (Syria). Imam Sadiq (PBUH) said: “The messenger Muhammad (PBUH) considered these dishes as the cleanest containers.”
Imam Ali (PBUH) has forbidden drinking from the hole of container and its handle side and Imam Baqer (PBUH) has banned drinking from the handle side and broken parts of the dishes. And we now know how much contamination and how many microbes accumalate in the gaps.
In other cases, Islam only considers the cleanliness of the utensils and health care. They have insisted in these parts so much that even the uses of the vessels with breakings which contain contaminants in their angles are prohibited.
The eighth Imam (PBUH) says: “Anyone who doesn’t want to have a stomachache should not drink water during eating their meals until the eating is finished. Anyone who drinks water between meals, makes his body humid and his stomach becomes weak and the veins don’t absorb the power and the energy of the foods.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Drink water slowly because drinking it quickly causes liver diseases.”
Eating and drinking is prohibited during discharging bowels (to avoid contamination) and it is recommended to cover the head during discharging bowels.
Imam Ali (PBUH) dried his hands after washing with a towel and he didn’t touch the towel when he washed his hands for eating. In another guideline Imam Ali (PBUH) said: “Washing hands before and after eating, increases aliment.”
Imam Ali (PBUH) says: “Start the meal with salt because if people knew about the benefits of salt they would take it instead of medicine.”
Imam Reza (PBUH) said: “Whoever starts eating food with a smidgen of salt God removes seventy diseases and pains from him which the least of them is leprosy “
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) quoted from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): Eating habits include:
- Washing hands
- Taking small bites of food
- Chewing your food well
- Not looking too long at the faces of others who are eating
In regards to taking small bites of food, it was found that the cause of dysphagia is having big morsels of food. In saliva, there is some amount of sulfur and potassium which is used for disinfecting the raw plant material and these compounds are also in the stomach. So if vegetables are chewed well, they will be disinfected too.
In another position Imam Sadiq (PBUH) says: “A person should eat from food in front of him and should not take from the food which is in front of others”.
Regarding washing hands, Imam Sadiq (PBUH) says: “Anyone who washes hands before and after eating, the food becomes blessed to him from beginning to the end and he will be in a developed aliment and health in his lifetime.”
Imam Ali (PBUH) said to his dear son, Imam Hassan (PBUH): “Do you want me to teach you four things to be needless to medicine?” He replied “Yes of course”. Imam Ali (PBUH) said “Don’t eat food unless you are hungry, quit eating while you still have the appetite for food and take care of chewing food well.
And about the place of eating, it is emphasized on the color of the environment, being relaxed while eating and avoidance of contamination.
As the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The Quran and the selected progeny (‘Itrat)” are the navigation keys for humans and by benefiting from them, humans can reach happiness in life. It is hoped that by scientific studying of these guidelines, introducing them to the society, and implementing them, health promotion in the society takes place.