One of my favourite stories of the Prophet – Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam – is the one where he comes home after a tiring day and asks one of his wives for a condiment. Upon being told that there is only vinegar, he called for it, and as he began eating, remarked: ‘How good a condiment is vinegar.’
I mention this because I think us Muslims in Singapore need to reflect on our unhealthy obsession with eating, a tragic love affair with meals that has resulted in unnecessary waste, rising BMIs and perhaps most seriously, a tendency to bemoan and find fault with food. With the coming month of Ramadan, it is important that we try to rectify this. Ironically, many of these detrimental habits are further propagated in the holy month as restaurants, hawker centres and fast-food joints are packed to capacity with hungry diners, all eagerly awaiting the muezzin’s call so that they can tuck into their Big Mac or Burger Ramlee.
Now before I be accused of being a killjoy, a detox Nazi bent on creating an entire race of anorexics, allow me to clarify. I am not against being able to break our fasts with something delectable. The Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa salam himself said that there are two joys associated with fasting; one is the joy of breaking the fast, while the other is when one meets his Lord. Also, given that the proper care of our physical selves is important, we should not damage our bodies by depriving it of its required nutrients.
However, and this is the crux of my article, we should also appreciate that our stomachs are the products of our eating habits. They are more ‘malleable’ than we give them credit for. To illustrate, it is difficult to expect a new convert to Islam to be able to withstand the physical nature of Ramadan, but it would not be a problem for somebody who has been fasting for many years. Similarly, Ramadan can be used as a vehicle to progressively reduce our caloric intake at iftar. Over time, such a practice can help us feel more satiated during mealtimes in the other months with lesser food than usual. Nobody can dispute the obvious benefits this dietary movement can bring to society and the self.
The Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa salam said the disbeliever eats with seven intestines, while the believer eats with one. Let us use this coming month of Ramadan to align our dietary habits with the ones exemplified to us in Islam.
Written by Shahnawaz Abdul Hamid
Email: [email protected]
View original articles @ www.ramadan.sg.