Monday, July 29, 2013

Ramadan... the month of food

In many ways Ramadan can become the month of food. It can become a month of the celebration of food. Large iftaars and fancy suhoors. But it can also become a month of rethinking and reevaluating food choices. Spending hours not eating makes you really how little one needs to eat to survive, even to thrive. The prophet (peace upon him) told us man fills up no worse vessel then his stomach... sufficient for man is enough food for his back to be upright but if he must then 1/3 for his food, 1/3 for his drink and  1/3 for air. Though I experience greater fatigue in the hours of fasting and experience hunger now and again to say I need to eat more or that my spine is bent from lack of food would be a stretch.
It is said that to raise iyman one should lessen one's food, one's sleep, one's speech and one intermingling with people. The prophet (peace upon him) told Ayesha to knock on the door of heaven continuously by lowering food intake. It seems that eating less is a constant theme in being and upright and spiritual close to Allah. But what we eat when we eat, if we can be convinced to eat less, is just as important. The sufis, those nearest to Allah, would punished quickly and severely by Allah, most high, for their spiritual negligence. A sufi once looked towards a small child in admiration and watch as his eye fall out his socket.
I thought about this after having been reminded of the slave labour that goes in to producing chocolate and the disgusting practice of factory farming, the next day there was chocolate ice cream in the freezer and beef for dinner. I had dinner then a cup of ice-cream. As I ate I could feel my stomach turn. Throughout the night my stomach was bloated with pain. Yes, maybe this was simply a bad combination of food. But it is also possible that this is Allah, most high, testing (or punishing) me for eating food knowing the inhumane practices that were involved in producing them. I give myself a (small) break with meat because I may offend others if I don't eat the dinner they prepare and maybe adab would excuse me in this case. But no one cares if I don't eat their chocolate ice cream, in fact they'd probably prefer if I didn't (hahaha). The point is that every spoonful should be analyzed. We as Muslim are told to watch over the orphans, eating this chocolate only supports the further abused of orphans and their being forced in to slavery.
Their is a hadith about a man who is a traveller and he is desperate and he calls out to Allah for help, the prophet (peace upon him) asks his companions -do you think he will be helped? I don't remember their answer but the prophet (peace upon him) goes on to say, how can he be helped when his food is haram, his clothing is haram and his income is haram? This is the state of most of us today. Our clothes were stitched by workers in dire unethical conditions, our food was produced by slave labour and other unjust means, and our income in swimming in the haram because we don't bother to learn fiqh. We are in a desperate situations all around the Muslim world. Not just in our various political strifes and violence but our religious knowledge is dying and our spirits are empty. We're crying to Allah for help (when we do bother to turn to Him), but how can a people like us be helped?
The food we eat multiple times a day shouldn't just be a matter of choice but of principal. Every bite could bring us closer to Allah or compromise our relationship. Soon ramadan will end and we will all be free to go back to our usually habits. We can eat 3 meals a day plus snacks, we can drink tea or juice or soda all day. We can go back to convincing ourselves we need to take a bottle of water with us every where we go. We can go out to cafes. We can go back to our food party -but should we? In the month of Ramadan we have time to break our usual habits and try to do better, In sha Allah I hope we can sustain them after Ramadan.
And success is from God alone.

*All hadiths are paraphased from memory and may contain mistakes*

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