In Ramadan, watch what you eat! – Part II
“O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, in order that you may gain taqwa Quran 2:183
Now when reference is made to a good meal, I am actually calling your attention to a meal which contains the right combinations of food items and recipes as advised by our ‘learned’ brethren in the field of human nutrition. Thus, let my sister give priority to a meal which is rich in vegetables and fruits. Brethren, I could not believe my ears last week when we were told by an Uncle that a combination of rice and beans (carbohydrate and protein) is not the best of meals for healthy living- ‘it is either you take beans and vegetable or rice and vegetable not the two combined together!’ he emphasized. “How old are you now Afis?”, he asked me. I told him I was above fifty years already. He then said- ‘one way by which you could maintain a healthy life is for you to avoid all artificial ‘sweeteners’, diary and poultry products”! I could not believe my ears. In other words, my counsellor and uncle wanted me to avoid the consumption of egg and chicken. He told me that for me to stay healthy I need to avoid beverages. “How could I do without hot chocolate and beverages”, I mused. How can I do ‘hijrah’, and a permanent one for that matter, from sugar, cake and such other goodie-goodies from which we derive pleasures in this earthly life! ‘Beef meat has no benefit for you at this point in your life again’, he concluded!
Brethren, the above, no doubt, are very difficult life changes to make. But, upon greater reflection, they are necessary and worthwhile moves to make. I remember the Arabs’ axiom that foods are cure and that foods are diseases. In other words, half of earthly ailments assailing humanity today result from our inability to let go of those habits that are of no benefit to our nature. As soon as a man marks his fortieth birthday, his begins to come down, gradually, from the top of the ‘mountain’; the mountain of life.
Thus, my sister, I thought I am under obligation to call your attention to the above particularly as we continue our acts of fasting during the month. Closely linked to the above are other eating ethics bequeathed to us by our leader Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). He had advised that we cultivate the habit of eating less as a method of preventing sickness and diseases. He is reported to have said: “Eat less you will be healthier.”. He says again: “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: one-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath”. Thus, to have fasted a whole day should not be taken as a warrant to become a glutton.
What about our water in-take during the month of Ramadan? The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: “Do not drink water in one gulp (or one breath) like a camel, but take it in two or three gulps (with breaks for breath). Mention the name of the Almighty (i.e recite “Bismillah”) whenever you start drinking and praise Him (i.e say “Alhamdullillah”) when you finish. An Uncle of ours once told me that the human physiology, with reference to water in-take, is similar to that of the chicken: the latter sips water, not gulps it. Brother, it is better for you to take water while sitting down not while standing.
Further, remember those table manners which Islam has taught over a millennium ago. Take your food in smaller portions. Do ‘justice’ to the food you are blessed with by the Almighty. In other words, avoid left-overs. Remember millions are out there who do not have the kind of opportunity that you have. What about eating with the right hand? This is a virtue which modernity continues to anathemize. To eat and drink with the left hand has become fashionable today; to eat with the right hand is to be primeval.
Dear brother Prophet Muhammad never found fault with any food; if he had the inclination, he would eat it, and if he disliked it, he would leave it. Should my sister makes a mistake in adding less salt to the meal, praise her for her efforts, Remember she is a like a judge in a court of law while in the kitchen: if she does it right she has 100 percent of the reward; if there is an imperfection she has 50 percent of the stakes!
My sister! Use a combination of locus bean, ginger, curry and garlic as recipes for your meal throughout this month and avoid other seasonings- the latter are unnatural and recipes for illnesses and diseases! May this month’s fasting mark the beginning of greater favours from Him in your life. I say aamin on your behalf. Eat to fast this month, not fast to eat!
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Afis Ayinde Oladosu is a Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan.
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