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Health and Islam

Updated: May 31, 2019

A post written by Mufti Abdullah Al-Mahmudi, 2017 Islamic Center of Broward's Resident Scholar and Co-creator of SoFloMoPros' Ask the Mufti series & CommuniTea program.

Without a doubt, Islam is a religion which is complete in its totality. Therefore, apart from the numerous injunctions and commands regarding worship, which are mentioned in the Quran and Ahadith, Islam also enjoins the importance of a good, balanced, and nutritious diet. "O Messengers! Eat of the Taiyyibât and perform virtuous deeds” (Surah 23 verse 51).


A wholesome, balanced diet must be an integral part of a Muslims life. To eat wholesome and pure is a religious obligation.

Other than Qur'anic verses, we have the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), which also testifies to the importance of a balanced diet. Therefore, there are detailed works prepared, which focus on aspects of the life of the Prophet (SAW) including his eating habits and practices, such as Shama'il-Tirmidhi.


Foods of the Prophets

Familiarizing oneself with the foods the Prophet (SAW) consumed is an expression of love towards him. Furthermore, developing a liking for the food and drinks that the prophet enjoyed is something the companions did as well. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) says, “I continue to love gourd ever since I witnessed the prophet doing what he did (searching the dish for gourd, picking and eating it) (Bukhari).


The table-spread of the Prophet (SAW) was simple, yet nourishing. In fact, there were times when no food was cooked at all in the house of the Prophet (SAW) for weeks. He would remain content and never complained. Verily, he was a perfect example for us.


Here we find it important to note some etiquette of food and drink demonstrated and instructed to us by the Prophet (SAW) himself:

  • Wash the hands before eating (Fath-ul Baari)

  • Mention the name of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) before eating or drinking, or, if a person forgets, recite the supplication afterwards (Tirmidhi, etc.)

  • Use the right hand to eat or drink (Muslim)

  • Eat with three fingers and drink in three sips (Fath-ul Baari)

  • Eat what is in front of you (Bukhari)

  • Eating together as a group/family (Abu Dawood)

  • Do not eat to one's full. Fill one-third with food, and reserve the second third for drink, and the last third for breathing (Tirmidhi)

  • The Prophet (SAW) “would never complain of any food. He used to eat it if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked it” (Muslim)

  • Remove anything harmful from the morsel (if fallen) and eat it. Lick the fingers and wipe the dish after eating the food as “you do not know in what portion of your food the blessing lies” (Muslim)

  • Recite the supplication for after drinking water or milk or eating food (Tirmidhi)

The following is a brief compilation of the eating and drinking habits of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).


CONDIMENTS

The preferred meals of the Prophet PBUH included Tharid (broth containing pieces of bread and meat) and Khazir (prepared from barley-flour and meat soup). The Prophet also liked a meal of grounded barley in a pot, with some olive oil, crushed pepper, and spices poured on top.


MEAT

The Prophet (SAW) consumed various types of meat and parts of the animal, including: the shoulder, boneless meat, liver, and the foreleg. The various animals consumed by the Prophet (SAW) included: she-goat, mountain goat, sheep, camel, and cow.


POULTRY

The poultry consumed by the Prophet (SAW) included: cock or hen, chicken, bustard (or a ruddy goose or quail), and rabbit.


SEAFOOD

The seafood consumed by the Prophet (SAW) was fish (anbar). (Bukhari)


BREAD

The Prophet (SAW) mostly consumed barley bread. It was less common to consume wheat bread. He would occasionally combine barley bread with any of the following: meat, soup, gourd, pumpkin, vinegar, olive oil, or dates.


SWEETS

It is reported by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (SAW) loved halwa (it is either a reference to any sweet item or a particular type of dessert made from dates and milk, or flour, honey and butter (khabis)) and honey. It is also reported that he consumed hais (prepared from dates, butter, and cheese/flour); saweeq (wheat or barley, which is fried and then ground, and to which fat and honey is then added); and talbinah (a mixture of barley flour, milk, and honey) (Shama'il Muhammadiyah).


FRUITS

The fruits enjoyed by the Prophet SAW include: cucumber (with dates or salt), raisins, mulberry, kabath (from the plant Arak (toothbrush tree)), muskmelon, pomegranate, grapes, quince, and dates*.


*These dates included dry, fresh, and ripe dates. He would occasionally combine any of the following with dates: cucumber, fresh butter, non-clarified butter, clarified butter, cheese, melon, watermelon, and barley bread. He had also consumed dates cooked with flour. He would sometimes eat the dates with a beverage, including milk and water.


SIDES & BEVERAGES

The sides on the table-spread of the Prophet SAW included vinegar, salt, olive oil, barley, and barley bread.


The Prophet SAW loved cold and sweet drinks (this can either mean natural sweet water, or water which has been mixed with honey or in which dates were soaked). He loved to consume cold water and zamzam water. He would occasionally sweeten and flavor the water by soaking any of the following in the water: dates (this mixture was known as nabidh), dried dates and raisins, ground barley, or honey.


VEGETABLES

The vegetables consumed by the Prophet (SAW) included: yam, gourd, pumpkin, beet (mixed with barley flour, pepper, olive oil and spices), beetroot, truffles, turmeric root (arwi), and roasted onions.


DAIRY

The dairy products consumed by the Prophet (SAW) included: milk, butter (clarified and non-clarified), cheese, cottage cheese, and dried yogurt.

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