Food in Islam

Sacredness and the place of food within Islam with quotes from the Qur’an and Hadith.

There is a good deal of classical Islamic sources on the subjects of over-eating and obesity. The Qur’anic verse; Eat and drink but not to excess (7.32), and Do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands (2.195), may be mentioned (besides their other meanings) as Divine warnings against transgressing the limits in eating and drinking and doing harm to ourselves because of carelessness. All ibn al-Husayn ibn al-Wafid said. “God put all medicine into half of one verse” [of the Qur’an] when He said: “Eat and drink but not to excess.” The Prophet, (upon him be peace and blessings), also drew attention to obesity and over-eating. For example, he said: “Overeating does not go with good health.” The criterion established by Islam, and as reiterated by the Prophet, is: “The middle way [avoiding extremes] is the best in every affair.”

Among other sayings of the Prophet which warn against the dangers of overeating and obesity are:

“Avoid filling the stomach with food and drink. Overeating exhausts the body and causes illnesses. Follow a middle way in eating and drinking as this improves the body… The son of Adam [i.e. man] fills no container worse than his stomach… One third of the stomach is for food, one third for drink, and one third for air.”1 The following saying uttered in relation to the spiritual harm caused by over-eating, can also be read in relation to heart diseases arising from overeating: “Do not kill your hearts by eating and drinking too much. For the heart is like a sown field: over-irrigation causes the seed to rot.”2

‘Umar, the second Caliph, said: “Avoid getting a pot-belly, for it spoils the body, causes diseases, and makes doing the prayer tiring. And avoid all excess, for God hates a learned man who is fat.”3

Harith ibn Khalada, the physician of the Arabs, was once asked: “What is the best medicine?” He replied:  “Necessity— that is, hunger” When asked what the disease was, he said: “The entry of food upon food.”

Advice on eating and drinking

There are many sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, (upon him be peace and blessings), on medicine. They encompass a great variety of subjects including eating and drinking and the mention of certain kinds of foods particularly useful for health. In later centuries Muslim scholars collected these sayings, usually under the title of Tibb al-Nabawi. The collections of lbn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti and Abu Nu’aym are among the most famous.

Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d.1505), one of the greatest scholars of the Muslim Middle Ages, recommended eating cold foods in summer and hot ones in winter. Hot food should be preferred with cold, sweet with sour, fat with salt and acid with fat. Having the same food several times one after the other and eating hurriedly causes loss of appetite and laziness. Eating a second meal without fully digesting the first is harmful. Al-Suyuti also wrote that one should avoid food and drink that has been left uncovered. The Prophet, (upon him be peace and blessings), recommended this: “Cover your containers and stop up the mouths of your water bottles.”

The Prophet disapproved eating food while it is too hot. He never used to blow on his food or drink, or breathe into a container. He also discouraged eating lying down.

Taking a walk after eating a meal or doing the prayer is beneficial, especially for the digestive process. The Prophet said: “Digest your food with the Name of God and with doing a prayer. And do not go to sleep immediately after eating, as this will make you constipated.”

The hands should be washed after as well as before eating. One whose stomach is over-stuffed with food cannot think clearly or wisely. The less a man eats, the less he drinks; and the less he drinks, the less he sleeps; and the less he sleeps, the better he will be in old age. The body of a man over-filled food will be badly nourished, his self will be in a bad state, and his heart will grow hard. Therefore one should avoid too much food as it poisons the heart and slows down the limbs of the body in fulfilling one’s responsibilities toward God. One should also avoid drinking very cold water, for it is harmful to the respiratory system, especially after a hot meal, or after sweet food, or after a hot bath.

The Prophet, (upon him be peace and blessings), discouraged drinking water at a single gulp. Anas ibn Malik related the tradition that the Prophet used to drink with three pauses and, at each pause, remove his mouth from the container.

What is HALAL?

He has forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which any other name has been invoked besides that of Allah. But if one is forced by necessity, without wilful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then he is guiltless. For Allah is oft – forgiving Most Merciful: (Qu’ran 2: 173)

..”For he (the Prophet Muhammad pbuh) command them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good and pure and prohibits them what is bad and impure..” (Qur’an 7: 157)

Latest scientific research has shown that eating flesh of swine is a health hazard. What is in the flesh of swine? Trichinella spiralis (pork worm) an estimated 20 million trichinosis victims in theUSalone and there is no effective treatment for this condition. Shape virus; the virus can cause serious illnesses and the risk of acquiring it form pork products such as sausages and salami is very high. Sutoxin a protein poison is found in pork, which is the cause of skin diseases.

Further continuous consumption of pork may lead to deformation of body shape, as the growth hormone concentration in the flesh of swine is very high.


1. The narrations can be found in Tanbih al-Ghafilin by Abu’I Leys al-Samarkandi,

2. al-Ghazali, ibid., 3.186.

3. Imam Dhahabi, Sifa Demetleri, Istanbul, 21.