As every Muslim most probably is aware. Our rich heritage is steeped in guidance on prevention of over – eating. With that in mind, I do not intend to highlight what is already widely available and circulated amongst the people/Muslims. To set the scene of discussion, our illustrious tradition, the sunnah and the scriptures is filled-to-the-brim with words of cause and effects of over eating. We hear on countless occasions how our examples of humanity, – the companions, were the very definition of the word ‘healthy’. They were such a people who rarely fell ill. If they did, then recovery was an almost guarantee. This gave them a gift of leading a long and flourishing life, both in terms of spiritual and physical. Now, as I mentioned I do not wish to bore you with what is already available to read and consume. Both worldly and religiously, there is no shortage of books/magazines/ or the like of advice on how to lose weight. Become healthy and active.
What i hopefully wish to bring to the already-much-talked-about-topic is, ‘pleasure eating’. We as human beings are habitual in anything we do. Be that in doing habitual daily chores to that of habitually performing religious duties. Similarly, eating is of no exception. Simply put, we do a lot of habitual eating, or in other words as I like to call it, ‘pleasure eating’.
Most people when it comes to pleasure eating, do it to kill time. That is, to give them something to do with their useless life they lead. On the other hand, many do so to help them feel better about themselves. Studies have shown that people who are excessively over weight, or rather obese, become in such a state, because they have very low self-esteem, low self-confidence and low self belief. These people see themselves as having the ‘inability’ to flourish like other people. This notion is re-enforced in them when they see the glossy painted phony images of people in magazines and pictures. The picture perfect, plasticated and almost perfect body shapes of others makes them feel inferior. To curb this feeling of loss and low self-esteem they resort to eating as a means of confort, a way out of their depression. Or, in other cases gives them the pleasure of feeling satisfied in ways they can’t ‘seemingly’ achieve to obtain. For example, like the images of ‘perfect people’ they see daily. Pleasure eating is also done by others to continually grow the habit of eating, needlessly.
Essentially, pleasure eating is where a person simply eats for the pleasure of it. Not because he/she is hungry, or the need for the energy. It is something that he/she does because that has been the way of things. The extra consumption of food then simply becomes fat stored in a person’s body. Most of which will not be used in his daily activities. It then builds over time and leads to a person becoming over weight.
Research in this field has shown that 80% of normal ills and diseases in societies can be illuminated easily if people simply stopped ‘pleasure eating’. That is, over eating or eating simply because they can.
I remember once hearing a scholar of deen mention. During the time of the prophet (saw). It happened that once a man of authority, a tribal elder, had sent a gift to the prophet. The gift was a physician – a doctor. When the prophet (saw) saw him he (saw) said: ‘we don’t need a doctor. As we do not eat much’. Wether this is a strong hadith or not is besides the point. What it does show is how the prophet (saw) was fully aware as with other things, that most if not all our daily ills is due to over eating. When this is sliced, many ills of society at large will disappear.
Having said this,
For a Muslim, if ‘pleasure eating’ can be avoided. – That is, eating when we do not really need to. Then to continually stay in a state of wudu will also be easy. (For those people who are not excused or ill that is). Less in take of food and drink, means less ‘toilet issues’ to put it bluntly. – less in, less out.
With Ramadan around the corner. This is a perfect opportunity to kick the habit of ‘pleasure eating’. Two months left which should give us (and personally speaking myself) an head start to get in shape. (I don’t mean to have a card board cut out, perfect figure, mr-universe type of body). Just simply to lose the extra fat and become healthy and well. Our bodies have rights as everyone is aware. Over eating is a form of oppression on our own bodies.
Lastly, some may argue, becoming healthy does not guarantee freedom from ills and diseases. Rightly so, it does not. No one can be guaranteed from diseases and illnesses, no matter how fit and healthy a person becomes. Take footballers for example, in recent times we have seen how the fittest can Fall Down all of a sudden. However, what it does guarantee is the chances of catching a ghastly disease is minimised. Reduced means less chances for getting ill, and therefore gives us a head start to a better life. Many people lead a depressing and down trodden life is because they eat too much. Which makes themselves become a burden onto themselves and society at large.
Imam Ghazali mentions in his famous Ihya uloom udeen. How eating to a full stomach fuels the desires. In the past few days I put this theory to the test and the results were staggering!
When a person wilfully and intentionally leaves a slight feeling of hunger lingering at the of his or her stomach, when eating. Then this leaves no room for other shatanic thoughts to be entertained and in turn stops a person from fulfilling desires or egoistic actions. Since the thought of hunger is constantly at the back of ones mind, a person has no room to think about ogling at women or fantasising, or in general planning how to sin. The feeling of hunger crushes any thought which dares to enter the mind. A special medication which no doubt helps to use in summer, and to increase ones focus on life. That is, focusing on the real reasons and objectives of life. Try this experiment for yourselves and you’ll see the results are amazing.
To end, keeping ourselves slighty hungery all the time will enable us to become extra alert and vigilant. On every front, physically, spiritually, emotionally and most importantly religiously from the attacks of the devil. A stomach that is full causes us to become less vigilant and more prone to the devilish attacks. Causing our responses to be sluggish and our attitudes to fend off evil thoughts and ideas non – existent. Amongst the countless of other examples, it makes a person sleep more. A heavy sleep that makes it difficult to wake up for prayers and to stand up in solitude for optional night prayers when others are fast asleep. It remains to be seen however that curbing our ‘pleasure eating’ does not means we will become masum (relieved) from committing sins. It only means the chances of it happening time and again are drastically reduced.