Islamic Guidelines To Halal And Healthy Lifestyle
You’ve heard it before and you’ll continue to hear it, Islam is a complete way of life. It covers all aspects of living, ranging from standard faith practices like prayer and charity, to the mundane like dress, social etiquette, finance and food.
Halal and healthy is part of Sharia, the Islamic way of life. It reflects balance, moderation, clean living, all with the aim of pleasing God and maintaining optimum health.
Food. Something we consider a personal choice, as well as one that affects our health so directly that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, once said:
“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink, and one-third for his breath”(Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’i, Ibn Majah)
Today, countless sicknesses have been linked to what and how much we eat, ranging from cancer to heart disease to diabetes. While other factors like genetics do have a role, many sicknesses find a place in our body due to what we consume and the amount of it.
Although Islam offers us guidelines, it restricts only a few kinds of things when it comes to what we can eat.
“Forbidden to you is that which dies of itself, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that on which any other name than that of God has been invoked, and the strangled animal and that beaten to death, and that killed by a fall and that killed by being smitten with the horn, and that which wild beasts have eaten, except the one you are able to slaughter before its death, and what is sacrificed on altars for idols and that you divide by the arrows;” (Quran Chapter 5, Verse 3)
Alcohol is also forbidden for consumption.
The general rule is that Muslims can consume everything else that is halal (legally permissible) but also tayyib (pure and good). If it is pure and good it would be considered healthy. This latter categorization is a crucial distinction and one that we often tend to forget.
For example, most junk food would qualify as halal, but is it tayyib? Does it nourish us, maintain good health and wellness, and keep us fit and alert so that we can fulfill our obligations to Allah in the best way? Of course not.
In contrast, the emphasis on organic and natural foods is a step in the right direction and one that is in line with Islamic recommendations of consuming that which is clean, good, and natural. With fewer or no antibiotics, hormones, preservatives, and other chemicals, organics offer us a way to consume our food in line with principles of halal and tayyib.
But it doesn’t stop there. We should consider, as the above-mentioned Hadith makes clear, how much we are consuming. A doctor visiting Madinah around the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was amazed at the lack of illness in the city. He discovered that the key to their good health lay in eating less overall as a lifestyle choice.
In this regard, eating less meat needs to be mentioned as well. Although consuming it is not forbidden, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, subsisted on a diet that included very little meat. This practice is more beneficial for our health since meat is often raised today in ways that range from questionable to ghastly. Whether it is the torturous practices found on factory farms, where animals are mistreated, to the kinds of hormones and antibiotics they are injected with while being raised, eating meat is not without long-term health repercussions. What animals are fed eventually ends up in our bodies as well.