Ramadaan Series {Day 19} – Overeating During Iftar

“…One should not overeat while breaking the fast to the point that he fills his stomach, as there isn’t any container that Allah hates more than a full stomach. How can one benefit from fasting and subdue this enemy and break this desire if he breaks his fast by making up for it through eating everything that he missed out on during the day?

In fact, some even eat more than they usually would during the day! This habit has continued to the point that so many types of food are prepared for Ramadan that more food is eaten in this month than in any other month.

It is known that the whole point of fasting is discipline and to break one’s desire in order to strengthen the soul with taqwa. So, if you prevent your digestive system from food all day long until night such that its desire and longing for food goes wild, and you then feed it what it wants until it is fully satisfied, this will only increase its desire and multiply its energy, and it will manifest a longing that wouldn’t have been there had it been left to its usual intake.

So, the essence and secret of fasting is to weaken this energy that provides means for Satan to pull you towards what is bad, and this can’t happen unless you reduce your food intake. When you break your fast, eat only what you would normally eat at that specific time when not fasting.

But to break your fast by combining the amount you would’ve eaten during the day with the amount you usually eat at night will leave you having gained nothing at all from your fast.

In fact, from the etiquette of fasting is to not sleep much during the day in order to feel the hunger and thirst, and in order to weaken this energy. This will clean out the heart and keep this energy weakened every night so that it will be easier to pray at night and do your sets of Qur’an recitation and dhikr of Allah.

Maybe this will prevent Satan from approaching your heart and allow you to look to what is in the kingdom of the heavens, and the Night of Qadr is basically the night in which some of what is contained in this kingdom is shown, and this is what is meant by Allah’s Saying:

{“Indeed, We have descended it on the Night of Qadr.”}

And whoever puts a barrier of food between his heart and his chest will have a barrier put between himself and what is shown from this kingdom, and to keep your stomach free isn’t enough to lift this barrier if your mind isn’t free from anything other than Allah – and this is the entire point.

The starting point of all this is to reduce your intake of food…”

[‘Ihya’ ‘Ulum ad-Din’; 1/303]

How to Be when Seeking Knowledge

Ibn al Jawzi (rh) mentions that ilm is the most honourable thing to attain. It cannot be attained except through hard struggles, late nights, repetition, abandoning desires and delights and resting. This is the path to Jannah.

A Golden Example in Patience

Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) had many opportunities made available to him to commit adultery but didn’t. For example:

1. He was a young man. Being in your youth is a strong cause for committing adultery.
2. He was single and had no way to discharge his libido (sexual desire).
3. He was a foreigner. It is known that a foreigner is not ashamed in the country of alienation, contrarily to his existence in his homeland, where he would be ashamed among his friends and acquaintances.
4. He was a slave, sold cheaply for a few dirhams (silver coins). The restraint of a slave is not like that of the free person.
5. The woman who seduced him was beautiful.
6. The woman had a high position.
7. She was his owner.
8. There was no watcher.
9. She had dressed up especially for him.
10. She had closed the doors.
11. It was she who tried to seduce him.
12. She was very keen (tried very hard) in seducing him.
13. She threatened him. If he did not do what she commanded him she would humiliate him.

Overcoming Our Desires

Some of the people of the past would say those that fast will be a given a table to eat from whilst the people are being held to account!

They will say, we are being held to account whilst they are eating  and it will be said to them, they would be fasting in the world whilst you would be eating and they would be praying at night and you would be sleeping!

Ibn Rajab (rh) mentioned this in his book, Lataaif al Maarif.

Lowering The Gaze

Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

Looking is the origin of most problems that befall man because looking generates thoughts, then thoughts generate ideas, ideas generate desires, desires generate will, which then becomes stronger and becomes a firm resolve, in which case the deed will inevitably be done unless there is something to prevent it.

Hence it was said that patience in lowering the gaze is easier than patience in bearing the pain that comes afterwards.

Benefits of Eating Less

Khateeb al Baghdadi mentions that times of hunger are better for memorisation than times of being full. Some, when they are hungry, don’t memorise but for the one who wishes to memorise the most, and he’s hungry, takes a very light snack and continues. He mentioned taking a bit of pomegranate. One doesn’t eat too much food!

Ibn Jamaah (rh) mentions that eating and drinking means drinking too much leads to sleeping too much, being lazy in one’s thoughts and body and having dulled senses.

Some mentioned it leads to more desires too.

The one who controls his stomach will be able to:

  • Cry more easily for the sake of Allah
  • Memorise better
  • Think more clearly
  • Control his desire.

We need to work on this a lot SubhanAllah. It’s even narrated on the Sahaaba in the saheeh that some of them would fast most of the year!! Yet we fill our stomachs and over eat almost daily! Even when a person fasts they have a huge iftaar to make up for their fast!

This is in addition to being careful what a person eats. A person may eat a little but it’s all junk food or oil. The people of the past would watch this too. Everything in moderation.

Watching How Much We Eat

Ibn ‘Umar (ra) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The believer eats in one stomach whilst the kaafir eats in seven.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5081) and Muslim (2060).

Muhammad ibn Wasi (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said,

“Whoever eats little will understand and make others understand and will be clear and humble. Overeating weighs a person down and keeps him from much of what he wants [to accomplish]

Ash-Shaafi’ee (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said, “I have not eaten to my fill in sixteen years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clear understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”

In addition, Abu Juhayfah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “A man burped in the presence of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and he said: ‘Keep your burps away from us, for the one who eats his fill the most in this world will be hungry for the longest time on the Day of Resurrection.’” [at-Tabaraani] After hearing that, Abu Juhayfah (may Allaah be pleased with him) did not eat his fill until he departed from this world; if he ate breakfast he would not eat dinner and if he ate dinner he would not eat breakfast, and he said, “I have not filled my stomach for thirty years”.

Sufyaan ath-Thawri (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said, “If you want your body to be healthy and to sleep less, then eat less.” Eating too much also makes the heart hard and heedless of Allaah. It was said to Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy upon him) “Does a man find any softness and humility in his heart when he is full?” He said, “I do not think so.”

In the saheeh narrated ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) “The family of Muhammad had never eaten their fill of wheat bread for three successive days since they had migrated to Madeenah till the death of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)”.

She (may Allaah be pleased with her) also said, “The family of Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not eat two meals on one day, but one of the two was of dates.” And she (may Allaah be pleased with her) said, “A complete month would pass by during which we would not make a fire (for cooking), and our food used to be only dates and water unless we were given a present of some meat.”