Eat to fast, not fast to eat! – By Prof. Afis Oladosu


(Prophet) Ibrahim (a.s) was a nation, very dutiful to the Almighty and was never an iidolater …

“O YOU who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, in order that you may gain taqwa Quran 2:183

Brethren, I thought today’s sermon should address an issue which we often gloss over or pay little attention to during the blessed month of Ramadan. This relates to our eating habit and schedules. You would remember that during the month, we are expected to eat early in the morning, begin our fast as soon as the fajr appears and observe fasting throughout the day. As soon as it is sunset, the fasting believers are expected to break their fast and enjoy every other lawful act till the dawn of the following day. This month consequently provides opportunities for Muslim families to bond together more than ever before. It reminds the husband in the home of the necessity to be responsible and responsive to the needs and yearnings of members of his household. During the month of Ramadan, the Muslim wife derives new strength in His worship. She remembers that each minute she spends in the kitchen in pursuit of the pleasure of her husband and children shall be doubly rewarded by her Creator.

In other words, during the month of Ramadan we have the opportunity to examine our spiritual status. A Muslim who forsakes the pleasure of food and drinks and embarks on this fasting, a Muslim who creates the conditions of hunger and thirst for herself, simply in obeisance to Allah is actually and indirectly involved in sharpening his weapon of survival on the terrestrial earth where survival has become simply difficult if not impossible. Thus a Muslim who fasts is like a hunter who takes time off hunting in order to sharpen his weapon of hunt. Thus, he who fasts becomes an unassailable and an inimitable fortress against the devil and its agents; you cannot be a beloved of the Almighty and still become a prey to earthly principalities.

Brethren through the act of fasting we create an artificial or temporary scarcity and want. This inculcates in us a spirit of gratitude and consequent devotion to Him. After fasting during the day, we settle down at dusk to break our fast. The meal on our table should remind us of the perpetual scarcity and want in which some of our fellow human beings are presently steeped. In other words, each morsel we put in our mouth during this month should remind us of the life of penury and want in which our fellow brethren all around the world are presently manacled.

The above brings me to the core of our sermon today. First of all, every one of us should approach our meal during this month and thereafter as an act of worship. Our Creator says: “O children of Adam! Look to your adornment at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but be not prodigals. Lo! He loveth not the prodigals.” (Quran 7:31) “Eat of the good things we have provided for your sustenance, but commit not excess therein.” (Qur’an 20:81). Thus each time a Muslim takes a good meal, he should have it in mind that he is actually following His injunctions.

Again, brethren, remember that our leader Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) advised that we cultivate the habit of eating less as a method of preventing sickness and diseases. He is reported to have said: “Eat less you will be healthier.”. He says again: “Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: one-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath”. Thus to have fasted a whole day should not be taken as a warrant to become a glutton.

During this month, it is usual for us to attend iftar gatherings where we would meet with our fellow brothers and sisters and break our fasts together. As Muslims we are required to show compassion, grace, gentleness, and consideration in such gatherings. In such gatherings, give preference to others in the service of food and drinks.

Begin by washing your hands. This is a virtue which Islam has taught over a millennium ago. Take your food in smaller portions. Remember, your table manners sometimes mirror how closer or farther you are from this world. Do ‘justice’ to the food plate. In other words, avoid left-overs. Remember millions are out there who do not have the kind of opportunity that you have.

Brethren, as invited guests to a feast, it is permissible to ask your host for water or salt. Otherwise, accept what is offered and do not request additional items your host may not be able to afford. Dear brother, remember, Prophet Muhammad never found fault with any food; if he had the inclination, he would eat it, and if he disliked it, he would leave it. May this month’s fasting mark the beginning of greater favours from Him in your life. I say aamin on your behalf. Eat to fast this month, not fast to eat!
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Afis Ayinde Oladosu is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies,Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan,Nigeria

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