Purification of the Soul, Wk 2: Excessive Eating & Time

Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah,

This past week has been a good week in analyzing the ‘sensors’ in my soul. Having said that, it wasn’t an easy task. Alhamdolilah ‘ala kulli haal.

I’m not an IT person but I have studied basic programming involved in computer technology in school and we all know that in Museums and public places with valuables, there are sensors installed. These sensors could be in the form of touch -sensitive sensors which measure pressure changes on a certain surface and thus ring alarm if there’s a potential burglar around. There are also infra-red sensors and so if someone cuts that beam of the infra-red, the alarm rings. So in a nutshell sensors are turned ON when the area is closed at night time when robbery etc. is expected. With us humans, the thief or our enemy is always at work. Not only during night but also during the day. 24 hours, 365 days a year.

Therefore, the sensors of our souls better be ON all the time. They are usually switched ON with knowledge of Allah SWT’s Commands because if you do not know that a thief is around or how good his robbery techniques are, how’re you going to protect yourself. I’m sure everyone has heard a common saying, ‘know thy enemy.’

Well connecting it back to purification of the soul, our sensors should be ON to tell us what is making it impure. Last week, I was working on ‘excessive talking’ and it opened up my eyes regarding myself. I pity my soul now because of the consequences it has to suffer because of my tongue. And I’m not saying that I actively back-bite, lie etc. Those are like major sins. SubhanAllah. I’m referring to talking unnecessarily. Anyhow, we can remind ourselves about it by revisiting this link inshaa’Allah.

Coming to this week’s much needed topic: Excessive Eating.

Before I begin this, I want each one of us to recall whenever we had eaten to full. What did it result in? The key result that comes into my mind is laziness. When I realized that problem of mine, I think I was having my exams and I could not afford to sleep at all so I decided to barely eat a few bites and it worked! I felt energetic and no longer I felt lazy and my mind felt awake alhamdolilah.

Like we cannot afford to be lazy when meeting certain deadlines, we cannot afford to be lazy when working on the biggest deadline of our life: to accumulate as many good deeds as we can before we die! We all so easily forget that.

So I think one will only be able to notice the seriousness of this problem of excessive eating if he/she realizes how important time is and how destructive the effect of over eating are on one’s time. If you have trouble realizing the significance of such a problem, I found a few statements which might be beneficial. I do not have references to them but that doesn’t mean that they cannot be applied.

  • Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him,said: “Wasting time is more serious than death, because wasting time disconnects you from the Hereafter, whereas death only disconnects you from this worldly life.”
  • Ibn ‘Asaakir, may Allaah have mercy upon him,said: “Imaam Saleem ibn Ayyoob, may Allaah have mercy upon him, never let time pass without benefiting from it. He either taught or read, and whenever he wanted to sharpen his pencil, he would start mentioning Allaah until he finished. I myself try to preserve and better utilize my time, to the extent that I crush dry cakes and bread and drink it with water as this is easier and faster to eat and not much chewing is required this way compared to eating it whole. The best thing a person can invest in is his time. Obligations are too numerous, while time is too short and snaps out of our hands suddenly.”
  • Imaam Ibn ‘Aqeel, may Allaah have mercy upon him,said: “I do not believe it is lawful for me to waste even an hour of my life purposelessly. If my tongue can no longer move to teach others, then my eyes will read, and when my eyes go blind, I will use my mind to ponder and think about different jurisprudential matters. I find more energy in myself – at the age of eighty – to seek knowledge and learn than I had when I was in my twenties.”
  • The biggest motivation for me is: Allah SWT has sworn by time in Surah Al ‘Asr and has told man that if you do not involve yourself in the following deeds then you are indeed a loser!

“By Al-‘Asr (the time). (1) Verily, man is in loss, (2) Except those who believe (in Islâmic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’ruf) which Allâh has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allâh has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allâh’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islâmic Monotheism or Jihâd).” (3)

An excellent reminder: here. Just made the realization reach deeper. SubhanAllah!

***

It is worth questioning ourselves that what could be the possible reasons why Allah SWT decreed such conditions for the Prophet Salalahu alayhi wasalam and the Sahaba (may Allah SWT be pleased with them all), that they did not usually have a lot of food. What kept them going? I sometimes wonder how Sahaba like Abu Hurairah RA lived. He used to be starving quite often. Starving here doesn’t mean our definition of ‘starvation’ where a person doesn’t eat something for a whole day. I want us to put ourselves in the shoes of such people and try to understand why they were still energetic. It is easy for us to say that , ‘Oh they were Sahaba and so they had special mercy upon them from Allah SWT to be able to keep on functioing without food’. That might be correct but they were humans like us. They had needs and desires like us. Humans were exactly the same 1400 years ago unlike what most archaeologists claim today. The Seerah is a clear evidence for that and the Quraan is an open answer for all the problems it asks us to rectify which were there before at the time of Adam AS and are still common today. 

My concern is that how can we even expect to be resurrected with the Sahaba if we have fed ourselves to full in this Dunia? Allahu ‘Alam but those who feed themselves to full in this dunia may have to be left starved or fed with something despicable in Akhira. This is a serious problem of extravagance we’re dealing with. May Allah SWT protect us!!!

I feel we can get a lot of  answers concerning our bodies from the time when we fast during Ramadan. It is hard in the beginning but the body not only gets used to it, it becomes more alive. I’m not advocating starving oneself but all I’m saying is that we have to train ourselves to realize when we eat beyond our need. And I know we all know when we take a bite or spoon just to fulfill our cravings or that desire to eat a little bit more of the delicious food. We just have to turn ON that sensor which tells us that ‘NO! This is going to be harmful for you!’

So for a day or two let’s try to control our eating and experiment with ourselves. Let’s analyze the following in the next few days:

  • How much is just enough for our survival?
  • What can we cut down on? (Because I know some people who have to be stuffing their mouths all the time with snacks)
  • Junk food only makes one lazy. So what are some healthy alternatives? A suggestion could be granola bars which make our tummies feel full. Try to research on better alternatives.
  • What makes us eat more? Some people eat more when they’re stressed. While others eat more when they are around certain people or are engaged in certain activities (such as watching TV). We will have to reach to the root and nip it off from the root and then work from there on our eating habits.
  • Can we regularly try fasting? Possibly on Mondays and Thursdays like the Prophet Salalahu alayhi wasalam used to.

Study the effect of every step you take in your modulating your eating habit on your day’s productivity and how much time you end up wasting in turn. It is very likely that when you stop over-eating your body will complain and your Nafs will say that you need to eat more to sustain your body. But give it some time and make duaa so that it is healthier soon enough in time to obey Allah SWT.

Inshaa’Allah I’ll address on this more from the book in the next post regarding this specific topic.

May Allah SWT help us utilize our body for His Worship only and not make us from amongst those who wouldn’t be fed from the Foods of Paradise just because we did not purify our soul and/or indulged in feeding the Nafs. Ya Rabb save us from the Fire and give us an easy accountability.Ameen.

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