Gluttony The Silent Killer
By Suzana Nabil Saad.
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.
Allāh Almighty says: “Nay (behold), you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more enduring.” (Al-A`la 87: 16-17)
`Uqbah ibn `Amir (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) said:
"…I am not afraid that you will worship others besides Allah [which you won’t], but I am afraid that worldly life will tempt you and cause you to compete with each other for it." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Although Allāh Almighty and Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) have advised us to detach ourselves from the love of this world and the fierce competition for its gains, we often fall as preys into its clutches and choose to excessively indulge in money, material possessions, food, drink, etc.
It seems that the numerous challenges presented to us in this modern world have created a void that we try to fill in with gluttony. Flashy ads tell us that having this and that and eating and drinking this and that will make us so much happier, but the truth is that this gluttony only increases our void and leaves us more miserable than what we were in the first place and we often end up with endless physical and spiritual setbacks.
Gluttony in Wealth and Material Possessions
Allāh Almighty says: “Woe to every scorner and mocker. Who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it. He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal.” (Surah Al-Humazah, )
The gluttony in wealth that we unfortunately encounter in the Muslim Ummah today had already been referred to by Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam): Ka`ab ibn `Iyad (radiyallāhu`anhu) said:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) saying: “Every community has a trial, and the trial of my community is wealth.” (At-Tirmidzi)
The love of this world has taken over our hearts making us closer in resemblance to beasts in our competition to increase our wealth, in ways that sometimes are not even halal (lawful). Many lose their faith and or health and end up in the grave with an abundance of worldly investments but fall short with the afterlife investments of good deeds; as they had wasted their life in this race.
Ibn `Abbas (radiyallāhu`nhu) narrated: I heard the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) saying:
"If the son of Adam (the human being) had two valleys of money, he would wish for a third, for nothing can fill the belly of Adam's son except dust, and Allah forgives him who repents to Him." (Al-Bukhari)
The greed for money is one that is never quenched. Even if you have a tremendous fortune you are blinded because of the desire to collect more and hence a vicious cycle takes place and keeps on moving, ending only with your last breath.
Allāh Almighty says: “No! But you do not honor the orphan. And you do not encourage one another to feed the poor. And you consume inheritance, devouring [it] altogether. And you love wealth with immense love.” (Al-Fajr 89: 17-20)
Moreover, gluttony in wealth takes its toll on the poor and needy. Greedy to keep all the fortune to them, Zakah is often evaded by the rich. But had it been fairly distributed to those in need, the Muslim world would be a much different place than what we encounter today of famine and poverty.
Allāh Almighty says: “Allah does not love such as are proud and boastful, who hoard their wealth and encourage greed in others, and hide that which Allah has bestowed on them of His bounty – for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom – nor those who spend their wealth to impress men, but who do not believe in Allah nor in the Last Day.” (Surah An-Nisa' 4: 37-38)
Sometimes the spending is directed towards others just to boast of one’s wealth, like what we see nowadays of blind extravagance on weddings, furnishing houses, etc.
Avarice is the desire to collect material possessions. Whether clothes, furniture, cars, houses, etc. all are devoured. Millions are even spent on auctions, merely as a ravenous show of boasting.
`Abdullah Ibn Ash-Shikhir (radiyallāhu’anhu) said, "I came to the Prophet, (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), when he was reciting “Fierce competition for this world distracted you.” (Surah Al-Takathur, 102: 1). Rasulullah (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), said: “The son of Adam says, “My property! My property!” Son of Adam, have you any other property than what you eat and thus gets used up, wear and thus becomes worn out, and give in sadaqah (charity) and thus make effective?'” (Muslim)
This hadith really sums it all. What are you collecting really? Things that will eventually wear out or perish, without bringing you any closer to God, Allāh Almighty? While taking out charity will give you benefit both in this world (by making your life blessed) and in the hereafter (by increasing your good deeds and hence your status in the hereafter).
Gluttony in Food and Drink
Allāh Almighty warns us in the Qur’an:“…and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste by extravagance.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7: 31)
But, how many of us follow Allāh’s words nowadays?
In a society that has materialism as its deity, overindulgence in food and drink is just one of the many calamities that have befallen us.
On the authority of Al-Miqdam Ibn Madiy-Karib (radiyallāhu`anhu) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) saying:
"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)
Tell that to the modern food industry that has undergone such an atrocious transition that has left a large percentage of the world’s population overweight or obese. Obesity creates life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Addictive junk food (including sodas), abundant diversity and enhancing additives to beautify the products to lure the customers, oversized products and crazy deals when you buy more products of the same item ending up with excess stock and hence weight, etc. have all contributed to the gluttony in food and drink.
It also seems that the challenging lifestyle of the modern world with all its technology, less spiritualism and family ties has created such a stressful, depressing feeling that is mistakenly thought to be cured with overindulgence in food and drink, etc.
Imam Ash-Shafi’ie (rahimahullāh) said: “I have not filled myself in sixteen years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clear understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”
Another problem is that gluttony in food and drink not only harms the body physically but moreover mentally and spiritually, as it blocks the mind and makes one lazy for worship.
Let’s Turn to God
Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) said: “The dunya is cursed. Cursed is all that is in it except for the remembrance of Allah, and that which resembles it, a scholar, and a student (of knowledge).” (At-Tirmidzi)
A big step towards freeing ourselves from gluttony is turning to God and focusing on how to become better Muslims.
A big step towards freeing ourselves from gluttony is turning to God, Allāh Almighty and focusing on how to become better Muslims; increasing our knowledge and hence spirituality. Only then will we feel our desire for the greed of having more money, possessions, food and drink decreasing gradually until we feel we can control them and not them controlling us.
So, the next time you feel like overindulging in money, remember the hereafter and invest in it instead; give out some charity. Buy possessions in moderation whether in quantity or pricing. Say no to that extra bite or gulp. Remember you are a Muslim; don’t harm your body as it is a trust from Allāh Almighty.
‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud (radiyallāhu‘anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) used to supplicate: “Allāhumma inni as `alukal-Huda, Wat-Tuqa, Wal-`Afafa, Wal-Ghina (O Allāh! I beseech You for Guidance, Piety, Chastity and Contentment).” [Muslim].
This du’a contains four words, the meanings and implications of which constitute its essence. These words are guidance, piety (fear of Allah), chastity and sufficiency. Guidance here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allah is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the prayer of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.
And Allāh Almighty Knows best.
Suzana Nabil Saad holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the Faculty of Languages, Ain Shams University, Egypt. She obtained her Master’s Degree of Arts in English Literature from Gothenburg University, Sweden. She previously worked as an editor in Reading Islam section at Islamonline.net (now OnIslam.net). She currently resides in Texas, USA.
[Excerpted from: Towards Becoming Better Muslims: “Gluttony the Silent Killer” By Suzana Nabil Saad, Sunday, 31 March 2013 via On Islam]