Lawful Sustenance

03 May

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu), the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “O people! Allah is Pure and, therefore, accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers as He has commanded His Messengers by saying: ‘O Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do good deeds.’ (23:51) And He said: ‘O mankind! Eat of what is lawful and goodly in the earth.” (2:168) Then he (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) spoke of “a man on a long journey, wild-haired and dusty, who raises his hands up to heaven, saying, ‘Lord! Lord!’ yet his food is unlawful, his drink unlawful, his clothes unlawful and his nourishment unlawful: how, then, shall his prayer be answered?” [Sahih Muslim]

For the fulfillment of dua it is essential that one’s earning be through honest means. Once, Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) ate something given to him by his servant. ‘Do you know what that was?’ the boy asked him, and Abu Bakr said, ‘What?’ ‘In the Jahiliyya (Age of Ignorance before Islam),’ he said, ‘I was a soothsayer; something which, in fact, I did not know how to do, but I deceived a man, who met me just now and gave me what you ate.’ Abu Bakr put his finger into his throat, and vomited all that was in his stomach. [The Seventy-Seven Branches of Faith by Imam al-Bayhaqi]

The reason that one needs to be so particular about the halal/lawful origin of the food one eats is elaborated upon by Yusuf ibn Asbat who said: “When a young man worships, the devil says to his minions, ‘Look at his food.’ If they find his food to be from an impure source, he says, ‘Leave him alone; let him worship long and hard, for he himself has ensured that your efforts are not needed.’” [The Seventy-Seven Branches of Faith]

Do we bother to see how we are earning our bread; or is working for anybody, in any field, for any agenda acceptable just to feed ourselves according to a certain standard? Furthermore, what do we do with the energy we obtain from the food we eat? Do we use it in Allah’s obedience or disobedience? Or do we eat, as Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says in Surah Muhammad, “like cattle” with no regard for where the food came from, how much to eat, and what to do with the energy we obtain therefrom?

“According to the Quran, for food to be acceptable to Muslims, it must not only be halal, but ‘wholesome’, which means among other things, that it not be injurious to health. Modern processing techniques, thanks to which the average American consumes nearly a kilogram of chemical additives every month, are thought to be responsible for certain degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, which are still unusual in Muslim countries. According to the pathology department at Zahran Hospital in Saudi Arabia, cancer of the spleen and kidney is unknown among people who have never been exposed to modern processed foods.” [Translator’s note, The Seventy-Seven Branches of Faith, p.35-36, The Quilliam Press]

This hadith has been sent to me by


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