The Four Poisons of the Heart - Part 3

Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah

Too Much Food

The consumption of small amounts of food guarantees tenderness of the heart, strength of the intellect, humility of the self, weakness of desires, and gentleness of temperament. Immoderate eating brings about the opposite of these praiseworthy qualities.

Al-Miqdam ibn Ma'd Yakrib said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah say: "The son of Adam fills no vessel more displeasing to Allah than his stomach. A few morsels should be enough for him to preserve his strength. If he must fill it, then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink and leave a third empty for easy breathing."[15]

Excessive eating induces many kinds of harm. It makes the body incline towards disobedience to All?¢h and makes worship and obedience seem laborious - such evils are bad enough in themselves. A full stomach and excessive eating have caused many a wrong action and inhibited much worship. Whoever safeguards against the evils of overfilling his stomach has prevented great evil. It is easier for shaytan to control a person who has filled his stomach with food and drink, which is why it has often been said: "Restrict the pathways of shaytan by fasting."[16]

It has been reported that when a group of young men from the Tribe of Israel were worshipping, and it was time for them to break their fast, a man stood up and said: "Do not eat too much, otherwise you will drink too much, and then you will end up sleeping too much, and then you will lose too much."

The Prophet and his companions, may Allah be pleased with them, used to go hungry quite frequently. Although this was often due to a shortage of food, Allah decreed the best and most favourable conditions for His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This is why Ibn Umar and his father before him - in spite of the abundance of food available to them - modelled their eating habits on those of the Prophet . It has been reported that Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: "From the time of their arrival in Madina up until his death , the family of Muhammad never ate their fill of bread made from wheat three nights in a row."[17]

Ibrahim ibn Adham said: "Any one who controls his stomach is in control of his deen, and anyone who controls his hunger is in control of good behaviour. Disobedience towards Allah is nearest to a person who is satiated with a full stomach, and furthest away from a person who is hungry."

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