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Less Food

As we all began to gather round the table for iftaar, hushed mumblings of “I’m starving” surfaced above the hustle and bustle as everyone moved towards the dining area. The table was exquisitely laid, with dates of the sweetest and softest kind, exotic fruits, savoury finger foods, delicacies of various meat and chicken dishes, and assorted sweets. Colourful drinks in clear crystal glasses and hot cups of tea and coffee were added to the already overflowing table. What more could one want after such a long day of fasting?

Yet still, murmurs and complaints could still be heard. “Oh I don’t like that,” said one. “That won’t fill me up,” whispered someone else. “What type of iftaar is this?!” exclaimed another. The dissatisfaction was thick in the air. Nonetheless, every last one of the guests ate their fill until they could barely stand for maghrib, let alone taraweeh. Their bellies weighed down on them like a heavy burden, a stark reminder of their greed, and gluttony.

This prospect is too common amongst the ummah. Every year Ramadaan comes and goes but many of us gain nothing from this blessed month except for extra weight. As in the hadith, the Prophet (Saw) said, “perhaps a fasting person will gain nothing from his fast save hunger…” (An-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah)

Today, though as we sat for iftaar at the dining table, we broke our fast with a date and glass of water. This, though seemingly meagre, is from the Sunnah. As we all bit our date, the first taste of food we had had in the past twenty hours or so, my mother remarked, “Subhanallah, Allah has blessed us with so much.” We all looked up to see what she had to say. “Imagine those who break their fast with nothing or barely anything to eat.” We were all stunned. As we each drifted off into our own reverie, my mother’s words hung and brought a silence to us all. We continued our iftaar barely looking up at each other, the food suddenly becoming difficult to digest.
It was at this moment that I remembered the time of the Prophet (Saw) and his companions. Aishah (ra) narrated, “three new moons would be sighted and no cooking fire would be lit in the houses of the Prophet.” When asked, what they used to eat, she replied, “the two black things, i.e. dates and water.”(Bukhari) Compared to such circumstances, we are kings and queens, living lives of luxury and indulgence. Our stoves are always lighted, our pots always heavy, our plates always full and our bellies always bulging.

Why not make our stomachs lighter for Taraweeh so that we can concentrate better and stand up for longer? Do it for the sake of Allah; reduce your iftaar intake with the intention of pleasing Allah, with the intention of standing up longer in qiyaam, bowing longer in ruku’ and prostrating longer in sujood, because all these acts are loved by Allah. Moreover, if you leave something that is not haram with the intention of earning Allah’s love, Allah will love you, Inshallah.

To lighten the burden of finishing all the food, share it, as the prophet (Saw) said, “Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward.” (Tirmidhi)

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