Foodie Lesson 13 – Special Ramadhan Series – ‘Fast with your heart’
In the name of Allah the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
My apologies for the lack of lessons.
InshaAllah this series will have a total of 20 lessons.
Today’s matter of the heart I wish to discuss is about loving others. We all believe as Muslims that the best way to live our lives is in accordance to the Quraan and Sunnah. The Quraan is a perfect guide and the behaviour, habits and speech of the Prophet SAW are a true reflection of the Quraan. The way the Prophet Muhammed SAW ate, drank, talked, walked, smelt, laughed, worshipped, socialised and even loved his family; all form a beautiful example for us to follow. Allah enable us to be those who follow the Quraan and Sunnah inshaAllah.
However Islam allows us to have preferences within the fold of Islamic rulings. We are all very diverse in what we like to eat, where we like to shop, who we wish to marry, how we socialise, taste in clothes, choice of shampoo even… The list goes on. A lot of our preferences are associated with our culture, where we live and the people around us. For example a high percentage of elder Indian people like to eat curry and chapatti for dinner but a large percentage of the youth today prefer lasagna over curries. We allowed to have these preferences in our lifestyle and leisure choices.
It’s not necessary for us to have the exact same human preferences as the Prophet Muhammed SAW, like travelling by camel, because we have cars and planes now. Islam appreciates that our tastes differ. Although scholars do say that adopting true love for the Prophet SAW can make us more inclined to enjoying dates & honey, as it was his favourite food. To want live like our favourite people is also part of human nature. But Allah knows us best as our creator and celebrates the fact that He created us all with differences in Surah Ar-Rum:
“Among His (Allah’s) signs are the creations of the heavens and the Earth, and the differences in your languages and colours. In that are signs for all people”.
The fact that we are all different (the billions that live now on earth, the gazillions before us and the amount that’ll come after us) is a sign of how amazing Allah is; a reflection of His power. No two people are the same in personality or preferences. SubhanAllah!
However we must bear in mind that there are dark shades of ‘living with preferences’ that can endanger our relationship with Allah and harden our hearts.
#1 The first of which is to give preference to what we want to do, with no reflection of what Allah wants from us. Allah does not need us to worship Him, he has millions of angels that already do so. But we worship Him to complete our faith and be of those who are close to him and inshaAllah become the dwellers of Jannah. For example some people may prefer to eat chicken over vegetables. That’s reasonable. But if we visit somewhere with no halaal chicken available, we can no longer prefer to eat the chicken over the vegetables, as Islam orders is to eat only halal meat. Alhamdullillah this is something we may not even think twice about – changing our preference to abide by Islam. Nonetheless it’s not always clear cut – sometimes we have to step back from our actions and think are my choices taking me to Allah or away from Allah, especially with so many new lifestyle choices we make every day. Allah says in Surah An-Nisa:
“Nay, you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more lasting”.
Ultimately we are living for the next life and not this. Our preferences do have to have some sort of direction towards pleasing Allah.
#2 The second way in which our preferences can bring our imaan down is when we push them onto others. We may prefer one food to another, one clothes brand to another, one imaam to another, one kind of routine for our kids to another… Our habits are all so diverse. For us to push something that is not clearly directed from the Sunnah onto another person is not a show of good Akhlaaq (character). We can’t deny anyone the right to be their own person even if their preferences seem ridiculous in our eyes. Allah says in Surah Al Hujurat: “Oh you who believe! Let not any nation laugh at another nation: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former).” An example of this maybe found in our interactions with others. We all want to help those suffering around the world but it is possible for us to do so in different ways. Some people may hold charity events, some people may boycott a certain zionist brand, some people may donate money and some people may simply make dua or change their lives for the better. It is not up to us to judge how much or how little people are doing for a cause, as we don’t actually know what they are doing behind closed doors or their hearts intentions. Opinions differ and all the above actions hold goodness. But it all comes down to whatever people prefer. Preference is a privilege. We can give advice to others but then we have to respect their decisions.
The Prophet SAW said “I have been not sent to curse people but a mercy to all mankind” . (Muslim)
If the most perfect of creation never cursed someone, despite outrageous lifestyles of some the people of his time, then what right do we have to look down on others who have different preferences to ourselves. Mercy and compassion is the key inshaAllah.
Allah make us of the merciful and kind so we can learn to live in harmony with others. Allah guide us to become better Muslims who respect the decisions and lives of others. Ameen
🌼 Happy 25 Ramadhan 🌼