How can we fight obesity following Islamic teachings?

Food Contributor
© Martin Šandera |

Obesity has become a wide spread disease, mostly in developed and well-off societies. Despite, intense social demand of ideal health, we cannot fight obesity. Rate of obesity is increasing day by day. Obesity is a life threatening disease which gives birth to high blood pressure,diabetes,arthritis, sleep apnea, and cancers.

One of the most effective method in today’s world is Radical bariatric. It is a surgical procedure that reduces weight in obese patients. But these surgeries have many side effects. Hence, no such prevention have been formulated to overcome this growing problem.

How can we fight obesity from the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH)?

The teachings of Holy Prophet (PBUH) can fill volumes of books. One of the narrations of Holy Prophet (PBUH) summarizes the challenge of satiety and eating. It can have great impact on communities, societies and individuals.

Prophet (PBUH) said,” No man fills a container worse than his stomach. A few morsels that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. If he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for drink, one-third for breathing.” (At-Tirmidhi)

This narration highlights the “eating” problem. Especially it reveals great struggle with one’s advocate’s prevention, desires and come up with practical advices.

The first portion of hadith warns of dangers of over eating as it has many health after-effects, but it also affects our iman (faith). Eating to satiety can harm us. The capacity of stomach is closely related to satiety hormones and stronger hunger impulses. The position and architecture of muscle fibers expand our stomach. Consequently due to satiety sensation we will always eat in excess which results in leaving negative effects on our bodies.

When we eat food our body absorbs and stores it in from of nutrients, carbohydrates and proteins, but the excess amount of food is stored in form of fat and that excess fat results in many disorders, such as chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis.

Broken Desires

Imam Al-Ghazaly claims in his book on “Breaking the two desires”, that if you want to be happy so make sure that you have control over your desires, and a person will suffer who is controlled by his desires. Actually the food we consume is a struggle between our nafs and soul.

The Prophet (SAW) teaches us in his second portion of hadith that a little amount of food can keep us up and working. As fasting teaches us that we can be fully productive even with less amount of food intake. In recent medical literature, this concept has been advocated in the form of intermittent fasting and caloric restrictions. Our Prophet (PBUH) practiced fast almost every week but still he (SAW) never ate to satiety.

The prophet (SAW) advises us in the third part of his hadith, that one should not fill one’s stomach. He (SAW)advises us to organize our intake of food as to divide our capacity into three: and sparing equal space for food, air, andfluid. This is the best way to healthy food intake.

The prophet (PBUH) says: “The food of two person suffices for three persons, and the food of the three persons suffices for four persons” (Al-Bukhari)

In this hadith the Prophet (SAW) teaches us the principles that prepare our food with Taqwa and responsibility, and to be very careful in our eating habits. He (SAW) always praised Allah for the food he (SAW) was blessed.

If we are going to follow this Prophetic method indeed we will have a healthy life free of diseases and weight gain.



(Written by Sadaf Riaz, freelance journalist)

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