Do not waste food

Heartfelt Plea

Do not waste food

Muhammad Imran Attari

Head of the Central Executive Committee of Dawat-e-Islami, Mawlana Muhammad Imran Attari

The issue of wasting food is a global one. It seems as if most people do this in one way or another. In weddings, religious events, iftar gatherings, and even at home, there is negligence in this regard. It is not common in Pakistan, but unfortunately, in the West it seems to be quite normal to throw away edible food items. Every day, food worth thousands of pounds is thrown away despite being suitable for consumption.   

Some restaurants or fast food outlets have a policy that all food that remains at the end of the day must be thrown away. In some cases, this might be after two hours of being fried. Others dispose of certain frozen items regardless of value. During social gatherings where food is served, there are usually leftovers where in some cases meat is left on the bone and there are morsels everywhere. Most people do not use leftovers; instead, they throw away bread, rice, or other sweets and savouries. Food at the bottom of large cooking pots is neither removed nor stored properly, as some wash away edible portions. 

According to Islam, food that is shared or collectively eaten among Muslims is a reflection of humility[1] and contains cure.[2] These specific points of excellence should provide incentive for those who are somewhat hesitant in this regard. 

In today’s day and age, many are distressed because of financial hardship and a lack of blessings. Could this be due to disregarding proper etiquette related to food?  The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم once picked up a piece of bread, wiped it, and then ate it.  He stated, “O Āishah, honour that which is good, for when this (bread) leaves a people, it never returns.”[3]

Our religion teaches us to pick up fallen crumbs and eat them lest they go to waste.  The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم explained how he who picks up crumbs that are left and eats them will have a comfortable life, and his children and grandchildren will be protected from intellectual deficiency.[4]

Remember, in the Hereafter, a person may face hardship for wasting just a single grain or drop of water.  It is a sin to waste food. If we are guilty of this, we may face retribution rather than accountability.  Accountability applies to lawful consumption and usage, whereas anything that is wasted incurs retribution. 

The pious refrain from wasting food by adhering to Islam’s teachings.  Mawlana Ilyas Attar Qadiri has said, “On many occasions at home, I observed how the rice that was stuck to the bottom of the pot was stored in a fridge instead of thrown away.” He also stated that once his older sister told him that the green chillies left from a curry were crushed and used later too.[5]

We should follow the way of these righteous people and also raise awareness regarding food being wasted.  Through sharing food, we can hope to resolve issues linked to poverty and inflation. One of the main causes of inflation is increased spending. So, if expenditure is controlled, it could lower costs, as the stock in markets and warehouses needs to be cleared. In the past, trade and inflation were not as complex as the modern era we live in, and hence the advice was simple. Ibrāhīm b. Adham رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه used to ask his followers about the prices of things, and he was once told that costs had become extremely high. “Stop buying those items and their prices will eventually decrease”, he said.[6]

I encourage you to honour the blessing of food, refrain from wasting it, and spread this message to others.  If leftovers or extra food can be stored, then please do so. Alternatively, share food with others, especially the needy. In some cases, it might be possible to use leftovers to feed animals. 

May Allah grant us the ability to value the blessings of food.

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

[1] Kanz al-Ummāl, part 3, vol. 2, p. 51, Hadith: 5745

[2] Al-Fatāwā al-Kubrā al-Fiqhiyya li Ibn ajar al-Haytamī, vol. 4, p. 117

[3] Sunan Ibn Mājah: 3353

[4] Jāmiʿ al-Aḥādīth: 21480

[5] Madani Muzakarah, 8th Muarram 1441 AH, 7th September 2019

[6] Iyā al-ʿUlūm, vol. 3, p. 108




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