Understanding Healthy Diet and The Practical Rules of Eating and Drinking

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It is reported in the Masnad that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “The human being has never filled a container worse than his stomach. Hence, it will be sufficient for the son of Adam to satisfy his hunger with few bites to strengthen his backbone. If he must eat his fill, then he should allow for one third food, one third water, and one third air.”

There are two types of illnesses: (1) illness of the heart; and (2) physical illness which is the result of excess of a substance whose saturation harms the natural functions and balance of one’s body, and this is the type of common illness that befall the majority of people. Such illness is usually caused by: (a) excess eating; (b) taking in food before complete digestion of a previous meal; (c) eating food that is deficient in nutrients; (d) eating food which is slow to digest; (e) or mixing opposing types of food or eating elaborately prepared dishes during the same meal. When the body becomes accustomed to such diet, it will also inherit various types of diseases. Some of them can overcome more expeditiously than others. Hence, moderation is the path of good health, and the body benefits from a moderate and nutritious meal more than it does from a combination of food and supplements.

One’s body can be accustomed to three levels of diet: (1) a necessary diet; (2) a sufficient diet; and (3) a supplementary diet. God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم told of the required “sufficient” diet, saying: “…few bites to strengthen his backbone,” and such regime will preserve the body and will not allow it to debilitate or lose its strength. If one is tempted to exceed that elementary level of health preservation, then he should “…allow for one third food, one third water, and one third air,” and this is the best of common diets. In fact, when the stomach is saturated with food, it will not be able take in water, and when food and water exceed their recommended level, one may suffer from pulmonary difficulties, resulting in stress and exhaustion from the lungs’ being unable to easily deliver oxygenated blood to the left atrium of the heart. One will also feel heaviness in his body, his heart and spirit will experience languor and drowsiness, and his limbs will fail to obey him performing his basic religious duties. Such state also will stimulate one’s sexual desire. Hence, a filled stomach is damaging to one’s body, heart and spirit. This case is more harmful when it becomes habit, though if one occasionally indulges himself in a delicious meal, it is rather healthy and comforting. It is reported in the traditions that Abu Huraira, God be pleased with him, drank milk to satiety from a bowl presented to him by God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم until he exclaimed: “I swear by Him Who sent you with the message of truth that I find no more place to drive it!” Traditions also report that occasionally other companions also ate to satiation, though, as we have mentioned earlier, excess food will cause the body langour and drowsiness even though it stimulates it. However, the body’s health and strength comes from the nourishment it can absorb and not from the quantity it takes in, and since the human being is made from three elements: (1) earth, (2) water, and (3) air, God’s Messenger  صلى الله عليه و سلم apportioned his diet into these three categories.

A Question on The Constitution of The Human Body,

And is Fire One of The Elements?

Is fire one of the elements of the constitution of the human body? Now, if someone inquires about the portion of fire which is not found in the portions allotted in the above prophetic saying, our response is that some physicians did indeed speak of fire being one of the elements, though other learned physicians and scientists refuted that theory and debated two arguments: (1) fire is produced from ether then descends to mix with water and earth, or (2) fire is generated by the other elements within one’s own body. The first theory is absurd for two reasons: the first is because fire is a light element, and therefore an ascending matter, and for it to descend implies the existence of a quasi element that acts as neutralizer and compels the fire into a descending characteristic, and that is unacceptable. On the other hand, in order for fore to descend to the earth, it has to cross through an extremely cold atmosphere (Arb. zamharïr), and we can easily notice in our immediate environment that even a huge fire can be put off with a small amount of liquid. Thus, for minute fire particles to cross through such an inescapable freezing atmosphere, they will certainly be extinguished.

As for the second theory of the fire being generated by the other elements of the human body, that argument is even more hollow and further from the truth, for a body that becomes fire after it was not must have come from either earth, water, or air, and must have been linked to one of them, while a body that is not fire when mixed with proper elements none of which characteristics is fire is not prone to turn into fire, because there is no fire in them. Furthermore, the elements earth, water and air to which fire is presumably connected are cold, hence, how can they produce fire? If the questioner further says: “What about the possible existence of a substance in the human body that quickens into fire upon mixing with the other elements?” Our response regarding such possibility is similar to that of the first answer. Then if the questioner asks: “But we notice that when we sprinkle little water over a limestone, a red-hot glow-like fire issues from the action of heat of the limestone. Also, fire ignites if the sun’s rays fall over a combustible substance through a magnifying glass; and again if we strike a metal rod against a hard stone, sparks of fire issues from them, and such fiery substance must exist within such elements!” In such case, our answer again is that this will contradict the questioner’s first theory.

In refuting such theories, we do not deny the fact that fire can be produced from a heavy stroke of a metal rod against a hard stone, or from the heat of the sun’s rays falling upon a combustible substance through a magnifying glass, or that that heating power of the sun can eventually start a fire, as we can find in other examples. Nevertheless, we have to discount such theories when it comes to the constitution and chemistry of animal bodies and those of plants, for both bodies do not induce the fire producing friction in question, and neither of them has the transparency on the smooth glass transmitting surface texture. In fact, when the surface of animal bodies and those of plants are exposed to the sun’s rays, no fire ignites; hence, how can it be said that the heat of the sun’s waves reaches inside such bodies and ignites a fire?

Furthermore, most chemists and physicians agree that a fermented solution or an old and expired medicine is chemically valent or hot. If such heat is produced by fire, then how can such insignificant fiery particles remain ignited indefinitely in a liquid matter, when on the other hand, anyone can easily attest that a fire can be put out with water? Therefore, if the element of the fire existed in the animal body or in that of plants, its characteristics would be dominated by the element water. Hence, if the element fire was part of the constitution of the human body, then the mixing of elements would produce a fusion that will alter its characteristics and turn it into those of water which is the opposite of fire.

On another plane of thought, God Almighty referred to the creation of the human being in several parts of the holy Qur’an. Sometimes He described such creation as being made from water and in other verses, He described the human creation as being made from earth, or as resulting from a combination of water and earth, namely a clay (tïn) that was placed in the open and left to dry like pottery (fakhkhãr) because of its interaction with air and the heat of the sun. In fact, in none of the Qur’anic verses did God Almighty refer to the creation of man from fire, rather He ascribed the element fire to another specie of creation called Jinn. Among them is Iblis, the accursed Satan. It is narrated in sahih Muslim that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم, said: “The angels were created from light, Iblis was created from a smokeless fire, and Adam was created according to the description you were given.” This prophetic saying (hadith) is clear and assertive concerning the elements from which Adam was created, and in none of the Qur’anic revelations did our Lord and Creator mention the mixing of fire in the constitution of Adam’s body.

If such observers of the human body attribute heat the body generates in nature to a fiery substance, the cause of such heat can be attributed to a variety of causes, including body movement, food, or exposure to hot air, among other sound scientific explanations, and such heat does in no way imply the existence of the element of fire in the human body.

The advocates of the theory of the existence of the element fire in the human body also argues that when earth and water mix, they require heat to blend into a new composite (i.e., clay), otherwise they are not compliant and cannot blend. They also noticed that when a seed is embedded in mud or mire, locked out from air or the sun’s rays, such seed will ultimately spoil or rot; therefore, for a body to ferment, there must be a ripening agent or a heat generating element that must be fire. If no fermentation takes effect and if such element does not exist unbound, then it is lacking, and there must exist a homogeneous heating process that is generated by the elements earth and water themselves. Otherwise if such homogeneous heat further dissipates, then such elements are cold by nature and not by correlation and interaction with one another. Furthermore, they would argue that some medicines are hot by nature, and their heat proves the existence of fire in their substance. If the element of fire did not exist in the body, the body would have been cold, and without the interaction of an ancillary agent and its opposite, cold becomes constant and accelerates into freezing. In such case, the body will lack the sense of feeling, and in its absence, pain is not perceived, and in the absence of pain, emotions cannot be expressed; therefore, the element of fire, or a heating element, must form an integral part of the constitution of the human body.

Such advocates also argue that upon the mixing of elements, the element fire is tempered and hence does not retain its, otherwise known, external qualitative properties and characteristics, and therefore assumes significant isotopic transmutation. Others argue that when earth, water and air mix together, the heat waves of the sun, together with the influence of other planets, eases their amalgamation. When the newly compounded body is thorougly amalgamated, it assumes new isotopic transmutation or a dissimilar chemical and biological formulation, whether a mineral, biological, or botanical body is involved. However, in responding to such hypothesis, we all agree that indeed the human body possesses a temperature which is created by a variety of factors other than fire, and majority of scientists today disagree with the theory of isotopic transmutation. We therefore conclude with the statement of the holy Qur’an, where God Almighty says: { We have created them from a coarse clinging clay. } (Qur’an 37 : 11) This verse proves that the primordial elements of creation remain unchanged. Indeed Allah is the provider of cognition and the guardian of success.


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