Halal Consumption and Our Spiritual Health

The following article is a transcript of a talk delivered by Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia, founder of Darul Qasim College, regarding the impact of halāl consumption on our spiritual health. The talk is available to listen to here. It has been edited for readability. 

Shaykh Mohammed Amin is a Muslim scholar, mentor, and the founder of Darul Qasim, an institute of traditional Islamic higher learning headquartered in Glendale Heights, a suburb of Chicago. Shaykh Amin is an active advocate of the classical Sunni tradition of Islamic scholarship and an ardent promoter of traditional Islamic sciences and methodologies of teaching and learning. He is internationally regarded as an expert theologian and authority in the fields of Islamic philosophy and theosophy.

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

Peace and Blessings be upon the One whom after him there is no other prophet, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

Allah ﷻ has given us everything for our salvation, our needs in this world, and our needs in the other world. Allah ﷻ provides for us, He ﷻ is Al-Razzaq. He gives us rizq, food, sustenance, clothing, shelter, security, health, and everything else. Allah ﷻ, by sending His messengers, shows us how we, as human beings, should relate to this aqīdah (creedal belief) that Allah is Al-Razzaq. He has informed us in the Qur’an and the Sunnah that rizq is something that He offers to all of His creation. 

The Prophet ﷺ said:

If you were to rely upon Allah with the reliance He is due, you would be given provision like the birds: They go out hungry in the morning and come back with full bellies in the evening. 

(Sunan Ibn Majah 4164)

If you were to trust Allah ﷻ the way you should trust him, you would not fear hunger, you would be fed the way a bird feeds its young ones. This is a rich analogy, if you look into nature, especially wildlife in this part of the country where everything is barren, dry and cold in winter, you see how these species survive — even those that do not hibernate. Somehow, these species that live on land survive the harsh winters, Allah feeds them and takes care of them. This is the system of Razzaqiya. 

No government can attest the same because as rich as, for example, America is, there are [hundreds of thousands of homeless people in the US]. That is because human beings took on the task to provide for other human beings assuming that they can monopolize and dictate the resources that Allah has created. We are not going to get into any government policy but as Allah ﷻ says:

۞ وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍۢ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ إِلَّا عَلَى ٱللَّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا ۚ كُلٌّۭ فِى كِتَـٰبٍۢ مُّبِينٍۢ

There’s no creature on the Earth that Allah ﷻ does not provide for…

[Surah Hūd –  11:06]

As I mentioned previously, when you look at these animals, Allah provides for them in abundance and every species survives. So how does Islam come into this picture of Allah’s ﷻ sustenance and providing His rizq. What does Islam say about this? 

The answer contains several layers, but first and foremost — the means of earning must be halal. 

The way we earn our money, which is then used to buy food and sustenance, must be halal. If it is not halal then Allah will not accept. Not our deeds, actions, duas, dhikr, Qur’an, hajj, umrah, tarawih, sadaqah — nothing! So the means of earning must be regulated by the rules of Islam and Shari’ah. Haram means of earning include deceit, lying, cheating, and swindling. These are Haram. Categorically! 

The Qur’an condemns people who lie and cheat in terms of their business, therefore honesty and integrity go a long way in halal earnings. It is not just the job that must be halal, but also the manner in which you behave at your job that has to be halal. In fact, it must be more than the baseline of halal. It must be much better: virtuous!

The second is that the food we consume must be halal, in the strictest sense of the word. 

The Prophet ﷺ said:  إِنَّهُ لاَ يَرْبُو لَحْمٌ نَبَتَ مِنْ سُحْتٍ إِلاَّ كَانَتِ النَّارُ أَوْلَى بِهِ ‏

Any piece of flesh that has been nurtured by haram, the fire is much better for that piece of flesh.

(Jami Al-Tirmidhi 614)

We must be scrupulous with what we eat by identifying whether its consumption is halal. If not, there is no difference between us and others. It is not only the case that our earnings are halal but is also the case that the food we eat must be halal and it is here that I believe the community needs to improve.

In Muslim countries, Alhamdulillah, you have access to halal food. In this country, the United States, options are more limited, although nowadays, through the efforts of some Muslim businessmen and other facilities, we do have plenty of access to what is labeled halal.

However, I am not referring to that, I am talking about eating in restaurants that are dubious. You know an owner is not very scrupulous with his habits and you still eat or cater food from there. And [for example] you are catering food for an Ameen party, where somebody is reading the Quran and saying Bismillah and you are bringing haram food! Other than the fact that there is no barakah (blessings), it is totally haram! You cannot do that as a Muslim! Why? Because the Prophet ﷺ said if you do that your duas will not be accepted, your salat will not be accepted, your sawm will not be accepted, and your zakat will not be accepted. Your hajj will not be accepted. Nothing will be accepted!

It is not a matter of taqwa; We are not talking about pious people. You want to find out about the pious people? Abu Hanifa, Allah have mercy on him, had a flock of sheep and he found something suspect about a particular sheep in the herd. So he did not eat sheep for several months, just in case it was from that one animal that was suspect. This is Abu Hanifa. That is why he is al-Imam al-Azam, the greatest imam, not only because of his knowledge but because of his taqwa.

So we are not talking about taqwa. Those ranks of taqwa are far beyond our imagination in this country. We have to work on the premise of what is basic halal. Allah, being the Razzaq, has provided enough genuine halal food places that we have no need to resort to ambiguous and dubious places.

People say: “Oh, but the meat is so good there! It’s so tender! It’s so delicious!”

Remember that the Prophet ﷺ said hellfire is better for the body which consumes haram meat. Do you want to take that chance? Just for entertainment? Just to keep up with the Joneses in the community? Just to say “Yeah, we eat here also!” 

Unscrupulous consumption of haram food is what destroys the ummah. Because the ummah will pray Jumu’ah, they will perform tarawih, they will go for umrah and for hajj. But their duas will not be accepted! Is this the way forward for the ummah? That you are going to establish every dubious place to eat because you can? Because you have money? That is not the way forward for this ummah. It may be the way forward for others, but this ummah’s nutrition and basic food must be halal if there is to be hope for this ummah to do some good work. And how is that?

Allah ﷻ says:

Oh messengers! Eat from what is good and lawful, and act righteously. Indeed, I fully know what you do. [Qur’an 23:51]

[Qur’an 23:51]

This is a command to the Messengers. Oh Messengers, eat what is pure (the Arabic word in the ayah is tayyib). This means consuming not just what is halal, but ensuring that there is no semblance of anything disliked in the animal. You eat that which is tayyibthen do good deeds. So Allah ﷻ has joined and coupled eating good with good deeds, meaning: eat halal, and you will have halal thoughts.

Haram food will generate haram thoughts. That is the connection between eating pure and doing good deeds. What you consume is what you become. You are what you eat, as they say.

We must be scrupulous in what we eat because the rest of human civilization depends on us. The actions of non-Muslims are not as important as the actions of Muslims — it is the actions of Muslims that govern the welfare of the entire planet. We are responsible for what happens in the world. Our good deeds have a good impact and our bad deeds have a bad impact — not only on the physical environment but on people. 

And thus We have made you a middle nation to be witnesses over mankind, and (for) the Messenger ﷺ to be a witness over you…

[Surah Baqarah – 2:143]

We must reform our actions by following the basic principle of verifying that the meat we consume is halal. This means not only is the restaurant we patronize halal and pure but the other items that we consume are also halal. 

It is not just meat, but other items as well which may be suspect and doubtful. You are not going to go hungry if you stay away from a few dubious items. This is total carelessness, negligence, and ghaflah that the Muslims of this country intentionally endure. And this is why you get haram ideas and haram thoughts in the community all the time — it stems from the food we consume.

If you want good in the community, give people halal and pure food, and eat halal and pure food. If you want a bad community, then be my guest and do whatever you want, it is a free country. But if it is the case that you are going to be of service to yourself, your family, and the Muslim ummah, then you must do what Allah wants you to do and that is to take only from the halal rizq He provides. There is haram rizq also, but He does not want you to take that, because it is a test! There are halal options, and there are not-so-halal options, and there are haram options. Stay away from those dubious acts! You are not going to die! You are not going to starve the way the homeless are starving.

Just pay a little bit of attention to what Allah ﷻ wants. Because at the end of the day, it is Allah who is feeding you. It is Allah who is giving you the job, money, shelter, peace and security. Allah is the one! So do things for Allah, not for your nafs. If you do not care whether the food is halal or haram then obviously you will get the ummah you get. Therefore, we must be very careful as to where we go to eat and what we eat. 

We make dua that Allah ﷻ gives us the tawfiq to eat at least what is halal and then give us tawfiq to eat what is tayyib also. Ameen, ya Rabb Al- Alamin. 

Generously transcribed by Ustadha Raissa Khalil.

Photo by Carlos Macías on Unsplash

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Shaykh Amin Kholwadia

Shaykh Mohammed Amin is a Muslim scholar, mentor, and the founder of Darul Qasim, an institute of traditional Islamic higher learning headquartered in Glendale Heights, a suburb of Chicago. Shaykh Amin is an active advocate of the classical Sunni tradition of Islamic scholarship and an ardent promoter of traditional Islamic sciences and methodologies of teaching and learning. He is internationally regarded as an expert theologian and authority in the fields of Islamic philosophy and theosophy.

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