Food Wastage

Food Wastage

A hungry man is an angry man; every human being is entitled to food and drink. Allāh  has taken the responsibility to provide for each and every creature on the planet. He mentions:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٖ فِي ٱلۡأَرۡضِ إِلَّا عَلَى ٱللَّهِ رِزۡقُهَا

“There is no creature on Earth whose sustenance is not undertaken by Allāh.”[1]

Not only is this promise true throughout the year, but man is given an increased dosage of barakah in the month of Ramaḍān. Allāh  has said in the Qurʾān, the fasting of Ramaḍān has been ordained upon us primarily to obtain Taqwā. He says:

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ ١٨٣

“O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing.”[2]

Taqwā can only be acquired through adherence to the teachings of Allāh . In another āyah, Allāh  remarks about the People of the Book:

وَلَوۡ أَنَّهُمۡ أَقَامُواْ ٱلتَّوۡرَىٰةَ وَٱلۡإِنجِيلَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِم مِّن رَّبِّهِمۡ لَأَكَلُواْ مِن فَوۡقِهِمۡ وَمِن تَحۡتِ أَرۡجُلِهِمۚ

“If they had upheld the Tawrāh, the Injīl and what had been sent down to them from their Lord, they would surely have had plenty to eat from above them and from beneath them.”[3]

Keeping this in mind, Ramaḍān is a month wherein the Muslims increase their connection with the Holy Qurʾān; therefore, Allāh  amplifies their sustenance and blesses them with varieties of foods, which they do not tend to eat in the other months. There is no need to provide proof for this self-evident fact.

However, true thankfulness to Allāh  is to welcome this gift, but not misuse it. Islām advocates moderation. To keep a balance, the following āyah must be embodied:

وَكُلُواْ وَٱشۡرَبُواْ وَلَا تُسۡرِفُوٓاْۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُسۡرِفِينَ ٣١

“Eat and drink, and do not be extravagant. Surely, Allāh does not like the extravagant.”[4]

Unfortunately, the abundant favours of Allāh  are taken for granted. In the UK alone, an estimated 15 million tonnes of food and drink are wasted on an annual basis, over half of which is avoidable. Hotels, pubs and restaurants wasted a total of 600 thousand tonnes of food in 2009, of which 40 thousand tonnes could have been avoided.[5]

This is just in the UK. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the USA alone throws away $48.3 billion worth of food each year. It is estimated that half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste. Not only that, but roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted every year.[6]

The 1.3 billion tonnes of wasted food would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world four times. On the one hand, nearly 1 billion people are hungry worldwide; on the other hand, around 1.5 billion people in the world are overweight, while 400 million are obese.[7]

This is against what the Prophet  had taught. In fact, the emergence of obesity in the later times is a prophecy he  had predicted.[8] The Prophet  did not only teach against over-eating; he also taught the believers to eat less than a full stomach:

«ما ملأ آدميٌّ وِعاءً شرّاً من بطن. بِحَسْب ابن آدم أُكُلاتٌ يُقِمْن صُلْبه؛ فإن كان لا محالةَ، فثُلُثٌ لطعامه، وثلث لشرابه، وثلث لنَفَسه»

“The son of Ādam does not fill a worse container than the stomach. A few bites to keep his back straight should suffice the son of Ādam; if this is not possible, [then he may fill] one third [of his stomach] for his food, another third for his drink and a final third for his breathing.”[9]

The above adīth is concerning every human being. When comparing the believer’s diet to the disbeliever’s, the Prophet  said:

«المؤمنُ يأكل في مِعًى واحد، والكافر يأكل في سبعة أمعاء»

“The believer eats in one stomach, and the disbeliever eats in seven stomachs.”[10]

Avoiding wastage and extravagance is not a command restricted to food; rather, it is a broad concept. The Prophet  even forbade the believers from using excessive water during Wuūʾ. A bedouin once came to the Prophet  and asked about Wuūʾ. After having shown him how to perform Wuūʾ by washing each limb three times, the Prophet  said:

«فمن زاد على هذا، فقد أساء وتعدّى وظلم»

“Whosoever does more than this has done evil, transgressed and wronged.”[11]

Therefore, the Muslim should be efficient with the blessings of Allāh  upon him, i.e. achieve maximum productivity with minimum wastage. Although it is something to keep in mind throughout the year, we are even more in need of such reminders during the month of Ramaḍān, wherein our situation with regard to food wastage is utterly embarrassing.

This does not mean we should become stingy in this blessed month. The Prophet  was the most generous of people, and his generosity would increase in the month of Ramaḍān.[12] While optimising the countless blessings of Allāh  upon us, we must avoid becoming the friends of the Shayṭāns. Allāh  says:

وَلَا تُبَذِّرۡ تَبۡذِيرًا ٢٦ إِنَّ ٱلۡمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُوٓاْ إِخۡوَٰنَ ٱلشَّيَٰطِينِۖ وَكَانَ ٱلشَّيۡطَٰنُ لِرَبِّهِۦ كَفُورٗا ٢٧

“And do not squander recklessly. Surely, squanderers are the brothers of Shayāns, and the Shayān is very ungrateful to his Lord.”[13]

May Allāh  enable us to keep the perfect balance – during the month of Ramaḍān and outside it – in optimising His favours, while avoiding all types of extravagance and wastage. Āmīn.


[1] [Hūd: 11/6].

[2] [Al-Baqarah: 2/183].

[3] [Al-Māʾidah: 5/66].

[4] [Al-Aʿrāf: 7/31].

[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/315418/foodpocketbook-2013update-29may14.pdf p. 40. Accessed on 15th June 2015.

[6] http://www.unep.org/wed/2013/quickfacts/ accessed on 15th June 2015. Other sources suggest USA throws away $165 billion worth of food every year.

[7] http://saynotofoodwaste.org/data/facts/ accessed on 15th June 2015.

[8] To read about Islām’s view on obesity, refer to my article, Obesity in Islām.

[9] Al-Tirmidhī (2380).

[10] Al-Bukhārī (5393) and Muslim (2060).

[11] Al-Nasāʾī (140) and Ibn Mājah (322).

[12] Al-Bukhārī (6) and Muslim (2308).

[13] [Al-Isrāʾ: 17/26-27].

One thought on “Food Wastage

  1. ERKILIC

    Thank you so much with my whole heart about your UNDERLINING of “Food Wastage-Issue” CLEARLY in this article. May Allah give UNDERSTANDING to every single Muslim to COMPREHEND why waste is prohibited and apply it to our lives. Amin.

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