Food and Sustenance is from Allah

Fatima Karim
14 min readNov 21, 2018

by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242–6462, USA
Website: http://WWW.IRFI.ORG

[This article is based on the Khutbah delivered by the author at the Islamic Center of Louisville, KY on Friday, January 25, 2002]

The clear Qur’anic teachings destroy the basic assumptions of Population Control campaign. “And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance. And We have provided therein means of subsistence, for you and for those for whose sustenance you are not responsible.” [Hijr 15:19–20]

“And there is not a thing but its (sources and) treasures (inexhaustible) are with Us; but We only send down thereof in due and ascertainable measures.” [Hijr 15:21]

A wise man said, the more time you must spend on seeking food and sustenance the less time you have to practice being human. The less time you have to develop your mind.

“And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allah).” (16:78)

It is Allah(SWT), Who has bestowed His blessings upon you when you were in your mother’s womb enveloped in darkness by three veils with no one having access to you to provide food and constituent factors of growth and upcoming existence. He has rendered your mother’s bosoms flow abundantly and has shown you the two highways of virtue and vice. He has devoted your parents to care about, and supply you with all means of survival. He has singled you out with numerous favors, reason and intellect coupled with proper aptitude to comprehend your position and utilize it properly: If He were to screen His Favor off for just a short moment you would surely be destroyed. Should He withhold His Mercy for just a blink of an eye, you would not survive. Favors of this sort bestowed upon you must entail duties on your part since the only authority that has fashioned and sustained you lies entirely in the hand of your Creator. Allah has endowed you with all these blessings for nothing; he asked his servants for neither sustenance nor food:

“…We ask not of you a provision (i.e. to give Us something: money, etc.); We provide for you. And the good end (i.e. Paradise) is for the Muttaqûn (pious and righteous persons).” (20:132)

The Bestower of Provision , Allah(SWT), the Almighty says:

“Surely Allah is the Bestower of provision, Lord of Power, the Almighty”.

Noble Qur’an (51:58)

People, birds, fish, animals, insects and reptiles are all creatures, which need food, air and water. Allah has bestowed His sustenance on each and every creature on earth and all must work and search for their provision.

Allah(SWT), the Most High says:

“And He set on the earth firm mountains standing above its surface, and He blessed the earth and measured therein nourishment for all things, in four periods: in accordance with the needs of the seekers”. Noble Qur’an (41:10)

People are the seekers of sustenance, for food, water and money, on this earth. In our organized society we get them through working in different fields such as: agriculture, industry, cattle-rearing, commerce and other kinds of employment such as carpentry, tailoring, science, medicine, engineering, etc.

Consider the food, which you eat at every meal and think from where it came?

The vegetables, grain, fruit, meat, fish, poultry, milk eggs or dairy products and so on.

Who brought forth the crops which farmers grow to be processed into delicious food?

Who created animals whose flesh may be cooked to give us sustenance, or from which milk is obtained?

Only our Creator is the Maker of provisions for us on this earth. And surely, to gain these we need to work. Indeed prophets themselves have striven for the sake of obtaining sustenance.

Prophet Moses(AS) used to graze cattle and so did Prophet Dawood (AS). Prophet Noah (AS) worked as a carpenter, as did Prophet Muhammad [SAS], who also used to graze cattle, and who worked in commerce in Mecca for a certain time.

Allah(SWT) has provided such basic requirements as oxygen, sunlight and rain in order that land can be irrigated, plants cultivated and animals reared. For man to survive and be healthy and strong in both body and mind he needs to think, work and to organize his life around him.

The Deprived People

Allah’s blessings upon us are numerous and uncountable. He provides basic provisions and favors for all mankind. So why, it can be asked, do we see that some poor people starve, and have no material benefits or dwellings? Verily the reason behind this can be seen very clearly.

At one end of the scale, some people are lazy and have no inclination to work for the sake of earning their provision. And indeed Allah dislikes them. At the other end of the scale, some people behave as oppressors and tyrants, amassing fortunes out of their own greed and not for the good of society. They use the poor and needy for their own ends and neglect their welfare. This is despite the fact that Allah(SWT) has made it obligatory to help the poor so that no one remains in need. Hence, the real reason for people’s poverty in most cases is the deprivation of their rights by the rich and powerful, upon whom Allah has placed responsibility to alleviate their burden.

UN Population Conference — Cairo

The “ United Nations” sponsored a conference in Cairo which was held from the 5th to 13th September 1994, and called the “ The International Conference on Population and Development” , was hosted by the United states — the chief broker in the heart of the Muslim world.

The former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, submitted a detailed report to the National Security Council about the demographic explosion, describing it as a strategic threat to the security of the USA. He referred the task of execution of this policy to the IMF and the UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation, so that the western countries could face the threat posed by this massive human wave of the ‘third world’ countries who according to him have become unable to meet the needs of their populations.

Allah Ta’ala say:

“ Say: Come, I will rehearse what Allah has really prohibited you from. Join not anything as equal with him, be good to your parents kill not your children on a plea of want we provide sustenance for you and for them come not to shameful deeds, whether open or secret take not life which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does he command you, that you may learn wisdom.” [Al-Qur’an, 6:151]

The problem of “Population Explosion” started with Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, who was a priest in the service of the of British East India Company(1766–1834). Malthus vigorously presented the idea in “The Essay on Population” published in 1798, that the human population would always surpass our ability to produce food by some natural law. In his opinion the population grows in a geometric progression (2, 4, 9, 16 …) while production of food grows in arithmetic progression (2, 3, 4, 5, 6…). Even if there is plenty of food for everyone at the beginning, in two generations there will be more people than the means to feed them. Hence the “population problem.”

The growth of world population shows his theory is not correct. For example African population is smaller today than it was before the European-led slave trade played devastation with it. The increase in food production, on the other hand, has been much greater than Malthus predicted. World population has more than doubled since 1950, but food supplies have more than tripled. According to experts, if technology continues to improve at today’s rate, it will be possible to feed 10 billion people on roughly the same amount of land currently devoted to agriculture. Other estimates suggest that the world can support 33 billion people.

A comparison of the numbers of people living in the western world and the ‘third world’, and between the rates of consumption of consumer goods and energy, would shed light over the reality of the dirty scheme concocted by the western countries, and the reason behind their barbaric campaign, which is to achieve total hegemony over the world and to exploit its riches. According to statistics the world population totals 6 billion of which 25% live in the industrialized world and 75% in the third world. The population of the industrialized world( Europe, America and Japan), consume 80% of the energy, 85% of wood and 80% of foods. As for the underdeveloped ‘third world’, whose population numbers 4 billion, they only consume 17% of all the natural resources. Also the average income of a European is 20 times higher than that of a person living in the ‘third world’. Despite this difference, the rich industrialized countries have laid a heavy burden of debts on the poor countries, which in total exceed 1,500 billion dollars. Between 1982 and 1990, 418 billion dollars were transferred to the industrialized world. This brief account of the demographic and economic situation of the world highlights the fact that the capitalist countries have exploited the world’s riches in order to provide their citizens with a high standard of living at the expense of others. This should not come as a surprise since the capitalist ideology embraced by the West is based on benefit and its objective is always to achieve maximum physical pleasure. The so-called third world countries are rich in natural resources and farming lands, they are capable of satisfying the basic needs and even the luxurious needs of billions of people. A leading expert on natural science admitted that the existing resources are sufficient to provide a standard of living, equal to that of the Swiss farmer, for more than 75 billion people, provided the distribution is carried out correctly. However the greed of the western capitalist countries, devoid of all values and based on looting and robbery, would not rise to view the world from a humanitarian viewpoint. They will continue to pursue their policy of restraining population by using all methods available, in order to satisfy their luxuries and beyond in a bestial manner. The claims of Cairo Conference that a reduced population and smaller families would guarantee a better life is only a new and deceptive scheme concocted by the west to give a better life for its own people at the expense of others. Allah Ta’ala is the Creator and the Provider, and no soul shall die until it has exhausted all its prescribed provision and life. This is a basic concept that every Muslim carries, and which is not open to compromise.

Allah Ta’ala says:

“ Kill not your children for fear of want: we shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you: verily the killing of them is a great sin” [Qur’an, 17:31]

Umar ibn Al-Khattab(RA) narrated that the Prophet (sas) said:

“If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs.

1. Reliance (Tawakkul) on Allah is one of the most important causes of getting sustenance in this life. Allah said: {And whoever fears Allah, He will provide him a way out and will provide for him from an unforeseen direction. And whoever relies on Allah, He is sufficient for him.}

2. Reliance on Allah does NOT mean not working and striving for sustenance in this life. Al-Bahaiqiy (one of the major collectors of hadith) said:

“There is no support in this hadith for resigning from working to earn. On the contrary, it in fact supports working and seeking earnings. This is because the bird when it flies out in the morning does so in pursuit of its sustenance. They would never set out except in a state of health and success like the birds who set out hungry and return full. If, however, they rely on their own strengths and abilities and then engage in deception, lying and insincerity, this is opposite to reliance on Allah.”

The Noble Prophet advised his Nation (Ummah) to work for a living, though our stay in this world be only temporary. He advises us to seek out our sustenance, not to wait for it to find us. It is best for us to work for our livelihood, to engage ourselves in any type of work that does not transgress the Law, as the most tasteful of food is that earned with one’s own hands. For man to seek his sustenance within the bounds of the Divine Law is most pleasing to our Lord, and is also conducive to good mental and physical health. So whoever is able-bodied must work. It is futile to argue that, since the sustenance of every creature is already destined for him/her one need neither pursue it nor avoid it — these are the excuses of lazy people — and Allah does not favor laziness. As long as one is living in this world there must be some work that one should do with one’s own hands.

Prophet Solomon (AS), who was both a Prophet and a Divinely Ordained King was granted by his Lord opulence(luxury) far beyond the imagination of even the richest man of our time(Mr. Bill Gates of Micro Soft Co. in Seattle, WA), for Allah Almighty granted Hadrat Solomon(AS) knowledge of the exact location of all the treasures in the Earth, and also empowered him over armies of Jinn who not only guarded those treasures but would bring up any of them upon command. Hadrat Solomon (AS) was also granted the power to discourse with the animals, and they too were his servants.

Hadrat Solomon(AS) was such a magnificent emperor that he never in his life ate food except the proceeds from the sale of baskets he himself wove. Can we find such scrupulousness anywhere? Hadrat Solomon (AS) set an example for all of his subjects, and people of all time by not using the wealth of the Nation for his personal needs. But nowadays, on the contrary, the government is expected to supply everyone’s needs, so that many people, other than those who are truly handicapped or in need, unashamedly take government handouts and demand that they be increased. One should do everything possible not to be unemployed! Perhaps one can cheat the government, but one can’t deceive Allah(SWT); and Allah, the Almighty punishes such people in this life by making that money a cause of discontent for them. No “barakah” comes from unearned money, and the result of such a life will be both physical and mental illness. Therefore, if one values one’s health and sanity, one should eat from the work of one’s own hands!

Sultan Abdul Hamid, the last Khalifa of the Ottoman Empire was a great personality of his time. By virtue of his great stamina and charisma he was able to not only hold together the crumbling empire, but to actually effect a kind of revival of spirit throughout the vast realm. In the midst of all the affairs of his empire that needed his attending to, he found time to engage in a craft and eat from the proceeds of that work. He was pious and a devout Muslim. It is enough of a testimony to his strength to mention that he sat on the throne for thirty — three years in a time when most kings could not manage to retain their power for even ten years because of the many intrigues and the growing chaos of the times. The magnitude of his majesty was such that Kaiser Wilhelm II once said: “I have met many monarchs and rulers in my life and have found them all to be my inferiors, or at best my equals, but when I entered the presence of Abdul Hamid I began to tremble.”

There are other examples, such as Mughal Emperor-Aurangzeb, Sultan Salah Uddin Ayyubi and many others in Islamic History.

The Noble Prophet (SAS) once said:

“You must work for your honest provision as if you are going to remain in this world forever, and for the afterlife as if you will die tomorrow”.

Now why would the Prophet (SAS), whose mission it was to call to eternal life suggest that we work as if we will always be in this world? Because when hope for the life of the world is abandoned man will die.Hope for the future of this world and for our position in it is necessary for our being able to devote ourselves to our duties in this life. Besides this, the Noble Prophet(SAS) declared that man’s good deeds live on after him in this world, through the benefit that future generations derive from them. In order to put the matter in perspective, the Noble Prophet also said:

Oh people you must consider how long you may remain in this world and work for it in accordance with the length of your stay; and you must consider as well how long you will be in the life of the hereafter and strive for it accordingly”.

The Noble Prophet Muhammad (SAS), as well as his Companions, have taught by their practical example that in order to reach a high spiritual and moral rank one should in any case eat very little, and eat the simplest food. Islam certainly does not forbid us from consuming delicious, enjoyable and hearty meals, consisting of the finest foods available. The Qur’an clearly says that no one can forbid the good things of life, which Allah has created for His servants (Qur’an, Surah. 7, v. 32). Therefore self-denial is not allowed by Islam. But while we may make use of and enjoy the best things, including best food, Islam requires that we do not become attached to them in our hearts, and that we always remain capable of doing without them and giving them up whenever it is necessary to give them up for a higher purpose and for the good of ourselves and our fellow beings.

Sparse food of Holy Prophet and Companions

The Noble Prophet Muhammad(SAS) as well as his Companions had no attachment whatsoever to the material things and comforts of the world, and this is why they were so unconcerned about their physical food, and subsisted in the simplest way possible for a human being. It is reported in the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari, that after settling in Madina the Noble Prophet and the people of his household never got to eat fully for more than three days continuously throughout his life. In Madinah, the Noble Prophet was the head of an entire community and the ruler of a state which consisted of a city at first, and then extended to the whole of Arabia. Consequently it was by choice that he thus lived. His wife Aishah(RA) related that during the life of the Noble Prophet, “we used to subsist on dates and water”. (Bukhari, 8:465). Of course, the Noble Prophet was not dogmatic or inflexible about his austerity, and if it so happened that he was offered some dainty dish, he would not turn it down, with an air of superiority, claiming to be leading a simple life. Rather, he ate and enjoyed that blessing of God. But in the normal course of his life, he ate very little, and had whatever came to hand, however coarsely prepared or simple it might be.

He once told his followers:

“The food of two people is sufficient for three, and the food of three is sufficient for four.” (Bukhari, 7: 304)

He also said in a very reliable report of his sayings:

“A true believer eats in one intestine; a disbeliever(Disbeliever here carries the general meaning of someone who is unthankful to God) eats as if he has seven intestines.” (Bukhari, 7:305–309).

Another Hadith says, the Prophet (SAS) asked the believers to fill their stomachs with one-third solid food, one-third liquid and one-third air.

Therefore, to acquire the highest moral and spiritual position involves neglecting worldly comforts and needs, as shown by the lives of the Noble Prophet and his Companions.

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Fatima Karim

It is Allah who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts. ―Quran 16:78 My Twitter @fatimakarimms