Qillat-e-Ta’aam (Reducing food)

Allah Ta'ala states:

"Eat and drink, but do not waste. Verily, Allah does not love those who transgress the limits."

Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said:

"Tasbeeh and Taqdees which are sufficient for those of the heaven will suffice for them (people) too."


This Hadith means that like Tasbeeh (reciting the Glories of Allah) and Taqdees (reciting the Holiness of Allah) are sufficient for the Malaa’ikah (Angels) in the heavens so will it suffice as nourishment for Muslims. It is narrated that certain saints remained without food for long periods in solitude engaged in Tasbeeh and Taqdees. It is clear from this Hadith that at times Zikr and Tasbeeh are sufficient as nourishment. However, it is not possible to adhere to the methods of food reduction practiced in former times. The people of those days were endowed with great physical strength and despite the great reduction in food they suffered no ill effect and maintained their full concentration in their Ibaadat activities. Their physical strength could be gauged from the type of spiritual exercises (Ashghaal) which they practiced. Some of their Ashghaal were of such a severe nature that if anyone attempts to practice them today he will find his back breaking. Such an example is Salaat-e-Ma'koos which consists of one suspending oneself upside down and in this inverted manner carry out some Shaghl (singular of Ashghaal).

In reality Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam did not prescribe Taqleel-e-Ta'aam, but altered the routine times of eating and in this way made the intervals between eating times longer. This change of habit (in eating times) and the longer intervals (between eating times) which are difficult upon the nafs, have been considered by the Shariat to be representative of Taqleel-e-Ta’aam. Among the various forms of Mujaahidah, fasting is the best. Hence, the Shariat has given Taqleel-e-Ta’aam the form of fasting. In the Shariat, reduction of food will therefore be fasting. The other forms of Taqleel-e-Ta’aam adopted by the people of Mujaahidah have no original basis in the Shariat. Eating less and remaining hungry are not forms of Mujaahidah of the Shariat. The significance (Fadheelat) of hunger mentioned in the Hadith does not refer to voluntary (i.e. self-imposed) hunger, but refers to involuntary hunger - hunger which comes one's way uninvited. The Hadith consoles such persons of poverty by explaining the virtues of hunger so that they do not worry and suffer unduly.

Patience in the face of such divinely imposed hunger, occasions thawaab and elevation of spiritual ranks. This significance of hunger is similar to the significance of sickness explained in the Hadith. The Hadith mentions thawaab for even sickness, but this does not mean that one has to voluntarily induce sickness. The method of Qillat-e-Ta’aam mentioned in the book, "Tableegh-e- Deen" by lmaam Ghazaali Rahmatullah Alayh, has been forbidden because reduction in food is not the intended purpose of the Shariat, also because the physique of people of today is unlike that of the people of earlier times.

Qillat-e-Ta’aam is not an end in itself, but is a means of acquiring an in- tended aim. This intended aim and purpose is to weaken the animal urge in man, and the aim in weakening this urge is to prevent the nafs from sin. Therefore, if the nafs could be controlled and restrained from sin without reducing food then Taqleel-e-Ta'aam is not necessary. Further- more, cheerfulness and joy in Ibaadat are experienced if the body is in the state of health and strength. Experience shows that nowadays the health in most cases suffers as a result of Taqleel-e-Ta’aam. But, at the same time one must abstain from excessive eating and adhere to moderation. The capacity of people differs, hence moderation will differ for different persons. The guide line in this matter is to eat when hungry and to stop eating when you feel that you can yet eat a few more morsels. In other words, one is allowed to eat to one's stomach fill, but not to satisfy one’s desire.

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