Know then that food is taken when required for the continuation of
health. Signs of its requirement are the advent of a sense of smell, a
deficiency of saliva in the mouth, a high colour of the urine with a marked
smell, and an increased desire for food. The opposite to these indicates
that food is not required.
Prolonged abstention from food is wearisome to the body and causes a
drying up of it and a burning of its constitution. Similarly the taking of
food when not required, engenders stupidity and sloth and is one of the
causes of the generation of disease.
Said al-Muwaffiq ‘Abd-ul-Latif: It is the custom of Indians when they
want food, first to wash or put on a clean outer garment and then to
sprinkle over themselves a pleasant scent and to remain quiet and to
abstain from the sex act and only then to apply themselves to their food.
Later, if God will, there will come a chapter on what derives from this
Let a man eat cold foods in summer and hot in winter. The partaking
of one meal
upon another is harmful. So is exercise after a meal. But
exercise before a meal is best of all, just as when taken after it is the worst
of all. Hot food should be corrected with cold, sweet with sour, fat with
salt, and astringent with fat. To have many kinds of food excites the
constitution of a man. To eat with relish is the best of all. To have the
same food several times and to eat with speed produces a loss of appetite
and engenders laziness. A very sour food hurries on old age. The frequent
eating of sweet food relaxes the sexual desires and makes the body
feverish. Salt food dries
up and emaciates the body.
It is expedient to stop eating while you still have an appetite for more.
But to keep on abstaining makes the body weak & thin. Nay rather,
abstention in health is like mixing many different foods in disease. Always
choose the best food unless a bad habit has been formed. In this case
it must be given up gradually. He who is accustomed to take improper
food, let him not cease altogether, but let him avoid taking food that
causes fermentation in the stomach and rotten fruit.
To lick the dish helps digestion and increases sexual desires. The
Prophet used to lick his fingers three times after meals. He used to say:
To lick the platter is a request for pardon.
The Prophet forbade to have at the same meal milk & fish or vinegar &
milk or fruit & milk or lettuce & fish or garlic & onions or dried meat &
fresh meat or things sour & things acid or sumach & vinegar or vinegar &
grapes & excessive eating of brinjals or pomegranites & meat
pudding or two cold dishes or two hot dishes or two windproducing
Folio ii It is expedient to eschew vinegar and fat if the vessel underneath is of
copper. And in the same way cheese and roast meats and hot food if
wrapped in bread or in anything else. This is one of the reasons for the
prohibition of eating anything found dead.
Again, one should avoid uncovered food or uncovered water lest some
poisonous animal has fallen in and one be killed through eating or drinking
it. The Prophet forbade this when he said: Cover your vessels and stop
the mouths of the water-bottles. For verily in a night of the year there
comes down a pestilence which will meet with no uncovered vessel
without falling therein. And indeed in this prohibition of the Prophet
physicians are agreeing. The reference to the heavens is reported by
Whoever eats onions for forty days, his face will become freckled. For
this blame no one but yourself. Whoever of you being of moderate stature
eats salt, he will be afflicted with vitiligo and scabies. And for this blame
no one but yourself. Whoever eats fish & eggs together will become para lysed, and for this blame no one but yourself. Whoever has a wet dream
and does not wash before having intercourse, will generate an imbecile or
an epileptic. And for this blame no one but yourself. Whoever eats to
satiety and then enters the hot bath, will become paralysed and for this
blame no one but yourself. Whoever eats oranges by night, he will grow
thin. And for this blame no one but yourself. Whoever gazes into a mirror
by night will become afflicted with facial paralysis. And for this blame no
one but yourself.
reports of the Prophet that he said: The root of every disease is
coldness. And again, it is reported by Ibn Mas’ud that he said: Cold means
a bloody flux, for this cools even the heat of sexual desire.
It is essential that a man confine himself to taking what is suitable and
appetising, but without excess. Said the Prophet: The sons of Adam will
fill no vessel worse than they fill their own stomachs. Let the sons of
Folio 12 Adam take mouthfulls which strengthen the loins. If possible one third
of the stomach is for food, one third for drink, and one third for one self. This saying is reported by al-Nasa’i and al-Tirmidhi and it is a fair
and sound tradition.
The following section consists of further observations about Health.
Said ‘Ali ibn al-Hussayn ibn Wafid: God has collected all Medicine
See Quran 7.31 into half a verse when He said: Eat & drink but not to excess.
Said ‘Umr: Avoid a pot-belly, for it spoils the body, breeds disease, and
prayer wearisome. Take to blood-letting for this rectifies the
body. And avoid all excess. For God hates a learned man who is fat.
This is reported by Abu Nu’aim.
Said Hippocrates: The continuation of good health depends upon
moderate labour and the avoidance of a surfeit of eating & drinking. He
also said: A little of what is harmful is better than a lot of what is good.
Said al-Shahrastanlin his book entitled Al-Milal wa al-Nihal or The
Book of Religions and Sects: Hippocratesis the founder of Medicine.
And he added:Our ancestorsand those who came later preferhim to all.
A certain Greekking sent to him several qantarsof gold and asked him
to come & visit him. But he refused. He also used to refuse
any fee for
treating the poor or men of middle means. But he stipulated that he
shouldtakefromthe rich one of threethings-a collarof gold of a diadem
or golden bracelets.
When asked what life is the best Hippocratesanswered:Safety with
poverty is better than wealth with fear. He also said: Every man should
be treatedwith herbalsfromhis own country.When he was dyinghe said:
Folio 13 Recogniseone who seeks learningfrom his much sleep, his mild nature,
his soft skin, and his long life.
He also said: Had Man been created with a single constitution, he
would never have suffered sickness. For then there would have been
nothingin oppositionto causedisease.
A physicianoncevisitedasickmanandsaidto him:You, the diseaseand
I are three. If by hearkeningto me you help me, then we shall be two
against one and thus stronger. And when two come against one, they
Hippocrateswas once asked:Why does a man when he is dead, weigh
more than when he was alive? He replied:Once he was made up of two
parts, a light part lifting him up and a heavy part weighing him down.
When one of these went
away, and it was the light part that does the
lifting that went, then the heavy partweighs him down yet more.
He once said to one of his students: Let
your best means of treating
peoplebe yourlove forthem, yourinterestin their affairs,yourknowledge
of their condition, and your recognisedattentivenessto them.
He also said: All excess is againstNature. Let your food, your drink,
your sleep, and your sexual intercoursebe all in moderation.
And he said: Any physicianwho administersa poison or procuresan
prevents a pregnancyor prolongsthe disease of a sick man,
this physician is no colleague of mine. On this subject he composed a
well-knownoath which I shall discusslater,if God wills.
The booksby Hippocrateson Medicinearemany.Amongthem arethe
Book of Aphorisms, the Book of Prognostics, and the Kitab Qubra
Buqrat.This last book testifies to many wonders of wonders. When the
tombs of several of the Greek kings were opened, this book was found
Hairithbin Kalada,the physicianof the Arabs, was once asked:What
Folio 14 is the best medicine?He replied:Necessity, that is Hunger. When asked:
What is disease?He replied:The entry of food upon food.
Said Avicenna:Never takeone meal until the one beforeis digested.
Hot food is to be despised.The Prophetalsoforbadeit. He alsoforbade
eating while lying down. This was told by al-Bukhari.Abu ibn Ka’b
explainedthatthis is becauseit was the customof tyrants.
It was not the customof the Prophetto blow upon his food or his drink
or to breatheinto a vessel.
Walkingafter dinner is beneficial.Prayerwill replaceit, for then food
will rest in the pit of the stomachand digestionwill be better.
It is relatedthat the Prophetsaid: Masticateyour food with the name
of God and with
prayer.And go not to sleep immediatelyafterfood, for
this will harden
your bowels. This traditionis told by Abu Nu’aim. And
take not violent exercise after food, for this does harmto it. Never omit
yourdinner,for this makesa manolder.Anasreportsthe following
apochryphaltradition:Eat some dinner, even if it is only a handful of
dry bread, for to omit the evening meal makes one grow old. This was
related by al-Tirmidhi. Similarly Jabir is reported to have said: Never
supper,even if it only a handfulof dates,for its omissionagesa man.
This was relatedby Ibn Maja.
The hands should be washed clean of the smell of food. The Prophet
say:If anyonegoes to sleep with hands still smelling of food and
something happens to him, he has no one to blame but himself. The
Prophetused to say: To rinse the handsbeforefood drivesawayspoverty
and to rinsethem afterfood drives
Be it known that eating to satiety is something bad which arose after
Folio 15 the first century of Islam. The Prophet used to say: The Believer puts
food into a single stomach, the Unbeliever into seven. Wisdom will not
go into a stomach filled with food. The less a man eats, the less will he
drink.And the less he drinks,the less will he sleep. And the less he sleeps,
the more blessed will be his old
age. The more a man eats, the more will
he drink.The more a man drinks,the heavierwill he sleep. And he who
sleeps heavily, loses the blessings of old age. If a man is satisfiedbefore
satiety, then the better nourishedwill his body be and the better will be
the state of himself and of his heart.But the man who is filled with food,
his body will be ill nourished, the state of himself will be bad, and his
grow hard. Avoid thereforeexcess of food, for it poisons the
heart, slows the members of the body from the obedience due to God
and closes the ears to His admonishments.
Said Plato:One who
exposes himself in the open beforegoing to sleep,
verily he will keep the beauty of his complexion. The Prophet indeed
commandedthis accordingto the traditionof al-Barrbin ‘Azib when he
said: On going to your place of sleep performan ablution the same as
prayer.This is a sound and fairtradition.