Connect with us

#Islam

Muslim Food Groups: How to Improve Community Nutrition

Guests

By Shireen Hakim

After a stimulating evening lecture at an organized masjid in Orange County, California, I stopped by their burgeoning snack bar where halal dinner was advertised, my mouth watering.

“We have pizza for the kids, or halal burgers for the adults,” the efficient hijab-clad volunteer informed me.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

“Oh, I try not to eat red meat often, and I am gluten-free for health reasons,” I said, disappointed.

“There is chicken biryani.” She showed me the container dripping with oil. I shook my head.

“Chips, candy…”

Stop, I thought.

“No, thank you.”

I left the line as the 10-year old boy behind me bought a bag of M&M’s and soda for dinner. Hey, at least they have water bottles right?

Flash forward to my yearly nutrition presentation at my local Los Angeles County masjid’s family night, post-Ramadan. Audience members write down my nutrition recommendations. Afterwards, they describe the healthy dishes they prepare at home, and I am proud of the progress they have made since I became a public health dietitian eight years ago.

But as usual, the families complain to me about the unhealthy food they are served at the masjid, catered from halal restaurants; oily meat curry, white pita bread and rice, and green slime formerly known as spinach (okay the last one is my own description). Likewise, they bemoan their difficulty in losing weight because of the fattening food. I, like a few other smart program attendees, now skip the provided meal and eat before at home. However, once in a while, I succumb to eating the unhealthy food at the masjid, to celebrate with company on Eid or at an interfaith dinner. I can’t always fill up on the wilted lettuce and plain carrots they serve as “salad.”

Muslim individuals and families are practicing good nutrition at home, but our community is lacking proper nutrition. We need to improve the nutrition at the community-level by offering quality food at public venues and masjid events. Now, I am directing my nutritional advice to the audience that provides the food. To the masjids and halal restaurants, attention. The main food groups are not curry, roti, oil-soaked vegetables, and pizza!

Islam represents all aspects of life, including nutrition. The Qur’an states, “…Eat of the good things…” (23:51). Masjids are the community’s leading example of Islam. When we attend the masjid, we strive to practice the best Islam. We dress modestly, we are polite, and we volunteer. Therefore, at the masjid we should eat healthy. Masjids need to improve their nutrition in order to meet the ideals of Islam, and to set a positive example for the community to follow.

Further, our community’s health is suffering because of the food we are subjected to at public gatherings. At only 40 to 50 years of age, Muslim-Americans are overweight, have heart disease, and even die. According to the Asia and Pacific Islander American Health Forum, South Asian men in the US have “three times higher heart attack rates than the general US population.”

We can work to improve our nutrition with four steps:

  1. First, we need to fund masjids so they can afford quality ingredients and caterers. In turn, we should pay a fair amount for good food we receive, and not expect/demand free food. We can’t have high expectations if we invest nothing. Think lunch at Taco Bell versus Chipotle. Accordingly, masjids need to stop offering free junk food as a gimmick to entice people to come to the masjid. Masjids should charge a reasonable fee for food, and increase the budget for food costs. Masjids are not Chuck E Cheese’s. Use other tactics- like a bounce house or game room- to attract attendees. Speaking of Chuck E Cheese’s, provide healthy food for kids like macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and juice. Don’t make them choke down the curry or serve them pizza and soda every event.
  2. Secondly, we need to communicate our nutrition preferences to the masjid and halal restaurants. There is no room for finger pointing or blaming “the masjid.” We are the masjid. Get involved at your masjid and provide feedback at board meetings, food committee meetings, volunteer meetings, email, etc. Ask for nutrition education programs. Accordingly, talk to restaurant owners and comment on Zabihah.com and Yelp.
  3. Thirdly, choose the healthy dishes-vegetarian, baked, and grilled- offered at the masjid and parties, so they serve them more. Omar ibn Al-Khattaab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), who the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said would have been the next prophet if there was one, said, “Beware of meat, for it has addictiveness like wine.” (Muwatta Malik)
    Specific foods to choose: cholay (garbanzo beans), falafel, hummus, dal (lentils), fresh/grilled vegetables, labneh/dahi (yogurt), seafood, and beans.
  4. Lastly, masjids should cater from healthy vendors like Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurants and home cooks. I recommend Mediterranean restaurants because they cook with olive oil. The Prophet, ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Eat olives and use its oil…” (Tirmidhi). These restaraunts also usually have many vegetarian and fermented (probiotic-filled) dishes. Hispanic and Asian halal restaurants also offer healthy options. Choose vegetarian and baked/grilled dishes from South Asian restaurants. It is possible to find healthy halal restaurants. In my suburb, Jasmine Restaurant has an organic salad bar and fresh green juice!

There are steps we can take to get the healthy food we want at masjid events and halal restaurants. Get involved at your masjid and verbalize your nutrition needs. Masjids and restaurants, listen to your community.

Shireen Hakim is an award-winning author with a Master’s in Nutrition from Columbia University. She was an expert source for Buzzfeed’s Ramadan nutrition articles, and her nutrition article is viral on Islamic Online University blog. Her writing can be found at her Facebook page: @WriterinaHeadscarf, and she can be found at the Los Angeles cat cafe.

 

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Afia

    October 28, 2017 at 8:25 AM

    Much needed discussion! Also the quantity (worst vessel to fill is the stomach) needs to be stressed upon apart from quality!

    • Avatar

      Shireen

      October 28, 2017 at 9:15 AM

      Thank you! Please help implement the changes in your Community!

  2. Avatar

    Sithara

    October 28, 2017 at 11:38 AM

    Jazaki Allahu Khayran for bringing attention to this critical issue!

    • Avatar

      Shireen

      October 28, 2017 at 3:37 PM

      Waiyakki. Thank you for reading. Please share the message with your Community.

  3. Avatar

    Imrana M

    October 29, 2017 at 3:02 PM

    JazakAllahu khayr katheeran for this much needed article, it’s such a big problem at our masjids & also at our community potlucks & parties.
    Please do write on such topics of healthy eating, as unfortunately our Muslim community lacks the knowledge & often never consider healthy eating as part of our deen.

    • Avatar

      Shireen

      October 30, 2017 at 10:47 AM

      Thank you for the positive feedback. Please check out my other nutrition articles on my Facebook page, @WriterinaHeadscarf.

  4. Avatar

    Zeeshan

    October 29, 2017 at 10:31 PM

    So refreshing to read this! Thank you! I have observed how badly we as an ummah eat and am trying to educate my community to prioritize their health and eat in alignment with our faith:)

    • Avatar

      Shireen

      October 30, 2017 at 10:48 AM

      Thank you for the positive feedback. Please share with your Community. We make the change.

  5. Avatar

    Shahin

    October 30, 2017 at 5:52 PM

    This is something I literally never thought about (and I think about food a lot!). Thank you for shedding light on such an important topic!

    • Avatar

      Shireen

      November 1, 2017 at 3:15 AM

      Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 11: Gratitude

Now that we have learnt about the dua’ of Umm Salama, let’s talk about gratitude.

Question: Let’s all go around and state a few things we’re grateful for.

Those are all really great! Alhamdulillah for all of those! 

Question: Do you know what the opposite of shukr, or showing thanks, is? 

It’s actually the word kufr (unbelief). Sometimes, we complain so much that we hide all the good that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has given us and we only see the hardships. 

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wants us to stay grateful for everything He has given us. Our health, our family, our talents, and most importantly, our religion. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reminds us in the Qur’an:

وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ ۖ

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…” [Surah Ibrahim; 7] 

When Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you,” He leaves the increase open-ended. 

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can give us more in what we thank Him for. He can also give us more appreciation and awareness of the blessings He has granted us. 

Did you know that saying alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah) and showing gratitude actually changes the way our brains are shaped, inside our heads? People who show gratitude on a daily basis end up feeling happier too! 

When Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blew Adam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) soul into him, Adam raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) responded by sneezing, and he said: alhamdulillah. That was the first word that was ever uttered by a human being.

And do you know what the last word will be?

وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ 

“And you will see the angels surrounding the Throne, exalting [Allah] with praise of their Lord. And it will be judged between them in truth, and it will be said, “[All] praise to Allah, Lord of the worlds,”’ [Surah az-Zumar; 75] 

Isn’t that amazing? We begin and end with praising and thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

 Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reminds us in the Qur’an:

وَإِن تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّـهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful,” [Surah an-Nahl; 18]

Question: Even though we won’t be able to list all of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) favors, can each of you think of at least 10?

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Islam

Podcast: What’s the Matter with All Lives Matter? | Imam Khalil Abdur Rasheed

In critiquing this response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we must first understand that the All Lives Matter slogan is a reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement by the wealthy, White American power establishment who are part of and have inherited the making of American history, its empire and its consciousness.

All Lives Matter ideology is the transmutation of Malcolm X’s house negro, Edward Said’s exilic intellectual, and Hamid Dabbashi’s house Muslim.Click To Tweet

It is a reminder that those on the minority side of the race relations struggle have not been granted permission to speak out against their oppression nor have they been granted any authority to narrate or complain on behalf of their own plight.

The claim that All Lives Matters is more universally appealing and more Islamic is misleading, and reflects naivety on the part of the one who believes this.Click To Tweet

Article written and originally published on Muslimmatters.org.

Imam Khalil Abdur-Rashid was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He completed his bachelor degree in Social Work, and obtained a Master’s Degree in Islamic Law from Marmara University. He also completed advanced Islamic seminary training and received his full doctoral license (Ijaaza) in Islamic Sciences.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Khalil holds a Master of Arts in Middle East Studies as well as a Master of Philosophy in Islamic Law both from Columbia University in New York City.  He is now an adjunct professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate of Liberal Studies Program at SMU and serves as President and Dean of the Yaqeen Islamic Seminary in Dallas.

Read and produced by Zeba Khan.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 10: The Dua’ of Umm Salama

Now that we have learnt about a good word, let’s talk about the dua’ of Umm Salama.

Today I’m going to share with you a story of a very important woman in Islamic history named Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her). She was a female companion, which means she was a sahaabiya (female companion)

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was one of the first people to embrace Islam and she was one of the few Muslims who actually performed the hijrah twice. 

Question: Who can tell me what a hijrah is?

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

A hijrah is when someone leaves a place they are in for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The first hijrah was to Ethiopia, where a just Christian ruler named Najashi took in a group of Muslims and took good care of them. 

So Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went to Ethiopia. After some time living there, they really wanted to go back to Mecca so that they could be next to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and learn everything about Islam. As they waited patiently, news traveled all the way to Africa saying that the Muslims were no longer getting persecuted because Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the uncle of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), had embraced Islam. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) decided to return back to Mecca, and when they did, they realized that it was only a rumor and that the Muslims were still being tortured by Quraysh. So, when the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed all of the Muslims of Mecca to leave to Madina for the second hijrah, they wasted no time getting ready. 

Question: Do you see how they were so active and didn’t take their Islam for granted?

As Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was about to mount her camel, her tribe, the Banu Makhzum, came and told Abu Salama  raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that they would not allow him to take Umm Salama  raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) to Madina. Then Abu Salama’s tribe, the Banu Asad, takes Salama, his child, away.  Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) could not defend himself against all of these men, so he sets off to Madina.

In just one day Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) lost her husband and her child, and she suffers so much because of it. She is in a lot of pain. After some time her cousin starts to feel sorry for her and speaks to the tribes on her behalf. He is then able to reunite her with her son. Then after a year of waiting, Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is finally able to meet her husband in Madina. 

Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was known to be a very caring husband and courageous man. He fought in the Battle of Badr as well as in the Battle of Uhud. In Uhud, he received a wound that he wasn’t able to recover from. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was so sad the day Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) died, but the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught her to recite a beautiful dua’:

إِنَّا لله وإنا إليه راجعون اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي وأخلف لي خيرا منها 

“We belong to Allah and to Allah is our return. Oh Allah, reward me for my calamity, and replace my loss with something better.”

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) recited this dua’, but in her mind she thought, “Who can be better than Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)?” 

After a few months passed, Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but she said no. 

Then, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but again she said no. 

Then, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and she accepted. So now, she was not only the mother of Salama, but the mother of all of the believers until the end of time! 

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading
.
.
.
.

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

.
Ads by Muslim Ad Network
.
.
.

Trending

you're currently offline