@Halal May/Jun 2020 - Page 8

08 Column @Halal | may-june. 2020 Role of Halalan Toyyiban consumption It safeguards one’s honour, morality and decency Halal consumption as a means to worship God (Allah) Ramadhan is the month for Muslims to perform the obligatory fast from dawn to sunset. Ramadhan is also the month of the Qurán where the month provides a golden opportunity for Muslims to reflect more on the Quránic teachings. With most of the world under some form of movement restriction or stay at home order to break the Covid-19 pandemic chain, this gives an added opportunity to reflect on the message of the Qur’an. There are many ways that God (Allah) conveys messages in the Qurán. There are at least nine Quránic styles (usluub-al-Qurán) about which the Islamic teachings and virtues are conveyed from God to humanity, and of them, is related to stories, including the stories of Prophets, Messengers, and their generations. These Quránic styles help us to understand God’s messages and to fulfil our servitude to God, as the whole life of a human is meant for worshipping God (Qur’an, 51:56). Worshipping God takes many different forms. Indeed, every daily human activity can be a form of worship. Whatever we are doing, with sincere intention and within the scope of goodness, are indeed our servitude to God. For example, our daily eating and drinking are forms of worship and not merely to overcome hunger. What we eat, when we eat, how we eat, how much we eat, is accepted by God as a form of worship if we perform the eating with sincere intention. The matter of consumption is not newly regulated. Instead, the guidelines for consumption started since the time of the first human being, Prophet Adam PBUH. And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat there from in (ease and) abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” [Qur’an, 2:35] A few lessons, although not exhaustively listed, can be derived from the incident: • Eating and drinking are forms of obeying and worshipping GOD, subject to compliance with guidelines. • The prohibition of approaching a specific tree in this passage shows the test given to mankind, and it has been laid under the divine reason as well. • It shows that to approach the forbidden (haram) things will lead one to do the prohibited acts. • Anyone who transgresses the permissible limit drags his self to be wrongdoer, uncivilized citizen and disobedient to God. The prohibition of approaching the tree is a great symbol of a test. Mankind is provided with abundant permissible (halal) choices, material consumption and moral Dr Betania Kartika and Prof Dr Hamzah Mohd Salleh conducts. Food and beverages are examples of the former. The abovementioned passage had clearly stated that Prophet Adam PBUH and his wife were provided with an abundance of lawful foods to eat when and where they preferred. And that they should not approach a specific tree which was created by God as a test, failing which will make them among the wrongdoers. How halalan toyyiban consumption relates to righteous deeds Muslims are aware that eating is not solely to satisfy hunger; rather, it is a divine prescription that has its own inherent and distinct worth – Halalan Toyyiban consumption. It becomes clear that not consuming Halalan Toyyiban and consuming the unlawful (haram) instead may be a possible way of following the steps of Satan (Qur’an, 2:168), and will result in undesirable consequences. A perfect example is the story depicting the incident when Satan caused Adam and Eve to slip out of it (by being successful in provoking them to eat from the forbidden tree) and removed them from the condition they had been (Qur’an, 2:36). Halalan Toyyiban creates the capacity within the individual to act righteously. It creates an appetite to be upright and righteous. A very long prophetic tradition stated that, “O people! Allah is toyyib (pure) and, therefore, accepts only that which is pure” (Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 1015). The prophetic tradition continues mentioning that God commanded His Messengers by saying: “O Messengers! Partake of the things that are toyyib (pure, clean, wholesome), and act righteously. I know well all that you do” (Qur’an, 23:51) and “O you who believe, eat from the good things which We have provided for you…. (Quran, 2:172). Then, the prophetic tradition ended with the mention of a man who travelled far, becoming dishevelled and dusty, and he raises his hands to the sky, saying, “O Lord! O Lord!” while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and he is nourished by the unlawful, so how can he be answered? Muslims are aware that eating is not solely to satisfy hunger; rather, it is a divine prescription that has its own inherent and distinct worth – Halalan Toyyiban consumption. It becomes clear that not consuming Halalan Toyyiban and consuming the unlawful (haram) instead may be a possible way of following the steps of Satan (Qur’an, 2:168), and will result in undesirable consequences.” Consuming Halalan Toyyiban and avoiding suspicious things safeguard one’s religion and honour. “Both legal and illegal things are evident but in between them there are doubtful (suspicious) things and most of the people have no knowledge about them. So whoever saves himself from these suspicious things saves his religion and his honour….” (Sahih Bukhari, hadith no. 50). Consuming Halalan Toyyiban promotes good morality and decency. It has a strong relationship with servitude to God. God forbade prophet Adam PBUH and his wife from approaching the tree so that they would always be obedient, and not to commit immorality. It conveys the message that keeping oneself within the limit of permissible (halal) things shows one’s submission and modesty. The first example of human error that went beyond the realm of permissible (halal) has been recorded in the Qur’an (7:22 and 20:121). These two passages establish the nexus or connection between halal food and modesty. The less Halalan Toyyiban consumption, the lower the level of the modesty will be reached, and in the contrary, the more Halalan Toyyiban consumption, the higher the level of the modesty will be attained. Thus, the highest level of morality, which is the perfection of a person’s good disposition as the manifestation of excellence is achieved. Notes: * PBUH = peace be upon him * In the Islamic narrative, Adam and his wife contravened God, regretted,requested for forgiveness and God pardoned them. Both Adam and his wife had to suffer the consequences of their conducts by living a mortal life on earth. Prof Dr Hamzah Mohd. Salleh Professor & Dean International Institute for Halal Research & Training (INHART) International Islamic University Malaysia Asso Prof Dr Betania Kartika Head of Halal Awareness, Information & Outreach, INHART International Islamic University Malaysia