Islam Abhors Food Wastage
We are nearing the month of Ramadan, a holy month for the Muslims. This is the month that Muslims eagerly await for, as there are plentiful bounties and rewards for those who fast and do good deeds. One of the good deeds that are very much encouraged is thriftiness.
Thriftiness in the context of Ramadan includes the need to ensure that, not only is food consumed in moderation, but also the preparation of meals for breaking of fast (iftar) and preparing for fast (sahur) as well as food prepared after the terawih and witir prayers are not in excess.
In this regards, the Prophet Muhammad has shown many examples through his Sunnah that highlight aspects such as healthy eating, moderation in eating and avoiding excesses which lead to wastage.
Being wasteful is an act that is abhorred in Islam, as attested in verses 26 and 27 of Surah al-Isra’ in the Quran, to the effect that: “And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer; but squander not in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of Satan; and Satan is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful.”
In the Malaysian society, Ramadan has become synonymous with the abundance of food which provides ease to all members of society to prepare food for the breaking of fast. Food are sold in many Ramadan bazaars as well as buffets offers at restaurants and hotels.
Without a doubt, the month of Ramadan opens up the doors to bounties in the form of business opportunities to both the small traders as well as big hotel and restaurant operators. It must be noted that Islam does not forbid anyone to carry out business. On the contrary, Islam encourages anyone to carry out business as long as it does not involve matters that are prohibited in the religion.
However, it is equally critical to observe that Islam also stresses the importance that food must not be wasted. This is especially so in the month of Ramadan, an auspicious month which puts an emphasis on the need to practise moderation. In other words, Ramadan should not be violated with any act of excesses.
When we look at the statistics from SWCorp, it is clear that in Malaysia, a lot of food are wasted. On a normal day in a normal month, a total of 15,000 metric tonnes of food waste is recorded.
The average household in the country throws away between 0.5 to 0.8 kilogrammes of food every day. Household contributes 38 per cent of total food waste. This is much higher compared to 25 per cent from markets, 23 per cent from restaurants and seven per cent from hotels.
Cumulatively, almost 3,000 metric tonnes of the food that has been thrown away daily are still in good condition. This can actually feed 2.2 million people! This figure is only for one day, and is taken from the year 2015. One would imagine that the number has gone up in the last four years.
Looking at this from another perspective, Malaysians waste more food than what the country can produce. Annually, we throw away approximately 5.5 million metric tonnes of food. Our local rice production however is only 2.65 million metric tonnes a year.
During festive seasons such as Aidilfitri and Chinese New Year, as well as during the month of Ramadan, the amount of food being thrown away increases between 20 to 25 per cent. As such, there is a need for a concerted effort on the part of everyone to ensure that food is not wasted.
Malaysia is a country blessed with many resources. As the melting pot of culture from various parts of the world, we have a lot of delicious food that has become an important cultural identity for the country.
However, food wastage must not be allowed to be a culture in our country. While we are blessed with abundance of food, we should not take this blessing for granted. Instead, this is a blessing that everyone should be thankful for.
For Muslims, it is imperative that we take the opportunity presented to us in the month of Ramadan to inculcate prudence within us. We have to ensure that we buy or prepare only what we need to eat, and we eat all that we buy or prepare.
For this to happen, proper planning of food preparation is important so as to ensure that wastage does not take place. Excessive preparation of food is not encouraged in Islam. In verse 31 of Surah al-A’raf in the Quran, it is stated thus: “O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer; eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for God loves not the wasters.”
Ramadan is the month of tarbiyyah or education. Let us the month of Ramadan to educate ourselves to not be wasteful, especially when it comes to food.