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Syedna Mufaddal SaifuddinTUS recently instructed mumeneen to limit their meals to 1 kharas and 1 mithaas per thaal. Be it a wedding, a shitabi, misaq, fateha or any other occasion.

These instructions by Maula may have been for mumeneen, but they carry a universal message for a universal problem. Let’s have a closer look.

Every aspect of a mumin’s life, religious and social, revolves around food. From the grand wedding dinner to the humble home visit by family/friends, we tend to bond over our meals. Whether celebrating the misaq of our children or mourning the death of a loved one, food is always an integral part of the occasion. And with good reason too.

RasulullahSAW has placed a lot of emphasis on the benefit of inviting people for meals. Whether it is offering iftar in Ramazan or providing meals for the poor, feeding a mumin is a great way of earning Allah’s happiness. Even many of the penances in Islam for minor sins involve offering food to the needy.

But, in our zeal to attain the great barakaat of offering meals, we may have overlooked another important aspect of Islam. RasulullahSAW has also mentioned that “There is no good in overspending.” While this may be a generic statement, there is no aspect of the human life, social or personal, where we most tend to overspend than food. As guests we expect a good feast and as hosts we want to provide the same. But, do we ever realize how much of this food is actually consumed and how much goes to waste?

If global statistics are any indication, almost 30% of all edible food generally goes to waste (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). Of the entire waste produced globally, food constitutes 21% (Municipal Solid Waste Characterization Report 2012). The amount of food wasted, just in America and UK, is almost equal to the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization, a division of the United Nations.

Even in a country like India where almost 24% of its population is below the poverty line, the amounts of food wasted are astronomical. In fact, in sheer numbers, the food wasted in developing nations is almost identical to that in industrialized nations. Where industrialized nations dissipate roughly 670 million tons of food developing nations dissipate 630 million tons (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

So, let’s come back to our question of serving multiple kharas and  mithas. Do we ever realize how much of this food is actually consumed and how much goes to waste? Let’s analyze that a little.

A normal thaal would provide anywhere between 1000-1100 calories per person (Dr. Saifuddin Plumber). That is more than half the daily calorie requirement for an average male. This leads us to one of two conclusions. Either people will get overwhelmed by the sheer overdose of calories and leave most of the food unused thus wasting a large percentage of the servings. Or, they will finish all that is served thus leading them to overeat and eventual obesity. None of the scenarios seem particularly pretty, do they?

So, by adhering to Maula’s farman, not only are we saving food from wastage, we are saving ourselves from obesity and its related problems. Maula also pointed out that by limiting our thaals to 1 kharas and 1 mithas we will be able to invite a larger number of people. And, we should look at inviting those who may not normally be able to afford rich food. So, we are, in a small way, also solving the problem of uneven distribution of food.

May allah grant our Maula a long and prosperous life to guide us towards the betterment of ourselves and society at large.