Question: Is it permissible to eat one’s full? What about pigging out?
Bismi Llahir Rahmanir Rahim
Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuhu
All praise is due to Allah Most High, Our Sustainer, the One who provides us with nourishment through food and drink.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “A human being fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his back upright. But if he must fill it, then one third for food, one third for drink and one third for air.” [ibn Majah]
The way of the sunna is moderation, especially with food. Whenever one eats, the intention should be to strengthen the body for performing worship, rather than merely intending gratification and enjoyment.
Our body is a trust (amana) given to us by Allah Most High, and it has rights over us. Scholars say that anyone who only eats when hungry and stops eating before feeling satiated is saved from the need of a doctor.
As for the amount permitted, the Hanafi scholars detail the limits in the forthcoming breakdown. From it, we understand that eating one’s fill is permissible, overeating a little beyond that is disliked, and pigging out such that one stuffs their belly beyond its capacity is impermissible.
Breakdown Of Eating Limits
Obligatory Amount: Eating and drinking to the extent that it prevents the body from perishing.
One is rewarded for eating more than this to the degree that it gives the necessary strength to carry out one’s religious duties, like performing the obligatory (fard) and mandatory (wajib) prayers while standing, as well as completing the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. It is said that concerning oneself with what strengthens the body for worship is worship itself, and therefore, one will be rewarded for eating.
As for starvation, it is sinful for a person to abstain from eating and drinking until he dies because by doing so he is throwing himself into destruction, which has been prohibited. Allah Most High says: “…and do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction…” [Qur’an, 2:195].
As for eating less than normal, if reducing one’s food intake weakens the body and one cannot perform the obligatory prayers standing, it is impermissible. However, if doing so does not debilitate one from it, then it is permissible.
Recommended Amount: Eating more than the obligatory amount such that it further aids one to perform supererogatory acts of worship, teach knowledge, and learn it.
Permissible Amount: Eating to the extent that one feels satiated such that it increases one in strength. There is no reward in eating this way, nor is there sin, but a person will be asked about what they eat on the Day of Judgment as indicated by Prophetic narrations. Thus, it is important to make noble intentions like strengthening oneself for worship.
Disliked Amount: Overeating slightly beyond satiation, providing that one’s body is not harmed by it.
Impermissible Amount: Overeating such that it significantly surpasses satiation. This leads to harming the body, extravagance, wasting money, and feeding the selfish desires of the lower self. Allah Most High says: “Eat and drink and do not be extravagant. Surely, He does not like the extravagant.” [Qur’an 7:31]
However, there are exceptions, such as if one intends strengthening oneself for fasting the following day since there is benefit in eating more. Another exception is so that one’s guest does not feel shy to eat if the guest arrives after one ate. In this situation, if one were to refrain from eating, the guest may feel embarrassed to eat anything even though he desires the food, and this is considered bad hospitality.
It is important to note that there is nothing wrong or blameworthy with enjoying what one is eating. All of one’s limbs willingly rejoice in thankfulness upon consuming what they find delight in from lawful, delicious food.
Rather, what matters is taking care of the body and not causing it any harm, whether by overeating or starving. It is imperative to eat an amount that facilitates the strength to carry out acts of worship, which can be achieved by consuming moderate amounts, and to avoid eating excessively or going too hungry.
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Jazak Allah khayran
- Imam Ala al-Din Abidin, الهدية العلائية
- Imam al-Mawsali, الاختيار لتعليل المختار
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