Recently, it was brought to my attention again that we are what we eat. Health issues abound, especially with food here in the US, I am being reminded again and again food is a matter of importance in that it is a necessity, but it can also be an enemy and a hazard to our well being.
One ayah particularly stick out to me,
O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.[Al Baqarah 2:168]
How is food related to following the footsteps of shaytaan? Since the family has recently been plagued with health issues and I’ve been trying to adjust our food and eating habits to help alleviate it, this ayah benefits me in a way that is pertinent to the matter at hand.
Genetically Modified Food aka GMO food. Why would scientist even venture into such a project? To increase yield, and gain more profit at least cost. I’m sure there are also good intentions behind it as in almost everything, but as in almost everything, Shaytaan also has a role in it and makes his way in, and makes us follow his footsteps.
Imagine a farmer toiling over his crops, only to have them destroyed by pests again and again. We go to the farmer’s market every week, and we would regularly go to this Japanese-American farmers for their greens. Whenever I ask her what she has growing and what she will have in the upcoming weeks, she says,
“Oh I have everything growing, but you know, sometimes it’s too cold, and they don’t grow, and when they grow, the bugs eat them. So, you know, I don’t know what we will have.”
These are local farmers who don’t use pesticides and practice organic farming. It can get very frustrating especially if it’s your only means of livelihood. So, when the government of big companies offer you a contract in which they guarantee that you will have minimal problems with your crops, and that you may have a stable income, this is your moment of decision. Do you forsake principle and go for the promise of stability or do you stick to principle and risk loss? It’s not an easy decision.
But we can see how shaytaan worms his way into the food industry. The corruption that is happening in the food industry is making big bucks, and in turn is also producing huge profits to the pharmaceutical companies. Who are suffering? The people.
To be fair, the consumers also play a role in all of this. We want to eat, eat, eat. We have gotten so used to buying perfect-looking produce at the supermarket that when we see a produce with bug-holes in it, we cringe. Because of this, the food producers then seek to produce perfect-looking vegetables and fruits and we know where this all leads to. I remember reading an article or watching a clip on a British farmer actually picking ugly looking produce on his farm and selling them in a new store that sells organic produce that don’t look too perfect but are still good. This clip also reveals how much food we humans are throwing away, wasting, when there are people in other parts of the world who are rummaging through garbage for their breakfast, dinner, and lunch, just because the food doesn’t look ‘perfect’. It has really become the culture of Bread and Circuses.
We are the ones created with intellect, that is to be utilized for good. Who was Allah addressing in the ayah? The people. Not just the believers, but all of mankind.
Subhanallah, this shows how Allah only wants good for us. Whatever He has commanded and told us to abstain from, is for our own good. Why, why, why don’t we listen to Him?
[Disclaimer: the above is not tafseer, but only my own reflections.]