Obesity and Eating in Islam

“Eat and drink but not to excess” (7:31)

What is Obesity?

Obesity means having too much body fat. It is different from being overweight, which means weighing too much.

Both can occur over time when one eats more calories than one uses. Factors that may cause obesity are:

  • overeating
  • eating high-fat foods, high caloric, and/or high carbohydrates
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • poor sleep habits
  • poor stress management
  • lastly, genetics

Overeating vs 1/3 Eating

The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) warned us about the dangers and health hazards of overeating.

He advised us to fill our stomach with: “1/3 food, 1/3 for drink, and 1/3 for air.” (Hadith 1)

He also warned us about the perils of overeating. (Hadith 2)

Try to remember this general rule:
Eat to satisfy your hunger but not till you feel full .

Sleeping Well Fights Obesity

“And have appointed your sleep for repose. And have appointed the night as a cloak. And have appointed the day for livelihood” (78:9-11)

Studies have also shown that insulin sensitivity and levels of two appetite-related hormones — leptin and ghrelin — can be affected by sleep deprivation, which could impact weight. (Source 1)

Researchers say the less you sleep, the more likely you are to produce too much of a hormone that stimulates appetite — and too little of a hormone that makes you feel full. (Source 2)

The Hazards of Obesity

“Do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands.” (2:195)

Obesity has CONSEQUENCES: Increases risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, some cancers and other conditions.

BUT, If you are obese, losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can delay or prevent some of these diseases.

Obesity: Worldwide Epidemic

Obesity has become a serious issue worldwide and in many Muslim countries. It has genetic, emotional, psychological, health, economic, etc. implications (yes, literally on every aspect of life).

Now our own brothers and sisters in Muslim countries are suffering from it (even though many people are still in terrible poverty).

We need to remember the sunnah: food enough for two, that we feed three; and if there is food for three, we feed four people with it. (Hadith 3)

The statistics for obesity are staggering:

  • 70% of Gulf Arab State females are considered obese
  • According to Economist: The top countries for the highest obese populations are Muslim Arab Countries: Lebanon, Gaza/Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait
  • More than 64% of American adults are overweight
  • 50% of women aged 20 to 74 are overweight or obese in the US
  • 11% of children are obese in the US
  • Obese pregnant women are more at risk of dying, suffering heart disease, miscarriage, diabetes, infections and blood clots.

How to Overcome Obesity

There are many ways to combat obesity. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Follow a middle way in eating and drinking.
  • Be physically active
  • Establish a regular sleep schedule: sleep at least 6-8 hours every night without waking up
  • Drink more water instead of soda, drinks with high-sugar, etc.
  • Make a support network to help you not turn to food during times of stress
  • Pray and do dhikr.


– Body is a gift from Allah that we all must treat in the best way.
– Eat to the point you are NOT hungry. Don’t eat to the point of being full.
– Eat smart, exercise, good sleep habits, and stress management.
– Eating well helps decrease disease and cancer by 50%.

Need More Information?

Here are some helpful sites to learn more about obesity and how to lose weight.

MSNBC: Health & Diet: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13594238
WebMD: Diet and Weight Loss: http://www.webmd.com/diet
Prevention: Diet and Fitness: http://www.prevention.com
NIH: Obesity: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/obesity.html

Even if one is not obese, please help those who are by forwarding this email to friends and family. Thank you. JazakumAllahu khairan!


HADITH 1: On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying:
“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”
[Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah – Hadith sahih]

HADITH 2: On seeing a fat man, the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said:
“If you did not have a paunch (belly fat), it would be better for you. He also said: Overeating does not go with good health.”

HADITH 3: The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Food for one is enough for two and food for two is enough for three and food for three is enough for four.”
[Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah – Hadith sahih]

Source 1: “Sleep More to Fight Obesity”

Source 2: “Report Links Lack of Sleep and Obesity”

7 Replies to “Obesity and Eating in Islam”

  1. Fatness has to do with eating too much. But Obesity is a genetic problem, that no matter how little you eat (unless you starve yourself), you will remain fat because of the way your body works.

    By body does the exact opposite, and even if I eat like a fat guy I remain as skinny as a twig.

    Obesity is very much of a modern problem that has more to do with genetics and change in food, with increases in fatty foods because of food processing.

    I think the Quranic line is more referring to the fact that eating in excess is a form of greediness.

  2. by the way, body is not a gift rather an IMANAH from Allah swt which we need to take care of-Insha’Allah.

  3. big topic, nice summary

    it doesn’t necessarily help that many people are no longer involved with pure physical labor

    and eating real food, non-processed, fruits, vegetables, meat, etc. is beneficial as well

  4. Please mail me the recent photograph of good habit of eating in muslim/islamic cultutre according hadith

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