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How to Eliminate Food Waste in Ramadan?

13 May, 2019
Q Some Muslims when they invite guests think we must put the maximum amount of food on the table as a sign of generosity, but this causes waste. And eating too much is contrary to the wisdom of fasting. How to strike a balance?



Thank you for sending in your question to our website.

Your question is indeed a very pertinent and important, especially during this blessed month of Ramadan, in which we should prioritize how we spend our time, energies, and resources so that we can reap the maximum reward for good deeds.

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Your question involves two aspects. The first is the obligation of honoring a guest in Islam and the high rewards associated with giving a fasting Muslim food & drink to help them break their fast.

The second aspect is the prohibition in Islam of wasting food and being extravagant in eating and drinking, as well as in anything else that is considered basically permissible.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

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{Eat and drink, but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) does not like al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance).} (Qur’an 7:31)

Allah is pleased when we are sincerely generous with our guests. He has praised, in the Qur’an, some companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him- PBUH), who discreetly fed their guest all of the food that was found in their home, and went hungry themselves because they only had enough to adequately feed their guest:

{[…] but they prefer (others) above themselves, though poverty is their lot. And whosoever is saved from his own avarice, such are they who are successful.} (Qur’an 59:9)

Indeed, if guests visit our home in Ramadan, especially if they are Muslims who are fasting, it is obligatory upon us to honor them and to feed them well to break their fast.

However, this action of hosting fasting Muslims during Ramadan for iftar meals, should not result in making us become wasteful and extravagant in the amounts of food that is consumed, or the amount of money that is spent on food. We should also not waste time in idle talk and gossip with our guests.

Furthermore, hosting Ramadan iftar meals should not cause us to delay or undermine our own performance of acts of worship. For example, we should not spend the whole day in the kitchen, preparing a lavish iftar meal for expected guests.

Then sit talking idly with them discussing worldly matters after that iftar meal is over, and miss taraweeh prayers at the masjid because of this. This also comes under extravagance in permissible matters.

Moderation and a focus on worship should always be maintained. Also, any leftover food should be refrigerated for later consumption, or given to needy/hungry people in charity. It should never be thrown away into the trash or be allowed to rot.

During iftars, either with guests or just our families, we should avoid overeating, or piling our plates high with extra food that has to then be left or disposed off in the trash. We should never waste even one morsel of food.

We should even lick our fingers after eating. Anas may Allah be pleased with him said:

The Prophet (PBUH) ordered us not to leave anything in the plate, and he said: ‘You do not know in which portion of your food Allah has put the barakah (blessing).’ (Sahih Muslim)

During Ramadan, we should eat well, but just as much as we need in order to maintain good physical health, energy, and stamina for performing good deeds and acts of worship with zeal & fervor.

Lastly, we should give a higher value to nutrition over taste in choosing the food we consume during Ramadan. Fried food and highly processed foods should be kept to an absolute minimum if not altogether avoided.

It would be beneficial to keep the “personal intentions and sincerity” checklist below in mind, whenever we invite guests for iftar during Ramadan:

  1. When I prepare iftar meals for guests during Ramadan, do I envision them lavishing praise upon me for my cooking/hosting skills?
  2. By spending money on hosting an iftar meal for guests, will my own family still be able to have enough resources to last us comfortably for the rest of the month?
  3. Will hosting the iftar meal tire me out, or take up my time so much so that I will not be able to attend the masjid afterwards for taraweeh prayers, or pray my own supererogatory late-night prayers at home, before suhoor? Will it cause me to skip my Qur’an recitation/reflection for the day?
  4. How much food will be left after the iftar is over? How many additional people can be fed with the leftover food? What will I do with these leftovers?
  5. Do I ever throw away edible, fresh food in the trash bin?
  6. Does it hurt me when my guests do not praise my cooking skills, or the meal table-spread that I prepare for them? If so, why?

Answering the above questions honestly, in solitude, with only Allah as our witness, will allow us all to best determine how to go about maintaining moderation and avoiding extravagance in hosting guests for iftar meals during Ramadan.

And Allah knows best. I hope that this answers your question.

Salam. Please stay in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

US Muslims Vie for a Greener Ramadan

Green Up Your Ramadan: Practical Tips

Braving Summer Ramadan With Proper Diet