every believer to whom allah has given the ability to think and understand knows when he goes into the kitchen to make breakfast in the morning that all the blessings of food and drink given in creation are facts leading to faith.
for example, the fire he uses to cook his food can cause a great deal of harm to him as well as to many other things; it also has the ability to destroy. but heat is a requirement for making food edible and from this point of view it is a very great blessing. in other words, like everything else on the earth, fire has been put at the service of human beings. in the qur'an, allah says,
and he has made everything in the heavens and everything on the earth subservient to you. (surat al-jathiyya: 13)
besides this, fire is a reminder for the believer in this life of the pains of the fire. in describing in the qur'an those who will go to hell, allah mentions a violent fire. in a few verses, he describes the pains of the fire he has created for those who reject him:
on the day they are tormented by the fire. (surat adh-dhariyat: 13)
the fire will sear their faces, making them grimace horribly in it, their lips drawn back from their teeth. (surat al-muminun: 104)
whoever does not believe in allah and his messenger, we have prepared a blazing fire for the disbelievers. (surat al-fath: 13)
when believers with a profound faith think of this raging fire of hell, their fear of allah grows, they pray to him and take refuge in him from the hellfire. in this way very small everyday things serve as reminders of major matters, and this is a very important part of the practice of the believer.
a person who thinks sincerely and without prejudice about the food we eat for breakfast will find many reminders in it. the taste and smell of bread, honey, cheese, tomatoes, tea and fruitjuice, their food value and various colours are all blessings. they all provide the proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and fluids that the body needs. to live a healthy life, we have to be regularly and properly nourished, but this is not a difficult chore for us; it's something we enjoy. fruits, vegetables, cereals, and pasta meet a person's every need for nourishment and also give him a lot of pleasure.
actually, all that we have mentioned are really small items that everyone knows very well and has lived intimately with every 24 hours since he was born. but most people don't consider these things correctly that our lord has given for our daily use. they take them all for granted and don't realise just how valuable they are.
but all this delicious food and drink has the ability to provide various benefits to the human body, and each of them is a wonder of creation. for example, a bee weighing only a few grams produces honey. both because of the vitamins and minerals it contains and the structural characteristics it has, honey means health and healing for human beings. in the qur'an allah says that he inspired this quality of honey and the physical work of the honeybee:
your lord revealed to the bees: "build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect. then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your lord, which have been made easy for you to follow." from inside them comes a drink of varying colours, containing healing for mankind. there is certainly a sign in that for people who reflect. (surat an-nahl: 68-69)
a believer who considers the production of honey becomes aware of the miracle of creation that it contains. he immediately understands that neither the blossoms of fruit trees, which provide the basic raw material for honey, and whose nectar the bees turn into honey, nor the wonderful honey itself, could happen by chance. and this brings him closer to allah.
in addition, the absolute obedience of a tiny bee to our lord is another fact leading to faith. the believer will understand that it is by allah's inspiration that the honeybee, with neither intelligence nor consciousness as we understand them, works unceasingly and with perfect discipline to perform its wonderful functions.
the importance of the meat, milk, cheese, and other animal products as blessings for humanity from allah is announced in the qur'an:
and there is certainly a lesson for you in your livestock. we give you to drink from what is in their bellies and there are many ways in which you benefit from them, and some of them you eat. (surat al-muminun: 21)
and there is mention of "what is in their bellies", while informing us of the benefits we get from animals. for example, there is something left over in the digestive process from the food a cow has eaten, the water it has drunk, the blood circulating in its veins and its internal organs. it is indeed a miracle that a sweet-smelling, clean, white mixture like milk that is so beneficial to human health could come from such a complex mixture. besides this, it is produced in the healthiest conditions despite the fact that it is located in an area containing waste material.
another indication of allah's supreme knowledge is the fact that the only raw material that goes into making white milk is green grass. but milk-producing animals create a white liquid from a stiff, green material thanks to a wonderful system that allah has created in their bodies. in the qur'an, our lord tells us what milk is made of:
there is instruction for you in cattle. from the contents of their bellies, from between the dung and blood, we give you pure milk to drink, easy for drinkers to swallow. (surat an-nahl: 66)
as we know, milk is a very rich food containing several materials that the human body needs; it is a liquid that plays a vital role in the nourishment of both children and adults.
another food that comes from animals, small in itself but with high nutritional value, is the egg. the formation of this storehouse of proteins, vitamins and minerals is another miracle. a chicken with little awareness produces eggs every day and protects the eggs it has produced with a wonderful wrapping. to consider how an eggshell is so wonderfully formed around the fluid inside it or how the fluid has been placed inside the shell although it has no cover, increases the wonder that a believer feels at the creative artistry of allah.
various drinks, which some consider indispensable for breakfast, come from plants. after the leaves of these plants have been put through certain processes, they become sweet-smelling liquids. the thousands of other kinds of plants that grow in the same soil display the endless power, knowledge and mercy of allah who created them. as our lord says in the qur'an:
it is he who produces gardens, both cultivated and wild, and palm-trees and crops of diverse kinds, and olives and pomegranates, both similar and dissimilar… (surat al-an`am: 141)
allah gives us countless blessings that he has created for us to eat. he tests human beings in this earthly life with wealth and poverty, he is pleased with those who display fine moral qualities when confronted by these tests and he reveals in the qur'an that they will receive the endless blessings of the garden. for example, some people eat a fine breakfast while others have only a few bits of food. but a believer, whether or not he is prosperous, will always behave in a manner so as to win allah's approval and will give thanks to him with all sincerity. if he is rich, he will not boast or become arrogant. if he is poor, he will not feel anxious or sorry for himself.
a believer is aware that allah is putting him through a test and that everything in this life is transitory. the qur'an says that allah will test human beings with good and evil. "we test you with both good and evil as a trial. and you will be returned to us." (surat al-anbiya': 35) for this reason, a person who lives according to the teachings of the qur'an knows that it is not the blessings that he has received but his attitude towards those blessings that will win him a reward in allah's sight. even if he is not prosperous, a believer will sincerely give thanks to allah. in the qur'an, allah reveals that he will increase the blessings of those who give thanks with sincerity and determination and reminds the ungrateful that the pains of hell are terrible:
and when your lord announced: "if you are grateful, i will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful, my punishment is severe." (surah ibrahim: 7)
someone who considers the proofs of the perfect creation around him, as well as the reasons for food, will also see the divine intentions in the structure and working of the mouth created to eat these things easily. in order for a human being to eat, his food, his lips, teeth, tongue, jaw, saliva glands and millions of cells work together in perfect harmony. this is all perfectly orchestrated such that several functions can be performed at the same time without a hitch. the teeth bite the food into pieces and the tongue continually pushes it between the teeth to be chewed. with its strong muscles, the jaw helps the teeth to chew while the eater moves the tongue in an appropriate manner. the lips act as a securely closed door to prevent food from falling out of the mouth.
besides this, the parts that make up these organs work together in perfect harmony. for example, the teeth, according to their location and structure, bite the food into pieces and chew it. all the teeth are ordered and arranged in their places according to their function; every one of them grows and stays a certain length in order to work cooperatively with the tooth opposite it. certainly these organs have no consciousness or intelligence; they cannot decide among themselves to cooperate with one another. and the excellent organisation briefly described above cannot come about randomly. every part is made exactly as required to achieve a certain goal. there is no doubt that this marvellous design is from our lord who "created everything and determined it most exactly." (surat al-furqan: 2). allah has created all of these things in order to make it easy for human beings to eat their food and take benefit and pleasure from it.
another important thing on which a believer reflects is the fact that he can perceive the smells of the food in the kitchen and can taste it without any effort. this is possible because of the wonderful faculties he has. his sense of taste and smell, which do not cease throughout his life, work perfectly for him at no cost; they have taken no training to work so effectively and are themselves unconscious of their workings.
if a person did not have his sense of taste, the various tastes of meat, fish, vegetables, soups, salads, fruits, drinks, and jams would have no meaning for him. besides, the taste of these things might not be good; they might be tasteless, insipid and unpleasant and upset the stomach. there is no doubt that tastes and the faculty that perceives them have been specially created for human beings. it would be a big mistake to be unaware of this because of the insensitivity created by habit. the qur'an reveals that allah created good and clean food for human beings:
it is allah who made the earth a stable home for you and the sky a dome, and formed you, giving you the best of forms, and provided you with good and wholesome things. that is allah, your lord. blessed be allah, the lord of all the worlds. (surah ghafir: 64)
surely, for thinking people every taste is a means to appreciate allah properly, remember him with gratitude, to praise him and give him thanks. the believer who knows that every delicious type of food and drink comes from allah; he thinks about this every time he sits down at the table and so he gives thanks to our lord. allah says in the qur'an:
a sign for them is the dead land which we bring to life and from which we bring forth grain of which they eat. we place in it gardens of dates and grapes, and cause springs to gush out in it, so they may eat its fruits—they did not do it themselves. so will they not be thankful? (surah ya sin: 33-35)
have they not seen how we created for them, by our own handiwork, livestock which are under their control? we have made them tame for them and some they ride and some they eat. and they have other uses for them, and milk to drink. so will they not be thankful? (surah ya sin: 71-73)
some people do not think it is important to reflect on a few extremely important facts even though they have consumed deliciously tasting and smelling foods that have met their needs perfectly throughout their whole lives. they ignore the fact that allah has created these incomparable blessings for them and that they ought to thank him for providing them. this is quite the wrong attitude; they should not forget that they will be asked in the afterlife whether or not they had been thankful to allah.
a believer is aware that allah has given him his body as a trust, that he is responsible for looking after this incomparable blessing as best as he can and for this he must nourish it in a healthy way. he knows that in order to perform good works it must be healthy and so it must be sufficiently nourished with a balanced diet. he knows his body must have all the food it needs for the development of its 100 trillion cells and in order for it to renew itself and function properly. so, either for breakfast or at other times of the day he will eat healthy and natural foods and avoid harmful foods no matter how attractive and delicious they appear. he will not be lazy or careless in this regard. for example, he knows that the functioning of his organs, his body's ability to cleanse itself from toxic material and its capacity to overcome fatigue and tiredness all depend on water (which many people neglect to drink regularly) and he will be careful to drink enough of it in the course of the day. our prophet, may allah bless him and grant him peace, draws attention in several places to the importance of water.
for example, during a trip he sat down somewhere and asked for water from those beside him. after he had washed his hands and face and drunk some water he said to his companions: "pour some of its water on your faces and chests." (sahih al-bukhari) our prophet, may allah bless him and grant him peace, said after drinking water:
"all praise is due to allah who has made it delicious and sweet by his grace and has not made it either salty or unsavoury." (imam ghazali's ihya ulum ad-din)