Averting Gluttony (Sharah)
When gluttony, or in Arabic sharah, is used in a general sense it always refers to consuming food according to ones desires, but there are many incidents when gluttony leads a person to be involved in matters that will cause them harm. These include excessive eating, which leads to ill health, and excessive sexual appetite which leads one towards sin.
Al-Harith ibn Kildah said, “That which killed the animals of the wild is consuming food, after already consuming food.” Others said, if the dead were asked what their reason of death was, they would say repletion.”
It was narrated that al-Hasan said that Sumrah was told that his son could not sleep all night. He asked whether or not he ate a lot and they said yes. So he said, “If he dies, I will not pray the funeral prayer on him.”
A man told another tauntingly, “Your father died due to excessive eating and your mother died due to excessive drinking.”
Uqbah al-Rassibi narrated that he entered al-Hasan’s house, whilst he was having lunch. Al-Hasan insisted he eat, so he told him that he was full, thereafter al-Hasan said, “Subhan Allah! Does a Muslim eat until he is full?!”
Section One: Excessive Eating
Know that the wise must eat to survive, on the other hand the ignorant would rather live to eat. Many a bite has prevented other bites and was the reason of death. The intended purpose here is to constrain bingeing oneself on gluttony, so as it does not harm itself.
The family of Nabi صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم, never ate to their fill of wheat bread for three consecutive nights, ever since they had come to Medina, until he passed away.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6089
Miqdam ibn Ma’d رضي الله عنه reported: The Messenger of Allah , صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم, said:
مَا مَلَأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ بِحَسْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلَاتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لَا مَحَالَةَ فَثُلُثٌ لِطَعَامِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِشَرَابِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِنَفَسِهِ
The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath.
Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2380, Grade: Sahih
Section Two: Excessive Sexual Appetite
Sharah might also occur in regards to sexual intercourse. If someone indulges in it excessively his sperm channels become barred, causing unsuitable elements to enter therein and this then deprives the main organs i.e. the brain, the heart and the liver of their strength; and so sexual desire decreases and accelerates its failure. Also intercourse implies an image that honorable and estimable selves would turn away from, except if it is intended to produce children or to push away a congested evil [i.e. fear of committing adultery or fornication]. Other than that if it becomes a habit that is done for the mere sake of satisfaction and enjoyment then one is practically competing with animals.
Section Three: Hoarding Wealth
Sharah might also be in hoarding money and that is a type of ‘cold insanity’ if it exceeds one’s needs, because money should not be sought for itself rather for spending on objects. Therefore, one who collects what he and his children need, so as not to beg off people. Gives some of it to those who are in need is not to be blamed. However a person of sound mind should not, after earning what he needs, waste his precious time and risk his priceless soul in travelling and in sailing [to collect more money]. How beautiful are the poet’s words:
And he who spends days in hoarding money
For fear of poverty, then what he did is poverty itself
We have seen and heard a lot about people who are very stingy, yet travel and sail, in spite of old age, to earn money and profit – according to their claim but they die on their travels, they do not even attain some of what they desired. This disease therefore should be treated by understanding the purpose of saving money, to balance [the risks and benefits] between earning money and risking the most precious things one possesses i.e. one’s self and time. That said, whoever consults his mind will know the intended, whoever is overpowered by the disease of hoarding money will perish in the desert of greed and the only inheritor will be the mount and the packsaddle.
Section Four: Extravagance
Sharah might be in regards to pleasant arts, such as decorated buildings, fine branded horses, fancy clothes… etc. The cure for it is to know that the account for lawful earning is grave, extravagance is prohibited and Allah does not look at the one who drags his garment out of pride. Allah rewards a believer for everything except building. Therefore the wise is the one who looks at how long he is going to live, and reflects on his final abode, for that is when he will be contended with what he wears of clothes and with whatever shelters him of buildings.
It was reported that (Prophet) Nooh عليه السلام , lived in a house made of wool for nine hundred and fifty years. The Messenger صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم never put a stone over another [his house was built of mud] and on Umar ibn al-Khattab’s رضي الله عنه garment there were twelve patches. This is because they understood that this world is a bridge and a bridge should not be taken as a home. Thus, whoever fails to be aware of this knowledge will be afflicted with the disease of Sharah, and should cure himself by seeking knowledge, and contemplating the biographies of the wise scholars