Food Corner: A Tayyib Diet to Balance Us and Reinstate Hope

“ O you who have believed , eat from the good thing swhich We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah , if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (Quran 2: 172)

“O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (Quran 2: 172)

Learning this ayah changed my world and allowed me to help people get back into balance. Over and over in the Quran, Allah (swt) references “tayyib,” so let’s dive deeper into what exactly is “tayyib” and why does Allah (swt) connect it with gratitude, and if we truly worship him? Why is it the overlooked key to heaven, success, and consequently our health – a key piece in putting our bodies back into balance?

What Is Tayyib?

Tayyib is a comprehensive word with an important place in the Quran and Sunnah. In Surah Baqarah, Allah (swt) has clearly defined “tayyib”. Allah (swt) commands us to eat of which that is tayyib from what He has provided for us. The word “tayyib” means to be pure, good, clean, wholesome, gentle, excellent, fair, and lawful, so it’s good, on top of more good and, no doubt about it, this is good for you. In contrast, its opposite “khabith” means impure, genetically modified, artificial in terms of colors and preservatives, toxic, etc. Tayyib is often paired with “halal,” as in “halal and tayyib,” and is also mentioned alone.

Diving into Tayyib - Surat al-Baqarah Verses 166-172

When trying to understand “tayyib”, this passage of the Quran sheds light on the importance of tayyib, what society will say, and what to do to succeed if we truly believe in Allah (swt):

“[And they should consider that] when those who have been followed disassociate themselves from those who followed [them], and they [all] see the punishment, and cut off from them are the ties [of relationship]. Those who followed will say, “If only we had another turn [at worldly life] so we could disassociate ourselves from them as they have disassociated themselves from us.” Thus will Allah show them their deeds as regrets upon them. And they are never to emerge from the Fire. 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. He only orders you to evil and immorality and to say what you do not know about Allah. And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? The example of those who disbelieve is like a flock [of cattle and sheep] not comprehending the calls and cries of the shepherd – [They are wilfully] deaf, dumb, and blind, so they have no understanding. O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (Quran 2: 166–172)

And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Quran 51: 57)

Let’s examine this passage. In verses 166–168, Allah (swt) describes a scene of people standing next to Hellfire, with multiple regrets (hasarat) of following a social norm blindly, wishing they had dissociated themselves from these people. After which, Allah (swt) then takes the reader to the solution on how we can prevent that outcome. Allah (swt) says, 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 (Quran 2: 168). Then in verse 170, Allah (swt) says they will ignore revelation and stick to what their forefathers have done, showing cattle herd mentality. They are deaf, dumb, and blind and will never understand.

Then Allah (swt) says, in verse 172, that “eat from the good things (tayyib) which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” Allah (swt) uses the word “taabudoon,” meaning if you truly worship Allah (swt) or if you are genuinely enslaved to Allah (swt). Who are we enslaved to? We are enslaved to our desires when our only purpose on this planet is to worship Allah (swt).

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Quran 51: 57)

Allah (swt) has equated eating pure foods with truly believing in Him if you are truly enslaved to Him! So if we don’t eat pure foods, what does that say about us as Muslims? Who are we truly following?

“O mankind! Eat the lawful and good things out of what is in the earth, and do not follow the footsteps of the shaytan; indeed, he is your open enemy.”(Quran 2: 168)

We are following Satan (Shaytan) as not eating pure food opens doors that may lead us down the wrong path, a path away from Allah (swt). If we go down that path of impurity, we are opening doors in our hearts for Satan to enter. We are no longer slaves of our Lord but slaves of the sugar companies, the fast-food companies, the pesticide companies (Monsanto), the pharmaceutical companies, and even the worldly goods companies. It’s time to get back to the Quran, to a tayyib life, and to our Creator.

The Two Keys to Optimal Success and Characteristics of a Believer - Halal and Tayyib

Living pure (tayyib) lives is one of the hidden, overlooked keys to ultimate success (falah) in both lives in this world and the hereafter. But what is important to realize is that in addition to the verses mentioned previously namely Quran 2:168 and 172, you will find it’s all over the Quran and He has equated it to being believers who truly worship Allah (swt).

“And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.” (Quran 5: 88)

“Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the impure things and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him, and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be successful.” (Quran 7: 157)

“Then eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and good. And be grateful for the favor of Allah, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (Quran 16: 114)

Allah's Equation for Success

In Quran 7: 157, Allah (swt) provides humankind with a formula for Success:

Following the Messenger pbuh + who live tayyib (purely) + prohibit the impure = Success

Allah (swt) has made following the unlettered Prophet pbuh equal to living tayyib and staying away from impurities. This means that if we don’t follow one or the other, we will not be successful. If we follow the Prophet pbuh but we eat artificial or GMO-ridden food or live an impure lifestyle, we will not be successful, and vice versa. This describes precisely what is happening to the Muslim Ummah currently. Allah (swt) has prohibited impurities since He knows they can cause harm.

The Relationship between Tayyib and Allah's Anger and then Hope

“Eat of the good things we have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein, lest my wrath should justly descend on you, and those on whom descends my wrath do perish indeed.” (Quran 20: 81)

In Surah Taha, after instructing the children of Israel, Allah (swt) then turns to educate the general population regarding the consequences of breaking His laws. Allah (swt) requires us all to eat tayyib foods from what He has provided and not to cross any boundaries; otherwise, His anger will come down, seize and overwhelm us. And whoever Allah’s (swt) anger comes down upon, that person falls hard and fast. But then Allah (swt), being the Merciful and Compassionate Lord, He also gives us Hope:

“But indeed, I am the Perpetual Forgiver of whoever repents and believes and does righteousness and then continues in guidance.” (Quran 20: 82)

Allah (swt) is Pure and Accepts Only What is Pure - Tayyib as a Prerequisite

“This Day [all] Tayyib/Pure food Has been made lawful…And whoever denies the faith, his work has become worthless, And he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.” (Quran 5: 5)

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “O people, Allah is pure, and He accepts only what is pure. Verily, Allah has commanded the believers as He commanded His messengers. Allah said, O messengers, eat from good things and act righteously, for I know what you do (23: 51). And Allah said, O you who believe, eat from good things We have provided for you. (2:172)”

Working for Allah (swt) goes hand-in-hand with the lifestyle we live. In these two areas, Allah (swt) and His Prophet pbuh have dictated that we eat pure food; otherwise, the work that we do will not be accepted, and we will be among the losers.

In the hadith, the Prophet pbuh said that Allah (swt) is pure, and He will accept only what is pure. In the following sentence, He quotes the Quran about the qualities of one that is pure – that he eats pure food. Through his messengers, Allah (swt) has told us what he wants us to do, to eat pure food, to act righteously, and quoting 2:172, stating that we should only eat which is pure. In this verse and this hadith, the emphasis is on eating and living purely and working righteously. One must be pure for our righteous acts to be accepted, a prerequisite for an acceptance of our good deeds.

Tayyib the Hidden Key to Taqwa

Allah has sent this book, the Quran, “a guide for those who are mindful of Allah” (Quran 2:2) for the muttaqeen.

Taqwa is the balance of the love of Allah (swt) with the concern of breaking his commands. If we genuinely have Taqwa, we will be in balance and harmony with everything around us. How we live our lives determines the state of our Taqwa.

Allah describes one of the hidden keys to obtaining Taqwa in Surah Maidah (Quran 5:88). Allah is telling us that a way of expressing our Taqwa and putting it into action is to eat halal and tayyib. The Arabic language is so beautiful. To have Taqwa, you have to express it by eating halal and tayyib.

The root meaning of Taqwa is to avoid what one dislikes. `Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) asked Ubayy bin Ka`b (ra) about Taqwa. Ubayy said, “Have you ever walked on a path that has thorns on it?” `Umar said, “Yes.” Ubayy said, “What did you do then?” He said, “I rolled up my sleeves and struggled.” Ubayy said, “That is Taqwa.”

Taqwa has to do with prevention, building a barrier from sins. In this ayah, Allah (swt) has combined it with halal and tayyib, pure food, again equating it to being believers. Taqwa isn’t stagnant but constantly changing depending upon our lifestyles.

“And eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and pure And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.” (Quran 5:88)

Allah (SWT) Knows Impurity Surrounds and Tempts Us

“Say: Evil and good are not equal, even though the abundance of evil may be pleasing to you. Have a fear of God, you who is endowed with understanding, so that you may triumph.” (Quran 5: 100)

Allah (swt) knows that we are bombarded all around us with impurities. But he constantly tells us to use our brains and understanding, to know they are not the same. And those that use this understanding will be successful. Insha’Allah.

Tayyib and Being a Believer, If You Truly Worship Allah

“O you who have believed, eat from the pure things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (Qur’an 2:172)

“And eat what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and pure And fear Allah, in whom you are believers.” (Qur’an 5:88)

“Then eat of what Allah has provided for you [which is] lawful and pure. And be grateful for the favors of Allah, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.” (Qur’an 16:114)

Over and over, Allah (swt) has connected our belief in Him, and if we worship him to food!

Conclusions from the Quran and Sunnah

From all the verses in the Quran and evidence from the Sunnah, one may conclude that eating pure foods that Allah has created, and living a pure lifestyle, are directly linked to our faith and true success in this life and the next. On the other hand, eating anything impure (artificial, GMO, toxic) is prohibited and opens the doors for Shaytan and wrongdoing.

And We shaded you with clouds and sent down to you manna and quails, [saying], “Eat from the pure things with which We have provided you.” And they wronged Us not - but they were [only] wronging themselves. (Qur’an 2:57)

“Eat from the pure things which we have provided you.” And they wronged Us not, but they were [only] wronging themselves” (Qur’an 7:160)

Author’s Bio: Madiha Saeed, MD

Madiha Saeed, MD, also known as HolisticMom, MD on social media, is a practicing board certified family physician in the USA, international speaker and a best-selling author. Her best-selling books are The Holistic Rx: Your Guide to Healing Chronic Inflammation and Disease, Adam’s Healing Adventures, The Quranic Prescription: Unlocking the Secrets to Optimal Health and The Holistic Rx for Kids: Parenting Healthy Children to Save Our Future empowering the world towards healthier living.

Dr. Saeed is the director of education for Documenting Hope and KnoWEwell. She sits on multiple medical advisory boards including being the president of Nagamia Institute of Islamic Medicine and Sciences (formally known as International Institute of Islamic Medicine), and Wellness Mama. Dr. Saeed and her children speak internationally in the most prestigious holistic conferences, summits, TV (ABC, NBC and CBS), radio and newspaper. She is a regular on MindBodyGreen and the international Emmy winning medical talk show the Dr. Nandi Show.