Friday 23 May 2008

Cooking and Dhikr

I heard an interesting story from my husband (who knows I am a sucker for a good story), who in turn heard the story during a Ramadan talk at his masjid. It involved one of the imam’s hifz (Quran memorization) student’s who spent months and months learning and still had not memorized one chapter. Eventually the imam complained to the boy’s mother that he was making no headway. He asked her questions about TV habits, the parent’s religiousness and how often the boy practiced what he learnt at home. Then he asked a seemingly irrelevant question: do you eat out often? The mother confirmed that yes they did. The Imam asked her to try and get the boy to eat more home-cooked food. She did her best to implement the change and the Imam found that the boy started picking up his lessons much better.

The Imam giving the talk indicated why he thought this was. When a Muslim mother cooks she does so with care and concern for her children. Often she engages in Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) whilst she prepares a meal, many time she will be in a state of wudhu (ablutions) and have read her Salaah (prayer) or be preparing to. In any case her Dhikr and concern influence her children through the food she cooks for them. The food from the restaurant would not benefit from this. Even where the cook is Muslim, there is no guarantee that he prays Salaah. Even if he prays regularly, he will not have the level of concern for the one eating the meal that the mother would have.

I am not sure how true this story is, but something in it resonated with me. Think of the care we put into the preparation of food. We begin with Bismillah al rahman al rahim (In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Beneficent) and pick each ingredient for its quality and benefit. We take care that everything is clean. We make sure there is nothing that will cause allergy or illness. We avoid the things that our families dislike (often even when we like them) and try to use the things that the beloved Prophet (SAWS) used or liked.

Subhan’Allah, this isn’t cooking, it’s ibadah (worship). Allah’s greatness and beauty is such that when we do it for him, a simple act becomes Dhikr in the beautiful hands of a mother.

"If there is any dispute between two persons and one of them repeats this Name [Al-Wadud] 1,000 times over some food and gives it to the other to eat, the disagreement and unpleasantness between them will come to an end." ~ Nintey Nine Names of Allah by M. I. Siddiqi.


  1. Anonymous24 May, 2008

    This is a beautiful entry. It resonates with a transcendent Truth. Thank-you for sharing.

  2. mashaAllah a great posting and good reminder!

  3. Assalam-alaikam,
    thanks for reading. I'm not a great cook and I like eating out, but this mode of thinking helps to try and cut down on that and try to make more of our meals at home (better for the waistline too)

  4. I always wonder what the source is for these statements, like say such-and-such 1000 times and something will happen. Is it from a hadith? I did like the idea of your post. I hope my family gets more out of my efforts than just the food itself.

  5. Anonymous16 June, 2008

    mashaAllah what an inspiring story! Very motivational. I've been trying to cook more home cooked meals for my family and this certainly is motivation. Cooking is Ibadah and even rahma. :)

  6. Assalaamualaikum-
    I love this story. I told it to my father and he laughed. For those of us who love cooking we know that our number one ingredient is pure love.

  7. Hello, ladies, I am not Muslim, but I agree about the home cooked meals. There have many studies in my country associating certain chemicals in fast food with ADD and other health problems. I live in Peru, and my husband hired a maid to cook and clean so I concentrate on our four boys. She does not work on Sundays, so I cook then, and sometimes I feel like cooking other days. The girl is a
    good cook, but I am always amazed at how much more my boys eat when I cook. I think there is something about
    the love that goes into the preparation. I still prepare my husband his breakfast, and sometimes he asks me
    to prepare his supper, also.

    One last comment. A few years ago I clipped a comic
    strip out of the newspaper. It was a little boy who asked his mom for an apple. She told him there was a bowl of apples on the table, right next to him. He asked her to give him one, so she did, but was confused as to why be didn't get it himself. His answer was that everything tasted better coming from her hands.

    Thanks for allowing me to respond.

  8. I wanted to share this article with all the sisters.

    One of the points of this article -

    "When a woman makes the Zikr of Bismillah while preparing dough (for roti), her livelihood is increased (i.e. she receives Barakah in her Rozi)."

  9. zikr while cooking increases barkat and love in the food.And the food taste really good.The mother who cooks food cooked with zikr gives ruhaani ie. spiritual tarbiyat (upbringing) to kids.

  10. the nuskhah you mentioned at the end is not authentic dear sister, please remove it as there is no authentic narrations

  11. Assalam-alaikam Dear Sis Umm m,
    this quote is from a book I love very much and which I ahve turned to often. I don't feel qualified to question what the author has written.

  12. Assalamoalaikum dear sisters, in heavens you will be mens companions while on earth you can bless them and their siblings with your inspiring presence including home cookings. Take care