Ramadan buffets buck Islam’s advice for moderation during fasting month, scholar says

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Muslims have their iftar meal at a restaurant offering buffet in Kuantan April 12, 2022. — Bernama pic
Muslims have their iftar meal at a restaurant offering buffet in Kuantan April 12, 2022. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Perak Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council president Datuk Seri Mohd Annuar Zaini considers iftar buffets as “very un-Islamic”.

Mohd Annuar told news portal The Vibes that buffers tend to be extravagant and often encourage wasting, which contravenes the spirit that the holy month of Ramadan is meant to nurture discipline and moderation.

“You [buffet operators] drag people to stay with entertainment and music. They will stay and eat more food when they are encouraged to inject life to mosques.

“When they start bringing children [to buffets], they are teaching the wrong values and culture to the young ones,” he was quoted saying in the news report posted today.

The criticism was directed towards caterers that offer buffets for breaking fast, usually at a fee of a few hundred ringgit. These fees often include charges for entertainment.

Mohd Annuar called the buffet charges exorbitant and believed that restaurant owners and hotels take advantage of the cravings that come after a long day of fasting.

He suggested more Islamic scholars censure and discourage Muslims from patronising Ramadan buffets, The Vibes reported.

Malaysians have been known to waste food past reports on the issue have shown, with festive seasons usually seeing a major rise in food leftovers being dumped.

In a 2016 report published by the Solid Waste and Public Cleansing Corporation, 200,000 tonnes of food went straight into the rubbish bin every fasting month.

The news portal also cited a 2019 WWF-Malaysia report that showed 16,668 tonnes of food nationwide were wasted on a daily basis the year before, and suggesting this amount could be used to feed 12 million people.

According to the report, WWF-Malaysia said the figure usually jumps between 15 and 20 per cent during festive seasons.

Islamic Development Department director-general Datuk Hakimah Mohd Yusoff also advised Muslims to eat in moderation in order to stay healthy.

However she disagreed with calls to ban Ramadan buffets.

“The existence of the Ramadan buffet has also helped to boost the country’s economy as well as provide opportunities for the Muslim community to break fast at locations [which serve food] that suit their taste,” she told The Vibes.

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