SHORT TAKES: Beyond Ramadan Buffets — The Unfortunate Normalisation of Gluttony

By M.Zulkifli

Almost every Ramadan for the past few years, I have posted the same Facebook status: “Say no to RM100 Ramadan buffets”. Of course, the message is a bit outdated now since the price of buffets during Ramadan at some establishments have more than doubled.

I don’t have to point out the irony of splashing so much money for a ton of food during this holy month of abstinence and reflection, but it seems like no amount of reminder is able to completely kill off this trend. (Well OK, except for the Covid-19 pandemic years).

Even the downright disgusting numbers have not been able to do the trick. According to SWCorp (Perbadanan Pengurusan Sisa Pepejal dan Pembersihan Awam), 2,400 tons of waste is produced daily in the Federal Territory alone, and the number goes up by 20 percent every Ramadan, with a large chunk of it being food thrown into the dustbin.

But believe it or not, we have an even bigger problem on our hands – the normalisation of gluttony. (Defined as “habitual greed or excess in eating”).

Yes, we’re a nation of foodies. No problems there. Personally, I do enjoy a good plate of food. Even mymuslimin features food stories from time to time, in support of local businesses. But we’ve truly entered into “Hidup untuk Makan” (“Live to eat”) territory, and then some.

This is for all to see with the way food is promoted today. Everything must point to excess and greed. Buffets are no longer just “all-you-can-eat” affairs. Hotels and restaurants proudly declare that they serve more than 100, 150, and even 200 dishes! Yes, the more, the better.

It’s not enough that people eat till they’re full, they now want to eat till they “pengsan”,  “tergolek”, “kembung”, “santak”, “tersandaqqq”, “tak boleh bangun” and even, “sampai muntah”.

Portions of dishes and how they are served, too need to appeal to the glutton in everyone. Hence, you get stuff that is always “meleleh” and “melimpah”, portions that are “selambak” or “banyak namatey”, that should lead people to feeling “ketagih”.

It’s no surprise that food review videos on social media, more often than not, feature people eating with both hands, stuffing food into their mouths (and their friends’ mouths), along with the big finale of looking like they’re going to pass out at any moment.

We are so far away from the sunnah of our beloved Prophet SAW that it’s not funny, and simply heartbreaking. Moderation has apparently gone out of style, and gluttony is well and truly in.

“…Eat and drink but do not be excessive for God does not love those who are excessive (in what they do)”

(Al-A’raaf 7:31)

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