Is there death because of starvation?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“No living creature is there moving on the earth but its provision depends on Allah” (Hud, 11:6).

“How many a living creature there is that does not carry its own provision (in store), but Allah provides for them, and indeed for you. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (Al-Ankabut, 29:60)

In accordance with the expression of the verses above, Allah (SWT) gives provisions to all living beings throughout their lives. He gives them their sustenance as long as they live; that is, sustenance is under the guarantee of Allah (SWT).

The following question may come to mind: “It is said that there are some people who die of hunger. What is the scientific explanation for it?”

It is possible to handle this point from different perspectives. Some of the nutrition that human beings take is stored as glycogen and fat. In case of hunger, these stores are consumed. The nutrition in the stores enables man to live for a long time. The research that Doctor Dewey conducted regarding the issue is quite remarkable:

Two four-year-old children took medicine carelessly; therefore, burns occurred in their stomachs and alimentary canals and they could not eat. The first child, who was weak and delicate, managed to survive 75 days by using the reserves in his body. The other boy, who was relatively stronger, survived 90 days.

Doctor Bertholet did research about hunger for a long time and obtained striking results. Accordingly, the loss of weight resulting from the long-term hunger takes place in tissues and organs that are not vitally important such as fat and spleen. This research shows that in long-term hunger, the body uses 97% of fat, 63% of spleen, 56% of liver, 30% of muscles, and 17% of blood. However, the same research shows that there is no loss of weight in brain and nerves, which are vitally important for man. And this indicates that during hunger, consumption is not made from vitally important organs, but from others. In such a hunger case, as recent researches have pointed out, fats are transformed into ketones and sent to the assistance of the brain cells.

The findings in relation to this issue have shown that one can survive around 80 days without eating anything. However, the food supply must not be cut off immediately. Otherwise, the body may grow weak since the usual habit of eating is deserted, and this may lead to death. Ibn Khaldun expresses it as follows:

“Those who are used to eating more suffer more than those who are used to eating less in the places of famine. What kills them is not the famine they face, but the satiety they have been used to.” (1)

It is stated that the total number of those who die of starvation is constituted by the children below one year old with 20% in India and 35% in Africa. It is understood that the microbes are ready to take hold of the body and assault it at the moment it is weak. Children, in particular, are more vulnerable to this situation and more children die of hunger than other groups. Then, those who are said to have died of hunger do not die because of lack of food, but because of the diseases originating from the scarcity of food.

Is sustenance given to everybody in equal amounts?

The issue is explained as follows in the Quran:

“Allah enlarges the sustenance (which He gives) to whichever of His servants He pleases; and He (similarly) grants by (strict) measure, (as He pleases): for Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (al-Ankabut, 29/62)

According to the verse above, God Almighty gives some people plenty of sustenance and others less. The wisdom behind it is expressed as follows in another verse:

“If Allah were to enlarge the provision for His Servants, they would indeed transgress beyond all bounds through the earth; but he sends (it) down in due measure as He pleases. For He is with His Servants Well-acquainted, Watchful.” (ash-Shura, 42/27)

It means there is nobody who dies of hunger in the world, and the sustenance given to everybody is not equal. Some is given less, and some more. However, in any case, what man needs to do is to knock on His door of mercy, to demand and ask from Him... How? By working in the legitimate way, by acting according to causes, by consenting to his share and relying on Him after fulfilling our duty...

If Allah provides everyone’s sustenance, why do some people die of hunger?

There is no death due to lack of air. Similarly, there is no death due to lack of sustenance.

Allah has created enough air for all living beings to live. However, if an oppressor cuts off the air of a living being, prevents it from breathing and kills it, the death of that creature is not because there is no air, but because it is prevented from taking air. Therefore, it cannot be said that he died because lack of air; it is said that he died because he was prevented from taking air.

Allah gives enough air to every living being; He also gives every living being enough sustenance to survive. However, some oppressors may take that sustenance given by Allah from them and cause them to die. In that case, that creature dies not because of lack of sustenance, but because it is deprived of the sustenance given to it; and the one causing it becomes a murderer.

That is to say, preventing a living being from getting its sustenance and causing it to die does not mean that it has died due to lack of sustenance, but due to its sustenance being prevented.

In that case, as Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it, “The rest is either stolen or seized by the European infidel tyrants or the dissemblers of Asia.” (Lem'alar, On Yedinci Lem'a, Yedinci Nota) Thus, that living being whose sustenance is grabbed dies.

To sum up, those who die of hunger in places like Africa do not die due to lack of sustenance, but because the oppressors grab the riches and other sustenance that Allah sent them from under the ground and above the ground.


- As Badiuzzaman Said Nursi puts it, there are two types of sustenance:

The first one is the sustenance promised by Allah. It is the sustenance that Allah considers as a right to life - of living things - and hence promises to deliver to them as long as they are alive.

As long as every living being is alive, they will find their sustenance. In order to fulfill that commitment, Allah has created stocks by storing them in the form of internal fats (glucose) with the wisdom that if the door of food coming from outside is closed - in terms of reasons - it will be delivered to its owner.

Usually, those internal fats can last for more than seventy days, and before those internal stocks run out, the living beings die as a result of an imbalance resulting from the abandonment of the habits regarding the sustenance they receive. That type of sustenance is only the minimum amount necessary for the continuation of biological life.

The second type of sustenance, on the other hand, is a nutritional formula, a form of nutrition that is above the minimum living standards and is outside of the necessary biological need. There are many different degrees of it. And it is not under divine commitment. There is no guarantee of it.

The abuse of people is also in question. The issue of the usurpation of the rights of the oppressed by the oppressors is an issue that our age has seen and is most familiar with. (see Lem'alar, On İkinci Lem'a).

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