A certain person would be making vows of abstinence and breaking them. At last a reverend gentleman observed to him, “So I understand that you make a practice of eating to excess; and that any restraint on your appetite, namely, this vow, is weaker than a hair, and this voraciousness, as you indulge it, would break an iron chain; but the day must come when it will destroy you.” A man was rearing the whelp of a wolf; when full grown it tore its patron and master.
In the annals of Ardishir Babagan it is recorded that he asked an Arabian physician, saying, “What quantity of food ought to be eaten daily?” He replied, “A hundred dirams’ weight were sufficient.” The king said, “What strength can a man derive from so small a quantity?” The physician replied: “So much can support you; but in whatever you exceed that you must support it.—Eating is for the purpose of living, and speaking in praise of God; but thou believest that we live only to eat.”
Two dervishes of Khorasan were fellow-companions on a journey. One was so spare and moderate that he would break his fast only every other night, and the other so robust and intemperate that he ate three meals a day. It happened that they were taken up at the gate of a city on suspicion of being spies, and both together put into a place, the entrance of which was built up with mud. After a fortnight it was discovered that they were innocent, when, on breaking open the door, they found the strong man dead, and the weak one alive and well. They were astonished at this circumstance. A wise man said, “The contrary of this had been strange, for this one was a voracious eater, and not having strength to support a want of food, perished; and that other was abstemious, and being patient, according to his habitual practice, survived it.—When a person is habitually temperate, and a hardship shall cross him, he will get over it with ease; but if he has pampered his body and lived in luxury, and shall get into straitened circumstances, he must perish.”
A certain philosopher admonished his son against eating to an excess, because repletion made a man sick. The boy answered, “O father, hunger will kill. Have you not heard what the wits have remarked, To die of a surfeit were better than to bear with a craving appetite?” The father said, “Study moderation, for the Most High God has told us in the Koran:—’Eat ye and drink ye, but not to an excess:’—eat not so voraciously that the food shall be regorged from thy mouth, nor so abstemiously that from depletion life shall desert thee:—though food be the means of preserving breath in the body. Yet, if taken to excess, it will prove noxious. If conserve of roses be frequently indulged in it will cause a surfeit, whereas a crust of bread, eaten after a long interval, will relish like conserve of roses.”