- ** *The Etiquettes of Eating* Courtesy: From ad-Dawal ila-Allah It may appear a little ironic to be discussing the subject of FOOD in a month, which isMessage 1 of 2 , Aug 24, 2006View Source
The Etiquettes of Eating
Courtesy: From ad-Dawal ila-Allah
It may appear a little ironic to be discussing the subject of FOOD in a month, which is characterized by the command to abstain from it! Nevertheless, it is true to say that in this month the subject of food tends to receive special attention from us, for after a whole day of keeping our desires and hunger pangs at bay, the chance to eat ones till in the evening is much appreciated. An appropriate time therefore to highlight some of the Islamic etiquettes of eating we think.
For every act that a Muslim does, there is a chance for him to earn some reward for it from Allaah. From praying to performing ghusl, in everything Allaah has placed His Blessings and these blessings are multiplied in the month of Ramadhan.
These rewards and blessings can be attained only by those keen to imbibe the Guidance and Example (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) into every mode of their lives, seeking thereby none but the Face of Allaah. For such people, their whole lives become 'Ebadah (worship). Even the act of eating and drinking upon which all living things depend can become acts of 'Ebadah. Thus, by acquainting ourselves with the Sunnah of eating and drinking we too can turn this mundane exercise into an act of worship and a source of blessing, Insha'Allaah!!
The Etiquettes of Eating
1] How to Begin 
When a Muslim begins to eat, he should begin with the name of Allaah. As the Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said: 'When one of you eats, he should mention Allah's name ( i.e. say 'Bismillah); if he forgets to mention Allah's name at the beginning, he should say (when he remembers): I begin in the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end of it ( Bismillah awwalahu wa Akhirahoo)." 
The Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) explained that shaitan partakes in the food if the name of Allaah is not recited at the start of eating. However if one forgets in the beginning and then remembers and says the aforementioned du'aa shaitan is made to vomit out what he has eaten. 
2] The Manners of Eating
The best manner in which to eat food is with the fingers. The Companion, lbn Ka'ab ibn Maalik reported that he saw the Messenger (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) eating with three fingers and when he finished, he would lick them.  Sadly nowadays, the Muslims are choosing to imitate the disbelievers rather than the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) and are choosing to eat with knives and forks rather than the finger's. Although it is not at all forbidden (haraam) to eat with a Knife and fork, to consider this a better and more cultured or civilized way to eat is definitely wrong, since this is to consider someone else's way to be superior to that of the Prophet's. It should also be mentioned that if one does choose to eat with a knife and fork, then they should make sure that the fork is in the right and not in the left hand as is the convention with the disbelievers. This is because to eat with the left hand is forbidden. The Prophet, (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said: "Do not eat with your left hand for shaitaan eats with his left hand," 
Another thing which the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) taught us about the manners of eating is that we should always eat from what is nearest to us and not from the middle of the plate. The reason for this is that the blessings come down upon the food in its middle, therefore it should be left to last. 
3] The Manners of Sitting whilst Eating.
It would probably come as no surprise to us to learn that unlike the arrogant manner traditionally associated with the Greeks and Romans, the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) would never eat from a reclining position.
His whole life was a model of modesty and humility and this was no less in his manner of eating. The Companion Anas, radhi Allahu Anhu' each reported that he saw Allaah's Messenger squatting and eating dates. Other times, the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) would sit on his knees, as reported by 'Abdullaah ibn Busr who said that the Prophet was sitting on his knees upon which a bedouin said: 'What is this sitting?' The Prophet (sallallahu alahi wa-sallam) replied, "Allaah has made me a respectable servant and He did not make me an obstinate tyrant. 
4] Don't Criticize Food:
Aboo Hurairah, radhiAllahu 'anhu reported that the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) never found fault with food. If he liked it, he would eat it, but if he disliked it, he just left it.
This is how our Prophet was. Yet if we look to ourselves today, we find that we are ever ready to criticize whatever we find on our plate. This is extreme ingratitude to Allaah on our part and next time we think of complaining about food or maybe moaning that 'there's nothing to eat' even though our fridges are full, we should spare a thought for all those people both Muslim and non-Muslims who don't know where their next meal is coming from. So we should instead be grateful as instructed by Allaah:
"0 You who believe! Eat of the good things that we have provided for you and be grateful to Allaah, if it is He you worship." [al-Baqarah(2): 17)
5] DON'T LEAVE FOOD FOR SHAITAAN
As Muslms we must be aware that shaitaan is around us wherever we are and whatever we are doing. Even when we are eating shaitaan is in our presence, waiting to grasp any opportunity he can to fill his belly. This is why the Prophet, (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) commanded us never to waste food, because food that we waste is eaten by shaitaan. He (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said: "The shaitaan is present with everyone of you in everything he does; he is even present when he eats food, so if any on of you drops a mouthful, he should remove away anything filthy on it and eat it and not leave it for the devil; and when he finishe, he should lick his fingers for he does not know in what portion of his food the blessing ties." 
So here, the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) enumerated another reason why we should not waste food i.e. we may deprive ourselves of the blessings which are contained n the food. this should be sufficient encouragement fares to appreciate the value of food and not waste it.
6] DON'T EAT TOO MUCH
One of the worst habits we nave adopted as a result of our relatively luxurious lifestyle is the habit of overeating and not showing any restraint in that. How many times can we think of where we have eaten so much that we can barely breathe, or where we can feel the food coming up to our throats?! This eating pattern does not befit the Muslim, who should do all things in moderation, including his eating. The Prophet, (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said: "A Believer eats in one intestine, whereas a non-believer eats in seven intestines"
Therefore it is not for us to eat till we are completely satiated; rather we should eat such that the hunger goes but there is still room for more.
7] AFTER EATING
When we have finished eating, we should always remember Allaah and be grateful to Him, for He is ar-Razzaaq, the Provider and our Sustainer We should express this gratitude in the manner in which the Prophet taught us. He said: "One who has eaten some food and then says: 'AlI praise is for Allaah, who has given me this (food to eat] and provided me without any effort or power on my part', he will have his sins forgiven. (Alhamdulillaahil-lazee at'amanaa haadha warazaqeenee min ghairi hawlin minnee wala quwwah)." 
SubhaanAllaah! The reward for just saying this short du'aa is so great, too great to neglect. Can we afford to miss out on such opportunities of Allaah's Mercy and Forgiveness?
8] A MEANS OF DRAWING CLOSER TO ALLAAH
The ahaadeeth mentioned here only cover some of the Islamic etiquettes of eating which the Messenger Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa-sallam) taught us. Many more hadeeth on this subject are to be found in the books of hadeeth such as Saheeh al-Bukharee, Saheeh Muslim and others. But just a few narrations cited here give us some indication of the attention that the Companions paid to even the smallest details of the prophet's Sunnah (example). Many of us today may consider such matters to be 'trivial' or 'insignificant,' but we find the Companions did not take these matters lightly. They considered such details important enough to preserve through careful transmission which their successors meticulously recorded in the books of hadeeth so that they could be read by generations to come. It is up to us whether we want to benefit from the knowledge they carried for us or not.
So during this blessed month of Ramadhan, when we take the suhoor (the predawn meal) and break our fasts, we have an excellent opportunity to transform an everyday practice of eating and drinking into an act of worship and a source of blessing for us. Every mouthful of food we take will serve as a reminder of Alaah's great favour upon us and His Mercy and this in turn will cause us to earn favour with Allah, for the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: "Indeed Allah is pleased with His servant who, when he eats a morsel, praises Him for it, or drinks a sip and then praises Him for it." 
May Allaah grant us the ability to become of His thankful servants. Aameen.
 There is a common misconception that to wash ones hands before eating is from Sunnah. This is based on the hadeeth which alleges that the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: The blessing of the food is in washing the hands before it and after it. [Ahmed, Aboo Dawood and others] It should be known however that this hadeeth is daef (week) according to Aboo Dawood. Imaam Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee and others. Infect some scholar went as far As to say that this practice was disliked since it was a practice of the Jews and only if there was a reason to wash them was it not disliked. The point is that washing the hands before the meal contains no added reward since it is not from the Sunnah, although there is no harm in doing as if one needs to. [Up]
 Saheeh - Narrated by Aaisha and collected by Aboo Dawood (eng. Trans. Vol.3, p.1064, no.3758). Authenticated by at-Tirmidhee and al-Albanee inhis Saheeh. Sunan Aboo Dawood. Note that the Sunnah is to say 'Bismillah' only and not 'Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem' [Up]
 Saheeh Muslim (eng. Trans. Vol.3, p. 1114, no. 5004). [Up]
 Saheeh Muslim (eng. Trans. Vol.3, p. 1119, no. 5040) [Up]
 Narrated by Jabir and collected I Saheeh Muslim (eng. Trans. Vol.3, p. 1115, no. 5007). The ruling also applies to drinking as well as taking or giving something ( i.e. it should all be done with th eright hand) (Saheeh Muslim vol.3) [Up]
 Aboo Dawood (eng. Trans. Vol. 3, p. 1064, no. 3763). This is not superstition or an old wives tale, rather the saying of one inspired by Allah, who is the knower of all things hidden. [Up]
 Narrated by Aboo Juhaifah and collected in Saheeh of Imaam Bukhari (eng. Trans. Vol.7, p. 234 and 311). NB. Ibn al-Qayyim mention in his Zaadal Maad that any posture in which the posterior is on the floor is regarding as reclining. [Up]
 Saheeh Muslim (eng, trans vol.3. p. 1127, no. 5073). [Up]
 Saheeh - Reported by Aboo Dawood (eng. Trans. Vol. 3, p.1064, no. 3764). Authentic in his Saheeh Sunan Aboo Dawood. [Up]
 Saheeh Muslim (eng. Trans. Vol. 3, p.113, no.5121). [Up]
 Narrated by Jaabir and collected in Saheeh Muslim (eng. Vol. 3, p. 1121. no. 5046) [Up]
 Narrated by Ibn Umar and collected in Saheeh Muslim (eng. Trans vol. 3, p.1137, no. 5046) [Up]
 Hasan - Narrated by Mu'aadh Ibn Anas ans collected by at-Tirmidhee and others. Authentic by at-Tirmidhee and others. Authenticated by at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Hajr and others. (Note: that the other du'aa from Aboo Dawood tht is often mentioned in books to be recited at the end of eating: "all Praises are form Allah who fed us grave us drink and made us Muslims' is not authentic as mentioned by Ibn Hajr and others.) [Up]
 Narrated by Anas and collected in Saheeh Muslim (eng. Trans. Vol. 4, p.1492, no. 6592).--
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