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Eating and drinking are a daily routine we human beings and other living things engage in. So, Islam has spelt out the best of manners in approaching our food and drink so that we might earn Allah's reward and differentiate ourselves from other lower creatures Allah has favoured us upon and elevated us above.

 

 

 

Imam Ahmad once said, "If a meal meets four qualities then it is a perfect one; if the name of Allah is mentioned at its beginning, and His praises said at the end, and was eaten by many hands and is halal (i.e. permissible food)''.

 

 

 

below are some of the manners taught and practiced by the holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as regards eating meals and other table manners:

 

1. Eating from the lawful things Allah has provided for us and avoiding prohibited foods such as pork and dead animals (even if it were ordinarily permissible to eat).

 

2. Eating on a clean plane or spreading a clean sheet upon which you serve the food.

 

3. Dishing one's food in permitted plates, and other vessels for eating and drinking. The Prophet forbade upon his ummah or nation to eat from golden and silver utensils; Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamân relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Do not drink from gold and silver vessels and do not eat from gold and silver dishes, because indeed they are for them in this world and for you in the Hereafter.”

 

4. One should wash his both hands before and after eating. This is still applicable were you to eat with a spoon for very obvious health reasons, apart from it being the sunnah (tradition and practice) of the Prophet peace be upon him. Abu Hurairah narrates that the Messenger of Allah once ate from the shoulder part of a sheep and then he rinsed his mouth, washed his hands and proceeded for prayers.

 

5. Beginning one's meal with the name of Allah by saying "Bismillah", ending with "Alhamdulillah".

 

6. Eating from one's front and not from the front of others; i.e. eating from the part of the plate which is closer to him and not stretching to eat from the part closer to another. If one sees what interests him in the front of his brother he should politely ask for it to be passed to him.

 

 

 

 

 

Umar ibn abi Salamah reported that while he was a young lad he was once in the Prophet's house dinning with him and was stretching his hands to eat from the front of others, and then the prophet said to him "O young lad, mention the name of Allah (when you want to begin eating your meal), eat with your right hand and from the part of the tray closer to you".

 

 

 

In the case of forgetfulness, when one forgets to mention the name of Allah at the beginning of his meal a remedy has been given by the Prophet peace be upon him, knowing fully well that as human beings we might forget to do so notwithstanding our eagerness to.  Aaisha narrated that the Prophet peace be upon him said, "If any one of you wants to eat he should mention the name of Allah at the beginning, but if he should forget to mention the name of Allah at the start of his meal he should say, "bismillahi awwalahu wa aakhirahu". Anas ibn Malik also reported that the Prophet of Allah said, "If any one of you should finish eating and says "alhamdulillahi alladhi at'amani hadha atta'aama wa razaqanihi min ghairi haolin minni walaa quwwah (Praise be to Allah who has fed me this food and provided it for me without any of my powers), Allah will forgive him all his past sins".

 

7. The prohibition of eating while one is resting or leaning upon ones hands. The holy Prophet peace be upon him was narrated to have said: "I do not eat while reclining. I do sit like the slave of Allah and I do eat like him."

 

 

 

It is narrated in another hadith that the Holy Prophet peace be upon him prohibited one from eating while lying with his face downwards.

 

 

 

The concept of reclining has been explained in various ways such as sitting  cross-legged, leaning on an object and leaning upon a flank (side).

 

8. Eating first before praying in the case food is brought or gets ready for eating when the call for prayer is sounded. Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet of Allah said, "if the dinner is spread set and the prayer starts, you should start with the meal before going for the prayer". The instruction is not restricted to dinner though, it is extended to all other meals.

 

9. Eating and drinking with the right hand. Jabir ibn Abdullah reported that the Prophet of Allah said, "Do not eat with your left hand for it is the Satan that eats with his left hand."

 

10. Eating from the flanks/sides of the plate and not from the top of the food. Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet of Allah said; "when anyone of you eats his meal he should not eat from the top of the food, but should eat from the lower part because the blessings descend on the topmost part".

 

11. Preference of eating with three fingers and licking them after the meal before washing one's hands. Ka'ab ibn Malik reports that the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him used to eat with three fingers and licks them up before washing his hands.

 

12. Letting the food get a bit warm. The Prophet peace be upon him once said that allowing the heat of the food get lesser is a greater blessing.

 

 

 

Other etiquettes include:

 

· Picking up the fallen morsel.

 

· Avoiding denigrating a people's meal. This may include such statements such as "too salty, too sour, not done, et cetera.

 

· Eating in a group

 

· Eating less and not filling the entire stomach with food.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim

The Book of Manners by Fuad Ibn Abdul-Azeez Ash-Shulhoob.

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