Thursday, 19 April 2007

The Etiquettes of Eating and Drinking 102

Health is one of the most magnificent graces of Allah SWT to His slaves and one of His most venerable and abundant bounties.

Imam Bukhari RA narrates in his Sahih, that the Holy Prophet SAW said:

"There are two favours that many people are prejudiced by it - The health and the leisure."

Imam Tirmidhi RA and others have reported a Hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Mash Al-Ansari RA that the Holy Prophet SAW said:

"The one who is physically healthy, safe in his community and is sufficiently nurtured will possess the whole world."

Imam Tirmidhi RA also reports from Abu Hurairah RA that the Holy Prophet SAW said:

"The first question asked to a Believer on the Day of Resurrection concerning the delights of this world is: 'Have not we preserved your body and quenched your thirst with cold water?' "

Some of the Pious Predecessors RA explain said that these Divine words: "Then, shall ye be questioned that Day about the joy (ye indulged in)" - refers to our Health.

Anas bin Malik RA relates from the Holy Prophet SAW that he (the Prophet SAW) did not criticise any food ever. When he desired a (particular) food, he used to eat it, or else he used to leave it and abstain from eating it, but he did not prohibit those who desire it or who are habituated to eat if from consuming it.


The pious scholars of Islam have simplified from Ahadith and narrations from our Pious Predecessors RA, the following benefits of eating less:

1. The heart remains pure - which then leads to recognition of the ni'mat (bounties) of Allah SWT.

2. Love for Allah SWT develops in the purified heart.

3. Mercy and tenderness become the attributes of the heart.

4. Pleasure is experienced in Du'a (supplication) and Zikr (remembrance of Allah).

5. Pride and rebellion of the Nafs are restraint and eliminated.

6. The difficulty of even a little hunger leads to abstention from sins; and the inclination for sins decreases.

7. One stays healthy.

8. One feels less sleepy, and laziness with regard to Tahajjud (a virtuous optional Solat read between the night and morning) and other acts of Ibadah (worship) is uprooted.

If the Holy Prophet SAW detested food he would not eat so much to overburden his nature. This is a great basis of health preservation, for when a human being eats what nature abhores, then the human being would be damaged.

Abu-Na'eem RA has written in Kitab-ut-Tib that the Holy Prophet SAW has said that Almighty Allah has not created any utensil bigger than the stomach; and that when a person takes a meal, he should try to divide the stomach into three parts. One for food, another for water and the third for breathing. Eating less keeps one healthy, sharpens memory, reduces the hours of sleep, helps smooth breathing and saves one from being sluggish.


Abu-Na'eem RA further writes in Kitab-ut-Tib that Qabiyah bin Zaweer RA reports from the Holy Prophet SAW that he (the Prophet SAW) has instructed for picking the teeth, as failing to do this makes the teeth weak and the Angels disgusted.

The one who observes the Prophet Muhammad SAW's guidance will observe that it is the best way of preserving the health. In fact the health preservation depends on the good managing of food, drink, clothing, ventilation, sleeping, awakening, movement, serenity, marriage, emptying and restraining. If these elements take place moderately, and in the proper way that fits the body, the environment, and the person's; health would be preserved until death.


1. To wash both hands up to the wrists.

2. To spread out a cloth as a spread (Safrah) to eat the food.

3. To recite Bismillah.

4. To eat with the right hand.

5. To eat from the portion of food which is closest / in front of you. If there is a variety of food on the Safrah then one could eat whatever one likes. One should only stretch out his/her hand to get food only after the other person has drawn his/her hand back.

6. To eat with three fingers. This helps to digest the food as a result of eating little by little. This has been scientifically proven. It is the most efficient method of eating. Eating with five fingers and the palm of the hand is not hygienic and this manner leads to overfilling the stomach by food, and overworking the digestive organs.

7. To clean the plate, bowl and other utensils; and to consume whatever is left on one's fingers by using one's lips.

8. To pick up and eat a fallen morsel, and not to leave it for Shaytaan. In this way a person will find his sustenance in abundance. According to one Hadith, the fallen morsel, if taken, become the Mahr (Dowry) for the Hur'ains (Maidens) of Paradise. Allah SWT would also keep the person and his /her offsprings safe from leprosy, leucoderma and lunacy. It should be noted however that only food that falls on the Safrah be consumed. Any food that has been contaminated by the floor / ground should not be consumed. According to the type of food, they may be washed first before eaten.

9. Not to find fault in food.

10. Not to blow on to food.

11. Not to lean while eating.

12. To read the du'as before, during and after the meals.

13. To get up after lifting the Safrah and to read the du'a whilst lifting the Safrah.

14. To rinse and gargle the mouth.

15. To wash the hands, before and after eating - together with the relevant supplication.

16. To recite a special du'aa after having iftar (breaking fast) or after having eaten at another person's house.


The kitab Umdatul-Ihkam mentions that the Holy Prophet SAW has instructed his Sahabah RA to eat together for achieving blessings. His companion - Jabir RA reports from the Holy Prophet SAW that the most desirable food is food that is taken by many hands. Rasulullah SAW has also said that eating with brethren is remedial. Rasulullah SAW has also said that the worst man is the one who takes food alone, beats his slave girl, abandons his offerings and marries with his hand (i.e. performs masturbation). He has also instructed us to take food after making it cold, because extremely hot food is devoid of blessings. According to some other kitabs, extremely hot food makes the stomach weak.


Abu Na'eem RA quotes Anas bin Malik RA saying that the Holy Prophet SAW instructed the people to not have food in the night, for the old age approaches very fast if the night meal is given as usual. Thus, only a little should be eaten in the night. It is harmful to eat so much.


Regarding the manners of sitting when eating, it was the habit of the Holy Prophet SAW that he did not eat whilst reclining.

The Holy Prophet SAW said:

"I do not eat while reclining. I do sit like the slave of Allah and I do eat like him."

In another narration, it is reported that the Holy Prophet prohibited the man to eat while lying with his face downward.

The concept of reclining has been explained in various ways:

1. To sit cross-legged.

2. To lean on an object.

3. To lean upon a flank (side).

Regarding number 3 (to lean upon a flank) - it is the most harmful way of sitting because when we lean flank-like it alters the natural way of food . The other two (to sit cross-legged and to lean on an object ) are the ways the so-called powerful people sit when eating, in contrary to a slave.

The Holy Prophet SAW said: "I do eat like the slave of Allah does" - and the Holy Prophet SAW ate sitting on his heels.

Rasulullah SAW has said that he ate leaning on his knees. This method is by placing the inside of the left foot to the back of the right foot; as a sign of modesty towards Allah SWT of politeness between his hands and of respect for the food and the guest. This way of eating is proven to be the best and safest, because all the organs are left in their natural condition which Allah has created.

Abu Nu'aim RAhas related:

"The Holy Prophet (SAW) prohibited sleeping immediately after dinner as he said that this action hardens the heart."

Thus, even doctors have advised us to walk after dinner for a few minutes and prohibit sleeping immediately after, as this is very harmful. Muslim doctors further say that one should pray after supper so that the food settle at the bottom of the stomach to allow easier and better digestion.


Among the Sunnats of drinking include:

1. To not drink from a bottle / large utensil.

2. To not drink from the mug's cleft and to not breathe into the drink.

3. To drink in three sips.

4. To invoke Allah SWT when about to drink and to praise Allah when finished.

5. Do not drink while standing up. The Holy Prophet SAW used to drink while sitting. It has been reported that he (SAW) even prohibited a person to drink standing and infact he (SAW) ordered the person to vomit the water drank while standing up. The exception is for the case of drinking Zam Zam water.

Further explaining the above, it is reported in a Hadith that the Holy Prophet SAW said:

"Do not drink the water in one draft just like camels but drink it in one or three gushes (sips), and invoke Allah when you drink and praise Him when you finish."

The Holy Prophet SAW has also prohibited us to drink water lying our faces downwards, the same as he prohibited us from drawing water with the hands, saying:

"Do not lick the water like a dog and do not taste the water at night before examining it out of fear that the recipient is covered during the night."

It should be noted that if a person drinks by the mouth while standing up from an elevated basin, there would be no difference between drinking with the hand or by the mouth, because drinking with the mouth is very dangerous if the drinker is lying faced down on his venture.

Indeed, if we follow the Prophet Muhammad SAW's Sunnats - we are promised good physical health in this world, as well as the most superior and everlasting success in the Hereafter.

The Holy Prophet SAW has said: "The water quenches the thirst and is sanitary."

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