The Ettiquette of Eating and Drinking
Food and drink are two of the basic human needs for life. By eating and drinking we can perform activities as caliphs of Allah (SWT) on this earth. For this reason an important part in the life of a Muslim is the procedure for eating and drinking, which is sourced from the true direction of the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam.
When we were kids my mom always reminded us before we ate together at the dining table by asking: did you wash your hands? The Prophet Shalalallhu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Read the Basmalah and eat with your right hand and eat food that is close to you.” (Hadith Bukhari and Muslim).
Islam teaches us to always exhibit the best manners and to respect the enjoyment of eating and keeping clean. So we should wash our hands first and follow the etiquette of eating and drinking. Allah (SWT) established a number of ethics and rules around eating and drinking. These etiquettes were formed to achieve the main purpose of eating and drinking with the remembrance of the favors of Allah to us, and to prevent illness while avoiding becoming wasteful and extravagant. What we put into our bodies determines the quality of our actions. Therefore Islam is concerned with the type of food and drinks that may and may not to be consumed.
1-Wash your hands and start a meal with Basmallah and ending with Hamdallah
The lesson is to expect a blessing, gratitude and to bring qana’ah and eliminate greed. As we know, the devil accompanies those who do not mention the name of Allah when eating and drinking.
When a Muslim begins to eat, he should begin with the name of Allah. As the Prophet Muhammad, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, said: ‘When one of you eats, he should mention Allah’s name (say: Bismillaah).. If he forgets to mention the name of Allah at the beginning, then he should say (when he remembers): ‘Bismillaahi awwalahu wa aakhirahu (In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end).’” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1858; Abu Dawood, 3767; Ibn Maajah, 3264. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 3202).
The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, explained that Shaytaan (Satan) partakes in the food if the name of Allah is not mentioned at the start of eating. However, if one forgets in the beginning and then remembers and says the aforementioned Du’aa (supplication), Shaytaan is made to vomit out what he had eaten.
Allahumma barik lana fima razaqtana waqina athaban-nar. Bismillah.
O Allah! Bless (the food) YOU provided us and save us from the punishment of hellfire. In the name of Allah.
2- The best manner in which to eat food is with the fingers of the right hand. The Companion, Ka’ab bin Maalik, Radhiallahu ‘anhu, reported that he saw the Messenger, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, eating with three fingers and when he finished, he would lick them. It was narrated from Jaabir ibn ‘Abdullah, Radhiallahu ‘anhu, that the Messenger of Allah, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, said: “Do not eat with the left hand, for the Shaytaan eats with the left hand.” If you have an injury and cannot use your right hand or only have one hand then Allah does not burden a person beyond their means and there would be no sin in eating with left hand.
3- Another manner of eating which the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, taught us is that we should start eating food that is directly in front of you and not food from the middle nor from someone else’s plate. We should always eat from what is nearest to us and not from the middle of the plate.
4- Sitting while eating is also important. The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, never ate while in a reclining position. Eating while reclining was a manner used to show arrogance, as traditionally associated with the Greeks and Romans. The whole life of the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, was a model of modesty and humility and this was evident in his manner of eating. Anas, Radhiallahu’anhu, reported that he saw Allah’s Messenger, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, squatting and eating dates [Muslim]. At other times, the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, was sitting on his knees upon which a Bedouin asked: ‘Why are you sitting like this?’ The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, replied: “Allah has made me a respectable servant and He did not make me an obstinate tyrant.” (Narrarted by ‘Abdullaah bin Busr, Radhiallahu’anhu).
5- Do not criticize the food. The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, never found fault with food. If he liked it, he would eat it, but if he disliked it, he just left it. These are the manners our Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, who we are enjoined to emulate, who was the best example for mankind. So we should be grateful as instructed by Allah (what means): “O you who believe, eat of the good (lawful) things We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is (indeed) He whom you worship.” (Quran 2:172)
6- The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, taught us to do all things in moderation, including eating. Nowadays , many people follow a lifestyle in which they over indulge in food. They eat large quantities until it is difficult for them to breathe and they can almost feel the food rising to their throats.
Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1381), Ibn Maajah (3349); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2265).
7- Eating together can unite hearts and can create a sense of joy and blessings. So we are encouraged to come together when eating, and to feed others. The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, said: “Gather around your food so that it may be blessed.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi).
8- When we have finished eating, we should always remember Allah and be grateful to Him, for He is the Provider and our Sustainer. We should express this gratitude in the manner in which the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, taught us and said: “One who has eaten some food and then says: ‘All praise is for Allah, who has given me this (food to eat) and provided for me without any effort or power on my part’, he will have his sins forgiven.” [At-Tirmithi]
After finishing the meal read this du’a too:
Alhamdu lillah il-lathi at’amana wasaqana waja ‘alana Muslimin
Praise be to Allah Who has fed us and given us drink, and made us Muslims.
Etiquette of Drinking Water
1-Never drink straight from a bottle (carbon dioxide is released in the bottle).
2-Do not drink from the mug’s cleft and do not breathe in the beverage.
The Messenger of Allah, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, prohibited us from breathing in the drinking vessel because the bad smell or spittle may flow into the drink. This is both vile as well as injurious to one’s health. Abu Qataadah, Radhiallahu ‘anhu, reported: “The Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, forbade breathing into the vessel while drinking.”
3- Drink in three draughts.
Water should be drunk in three breaths, that is one should breathe three times outside the drinking vessel one is drinking from. This habit has a salutary impact on one’s character and helps one avoid doing things in haste.
Anas, Radhiallahu ‘anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allaah, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, used to breathe three times in the course of a drink (he used to drink in three gulps).
4-Invoke Allaah when you drink and praise Him when you finish.
It is reported that the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, said: “Do not drink the water in one draught just like camels, but drink it in one or three gulps, and invoke Allah when you drink and praise Him when you finish.”
5-Do not drink while standing up. The Holy Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, used to drink while sitting. This way was his usual guidance. Drinking Zam Zam water is permissible while standing up as the Holy Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, did because this is a case of necessity.
6- Drink by your right hand. It was narrated from ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Jubayr that a man who served the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, for eight years told him that he used to hear the Prophet, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, saying, when food was brought near him, “Bismillaah.” And when he had finished eating he would say, “Allaahumma at’amta wa asqayta wa hadayta wa ahyayta, fa laka’l-hamd ‘ala ma a’tayta (O Allaah, You have fed, given to drink, guided and brought to life, so praise be to You for what You have given).” (Narrated by Ahmad, 16159; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1/111)
May Allah (SWT) lead us in HIS straight path and follow what The Messenger of Allah, Shalallahu’alaihi wa sallam, teaches us. Allahumma Aamiin.