Umar ibn Abi Salamah said: I was a young boy in the care of the Messenger of Allah (saw), and my hand used to wander all over the platter of food. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to me, “O young boy, say Bismillah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.”
Source: Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim
Etiquettes of Eating
- Washing Hands: Our hands should always be washed before and after eating, so that whatever food we eat is clean. This will also prevent germs and dirt from going into our body.
- Asking About the Food: It is reported in Sahih al-Bukhari that on an occasion, the Prophet (saw) and Khalid Ibn Walid (ra) went to Khalid Ibn Walid’s (ra) aunts house. Upon arriving there she explained her sister brought a specialty for her from Najd. She offered the specialty to the Prophet (saw), however he would rarely stretch forth his hand to food until he had been told what it was. Once the Prophet (saw) asked what the item was, she told him it was lizard, and at once he withdrew his hand from the roasted lizard. Khalid Ibn Walid (ra) then asked “Is lizard haram ya Rasulallah?” The Prophet (saw) responded, “No, but it is not found in the land of my people and I feel that I would have no liking for it.”
- Hastening to Eat: Honoring guests and providing them with food quickly is an integral part of maintaining good etiquettes. The guest also has to make sure that they follow through with good manners and hasten to accept the food just as the host hastened to bring it out.
- Saying “Bismillah” Before Eating and Being Thankful After: This is something which is actually required for every Muslim. If we forget to say “Bismillah” in the beginning, then we have to say, “Bismillahi awwalahu wa akhirahu (In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end). In addition, we should be thankful at the end of the meal by saying “Alhamdulilah.” There are many various duah’s we can utter after eating as long as we are thankful to Allah (swt).
- Eating With the Right Hand: Every Muslim is obligated to eat with the right hand. Ibn Umar (ra) reports that the Prophet (saw) said, “No one among you should eat with his left hand, or drink with it, for the Shaytaan eats and drinks with his left hand.” Of course, Islam is a religion of compassion and if someone has an excuse (sickness, injury, etc) for not being able to eat with their right hand, then there is no harm in that.
- Rinsing the Mouth After Eating: It is reported that one time the Prophet (saw) was out in the desert with some of his companions and they had sat down to eat. After eating, water was brought out with which the Prophet (saw) rinsed his mouth. After that, he led salah.
- Praying for the Host: This is very important. Anas (ra) narrated a conversation between the Prophet (saw) and Sa’d ibn Ubadah (ra) in which the Prophet (saw) said, “May fasting people break their fast with you, may the righteous eat your food, and may the angels send blessings upon you.”
- Eating in a Group Setting: The Prophet (saw) used to always eat with a group, whether it be with his companions or his family. In addition, while eating, we should not talk about haram things. Food should be shared amongst everyone to increase barakah as well.
- Not Criticizing the Food: Something we all seem to do nowadays is criticize food if we don’t like it. In Sahih al-Bukhari, Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrates that the Prophet (saw) never criticized any food. If he liked it he would eat it, and if he didn’t like it he would leave.
- Eating in Moderation: Eating in moderation is perhaps one of the hardest things for us in today’s world. There is so much food around us and we are constantly tempted to overeat. The ideal Muslim should divide his/her stomach into three parts. 1/3 for food, 1/3 for drink, and 1/3 for air.