Question: Could you please provide us with information about manners of eating and drinking in Islam?
They are as follows:
Intention when starting to eat a meal: One should, when starting to eat, intend to strengthen oneself with that food in order to worship Allahu ta’ala, to be of service to His servants, to spread to all people our religion, which is the way of endless felicity and peace.
The fards of eating and drinking:
1. To know that it is from Allahu ta’ala to be satiated when one eats and to be quenched when one drinks,
2. To eat and drink from halal sources,
3. To spend one’s time in servitude to Allahu ta’ala until the energy one has gotten from that food dissipates,
4. To be content with whatever you get.
The harams of eating and drinking:
1. To continue to eat though one’s hunger has been satiated [if one has a guest, one should pretend to be eating so that one may not cause the guest to stop eating the meal],
2. To have a musical instrument, non-mahram woman, alcohol, gambling, or any other forbidden thing at the place where the meal is eaten,
3. To be wasteful in eating, [Victuals should be bought moderately, as much as needed, and undue amounts and excess should be avoided. It will be israaf (wastefulness) to do otherwise.]
4. To say the Basmala when unrightfully eating something that is in another person’s possession,
5. To go to a feast without being invited to it,
6. To eat something that is in another person’s possession without asking permission,
7. To eat that which will make one sick,
8. To eat the meal that has been prepared for ostentation,
9. To eat the food that one has vowed (nazr).
The sunnats of eating and drinking:
1. To start eating by saying the Basmala [one can say it loudly for the purpose of reminding others],
2. To say “Alhamdulillah” at the end of the meal,
3. To wash the hands before and after the meal [as hands are being washed before a meal, younger people take priority, whereas after meals the elders should be allowed to do so first],
4. To eat and drink using the right hand,
5. To eat from the edge of the dish and from the edge closest to one,
6. To sit on one’s left foot with one’s right knee set upright,
7. To start and finish eating with salt, [It is healthful. The sunnat will have been performed if the first and last morsels taken consist of bread and the intention is made for the salt in the bread.]
8. To eat with three fingers if it is possible to eat the meal with the hand,
9. To hold bread with the right hand and then to eat watermelon with the left one when eating watermelon with bread,
10. To wipe the food remains on the dish and eat them, [It brings plenty of thawab (reward) to drink the remains of beverages, such as stewed fruit and ayran (i.e., yoghurt diluted with water), after pouring some water and shaking the mixture. It is permissible to leave food or drink in the bowl or glass on condition that one will eat or drink it later. Our Master the Prophet used to like eating the remnants of food left by a Believer.]
11. To lick the remnants of food on one’s fingers before washing them,
12. To cleanse the teeth with a miswak or a toothpick after meals.
Pieces removed from between the teeth with a toothpick should not be swallowed. [Handbasin should be used for this cleansing lest the people at the table should be disgusted and so that the crumbs removed should go down the sink.]
The mustahabs of eating and drinking:
1. To place the meal on the ground,
2. To sit for the meal with clean clothes on,
3. To eat barley bread,
4. To divide bread into pieces with the hand, [The bread may be sliced with a knife, but the slices should not be chopped into morsels with it. However, a person who prepares food for another person or for an old one may make it bite-sized pieces. The cooked meat should not be cut into pieces with a knife.]
5. Not to waste breadcrumbs,
6. To eat vinegar,
7. To take small morsels,
8. To chew morsels well.
The makruhs of eating and drinking:
1. To eat and drink using the left hand,
2. To smell the meal one will eat,
3. Not to say the Basmala [one should say the Basmala even if one remembers it during the meal],
4. Not to talk anything when eating [which is a habit of fireworshipers; pleasant chats should be had],
5. To put a saltshaker or dishes on bread or to wipe hands or knives with pieces of bread [it will not be makruh if the pieces of bread are eaten after use],
6. To eat or drink mouldy bread, fetid food, or stinking water.