Islam teaches us many etiquette’s of eating and drinking. The Prophet(PBUH) made a point of developing remarkably clean and healthy eating habits among his followers. He asked the companions to wash their hands before and after, to start eating with the praise of Allah, to eat using the right hand, not to eat until they really felt hungry, not to eat and drink excessively. Finally, by praising and thanking Allah for the food and drink, for making it easy to swallow and for producing an exit for it.
Eating, like any other act of a Muslim, is a matter of worship when performed according to the Islamic guidelines. The following are SOME of the many food habits that had been practiced and performed by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him):
(1) Never Criticize Any Food
Food should not be criticized for any reason, despite personal disliking. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never criticized any food that was offered to him.
“The Prophet (PBUH) never criticized any food (he was invited to) but he used to eat it if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked it.”
- Sahih Bukhari
(2) Supplication Before Each Meal
Since eating, like any other act of a Muslim, is a matter of worship, it begins with the name of Allah.
Muslims are to start their eating by making the following supplication:
“O Allah! Bless the food You have bestowed upon us and protect us from the torment of hell. In the name of Allah we start.” (OR AT LEAST SAY..Bismillah)
(3) Supplication After Each Meal
After completing the meal, Muslims praise and thank Allah for the blessing that He bestowed upon them. After finishing their meal, Muslims say the following supplication:
“Praise be to Allah the One Who gave us the food and the drinks. Praise be to Him Who made us Muslims.”
(OR AT LEAST SAY..Al-Humdullilah)
- Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud
(4) Eating Less
One of the main principles of good health is a balanced diet. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized the habit of eating less as a method of preventing sickness and disease. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.”
- Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah
(5) Eating Slowly
Eating slowly is recommended for health. Slow eating reduces the consumption of food, as it postpones much of the meal to a time when the absorption of nutrients begin to produce physiological signals of satiety.
Slow eating helps in chewing the food well. This results in the exercise of the jaws and mixing of the saliva with food. Hence, efficient digestion takes place because the food particles are cut into smaller pieces, not requiring as much churning in the stomach or intestine.(less Heartburn)
The religion of Islam laid down the basis of dietary regulations as well as the limits within which Islam teaches man to enjoy the pleasures of life, including food, in a moderate way, not becoming a slave to his desires and not losing sight of his ultimate spiritual goal.
A Muslim is advised to avoid extremes and to choose a moderate course in all his affairs, including his eating habits.
“O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer; eat and drink, but waste not by excess. For Allah loves not the wasters.”
- Al- Qur’an, 7:31
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), demonstrated to his followers the pleasures of sharing as opposed to over-indulgence in the good things of life. The sharing of food with neighbors, relatives, friends, the needy, and the destitute is emphasized. Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying:
“He is not a believer who eats to his fill but his neighbor goes without food.”
Prophet Muhammad elaborated on the duty of the Muslim to suppress greed, especially in eating. This appears in a very specific situation reported by Ibn Umar, in which the Prophet (PBUH) prohibited anyone taking two dates together before asking permission from his companions (Sahih Bukhari).
(8) Eating Together
Eating with others bring about harmony and understanding among people. People are usually more relaxed when eating in company, this is one reason why families should always try to eat Together, not to mention this is the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet (PBUH) Your mind is less absorbed in your daily activities and are free of worries. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) brought the attention of Muslims to the importance of eating together (Note: ‘Eating together’ here does not imply mixed eating by males and females at parties or banquets):
“Eat together and not separately, for the blessing is associated with the company.”
- Ibn Majah
It was also reported that he said, “I do not eat reclining.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5083.
He used to eat using the first three fingers (of his right hand), which is the best way of eating.
See: Zaad al-Ma’aad, 220-222. And Allah knows best.
The Prophet’s guidance regarding diet:
The Prophet (PBUH) used to know what he was eating. He used to eat what was good for him.
He used to eat enough to keep him going, but no so much as to make him fat. Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “The believer eats in one stomach whilst the kaafir eats in seven.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5081) and Muslim (2060).
He taught his ummah something to protect them from diseases caused by eating and drinking. He 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).
And Allah knows best.
From all that has been mentioned, the importance of healthy eating, a balanced diet and hygiene can be understood in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Islam has stressed on the importance of these things right from the start unlike health authorities etc., which have just recently begun to stress its importance. This could be counted as just another gem that manifests the perfection of Islam.