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Eating – The Islamic Way (part 2 of 2)

Description: The Etiquette of Eating. Part 2.

By Aisha Stacey (© 2012 NewMuslims.com)

Published on 20 Feb 2012 - Last modified on 24 Mar 2013

Printed: 288 - Emailed: 0 - Viewed: 8405 (daily average: 5)

Category: Lessons > Islamic Lifestyle, Morals and Practices > Dietary Laws


Objectives

·                    To appreciate that there are blessings in food.

·                    To learn some more Islamic etiquettes, including actions to be carried out after eating.

·                    To know the importance of oral hygiene in Islam.

·                    To learn the Islamic etiquette of drinking water.

 

Before we commence Part 2 of Eating – The Islamic Way let us just refresh our memories of Part 1.

·        Islam is a holistic way of life.

·        All acts, large or small can be worship.

·        Cleanliness is important.

·        Begin all actions in the name of God.

·        Eat with the right hand.

·        Display good manners.

Blessings in food

The comprehensiveness of Islam allows us to send and receive blessings while eating and drinking however we must not forget that God provides blessings in the food itself. Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, advised us to pick up, dust off and eat any pieces of food that fall on the floor, to be certain not to miss any blessings or to leave the food for Satan.

“When any one of you drops a mouthful he should pick it up and remove any of the filth on it, and then eat it, and should not leave it for Satan. One should not wipe his hand with a cloth until he has licked his fingers, for he does not know in what portion of the food the blessing lies.”[1]

If possible, in order to receive even more blessings, a Muslim should try to share his meals and not eat alone. Sharing meals with family, friends, loved ones, and neighbors creates bonds between believers. It should never be a problem if the amount of food seems too small, for the blessing extends to the amount of food required.

The food for two people is sufficient for three, and the food of three people is sufficient for four.”[2]

“Eat your food together, for there are further blessings when you eat together.”[3]

Eating in moderation

The etiquette of eating includes eating in moderation and not overindulging no matter how appetizing the food is. Prophet Muhammad reminded us that keeping the body light and healthy is better than being overweight, lazy and idle.

“A man does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach.  It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what is enough for his body. But if he must do more than that, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink and one-third for his air.”[4]

“And eat and drink, but waste not in extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste in extravagance.” (Quran 7:31)

From the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad we learn to avoid eating or drinking from vessels of silver or gold.

“Do not wear silk  and do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, or eat from plates thereof. They are for them (disbelievers) in this world and for us in the Hereafter.”[5]

After Eating

In part 1 we learnt to mention the name of God before eating and now we finish by praising and thanking Him in a manner that suits His majesty. We say Alhamdulillah (all praises and thanks are due to God) to acknowledge that God is the one who provides all our sustenance.  Whether it is a little or a lot, we thank Him and we praise Him.

“And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from God.” (Quran 11:6)

Prophet Muhammad said that “God is pleased when one of His slaves eats something and praises Him for it, or drinks something and praises Him for it,”[6]  and that is what a true believer is trying to achieve; the ability to please God in all of our deeds.

Prophet Muhammad advised us all to wash our  hands before and after eating regardless of whether we are  in the state of ritual purity or not.  It is acceptable to rinse with water, but it is preferable to use soap or a cleaning liquid.  It is also recommended to rinse the mouth after eating.

Once on an expedition Prophet Muhammad led the afternoon prayer and then asked for food. The food was brought and everybody ate. It was then time for the evening prayer, Prophet Muhammad rose, rinsed his mouth with water, as did his companions. He then prayed without renewing his wudoo (ritual ablutions).[7]

From this account we learn two things, that it is preferable to rinse the mouth after eating and that the act of eating (unless under very specific circumstances) does not break a person’s wudoo.

Oral Hygeine

Although it is not obligatory to clean the teeth after eating, Islam attaches great importance to oral hygiene. Prophet Muhammad recommended using a tooth stick called a miswak or siwak. He informed us that it purifies the mouth and pleases God.  Miswak  is a natural twig fortified with minerals; it cleans the teeth, prevents the gums from bleeding, kills bacteria, and freshens the breath.  If miswak is not available one may use a toothbrush, toothpastes and mouth washes for they are acceptable. The Prophet, may God praise him, said:

Use miswak, for it purifies the mouth and pleases the Lord.  Had it not been for fear of making things too difficult for my Ummah (nation), I would have commanded them to use the miswak before every prayer.[8]

Prophet Muhammad also suggested ways for the believers to drink water.  He advised that water should be drunk in three breaths rather than gulping water in one mouthful, and cautioned against breathing into the drinking vessel because it contaminates the water with spittle. And it is better for one to drink while sitting.

Finally, as we have mentioned ,Islam is a complete way of life; even mundane acts such as eating or drinking can be considered as great chances to worship God.



Footnotes:

[1] Ibid.

[2] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[3] Abu Dawood, At Tirmidhi

[4] Ibn Majah

[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim

[6] Saheeh Muslim

[7] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

[8] Ibid

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