Dining Etiquette in Islam
Dining Etiquette in Islam
Food, a fundamental necessity of life, is a divine blessing bestowed upon us by Allah. In the Qur'an, Allah reminds us of this blessing, saying,
"O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is Him that you worship." (Al-Baqarah 2:172)
This verse underscores the importance of being grateful for the sustenance we receive. Islam not only encourages the consumption of wholesome foods but also lays out a comprehensive set of guidelines for how we should approach dining. Let's delve into these etiquettes.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ provided us with valuable guidance on the fundamental etiquette of dining. He ﷺ emphasized the importance of beginning a meal by invoking the name of Allah and concluding it with praise. This practice serves as an expression of gratitude for the nourishment provided. It's also essential to eat with the right hand, even for left-handed individuals.
Moreover, when sharing a meal from a common dish, the nearest portion should be taken, showing consideration for others. Extravagance, such as using gold or silver plates and vessels, was discouraged by the Prophet ﷺ.
Respect for Food
The Prophet ﷺ demonstrated a profound respect for food. He sat upright while eating, avoiding lounging or reclining. He ﷺ also taught that when supper is served and the call to prayer is made, we should start with the meal before joining the congregational prayer.
Avoiding Criticism of Food
Criticizing food not only displays ingratitude towards Allah's blessings but can also hurt the feelings of those who prepared it. The Prophet ﷺ set an example by neither criticizing nor wasting food. He would eat what he liked and leave what he did not. This practice teaches us to avoid consuming food we dislike rather than pointing out its flaws.
Preference for Certain Foods
The Prophet ﷺ had personal preferences when it came to food but never imposed them on others. He liked dates, gourd, halwa, and honey, and his meals sometimes consisted solely of dates and water.
He ﷺ disliked foods with strong odours like garlic and onion, advising caution when consuming them, especially before visiting mosques or gatherings, out of consideration for others' comfort.
Moderation and Contentment
The Prophet ﷺ emphasized moderation in eating, asserting that the food of two could suffice for three, and that of three for four. He ﷺ practiced eating to live, rather than living to eat, often sharing his food with the poor.
Avoiding Wastage of Food
The Prophet ﷺ taught us not to waste even a morsel of food. Licking fingers after eating, and not wasting any portion of food, is a practice that reminds us of the blessings inherent in every morsel.
The Prophet ﷺ also provided guidance on drinking manners. He preferred drinking water in three gulps and emphasized mentioning Allah's name before and after drinking. Drinking while standing was generally discouraged, and eating while standing was considered even worse. It's best to refrain from these practices unless unavoidable.
Hygiene and purity are integral aspects of faith. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ prohibited breathing into vessels or raising shared water containers to one's mouth. These teachings not only lead to spiritual rewards but also promote good health and exemplary manners.
In a world where food wastage is a pressing issue, and hunger plagues millions, following these etiquettes can help us develop a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings of sustenance and show compassion towards those less fortunate. By adhering to these guidelines, we not only honour the divine gift of food but also nurture our physical and spiritual well-being. May we continue to partake in Allah's blessings with reverence, gratitude, and mindfulness.