11 – Etiquettes of Eating
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In this lesson we are joined by visiting scholar, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, giving a brief overview of the Etiquettes of Eating chapter from Imam Al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din. This is the first chapter in the second quarter of the book, which is on acts of worship.
When the heart is in tawheed of Allah through remembrance and reflection then that heart becomes beautified by certain values like patience, such that our character is the image of our heart. This is important to remember, because all the etiquettes of eating are the fruits of a beautified character. Shaykh Saloojee explains that this is the relationship between the first and second quarter of the book.
Shaykh Riad asks, how then can one be engaged in remembrance when eating?
 Mentioning Allah at the beginning and end of eating
 Facing the food with gratitude and part of that gratitude is manifested in not wasting food
 Thanking the host for being the means of feeding us and do not criticize the food.
 Not to eat until satiation, or until one is full; and that takes patience to do that
 Reflect about what you eat and the bounties Allah has provided you.
 Have cleanliness in eating by washing your hand before and after as well as eating with three fingers.
 Eating a morsel at a time, and having patience in chewing it before going on to the next.
 Prefer others before yourself by feeding others and hosting others.
 Have chivalry by recognizing the various cultures of those with whom you share food and respecting them.
In addition, Shaykh Riad reflects on the etiquettes of eating during Ramadan, one must take extra care in fasting not just from food but from other spiritually harmful acts. For example, one should fast from materialism in general and not just from food. One should be careful at iftar as well, not to demolish their fast by forgetting about having presence of heart when eating.
In conclusion, Shaykh Riad reminds us of the importance of being generous in hosting others and be in the service of others by feeding them. The best example of this is the story of Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, that Shaykh Riad relays.
In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.
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