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What Are Some of the Sunnahs of Eating?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: What are some of the sunnahs of eating?

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave us much specific sunna guidance on eating. Among this guidance is that:

[1] Your body is a trust, and it has rights over you. It is not permitted to reduce one’s eating such that it leads to weakening oneself or harming one’s health.

[2] One must eat enough and properly to have the physical strength and wellbeing to be able to fulfill one’s religious obligations (including praying while standing and fasting Ramadan). Not doing so is sinful–though one is not responsible for circumstances beyond one’s control (such as sickness and disease).

[3] One should not overeat. Eating more than one’s fill is disliked, and prohibited when harmful.

[4] The sunna is to limit one’s eating to the extent needed to have the strength and wellbeing to fulfill one’s duties.

[5] It is from the sunna to eat well–within the abovementioned limits–and to thank Allah for His blessings.

[6] It is from the sunna to eat with others, and to invite others to share one’s food. There is great reward in hosting others and feeding them, as well.

[7] Dignified restraint is one of the central elements of the Prophetic sunna. In food, it means that one doesn’t eat one’s food hastily. Rather, one should chew one’s food well, wait to swallow one’s food before taking lifting more food, and to maintain the proper manners of eating, even (and especially) when very hungry.

[8] One should learn the sunnas of eating–such as beginning in the name of Allah, eating with one’s right hand, praising good food but not criticizing any food, observing restraint in one’s eating, finishing eating before one’s fill, praising Allah after eating, and so on–and bring them into one’s life.

[9] To have high intentions in one’s eating–such as giving one’s body its right, to have the strength to fulfill one’s duties and to do the good, to thank Allah for His blessings (for this is a bridge to loving Allah), and to follow the sunna of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him)–and to make one’s eating a means and not an end in itself.

[10] To learn what specific foods the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) particularly praised, and to grow to love them, and to incorporate them–with balance–into one’s diet. These foods include dates, honey, wholesome meat (in moderation), and so on.

Related Resource:

Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food

And Allah Alone Gives Success.

Faraz Rabbani

Riyad al-Salihin: Book on the Adab Related to Food

100. Chapter: On saying the basmala when starting to eat and praising Allah afterwards

 728. ‘Umar ibn Abu Salama said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, ‘Say the name of Allah and eat with your right hand and eat what is in front of you.” [Agreed upon]

729. ‘A’isha said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘When one of you eats, he should mention the name of Allah Almighty. If he forgets to mention the name of Allah Almighty at the beginning, he should say, “In the name of Allah, the first of it and the last of it.”‘” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

730. Jabir said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘When a man enters his house and mentions the name of Allah Almighty both when he enters and when he eats, Shaytan says to his companions, “You have no lodging and no meal.” When he enters and does not mention Allah Almighty when he enters, Shaytan says, “You have lodging.” When he does not mention Allah Almighty when he eats, he says, “You have lodging and a meal.”‘” [Muslim]

731. Hudhayfa said, “When we went to eat with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, we did not put our hands in until the Messenger of Allah had first put in his hand. Once we went for food with him and a slavegirl came as if driven [by hunger] and began to put her hand in the food. the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, took hold of her hand. then a bedouin came as if driven [by hunger] and he also took hold of his hand. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Shaytan tries to make food lawful for himself by not having the name of Allah Almighty mentioned over it. He brought this slavegirl to make it lawful for himself and so I took hold of her hand. Then he brought this bedouin to make it lawful for himself and I took hold of his hand. By the One in whose name my soul is, his hand is in my hand with their hands.” Then he mentioned the name of Allah Almighty and ate.'” [Muslim]

732. Umayya ibn Makhshi said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sitting with a man while he was eating. He did not say ‘In the name of Allah’ until one morsel of his food remained. When he lifted it to his mouth, he said, ‘In the name of Allah, the first of it and the last of it.’ The Messenger of Allah laughed and then said, ‘Shaytan continued to eat with him. When he mentioned the name of Allah, he vomited what was in his stomach.'” [Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i]

733. ‘A’isha said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was eating some food along with six of his Companions when a desert Arab came and ate it up in two mouthfuls. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘If he had said the name of Allah, it would have been enough for all of you.'” [at-Tirmidhi]

734. Abu Umama reported that when the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, finished his meal, he would say, ‘Much praise be to Allah, pure [free of self seeking] and blessed praise, for food which is not final or conclusive and of which our Lord has no need.'” [al-Bukhari]

735. Mu’adh ibn Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Whoever eats food and says, ‘Praise be to Allah who gave me this and provided me with it without any strength or power on my part,’ will be forgiven his previous wrong actions.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi] 

101. Chapter: On not criticising food and the recommendation to praise it

 736. Abu Hurayra said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, never criticised food. If he liked it, he ate it, and if he disliked it, he left it.” [Agreed upon]

737. Jabir reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked his family for a condiment and they said, “We only have vinegar.” He asked for it and began to eat, saying, “Vinegar is an excellent condiment. Vinegar is an excellent condiment.” [Muslim]

 102. Chapter: On what someone says when food is brought when he is fasting and he does not break his fast

 738. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When one of you is invited he should respond to the invitation. If he is fasting, he should make a supplication, and if he is not fasting, he should eat.” [Muslim]

 103. Chapter: On what someone says when invited to eat and is followed by someone

 739. Abu Mas’ud al-Badri said, “A man invited the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, to a meal he had prepared for him and four others. A man followed them. When he reached the door, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘This man has followed us. If you like, you can give him permission, and if you like, he will go back.’ He said, ‘I give him permission, Messenger of Allah.'” [Agreed upon]

 104. Chapter: On eating from in front of one and instructing someone who eats badly

740. ‘Amr ibn Salama said, “I was a boy in the care of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and my hand used to go all around in the plate. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to me, ‘Boy, say the name of Allah and eat with your right hand and eat from what is in front of you.'” [Agreed upon]

741. Salama ibn ‘Amr ibn al-Akwa’ related that a man ate with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, using his left hand, and he said, “Eat with your right hand.” He said, “I cannot.” He said, “Then you cannot.” Only pride had stopped him and he could not raise it to his mouth. [Muslim]

 105. Chapter: On the prohibition against joining two dates or the like together when a group eat without his companions’ permission

742. Jabala ibn Suhaym said, “We were afflicted by a year of drought while we were with Ibn az-Zubayr and were given some dates. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar passed by us while we were eating and said, ‘Do not eat two at once. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade eating two once. Then he said, ‘unless a man asks his brother for permission.'” [Agreed upon]

 106. Chapter: What one says and does when he eats without becoming full

 743. Wahshi ibn Harb related that the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Messenger of Allah, we eat and do not become full.” He said, “Perhaps you eat separately?” They said, “Yes, we do.” He said, “Gather together for your food and mention the name of Allah and you will find blessing in it.” {Abu Dawud]

 107. Chapter: On the command to eat from the side of the dish and the prohibition against eating from the middle

 It contains the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Eat from it front of you,” which was already given.

744. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Blessing descends in the middle of the food, so eat from the sides and do not eat from the middle.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

745. ‘Abdullah ibn Busr said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had a bowl called al-Gharra’ which had four legs. When it was mid-morning and they had prayed Duha, he was brought that bowl, i.e. there was tharid [stew] in it, and they gathered around it. When there were a lot of people, the Messenger of Allah sat in a kneeling position. A desert Arab said, ‘What is this way of sitting?’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Allah has made me a noble slave. He did not make me a stubborn tyrant.’ Then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Eat from its sides and leave the top in which the blessing lies.'” [Abu Dawud]

 108. Chapter: On it being disliked to eat reclining

 746. Abu Juhayfa Wahb ibn ‘Abdullah said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘I do not eat reclining.'” [al-Bukhari

747. Anas said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sitting with his legs drawn up eating dates.” [Muslim] 

109: Chapter: On the Recommendation to eat with three fingers and the recommendation to lick the fingers. It being disliked to wipe them before licking them. The recommendation to lick the plate and pick up the morsel which has fallen and eat it. Permission to wipe the hand on the arm, foot, etc. after licking it

 748. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When one of you eats, he should not wipe his fingers until he has licked them or had them licked.” [Agreed upon]

749. Ka’b ibn Malik said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, eating with three fingers. When he finished, he licked them.” [Muslim]

750. Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded that both the fingers and the plate should be licked. He said, “You do not know in what part of the food the blessing lies.” [Muslim]

751. Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If one of you drops a morsel, he should pick it up and wipe off any dirt on it and eat it and not leave it for Shaytan. He should not wipe his hand with a cloth until he has licked his fingers. He does not know in what part of the food the blessing lies.” [Muslim]

752. Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Shaytan is present with each one of you in everything he does, even when he is eating. If you drop a morsel, you should pick it up and wipe off any dirt on it and then eat it and not leave it for Shaytan. When you finish, you should wipe your fingers. You do not know in what part of food the blessing lies.” [Muslim]

753. Anas said, “When he ate, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, would lick his three fingers, and he said, ‘If one of you drops a morsel, he should pick it up and wipe off any dirt on it and then eat it and not leave it for Shaytan.’ He commanded us to wipe the plate and said, ‘You do not know in what part of the food the blessing lies.'” [Muslim]

754. Sa’id ibn al-Harith said that he asked Jabir about doing wudu’ on account of eating something that had been touched by fire (i.e. cooked). He said, ‘No. In the time of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, we only had such food on rare occasions. When we had it, we did not have napkins, and would wipe our fingers on our palms, forearms and feet. Then we would pray without doing wudu’.” [al-Bukhari] 

110. Chapter: On a lot of hands for the food

 755. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Food for two is enough for three, and food for three is enough for four.” [Agreed upon]

756. Jabir said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, “The food of one person is enough for two, food for two is enough for four, and food for four is enough for eight.” [Muslim] 

111. Chapter: On the proper manner of drinking and the recommendation to take three breaths outside the vessel and it being disliked to breathe into the vessel. The recommendation to pass the vessel around to the right

 757. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to take three breaths while drinking. [Agreed upon]

758. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Do not drink at one go like the camel, rather drink taking two or three breaths. Say the name of Allah when you drink and praise Him when you finish.” [at-Tirmidhi]

759. Abu Qatada reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade blowing into the drinking vessel.” [Agreed upon]

760. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was brought some milk mixed with water. On his right was a bedouin and on his left was Abu Bakr. He drank and then gave it to the bedouin, saying, “The right and then the right.” [Agreed upon]

761. Sahl ibn Sa’d reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was brought a drink and drank some of it, and there was a boy on his right and old men on his left. He said to the boy, “Will you give me permission to give it to them?” The boy said, “No, by Allah, Messenger of Allah! I will not give anyone else preference where my share from you is concerned!” and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, placed it in his hand. [Agreed upon] 

112. Chapter: On it being disliked to drink from the mouth of the vessel, and the clarification that the dislike is not a prohibition

 762. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade folding the mouths of waterskins inside out, i.e. folding back their mouths and drinking directly from them.” [Agreed upon]

763. Abu Hurayra said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade drinking from the mouth of a waterskin.” [Agreed upon]

764. Umm Thabit Kabsha bint Thabit, the sister of Hassan ibn Thabit said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, visited us and drank from the mouth of a hanging water-skin. I went to its mouth and cut it off.” [at-Tirmidhi]

She cut it off in order to preserve the place which the mouth of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had touched and to seek its blessing and to protect it from being soiled. This hadith can be applied to make the permission clear. The first two hadiths clarify the best and most perfect way to act, and Allah knows best. 

113. Chapter: On it being disliked to blow on drinks

 765. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade blowing into drink. A man said, “What if I see some impurity in the vessel?” He said, “Pour it out.” He said, “My thirst is not quenched in one breath.” He said, “Then take the vessel away from your mouth.” [at-Tirmidhi]

766. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade breathing into a vessel or blowing into it.” [at-Tirmidhi] 

114. Chapter: On the permission to drink while standing and clarification that it is better and more perfect to drink sitting

 767. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “I gave the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, water from Zamzam and he drank while standing.” [Agreed upon]

768. an-Nazzal ibn Sabra said, “‘Ali came to Bab ar-Rahba and drank standing. He said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do as you saw me doing.'” [al-Bukhari]

769. Ibn ‘Umar said, “In the time of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, we used to eat while we were walking along and we would drink while standing.” [at-Tirmidhi]

770. ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, drink both standing and sitting.” [at-Tirmidhi]

771. Anas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, is that he forbade a man to drink standing. Qatada said, “We said to Anas, ‘And eating?’ He said, ‘That is worse.'” [Muslim]

In a variant of Muslim is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, disapproved of drinking while standing.

772. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “None of you should drink standing and anyone who forgets, should make himself vomit.” [Muslim] 

115. Chapter: On The recommendation for the one providing the drink to be the last to drink

 773. Abu Qatada reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Someone who provides people with something to drink should be the last to drink.” [at-Tirmidhi] 

116. Chapter: On the permission to drink from all pure vessels except those made of gold and silver; the permissibility of drinking straight from rivers with the mouth without vessel or hand. The prohibition against using gold and silver vessels for eating and drinking, purification and other uses

 774. Anas said, “It was the time of the prayer. Those who lived nearby went to their houses and some people remained. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was brought a stone basin which was so small that he could cover it with his hand. All the people did wudu’.” They said, “How many were there?” He said, “Eighty or more.” [Agreed upon]

In a variant of al-Bukhari and Muslim is that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, called for a vessel of water and was brought a wide goblet containing some water into which put his fingers. Anas said, “I began to see water springing from between his fingers and I reckon that from seventy to eighty did wudu’.”

775. ‘Abdullah ibn Zayd said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came and we brought out some water for him in a brass vessel and he did wudu’.” [al-Bukhari]

776. Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, visited one of the men of the Ansar with one of his Companions. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘If you have some of last night’s water in a skin, [we will drink that]. Otherwise, we will drink straight from the source.'” [al-Bukhari]

777. Hudhayfa said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, forbade silk and silk brocade, and drinking from gold and silver vessels.” He said, “They are for them in this world and they are for you in the Next world.” [Agreed upon]

778. Umm Salama reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Anyone who drinks from a silver vessel is gulping down the fire of Jahannam into his belly.” [Agreed upon]

In a variant of Muslim, “Anyone who eats or drinks from gold or silver vessels…”

In another variant of Muslim, “Anyone who drinks from a gold or silver vessel is gulping down fire from Jahannam into his belly.”

Source:
Translation of Riyad al-Salihin, Ayesha Bewley
http://bewley.virtualave.net/riyad5.html#food

Leaving Food on One’s Plate

Answered  by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Is it sunnah not to finish all the food on your plate, and to leave some food for next time? I ask because someone told me this is a very good thing to do, and someone else said this is illogical. Please clarify this, insha’Allah.

leftover-food-plateAnswer : The sunna is to finish all the food one took on one’s plate.

Leaving food is from wastefulness: leaving just a little is better not to; leaving more than this is blameworthy; that which would be considered ‘excessively wasteful’ is sinful.

This is if the food on one’s plate got there of one’s own accord. Otherwise, the waste is from the one who gave too much.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani

Throwing Away Food

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Kindly could you elaborate on the issue of throwing away food? For example, if one has cooked food that is edible in itself but distasteful, what should one do about it? Can one throw it away? What about bread crums and crums of biscuits? Can one throw them in the garden i.e the crums and left over small bits of food?

Lastly, is one responsible in anyway in picking up food seen thrown away in one’s path? Please correct me if im wrong, was there Prophetic Sunna related to picking up own’s own food that falls to the ground and eating it after one says Bismillah? Insh Allah look forward to your response.

leftover-food-plateAnswer: 1. The sunna is to only take the amount of food one is sure they can eat. Taking more than this is improper. Not finishing one’s food simply because it doesn’t taste good is disliked. Not doing so because one is genuinely full is excusable, though one should take heed and be more careful the next time.

Crumbs and left over bits of food should be eaten. As the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, that is where the baraka may well be, and this is an expression of one’s recognition of the blessing of food.

2. If one sees food on the ground, it is recommended, if possible without preponderating secondary considerations, to pick it up.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz Rabbani