The Etiquettes of Food


Precious Provisions

taught by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

 The Etiquettes of Food

The etiquettes of eating do not have to do with haraam and halaal, rather they have to do with what is mustahab (preferred or liked) and what is makruh (what is disliked; it is not a sin, but should be avoided.)

1.) Scholars say that aying the basmalah (bismillah) is waajib

Once, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was sitting in the house of his Umm Salamah, when her son [the Prophet’s stepson, probably of 6 or 7 years] ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah ran in, and started eating hastily from all over the plate. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gently said to him, “O ghulaam! Mention Allah’s name, and eat with your right hand, and eat from that which is close to you.” [al Bukhaari & Muslim in their sahihs]

redchopsticksThe very fact that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is interrupting him as he is eating shows that he is saying something very important. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave him a very short, sweet lecture, addressing him in an endearing way, saying “O ghulam!”, which is like saying “my son.”

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Shaytaan considers it halaal to eat food over which bismillah has not been read.” Therefore, when you forget to say bismillah, your food not only suffices for you, but another entity as well.

The shaykh did not mention this hadith in class, but I thought it was kind of funny (and relevant…): Umayyah was sitting and a man was eating. He did not mention Allah’s name until there remained the last morsel. When he raised it to his mouth, he said: “In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end of it.” The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam laughed and said: “The devil kept eating along with him, but when he mentioned Allah’s name, he vomited what was in his belly.” (Abu Dawood 27/3761]

In case you do forget to say bismillah, you may say bismillahi awwaluhu wa akharihu.

2.) Eating with the right hand

“When any one of you eats, let him eat with his right hand, and when he drinks, let him drink with his right hand, because the Shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand.” (Reported by Muslim, 3764).

3.) Eating from that which is close to you

Once upon a time, people used to eat from a large, common plate. It is sunnah to eat from your side of the plate. It is rude to eat from other peoples’ side. You should eat from that which is close to you.

4.) Eating from the corner of the plate and not from the center

The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told us, “When one of you eats, let him eat from the corners and the sides. Let him eat from the center last because barakah descends in the center.” [see Abu Dawood 27/3763]

5.) Eating together from a common plate

SubhaanAllah, this is a sunnah that Muslims seem to have completely abandoned, to such an extent that when it is done, some poeple find it disgusting! astagfirullah. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam always did this. Having your own plate is quite selfish. Eating from a common plate teaches many manners: it teaches you to be considerate of others and resist taking good portions that are on other parets of the plate. If we cannot let go of something so trivial, then how can we learn to forgive bigger things?

Ibn Majah said to eat together and not individually because the barakah is with the jama’ah.

6.) Wiping the plate and fingers clean

‘Abdullah b. Ka’b reported that his father Ka’b narrated to him that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) used to eat with three fingers and when he had finished (eating), he licked them. [Muslim, 23/5041]

Also, note that in the hadith the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ate with three fingers. Which three fingers is this referring to? The scholars differ on this. What is important is that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to eat small morsels.

7.) Washing the hands before and after eating

The ahaadith in which this is narrated are weak, but in some cases, acting upon a weak hadith is permissible, as is the case here.

8.) Not wasting the food, even the one that is dropped

Jabir reported: I heard Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: “Shaytaan is present with any one of you in everything he does; he is present even when he eats food; so if any one of you drops a mouthful he should remove away anything filthy on it and eat it and not leave for shaytaan; and when he finishes (food) he should lick his fingers, for he does not know in what portion of his food the blessing lies.” [Muslim 23/5046]

This hadith teaches us several things:

   a. be grateful for every morsel, even the ones that have fallen

   b. the beauty of the deen: clean the food before you eat it

   c. we don’t empower shaytaan by leaving food for him!

9.) Do not criticize the food, even if you dislike it

We do this a lot nowadays, and I myself am guilty of this. For example, when we criticize a restaurant’s food or even when we are talking about the food of another culture.

If you don’t like the food, that’s ok, you don’t have to eat it. But don’t criticize the food. We have a beautiful example from the Sunnah of how the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam dealt with food he disliked:

‘Abdullah b. ‘Abbas reported: I and Khalid ibn Walid went to the apartment of Maimuna along with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), and there was presented to him a roasted lizard. Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) stretched his hand towards it, whereupon some of the women who had been in the house of Maimuna said: “Inform Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) what he intends to eat.” Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) lifted his hand. I said: “Messenger of Allah, Is it forbidden?” He said: “No. It is not found in the land of my people, and I find myself having no need for it.” Khalid said: “I then chewed and ate it, while, Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) was looking (at me).” [see Muslim 21/4790]*

Look at the Prophet’s response – he didn’t say that he didn’t like the food, even. All he said was that it was not from the food of his people and he had no need for it.

11.) Praising Allah afterwards

The du’aa for eating and supplication to Allah afterwards

12.) Making du’aa` for your host

Islam is so perfect, even if someone hosts you and gives you food, there is a beautiful du’aa for the one who hosted you:

O Allaah, bless for them, that which You have provided them, forgive them and have mercy upon them

13.) Eating in moderate quantities

We mentioned earlier how the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ate with small morsels. In a hadith in at Tirmidhi, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam says, “The worst container that any human can fill is his own stomach. It is sufficient for a person that he eat a few morsels of food [five or seven morsels]  with which his back will remain straight. If you want to take more than this, you may take a third for your food, a third for your drink and a third for air.”

14.) Controlling one’s belching

Once a Bedouin was in a gathering and he began to belch very loudly. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “O so-and-so, stop your belching, because it is irritating us!” (At Tabarani) if belching is makrooh, then any other sounds emitted from the body would be makrooh. 😛

15.) Not doing ittikaa`

 The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “As or me, I do not sit while  muttaki.” [Al Bukhaari]

The scholars differ as to what ittika`means. Some say that it means leaning with one’s back against a support;  some say it means to sit cross legged; while other say it is leaning to one’s left side, supporting the body with one’s left hand. The central theme is that you sit in a way in which your stomach sticks out and it allows you to stuff yourself with food.

Most of the scholars agree that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to sit in a manner in which his body was resting on his left foot and his right leg was raised up, pressed into his stomach. The idea is to sit in such a manner that your stomach is pressed in, and psychologically you eat less.


*The translation I found online was different from what Yasir Qadhi said, so I changed the wording of the Prophet’s reply according to what the shaykh said.

Some links:

Some Hadith of Food in Bukhaari

 Eating with the Left Hand

The Etiquettes of Eating

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5 Responses to The Etiquettes of Food

  1. apsari says:

    1. i just know that about the belching!
    2. I tried that thing with the ittika before…somehow i still ate alot..haha….its just me i guess…lol…
    3. Thats interesting about point #8 becuz sometimes i dunno what to do when I see yunus pick up hisdropped food and eat it. So now, i guess, i just have to let him do it? yaiks… its probably not a good “sight” for other people outside…

  2. apsari says:

    some more…please…some more….hehe….jzk!~

    • ummibraheem says:

      lol alhamdulillah, glad you’re enjoying it 🙂 InshaAllah i’ll put up more as soon as I can. This helps me too because I get to review the class and prepare for the exam!

      I hope you can take the next class! It’s fiqh of love, in November. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni will be teaching it inshaAllah. They will have the “mommy room” and babysitting. Yunus could probably stay in baby sitting, right? He’s old enough…You would be able to see him every break as well. They have a break about every hour and a two hour lunch break in the middle of the day. Think about it 😉

  3. Pingback: The Etiquettes of Drinking « Umm Ibraheem

  4. Areej says:

    Jazakallah for all the posts, each one is interesting, I really enjoy them.
    I have a question, after we finish eating, do we have to clean the plate with the first three fingers, someone said it is a sunnah and she said cleaning with only one finger is haram.

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