Etiquette of Eating
In Islam, there are etiquettes of eating which could be categorized as follows:
Etiquette before eating:
1 – Washing the hands before eating. The hands should be washed before eating so that a person will not be harmed by any dirt that may be on them.
2 – Mentioning the name of Allah before eating saying “Bismillaah (i.e., in the name of Allah)” when starting to eat. It was narrated from Umm Kalthoom from `Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “When any one of you eats, let him mention the name of Allah. If he forgets to mention the name of Allah at the beginning, then let him say ‘Bismillaahi awwalahu wa aakhirahu (i.e., In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end).’”
Etiquette while eating
1 – Eating with the right hand. It is obligatory for the Muslim to eat with his right hand; he should not eat with his left hand. It was narrated from Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “No one among you should eat with his left hand, or drink with it, for the Shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”
This applies so long as there is no excuse. However, if a person is not able to eat and drink with his right hand due to some excuses such as; sickness, injury etc., then there is nothing wrong with him if he eats with his left hand.
2 – Eating from what is directly in front of one. It is Sunnah for a person to eat from the food that is directly in front of him, and not reach out to take food that is directly in front of others, or from the middle of the platter. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah, “O young boy, say Bismillaah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.”
3 – Eating a piece of food that falls on the floor. If a piece of food falls on the floor, then the person eating should remove any dirt that gets onto it and eat it; he should not leave it for the Shaytan for he does not know where the blessing is in his food; it may be in the piece that fell, and leaving it makes a person miss out on the blessing of the food. Anas ibn Malik narrated that when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) ate, he would lick his three fingers. Anas said: “And he said, ‘If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.’” (Narrated by Muslim, 2034).
4 – Not reclining while eating. That is because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “I do not eat while I am reclining.”
5 – Not spitting or blowing one’s nose while eating, unless that is necessary.
Etiquette after finishing eating.
1 – Washing the hands after eating. The Sunnah may be done by washing with water only. So washing the hands is a recommended act (i.e., mustahab) both before and after eating, even if a person has wudu’.
2 – Rinsing the mouth after eating. It is a recommended act (mustahab) to rinse the mouth after eating, because Basheer ibn Yassar narrated that Suwayd ibn al-Nu’maan told him that they were with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in al-Sahba’ – which is some distance from Khaybar – and the time for prayer came. He called for food, but he did not find anything but some saweeq (barley mush). So he ate some and we all ate with him. Then he called for water and rinsed out his mouth, and then he observed prayed, and we also observed, and he did not perform wudu’.
3 – Praying or supplicating for one’s host. Anas narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Sa`d ibn ‘Ubadah who brought him some bread and oil, and he ate. Then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “May fasting people break their fast with you, may the righteous eat your food, and may the angels send blessings upon you.”
4. It is Sunnah to recite the words of praise to Allah and du`a’ after one has finished eating. When he had finished eating, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to say, “Al-hamdu Lillaahi hamdan katheeran tayyiban mubaarakan fihi ghayra makfiyyin wa laa muwadda’in wa laa mustaghnan ‘anhu rabbana (i.e., Praise be to Allah, much good and blessed praise. O our Lord, You are not in need of anyone, and we cannot do without Your favour nor dispense with it).” .
5 – The etiquette of eating also includes: eating with a group; not speaking about things that are haram while eating; eating with one’s wives and children; not keeping a particular food to oneself unless there is a reason for that, such as it being for medicinal purposes – rather one should offer the best food to others first, such as pieces of meat and soft or good bread. If the guest has had enough and stops eating, his host should say, “Eat!” and repeat it, so long as he does not think that his guest has had enough.
General etiquette regarding food
1 – Not condemning the food. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) never condemned or criticized any food. If he liked it he would eat it and if he did not like it he would leave it.
2 – Part of the etiquette of eating is moderation in eating and not filling the stomach. The most that a Muslim is permitted to do in this regard is to divide his stomach into three parts: one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air as the hadith says: “A man does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat enough to keep him alive. But if he must do that, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink and one-third for his air.”
3 – Avoiding eating and drinking from vessels of gold and silver, because that is prohibited. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Do not wear silk or brocade, and do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, or eat from plates thereof. They are for them (i.e., unbelievers) in this world and for us in the Hereafter.”
4 – Praising Allah after finishing eating. There is a great deal of virtue in this. It was narrated from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah is pleased with His slave when he eats something and praises Him for it, or drinks something and praises Him for it.”
Several ways of praising Allah have been narrated from the Prophet one of them is what Al-Bukhaari narrated that Abu Umaamah said: When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) finished eating, he would say, “Al-hamdu Lillaah hamdan katheeran Tayyiban mubaarakan fihi ghayra makfiyyin wa laa muwadda’in wa laa mustaghnan ‘anhu rabbana (Praise be to Allah, much good and blessed praise. O our Lord, You are not in need of anyone, and we cannot do without Your favour nor dispense with it).”