The Etiquette of Eating and Drinking
Allah ﷻ has laid down a number of rules relating to eating and drinking, which generally serve to realise certain divine purposes, such as reminding people of Allah’s bounty upon them, protecting them against diseases and avoiding extravagance and pride.
These rules include the following:
- Avoidance of eating or drinking in gold and silver dishes or gold-plated dishes, as this is a form of extravagance which also breaks poor people’s hearts. The Prophet ﷺ once advised, “Do not drink out of gold and silver vessels, nor eat from gold or silver plates, for they are for the unbelievers in this world and for us in the hereafter.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaare: 5110; Saheeh Muslim: 2067)
- Washing one’s hands before and after eating. Doing so becomes all the more emphasised if the hands are dirty or there are some food residues on them.
- Pronouncing the name of Allah (that is, saying Bismillaah) before eating or drinking. If, however, a person forgets to mention Allah’s name at the beginning of the meal and remembers that he has not said so only after he has already started eating, he must say upon remembering, Bismillaahi awwalihi wa aakhirihi (I begin with the Name of Allah at the beginning and at the end)”.
Perceiving once that a young boy was not observing the Islamic etiquettes of eating, the Prophet ﷺ advised him, “Young man, mention the name of Allah, eat with your right hand and eat from what is directly in front of you.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5061; Saheeh Muslim: 2022)
- Eating and drinking with the right hand: The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not eat with your left hand, for Satan eats with his left hand.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2019)
- It is recommended not to eat or drink while standing.
- Eating from the side of the dish nearer to oneself, for it is not polite to eat from other sides of the dish that are nearer to other people. Advising the young boy, the Prophet ﷺ said to him, “Eat from what is directly in front of you.”
- It is recommended to pick up a morsel that has fallen down, clean it, wipe off any dirt on it and eat it, so as not to be wasteful.
- Not to criticise food for any reason. One must either praise it or leave it without saying anything. The Prophet ﷺ never criticised any food presented to him; he would eat it if he liked it; otherwise, he would leave it without expressing his dislike. (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5093; Saheeh Muslim: 2064)
- Avoiding excessive eating, for doing so generally causes diseases and laziness, while moderation is the best course of action in this respect. As the Prophet ﷺ once observed, “No man fills a vessel worse than his stomach. A few mouthfuls would suffice to give him the strength he needs. But if he must eat more, then he should fill one third [of his stomach] with food, one third with drink and leave one third for easy breathing.” (Sunan At-Tirmdhee: 2380; Sunan Ibn Maajah: 3349)
- Expressing thanks to Allah by saying Al-hamdu lillaah (All praise is due to Allah). One may, however, add the following words: Al-hamdu lillaah-illadhee at‛amanee haadhaa wa razaqaneehi min ghayri hawlin minnee walaa quwwah (Praise be to Allah who has fed me this food and provided it for me, without any strength or power on my part).
The prophet ﷺ said, “Allah is pleased with a slave of His who eats something and praises Him for it and drinks something and praises Him for it.” (Saheeh Muslim: 2734)