Eating is an essential part of our life. We need enough nutrients to live and for our development and growth. Islam is so holistic that it also addresses matters pertaining to the kinds of food we eat, healthy dietary tips and even how we should eat, as mentioned in the prophetic tradition.
Allah s.w.t. commands us to only eat foods that are considered to be lawful or Halal. The Quran tells us:
فَكُلُوا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللَّهُ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا وَاشْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ
“Then eat of what Allah has provided for you (which is) lawful and good. And be grateful for the favour of Allah, if it is (indeed) Him that you worship.”
(Surah An-Nahl, 16:114)
Today, even non-Muslims are familiar with the term “Halal” as Halal food is sought by the Muslims around them every day. However, we often forget the other quality of food that is mentioned in the verse: food that is good for the consumer. In other words, it brings benefits to the well-being of the person, physically and mentally. Some foods may be deemed Halal, but without careful considerations, consuming it excessively can also bring harm to the person.
We can learn the etiquettes of eating through the practices of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Some of the Prophet’s etiquettes and practices of eating, as well as drinking:
Narrated by Umar Ibn Abi Salama r.a:
I was a boy under the care of Rasulullah s.a.w, and my hand used to reach out to all around the platter while I was eating. So Rasulullah s.a.w. said to me,”O boy! Mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat the (part of the) dish that is nearer to you.” Since then I have applied those instructions when eating.
Abu Hurairah r.a. reported:
“The Messenger of Allah s.a.w. would never complain about food. If he liked something, he would eat it. If he disliked it, he would leave it.”
Ibn Abbas r.a. Reported that the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. said:
"Do not drink in one gulp like a camel, but drink in two or three (gulps). Mention the Name of Allah (Bismillah) when you start drinking and praise Him (Alhamdulillah) after you have finished (drinking)."
Al-Miqdam Ibn Ma’d r.a. reported that the Prophet s.a.w. said:
“The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath.’”
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
One of the most widely known etiquettes of eating which is taught by our Prophet s.a.w. is to recite the dua before and after eating. Here are some prayers to consider:
When the Prophet s.a.w. was blessed with food, he praised Allah s.w.t. and acknowledged the blessings given. He taught us to recite the Name of Allah s.w.t. at the beginning of every pleasant task or deed, including eating. Thus, before we eat, we should recite:
In the Name of Allah.
However, in case of forgetting to recite the Bismillah and we are already halfway eating our meal, we may recite:
بِسمِ اللهِ أَوَّلَهُ وَآخِرَهُ
Bismillahi awwalahu wa akhirahu
In the Name of Allah at the beginning and at the end.
This is based on the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w:
When any of you wants to eat, he should mention the Name of Allah (Bismillah) in the beginning. If he forgets to do it in the beginning, he should say (I begin with the Name of Allah at the beginning and at the end)."
(Sunan Abi Daud)
Another Dua that is often recited by many of us is the invocation narrated by Imam Malik that traces back to the Tabi’in (figures that met the companions of the Prophet s.a.w) Urwah Ibn Az-Zubayr:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِيمَا رَزَقْتَنَا وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ
Allahumma barik lana fima razaqtana waqina azaban-nar
“O Allah! Bless us in what You have provided us with and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”
We can also learn from a hadith narrated by Imam At-Tirmizi, that the Prophet s.a.w. taught Ibn Abbas and Khalid Al-Walid a Dua when eating:
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِيهِ وَأَطْعِمْنَا خَيْرًا مِنْهُ
"O Allah! Bless it for us and provide us with that which is even better”
Among the practices of the Prophet s.a.w. is praising Allah s.w.t. for the food after eating. The Messenger of Allah s.a.w. said,
"He who has taken food and says at the end: (All praise is due to Allah Who has given me food to eat and provided it without any endeavour on my part or any power), all his past sins will be forgiven."
اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنِي هَذَا، وَرَزَقَنِيهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ حَوْلٍ مِنِّي وَلَا قُوَّةٍ
Al-hamdu lillahi-llazi at'amani haza, wa razaqaniihi min ghairi haulin minni wa la quwwah
“All praise is due to Allah Who has given me food to eat and provided it without any endeavour on my part or any power.”
In another narration, the Prophet s.a.w. Also taught us the following Dua:
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنَا وَسَقَانَا وَجَعَلَنَا مُسْلِمِينَ
Alhamdu-lillahil-lazi at’amana wa saqana wa ja’alana muslimin
“All praise is due to Allah Who have given us food and drinks and ordained us as Muslims”
The Prophet s.a.w. is also narrated to have recited the following Dua after his meal:
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ حَمْدًا كَثِيرًا طَيِّبًا مُبَارَكًا فِيهِ غَيْرَ مُوَدَّعٍ وَلاَ مُسْتَغْنًى عَنْهُ رَبُّنَا
ِAlhamdulillahi hamdan kathiran tayyiban mubarakan fihi, ghaira muwadda’in wa-la mustaghnan ‘anhu Rabbuna
“All praise is due to Allah - an abundant, pure and blessed praise; a praise that can neither be forsaken nor dispensed with, our Lord”