Etiquette of Eating

The hands should be washed before eating, so that they may be clean when a person eats with them, and so that he will not be harmed by any dirt that may be on them.

It is obligatory for us, Muslims, to eat with our right hand; We should not eat with our left hand. It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (PBUH) that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “No one among you should eat with his left hand, or drink with it, for the Shaitan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”

When a Muslim begins to eat, he should begin with the name of Allah. As the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “When one of you eats, he should mention Allah’s name (i.e. say Bismillaah). If he forgets to mention Alaah’s name at the beginning, he should say (when he remembers): I begin in the name of Alaah at the beginning and at the end of it.”

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, because the Prophet (PBUH) 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.”

The Companion, Ka’ab bin Maalik (PBUH) reported that he saw the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) eating with three fingers and when he finished, he would lick his three fingers.

Abu Hurayrah (PBUH) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never found fault with food. If he liked it, he would eat it, but if he disliked it, he just left it. If we look at the manners of people nowadays, we will see that people are quick to criticise food. It is a sign of extreme ingratitude to Allah, the Provider. Rather, one should be thankful to Allah for whatever He has provided us with and not complain about its taste. One should also remind oneself that there are many people who do not know where their next meal is coming from.

Once we have finished eating, we should always remember Allah and be grateful to Him, for He is the Provider and our Sustainer. We should express this gratitude in the manner in which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us.