10 Islamic Manners on the Dining Table (3)

time-to-eatWays and timings of eating

It is Sunnat (recommended – optional) to eat early in the morning and be without food for the whole day and then have food for a second time after Isha prayers. The morsel should be small, the food should be chewed properly, while eating one should not stare at anyone and should not take very hot food. One should not cool the food by blowing with the mouth instead, let the food remain for some time till it cools. One should not cut the bread with knife and should not completely empty the bones. At least three fingers should be used to hold the morsel, and when quite a few people are eating in one plate, one should not put the hand in front of the other’s section. The plate and fingers should be completely cleaned. It is Makrooh (detestable) to eat in the state of Janabat. The rigidity of order is relaxed if one performs Wuzu or washes hands, gargles and puts water in the nose or simply washes hand and face and gargles. It is stated in a tradition that one may suffer from the disease of white spots if he neglects the above direction.

According to a reliable tradition, the nephew of Shahab went to Imam Ja’far-e-Sadiq (a.s.) complaining of stomach ache and heaviness of bowels. The Imam (a.s.) asked him to eat only two times – day and night – for God has said the same in the praise of food in Heaven.

‘(For those whose abode is Heaven), they will get their food already prepared both the times, morning and evening.’[3]

According to another tradition, a person who does not eat in the evening gets old, and old people should eat a little before going to sleep that they may be able to sleep. This will also cause good breath in the mouth and the person will grow more polite.

According to Hazrat Ali (a.s.), any person who wants that the food should not harm him should not eat until his bowels are clear and he feels very hungry. When he begins his food, he should recite ‘Bismillah’. The food should be chewed and when there is a little bit of hunger left to be appeased, then one should stop eating.

According to Hazrat Imam Hasan (a.s.) twelve points should be kept in view about food by every Muslim. Four are compulsory, four are Sunnat (optional) and four are about manners.

The compulsory ones are:

  1. a)      Knowing one’s ‘Giver’
  2. b)      To know that all that we have is from God and be satisfied with the food He gives
  3. c)      Saying ‘Bismillah’
  4. d)      Thanking God.

The Sunnat are:

  1. a)      To wash hands before eating
  2. b)      To sit by keeping one’s weight to the left side
  3. c)      To eat with at least three fingers
  4. d)      To lick the fingers.

The manners of eating are:

  1. a)      To eat that food which is placed before one
  2. b)      To take small morsels
  3. c)      To chew the food
  4. d)      Not to look at others’ faces while eating.