Revive a Sunnah

In the name of Allah
Revive a Sunnah: Etiquette of Eating

Narrated by Umar ibn Abi Salma (May Allah be please with him): I was a boy under the care of Allah’s Messenger and my hand use to go around the dish (as I was eating) so Allah’s Messenger said to me, ‘Oh boy, Mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you.’ Since then I have applied those instructions when eating.

 Explanation of the Hadith:

Umar ibn Abi Salma was the stepson of the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam), the son of his wife Umm Salma. He was eating with the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and moving his hand around the dish (to the right and the left of the dish). The Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) then said to him: ‘Oh boy, Mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you.’

First Etiquette: The Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Mention the Name of Allah” From this statement we see that when beginning to eat, the name of Allah should be mention by saying Bismillah and if one adds Ar rahman Ar raheem completing it (bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem) there’s no harm in doing do.

Second Etiquette: “And eat with your right hand” This is a command from the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) which makes it compulsory for a person to eat and drink with one’s right hand. This is also due to the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) forbidding any person from eating with the left hand, by saying “Do not eat with the left hand for verily the shaytaan eats with the left hand” (Sahih Muslim).  A common practice amongst people nowadays is that whilst they eating and wanting to drink from their cup of beverages, rather to pick it up with their right hand, they will pick the cup with their left hand and drink from it, fearing not to stain the cup with food from their hands. We should steer away from this practice and follow the practice of our beloved Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) who forbad eating and drinking with the left hand and instructed us to eat and drink with our right hand.

Important to note: That if there is a need to eat or drink with the left hand, for example your right hand is bandage or broken etc, and then there is no harm using your left hand.

Third Etiquette: “And eat of what is nearer to you” meaning, that if you sharing a dish with others, eat from the edge of the dish that is nearer to you and do not eat from the edges of others that are eating with you. Because eating from the edge of the dish of others is disrespectful and bad etiquette. Except if the food is of different types, like meat, rice and potato there is no harm in picking and eating it, even though it’s near to the edge of someone other than you. Narrated by Anas bin Malik: “A tailor invited the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to a meal which he had prepared, and I went along with the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam). The tailor presented barley bread and soup containing gourd (kind of pumpkin) and cured meat. I saw the Prophet picking the pieces of gourd from around the dish.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Benefits derived from this Hadith:

1 – Teaching method of the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to the young boy. Pointing out his mistake in the most kindness of ways, mentioning those things that he has done (Mentioning Allah’s name and eating with his right hand), then only after mentioning that, pointed out his mistake at the end of not eating that what is near to him

2 – It’s a duty upon every Muslim to mention Allah’s name, eat with the right hand and eat from what is in front of him except if the food is of different types.

3 – It is a duty on every guardian or parent to educate those under his or her care on the etiquette of eating and drinking and what should be said when starting of a meal as the prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did with his step son Umar ibn Abi Salma.

Etiquette of eating – Taken from authentic character and etiquettes from the compilations of Sheikh Nasir Albaani (May Allah’s Mercy be upon him) Translated by Khalid Abduroaf


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