Recent posts on the issue of direct causes of diseases, one being on the topic of eating food and the other on drinking fluids, or the overconsumption of them, may well lead to the question – “What do our scholars say about the manners of eating?”

It may not seem to be such a significant issue at first glance, yet is one that holds such importance, that it is included in the Islamic Laws of Syed Sistani, albeit under the topic of “Slaughtering and Hunting of Animals“.

Interestingly, many of the issues that are covered and raised in his recommendations are strongly held under the principles of Islamic Health and Wellbeing, or Islamic Medicine.

Keeping in mind that the content of the Islamic Laws book contains only the results of many years of study and research, investigations of the authenticities of the narrations and conclusive findings, here is what Syed Sistani advices his followers to do when it comes to the consumption of foods and drinks:

What you should do (Mustahab/recommended):

  • Washing both the hands before taking a meal.
  • After taking a meal, one should wash one’s hands, and dry them with a dry cloth.
  • The host should begin eating first, and should also be the last to withdraw his hand.
  • Before starting to take a meal, the host should wash his own hands first, and thereafter, the person sitting on his right should do so. Then the other guests should follow him, till it is the turn of the person sitting on the left side of the host.
  • After finishing the meal, the person sitting on the left side of the host should wash his hands first, and thereafter other persons should follow him till it is the turn of the host.
  • One should say Bismillah before starting to eat, and if there are several dishes, it is Mustahab to say Bismillah before partaking of each of the dishes.
  • One should eat with one’s right hand.
  • One should eat using three or more fingers and should not eat with two fingers only.
  • If several persons are sitting together for their meals, everyone of them should partake of the food placed in front of him.
  • One should take small bits (morsels) of food.
  • One should prolong the duration of taking a meal.
  • One should chew the food thoroughly.
  • After taking one’s meal one should praise and thank Allah.
  • One should lick one’s fingers clean after taking food.
  • One should use a toothpick after taking a meal. However, the toothpick should not be made of sweet basil (a fragrant grass) or the leaves of date-palm.
  • One should collect and eat the food which is scattered on the dining cloth.  However, if one takes meal in an open place, like a desert etc, it is better to leave the food which has fallen aside, so that it may be eaten by the animals and the birds.
  • One should take one’s meal in the earlier part of the day, and in the earlier part of the night and should not eat during the day or during the night.
  • After taking one’s meal one should lie on one’s back, and should place one’s right foot on one’s left foot.
  • One should take salt before and after the meal.
  • When eating a fruit, one should first wash it before eating.

What you should NOT do (Makroohat/not recommended):

  • To eat without being hungry.
  • To eat to one’s fill. It has been reported in the Hadeeth that over-eating is the worst thing in the eyes of Allah.
  • To gaze towards others while eating.
  • To eat food while it is still hot.
  • To blow on food or drink which one is eating or drinking.
  • To wait expectantly for something more after the bread or loaf has been served on the dining cloth.
  • To cut the loaf with a knife.
  • To place the loaf under the food pots or plates etc.
  • To scrape off meat stuck to a bone in such a manner that nothing remains on it.
  • To peel those fruits which are normally eaten with their skin.
  • To throw away a fruit before one has eaten it fully.

Some of the above have already been discussed in the posts, with others soon to come, Insha-Allahﷻ.