Islam is not only a religion but a way of life. In it are detailed how a Muslim should lead his life and how he or she should behave in private and public. In Islam are also detailed the etiquettes that a Muslim should follow before taking a meal. Keep in mind that most of these are from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The etiquette of eating in Islam is categorized accordingly into two parts.
Etiquettes before the Meal
Hand Wash – It is a basic routine of a Muslim to wash the hands before taking a meal. This is obviously done so that no harmful materials can enter through the hands while eating.
Ask what is Offered- it is a common manner among the Muslims to ask what the food is being offered in case he or she are a guest at someplace if they are not certain what they will be offered. It is said that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did not used to eat food until he had been told about it. It is commonly understood that due to food being hard to come by during that time, the Arabs would eat various things. There are some things that were forbidden in the Sharia of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) which is why he would ask what it was before eating it.
Make Haste to Eat- Part of honouring a guest is to hasten to offer him or her something and part of the guest honouring the host is to hasten to accept his food and eat from it.
Mention the name of Allah (SWT) before Eating- It is obligatory to mention the name of Allah (SWT) before eating. Bismillah is the common phrase used which can be translated in to ‘In the Name of Allah’. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “When any one of you eats, let him mention the name of Allah. If he forgets to mention the name of Allah at the beginning, then let him say ‘Bismillaahiawwalahuwaaakhirahu (In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end).’”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1858; AbuDawood, 3767; Ibn Maajah, 3264)
Etiquettes during the Meal
Eating with the Right Hand – It is obligatory for the Muslim to eat with his right hand; he should not eat with his left hand. It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (SAW) said: “No one among you should eat with his left hand, or drink with it, for the Shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 2020)
This etiquette applies so as long as a person has a genuine reason such as medial condition that prevents him or her from eating with their right hand.
Eating from what is Directly in Front – 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 (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to ‘Umar ibnAbiSalamah, “O young boy, say Bismillah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.”
Washing the Hands after Eating- The Sunnah may be done by washing with water only. So it can be understood that washing of the hands is necessary before and after the meal even if a person is in a state of ablution.
General etiquette regarding Food
Do not criticize the Food – Abu Hurayrah(RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAW) never criticized any food. If he liked it he would eat it and if he did not like it he would leave it.
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3370; Muslim, 2046)
Remain moderate- Part of the Muslim’s etiquette of the intake of the food is to not eat abundantly to fill the stomach but rather show moderation.
Praise Allah- There is great virtue in the praising of Allah (SWT) at the end of meal. It was narrated from AnasibnMaalik that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Allah is pleased with His slave when he eats something and praises Him for it, or drinks something and praises Him for it.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 2734)