Good Manners As Taught by the Sunnah

• The Etiquette of Eating and Drinking (first issue)

By: Dr. Abdullah bin Mishari as-Sidi (Saudi Arabia) - 2012-09-10




Manners are a collection of good qualities.  Islam has placed manners and etiquette for every aspect of life and the Muslim must take care of this etiquette.  Among these etiquette is the manners of eating and drinking; the religion has given great care to this etiquette.  We will mention some of them:

            First: Eating from Lawful Foods

            Allah I said, “O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with, and be grateful to Allah, if it is indeed He Whom you worship.” [2:172]

            Abu Hurairah t said,

“Allah’s Messenger r said, ‘O people! Allah is good and only accepts goodness; and Allah ordered the believers with the same order that He ordered the Messengers.’ He then recited, ‘O (you) Messengers! Eat of the Taiyibat (all kinds of Halal (legal) foods which Allah has made legal (meat of slaughtered eatable animals, milk products, fats, vegetables, fruits, etc.), and do righteous deeds. Verily! I am Well-Acquainted with what you do.’ [23:51] And, ‘O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you with.’ [2:172]

Then he mentioned a man who travels great lengths, ‘A ragged, dusty man raises his hands to the heavens saying, ‘O Lord! O Lord!’ but his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing is unlawful, and what he consumes is unlawful.  How, then, will his supplications be answered?” (Collected by Muslim, 1015)

            Second: Saying Allah’s I Name Before Beginning

            `Umar bin Abi Salamah t said, “I was a servant in the home of Allah’s Messenger r, and when I would eat, my hand would be eating from all over the plate.  So Allah’s Messenger r said to me, ‘O boy, begin eating by mentioning Allah’s Name, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is in front of you.’ So to this day, I eat as he told me to.” (Collected by al-Bukhari, 5376, and Muslim, 2022)

            Chapter: Whoever Eats Without Mentioning Allah’s Name, then Satan Shares his Meal with Him, and There is No Blessing in His Food

            Jabir bin `Abdullah t narrated that he heard the Prophet r said, “If a man enters his home, mentions Allah on entering and on eating, Satan says, ‘We (meaning the devils) cannot eat or sleep here tonight’, and if he enters and does not mention Allah’s Name on entering the Shaitan says, ‘You have somewhere to sleep’, and if he does not mention Allah when he begins eating, the Shaitan says, ‘You have somewhere to sleep and something to eat.” (Collected by Muslim, 2018)

            Huthaifah t said, “We used to, when we sit with the Prophet r to eat, none of us would place his hand to the plate until Allah’s Messenger r did.  Once, we were with him eating, and a slave-girl came and tried to reach for the food, and Allah’s Messenger r grabbed her hand, then a Bedouin came and reached for the food, and the Prophet grabbed his hand and said, ‘The Shaitan makes lawful for himself the food that is not preceded by mentioning Allah’s Name; and he has come with this slave-girl trying to make lawful food for himself, and I grabbed her hand, and with this Bedouin man, trying to eat, and I grabbed his hand.  By He who my soul is in His Hand, his hand and her hand are both in my hand.” (Collected by Muslim, 2017)

            Chapter: If a Person Forgets to Mention Allah’s Name in the Beginning, then he Should Say, “Bismillaahi fee Awwalihi wa Aakhirihi (In Allah’s Name, in the Beginning and in the End).”

            `Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “Allah’s Messenger r said, ‘When one of you eats let him say, ‘Bismillaah (In the Name of Allah).’  If he forgets, let him say, ‘Bismillaahi fee Awwalihi wa Aakhirihi (In Allah’s Name, in the Beginning and in the End).’” (Collected by Muslim, 2058)

            Third: Eating with the Right Hand

            Ibn `Umar t reported that Allah’s Messenger r said, “If one of you eats or drinks, let him do so with his right hand, because Satan eats and drinks with his left hand.” (Collected by Muslim, 2020)

            Salamah bin al-Akwa` t reported that a man ate with Allah’s Messenger r with his left hand, and the Prophet r told him, “Eat with your right hand.” The man said, “I cannot.” Allah’s Messenger said, “May you never be able to!” because he was prevented by nothing but his arrogance.  Salamah bin al-Akwa` said, “That man never raised his right hand to his mouth after that again.” (Collected by Muslim, 2021)

            Fourth: Eating from What is Nearest to You

`Umar bin Abi Salamah reported that the Prophet said, “Eat from what is in front of you.

            Fifth: Eating from the Edges of the Plate

            `Abdullah bin Bisrt said, “The Prophet r had a large plate which is called a, ‘Ghiraa’, that four men would carry it.  In the morning, and after they had prayed the Dhuha prayer, this plate was brought with food on it, and the people gathered around it.  When the number increased, the Prophet r sat with one of his knees bent (in order to make more space for others).  A Bedouin man came and said, ‘What is this sitting?’ The Prophet r said, ‘Allah has made me a generous slave, and did not make me a stubborn tyrant.’ He then said, ‘Eat from the edges, and not from the middle, and it will be blessed.’” (Collected by Abu Dawud, 2773, and it is authentic)

            Ibn `Abbas t reported that the Prophet r said, “Eat from the edges of the plate, and not from the middle, because the blessings are placed in the middle.” (Collected by Ahmad, 1/270, and it is authentic)

            Sixth: Not Eating While Lying Down

            Abu Juhaifaht said, “Allah’s Messenger r said, ‘I do not eat while lying down.” (Collected by al-Bukhari, 5398)

            Seventh: Not Criticizing the Food

            Abu Hurairah t said, “The Prophet r never criticized food.  If he liked it he would eat, if not he would not.” (Collected by al-Bukhari, 3536, and Muslim, 2064)

            Eighth: Not Eating to One’s Fill

            Al-Miqdam bin Ma`di Karib said, “I heard Allah’s Messenger r say, ‘The son of Adam never fills a pot worse than the stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few bites that help him survive. If one must, then one can reserve a third for food, a third for drink and a third for breathing.’” (Collected by at-Tirmithi, 2380, and it is authentic)

            Ninth: Not Blowing on the Food

            Ibn `Abbas said, “Allah’s Messenger r prohibited one from blowing on his food or drink.” (Collected by Ahmad, 1/309, and it is authentic)

            Abu Sa`id al-Khudri t said, “The Prophet r prohibited blowing on one’s drink.  A man said, ‘I see specks of dirt in my cup.’ The Prophet said, ‘Spill it.’  The man said, ‘I do not quench my thirst from one sip’, the Prophet said, ‘Then move it away from your mouth [when taking more sips].’” (Collected by at-Tirmithi, 1887, and Ahmad, 3/26, 32, and 57, and it is acceptable)

            Tenth: Eating the Food that Fell on the Floor

            Jabir bin `Abdillah, may Allah be pleased with both of them, said, “I heard the Prophet r say, ‘Satan waits around one of you in every matter of his life, even his food.  If a drop of food falls on the floor, then let one of you remove any dirt off it, eat it, and not leave it for the devil.  When you finish eating, lick your fingers, because you do not know where the blessing is.” (Collected by Muslim, 2023)

            Eleventh: Not Taking More than One Piece of a Date if One is Eating Without Permission

            Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Allah’s Messenger r forbade a person from taking two dates at once without asking those who provided the dates.” (Collected by al-Bukhari, 2489, and Muslim 2045)

            Twelfth: Thanking Allah After Eating

            Abu Ayyub al-Ansari t said, “Allah’s Messenger r used to say after he finishes eating or drinking, ‘Al-Hamdulillah AllatheeAt`ama wa Saqaa, wa Sawwaqhahu wa Ja`alaLahooMakhrajaa(All praise is for Allah, who fed us and gave us drink, and made it possible for us to eat and drink, and made an exit for it [out of one’s body]).’”

            Abu Umamah t reported that the Prophet r used to say when he picked his plate up [after completing his meal], “Al-HamdulillaahiKatheeranTayyibanMubaarakanFeehi, QayruMakfiyyin wa laaMuwaddi`in wa laaMustaghnin `AnhuRabbanaa (All praise is for Allah, [praises] which are abundant and blessed, we cannot have enough of His generosity, we will never stop thanking Him, and we cannot suffice without Him.)

            `Abd ar-Rahman bin Jubair t mentioned that someone who served Allah’s Messenger r for eight years said that when the Prophet r approached his food, he would said, “Bismillaah (In the Name of Allah).”  And when he finished, he would say, “AllaahummaAt`amta wa Asqaita wa Aghnaita wa Aqnaita wa Hadaita wa Ahyaita, fa-lalka l-Hamdu `alaMaaA`tait (O Allah, you have fed, provided drink, provided wealth, sufficed, guided, and given life.  So thanks belong to You for what You have given).” (Collected by Ahmad, 4/62, and it is authentic)

            Thirteenth: Gathering at the Food

Jabir bin `Abdillah t said, “Allah’s Messenger r said, “The food of one [individual] is sufficient for two [individuals to eat from]; and the food of two is sufficient for four; and the food of four is sufficient for eight.” (Collected by Muslim, 2059)

Fourteenth: Avoiding Eating Utensils Made from Gold and Silver

Um Salama, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “Allah’s Messenger r said, ‘Whoever drinks from a cup made of gold or silver is dragging the fire of hell to his stomach.’” (Collected by Muslim, 2065)

Fifteenth: Licking One’s Fingers or Having them Licked

The Prophet r said, “If one of you eats, let him or her not wipe their hand until he licks it or lets someone else lick it.” (Collected by Muslim, 2031)

Sixteenth: Avoiding Boiling or Burning Hot Food

Asma’ bint Abi Bakr, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that if she made food, she would cover it until it stops boiling, then would say, “I heard Allah’s Messenger r say, “It is better to earn Barakah; meaning, the food that is not boiling.” (Collected by Ahmad, 6/3500, Ibn Hibban, 1344, and ad-Darimi, 2/100, and refer to as-Sahihah, 392)

Seventeenth: Giving Precedence to the Food over the Prayer if the Food is Ready

Anas t reported that the Prophet r said, “If the food has been placed and the Salat has been called, then begin with the food.” (Collected by al-Bukhari, 5464, and Muslim, 557)

`Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that the Prophet r said, “There is no prayer while the food is ready and when an individual is holding back the two dirty things (urination and defecation).” (Collected by Muslim, 560)

Eighteenth: Eating with Three Fingers

Ka`b bin Malik reported from his father t who said, “Allah’s Messenger r used to eat with three fingers, and would lick his hand before wiping it.” (Collected by Muslim, 2032)

Nineteenth: Not Abandoning the Food if a Fly Falls into it

Abu Hurairah t reported that Allah’s Messenger r said, “If a fly falls into the cup of one of you, then one should dip it until it is completely submerged, then throw it.  That is because in one of its wings is a cure, while in the other is a disease.” (Collected by al-Bukhari, 5782)

Twentieth: Not Standing While Drinking

Abu Sa`id al-Khudri t reported that, “the Prophet r censured standing while drinking.” (Collected by Muslim, 2025)





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