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In Islam, Sunnah refers to the actions, sayings, and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that were not specifically mentioned in the Quran. Sunnah is considered to be the second most important source of Islamic law after the Quran, and it guides various aspects of life, including worship, personal behavior like Sunnah of eating food, and social interactions.

Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the perfect example of how to live a righteous and fulfilling life, and therefore, his actions and teachings are highly respected and followed. Following the Sunnah is considered to be a way of getting closer to God and living a life that is pleasing to Him.

Sunnah is recorded in a collection of texts known as Hadith, which is a compilation of the sayings, actions, and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The most widely accepted collections of Hadith are Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

The Sunnah of Eating Food

In Islam, the Sunnah of eating food is considered to be an important aspect of daily life. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) guided how to eat and drink in a manner that is pleasing to Allah and beneficial to one’s health. Some of the Sunnah of eating food are: 

1. Wash hands before and after eating 

WASHING HANDS IS A SUNNAH OF EATING FOOD
WASHING HANDS

The Hadiths emphasize the importance of washing hands before and after eating. It is a hygienic practice that helps prevent the spread of germs and bacteria, and it is also a way of following the Sunnah of eating food preached by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘When you eat, wash your hands before you start, and wash them again after you finish.’ (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Food, Hadith 3766)

2. Eat with your right hand and begin with the nearest dish on your plate

The Sunnah of eating food with the right hand is mentioned in several Hadiths (narrations) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and is also supported by stories and examples from Islamic history.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘When one of you eats, let him use his right hand, and let him eat what is in front of him.’ (Sahih Muslim, Book of Drinks, Hadith 2017)

A companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) named Abdullah ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O Abdullah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is in front of you.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book of Drinks, Hadith 5376)

It is also reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged his followers to use their right hand for all daily activities, including eating, drinking, writing, and greeting others. This is based on the belief that the right hand is superior to the left hand and that it is purer and more blessed. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Clothes and Decorations, Hadith 4020)

3. Begin with reciting Bismillah

reciting bismillah before eating anything is a sunnah of eating food
BISMILLAH

The Hadiths emphasize the importance of saying Bismillah before eating, and how it can bring blessings and make eating easier. Saying Bismillah is a way of acknowledging Allah’s blessings and seeking His guidance and protection. It is also a way of showing gratitude for the food that Allah has provided and a Sunnah of eating food.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘When one of you wants to eat food, let him say Bismillah, and if he forgets to say Bismillah at the beginning, then let him say Bismillah Fi Awwalihi Wa Akhirih (In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end).’ (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Food, Hadith 3267)

4. Sit on the floor while eating

There is a story of a man who invited the Prophet (peace be upon him) to eat with him. The man prepared a grand feast and set up a table with chairs but the Prophet (peace be upon him) declined the invitation and said: “I only eat on the ground, sitting cross-legged.” The man realized his mistake and apologized, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted his apology and ate with him on the ground. (Sahih Bukhari, Book of Food, Hadith 5399)

Sitting on the floor while eating is a Sunnah of eating food that is also a natural and healthy way of eating that promotes good digestion and prevents health problems such as indigestion and heartburn.

5. Eating Together

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Eat together and do not separate, for the blessing is in the company.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Food, Hadith 3284)

It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to eat with his companions and would invite people to his home for meals.

The companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would often gather together for meals, and this tradition continued after the Prophet’s death. It is narrated that once, during a gathering, the companions noticed that one of them was eating alone. They invited him to join them, and he said that he was fasting. The companions replied that they were also fasting, but they had broken their fast together as a community. The man was moved by their kindness and accepted the invitation to eat with them. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Food, Hadith 3765)

This story highlights the importance of community and the bonds that are formed through sharing meals together.

The Sunnah of eating food together helps to build community, strengthen social bonds, and foster a sense of unity and brotherhood/sisterhood among Muslims.

6. Eat using three dominant fingers

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to eat with three fingers, saying: ‘This is the way of the Prophets before me.’ (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book of Food, Hadith 5407)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘Do not eat with five fingers, for that is the way of the Shaytan. Eat with one finger, two fingers, or three fingers.’ (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Food, Hadith 3764)

7. Eating in Moderation

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ‘The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat enough to keep him alive. But if he must do that, then let him fill one-third with food, one-third with drink, and one-third with air.’ (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Food, Hadith 3349)

The Sunnah of eating food in moderation and avoiding overindulgence is a way of maintaining good health and preventing the development of diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

8. Be thankful for the food and never criticize

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The believer eats in one stomach whereas the disbeliever eats in seven stomachs.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book of Foods, Hadith 5390). This Hadith encourages Muslims to be content with what they have been provided with and not to criticize the food or the cook.

It is also Narrated by Abu Huraira that The Prophet never used to criticize any food that he was provided to eat. He never used to complain about the taste if the food was not of his liking but rather leave it as it was without uttering a word. He used to eat if he liked the food and leave it if he disliked it. 

Being thankful for the food that we have been provided with and avoiding criticism of it is a Sunnah of eating food that can show gratitude to Allah and live a more fulfilling life.

9. Never waste food 

The Sunnah of not wasting food emphasizes the importance of moderation, gratitude, and compassion. It encourages Muslims to be mindful of the resources they use to avoid wasting them and appreciate the blessings of Allah and share them with others.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) saw a man picking up food that had fallen in the street, and he said: ‘Leave it for him, leave it for him. It is only a morsel, but it is a sin to waste it.’ (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Food, Hadith 3285). This Hadith highlights the importance of not wasting even small amounts of food. It encourages Muslims to value the blessings of Allah and to be grateful for the food they have been provided with.

There is also a verse in the Quran that encourages Muslims to not waste any of the blessings that have been bestowed upon them by the almighty: “And eat and drink, but waste not in extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not those who waste in extravagance.” (Quran 7:31)

10. Always give Compliments if you like something

Complimenting the food that one eats is a Sunnah of eating food that helps to show gratitude, kindness, and appreciation. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged his followers to complement the food that is served to them. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever does not thank people, does not thank Allah.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Manners, Hadith 4811). This Hadith emphasizes the importance of showing gratitude to others, including those who prepare and serve food.

11. Express gratitude to Allah for the food you are blessed with

saying alhamdulillah after eating is a sunnah of eating food
ALHAMDULILLAH

In Islam, it is a Sunnah of eating food to praise Allah before and after eating. One should say “Alhamdulillah” after finishing the meal as a way of expressing gratitude and recognizing that all blessings come from Allah.

The Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “When a servant of Allah eats his food and praises Him for it, Allah forgives his past sins.” (Sahih Muslim, Book of Zakat, Hadith 1784)

There is another Hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Allah is pleased with the servant who eats a meal and praises Him for it, and the servant who drinks a drink and praises Him for it.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Food, Hadith 3282)

Conclusion

The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the second most important source of guidance in Islam, after the Quran. Sunnah is an essential part of the Islamic faith. It is a way of obeying Allah, gaining blessings, increasing one’s faith, and attaining success in this life and the hereafter.

While following the Sunnah is highly recommended and considered an essential part of the Islamic faith, it is not considered obligatory in the same way that following the commands of the Quran is obligatory. It is seen as a way to gain a deeper understanding of the Quran and to implement its teachings in a practical way.

In this blog, we talked about the essential Sunnah of eating food. May Allah help us to follow all of them, Ameen.

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