Wondering what the Sunnah way of eating is? There are lots of Sunnahs of eating that can be implemented into our lives. Eating is a necessary part of everyday life. We eat anyway, so why not gain reward by intentionally eating and following the way that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) ate. It just requires a little effort on our part and can massively improve our connection to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
Sunnahs before eating
1. Eat what is good and Halal
So eat of the lawful and good food which Allâh has provided for you. And be grateful for the Favour of Allâh, if it is He Whom you worship. (Surah Nahl: 114)
Ensure that you always check the ingredients of the things that you buy from the shop. Learn about what the ‘E’ numbers stand for so you can make halal and healthy choices Insha Allah.
2. Wash your hands before you eat
As cleanliness is half of faith, washing your hands ensures that you are following the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.
It was narrated from ‘Aishah that: “If the Prophet wanted to eat when he was impure, he would wash his hands.” (Ibn Majah, 593)
Today we know that washing your hands gets rid of harmful bacteria that you might have picked up when outside or even inside your house!
3. Start with Bismillah
Aa’ishah (r.a) narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (s.a.w) said: “When any one of you eats, let him mention the name of Allaah. If he forgets to mention the name of Allaah at the beginning, then let him say ‘Bismillaahi awwalahu wa aakhirahu (In the name of Allaah at the beginning and at the end). (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud)
Always try and remind your children or students to say Bismillah by saying it out loud when eating. This way they will develop the habit and hopefully remind you in case you forget (as we often do!).
4. Sit on the floor and eat
It is narrated that the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said: ‘I eat just as the slave eats and I sit just as the slave sits’ (Abu Ya’la, Sahih)
Sitting on the floor is also good for your health as it helps with flexibility and mobility. Our elders who have practised sitting on the floor remain limber far longer than their counterparts who do not partake in this sunnah.
Sunnahs whilst eating
5. Eat with your right hand
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (r,a) that the Prophet (s.a.w) 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.” (Muslim, 2020)
The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) would also start on his right with most things and use his right hand for eating and drinking. The left hand should be used for cleaning yourself after going to the toilet and other such things.
As Muslims, we are advised to oppose the things that evildoers do so as not to be counted amongst them. Thus, eating with our right hand is in direct contrast to Shaytan.
Whilst it might be hard for a left handed child to eat with their right hand, gentle encouragement and persistence will eventually pay off and they will get used to it in no time.
6. Eat from that which is closest to you
It is sunnah to eat from in front of you when sharing and not to eat from the middle of the platter or the other side.
This is because the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said to Umar ibn Abi Salamah: “O young boy, say Bismillaah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.” (Muslim, 2022)
It is also considered good manners to stick to your side rather than let your hand wander around and get in the way of someone trying to eat their food!
7. Eat together
Sharing is caring and eating together brings families closer.
I heard my father say: ‘I heard ‘Umar bin Khattab say: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Eat together and do not eat separately, for the blessing is in being together.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
In some households, dinner time is the only time the family comes together. Sadly, this practise is also becoming rarer. We should strive to revive this sunnah and hopefully it will also revive the love and respect between families.
8. Eat with 3 fingers
Ka’b Ibn Malik states: “The Prophet ﷺ used to eat with three fingers and lick his hand before he wiped it.” (Sahih Muslim)
Eating with 3 fingers is quite hard when you’re not used to it. As a child, I was used to eating with a spoon or with all 5 fingers. When I went to an Islamic boarding school, they asked us to eat with 3 fingers. Initially, I found it so hard and would sometimes just revert back to 5. After a few months though, I was eating with 3 and have never gone back since.
Obviously eating soup with your fingers would be next to impossible; this sunnah applies to food like rice which can actually be eaten with the fingers. Handling food with your fingers releases digestive juices and enzymes, thereby prepping the stomach for digestion.
9. Eat in moderation
“A man 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 one-third for his food, one-third for his drink and one-third for his air.” (ibn Majah)
Obesity is on the rise across first world countries (including in children). Instead of telling children to finish their plate and encouraging them to eat more, think about the size of their stomach. When they are eating their portion, don’t force feed them. I understand some kids need encouragement, but you know your child best and should be able to identify when they’ve had enough. Have you ever thought why some adults eat so much and overindulge. Sometimes (although not always) that can be traced back to childhood eating habits!
10. Don’t waste food
“Jabir reported: I heard Allah’s Apostle ﷺ as saying: The Satan is present with any one of you in everything he does; he is present even when he eats food; so if any one of you drops a mouthful he should remove away anything filthy on it and eat it and not leave for the devil..” (Sahih Muslim)
25,000 children die from hunger or under nutrition every day. This is a sobering fact. We should try and reduce our own consumption and instead donate to the poor and needy.
11. Don’t blow in your drink
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al Khudri, “The Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited blowing into the drink”
Blowing on food or drink especially if being shared amongst people is also considered to be bad manners. It can also put people off sharing, which is a sunnah. Blowing might also transfer illnesses between people.
12. Don’t lean and eat
The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “I do not eat whilst I am reclining.” (Bukhari)
Leaning and eating was something done by the rich rulers at the time. As the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was a humble person, he might not have liked leaning for this reason. Leaning and eating is forbidden if done out of pride and arrogance. But if it is done without pride then it is considered mubah (allowed) by some scholars of the Hanafi opinion.
13. Eat food that has fallen to the floor
Anas (r.a) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w) said: “If any one of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytaan…” (Muslim)
We are living in increasingly sterile environments which aren’t great for our natural immunity. Eating fallen food in this way may improve the immune system. Although there isn’t scientific evidence to back this up, that should not prevent us from implementing sunnahs like this into our everyday lives. Afterall, our intention should be to gain reward and a closeness to the Prophet and not to do Sunnahs for health or wordly benefits.
14. Clean your plate
Anas Ibn Malik narrates: “(The Prophet) commanded us to wipe our plates.” (Sahih Muslim)
Cleaning one’s plate is good manners and shows appreciation to the person cooking the meal. It also shows appreciation to Allah, the creator and giver of food. We should take smaller portions and put a bit of food in our plate at a time. Instead we often fill our plates, eat to our fill and leave the rest in our plates. Unfortunately, at large events, the leftover food is then binned.
15. Don’t criticise food and be grateful
Abu Huraira (r.a) narrates that: “The Prophet ﷺ did not criticise any food ever. If he desired the food, he would eat it and if he disliked it, he would leave it.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Such exemplary manners Mashallah! It’s hard not to voice your disdain when you eat something awful, but the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was such a great role model. We should encourage children to try everything and train them to not criticise food they don’t like. Instead they should just leave their plate and a simple ‘is there anything else?’ should suffice.
Sunnahs after eating
16. Lick your fingers
Jabir Bin Abdullah narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said: “He should not wipe his hand with a tissue until he licks his fingers, for he does not know in which part of his food is the blessing.” (Sahih Muslim)
Licking the fingers ensures that there is no waste of even a tiny morsel of food.
The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was so careful not to waste anything and we should also try to do the same.
17. Rinse your mouth
Basheer ibn Yassaar narrated that Suwayd ibn al-Nu’maan told him that:…”the Prophet once called for food, but he did not find anything but some saweeq (barley mush). So he ate some and we all ate with him. Then he called for water and rinsed out his mouth, and then he prayed, and we prayed, and he did not do wudoo.” (Bukhari)
Rinsing your mouth after eating gets rid of all the food that might get stuck in between your teeth. In today’s age it’s considered one of the better ways to keep your teeth healthy in the long run. In fact, a quick rinse with water in your mouth will boost your body’s natural ability to clean itself. Rinsing with water also protects your enamel by removing leftover food and sugar. (Taylor and Mclaws)
18. Do dua for the one that prepares food for you
Anas narrated that the Prophet(s.a.w) came to Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah who brought him some bread and oil, and he ate. Then the Prophet (s.a.w) said: “May fasting people break their fast with you, may the righteous eat your food, and may the angels send blessings upon you.” (Abu Dawud, 3854)
Always thank people who make food for you or who invite you to a meal. It requires minimum effort but makes them feel appreciated. It also validates the effort and time they took out for that meal.
19. Praise and thank Allah
Anas Bin Malik narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah is pleased with a servant if he eats his food, he praises Allah for it; or if he drinks his drink he praises Allah for it”. (Sahih Muslim)
Imagine being invited to someone’s house for a meal and leaving without saying thank you! It would be considered highly rude so why don’t we thank Allah after every meal? After all, without his help, we wouldn’t be able to maintain the health that allows us to work and buy or cook food. Without the rain he sends, our crops would wither and without the animals he created and sustains, we would have no meat or fish.
The list detailing the Sunnah way of eating might be a bit overwhelming, but start with one or two Sunnah’s at a time and then build your way up. Encourage your family or children to implement the Sunnah’s and try and talk through the Sunnah way of eating as you do them so that everyone else remembers too!
Sunnah way of eating poster
I hope you have benefited from learning about the sunnah way of eating in this post. Feel free to share with others 🙂 We learn best when sharing and we will Insha’ Allah reap the rewards in this world and the next.
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