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10 simple ways to eat better | Blog

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10 ways to eat better - A Muslim's "food for thought"

Assalamu aleikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.

Praise be to Allah the magnificent the most high. Brothers and Sisters, as we all know, ”Islam” is a way of life, a fact that can be proven in several ways. The focus of this article is on how we can eat better by following the Sunnah. Majority of us have knowingly or unknowingly swayed away from the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah when it comes to eating. This is perhaps because we blindly follow a different lifestyle, often forgetting that our beloved prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) ensured he took every measure in clarifying our deen and completing it justly. Allah says in the holy Quran:

“Oh people! Eat of what is lawful and good on the Earth and do not follow the footsteps of shaitaan for he is your open enemy” {Quran 2:168}.

1. Eating with our hands, specifically the right, is extremely important as a Muslim

Eat with the right - Eat better - ummah.co.ke
Nyama choma with the right hand (photo by hktang cc)

It is a Sunnah from the Prophet (P.B.U.H), yet how many of us observe it? We have been diverted from it into using silverware for eating.

A Hadith narrated by Salman (R.A.), The prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “The blessing of food is received by washing the hands before and after having it” (Tirmidhi).

Western influence has greatly won over some Muslims. Do we not hold the knife with our right hand and spoon with the left? The prophet (P.B.U.H) said “If one of you eats, he should use his right hand. And if he drinks, he should use his right hand too. For indeed satan eats and drinks with his left hand” (Muslim).

A person must give preference to his right hand while eating unless he has suffered a loss of his right hand or he has a genuine affliction that makes using the right hand truly difficult. Allah says in the Quran that we should not strain our “nafs” to do something that we can’t handle. For Allah knows everything.

2. Washing hands before and after eating

Wash Hands -Eat better - ummah.co.ke
"Cleanliness is half of Iman" (photo by Precise Monkey  cc)

This guarantees cleanliness of the food we take. It prevents contamination, thus protects the stomach from infections.

3. Dua is a vital aspect of eating manners.

Many times people forget to recite dua before and after eating, particularly when a favorite dish is placed in front of us. Allah says in the Quran:

 “A sign of them is the earth that is dead. We do give it life and produce grain therefrom, of which you do eat. And we produce therein orchards with Date-palms and vines, and we cause springs to gush forth therein, that they may enjoy the fruits of this (Artistry): It was not there hands that made this: will they not then give thanks?” {Quran 36:33-3}

Aisha (R.A) narrated that the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said “When anyone of you eats, he should invoke the name of the almighty Allah, the Exalted. If he forgets, he should say that immediately he remembers” (Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi)
The Prophet SallAllahu Alayhe Wa Sallam explained that Shaytaan partakes in the food if the name of Allaah is not recited at the start of eating. However, if one forgets in the beginning and then he remembers and says the aforementioned du'aa, shaytaan is made to vomit out what he has eaten.  (Muslim)

We should thank Allah for the rizq (sustenance) he has provided for us. Allah says in Surah-al-Mulk:

“Say prophet Muhammad: Do you see, if it were to happen that your water were to disappear into the earth, who then could bring you gushing water?” {Quran 67:30}

This ayat elaborates that Allah is the most powerful and unto him lies the power of providing and taking from us what we have. Mankind is under the obligation of his loyalty. We ask and he mercifully gives, thus we should be thankful for everything we have.  

4. Eat (and serve) from the food directly in front of you.

When Umar bin Abi salamah was a boy, he ate in the prophets company and his hand went all over the table setting, grabbing here and there. The prophet (P.B.U.H) said, “My child, invoke Allah’s name, eat with your right hand and eat what is in front of you” (Muslim, Bukhari).

5. Do not eat and drink whilst standing.

Eat sitting - Eat better - ummah.co.ke
Have a seat when you eat. (photo by Beshef cc)

From Anas and Qatadah (R.A.A), the prophet (P.B.U.H) said “Indeed prophet Muhammad forbids anyone to drink while standing,” and then Qatadah asked. “What about eating?” The messenger of Allah replied; “That’s even worse” (Muslim, Tirmidhi)

Narrated by Abu Huraira (R.A), the prophet said, “Don’t drink while standing, and if you forget you should spit it!”(Muslim)

6. Criticizing of food is highly disrespectful.

From Abu Huraira (R.A.) “The prophet (P.B.U.H) never found fault with food. If he liked it, he ate it but if he disliked it, he abstained from it” (Bukhari-Muslim)

As simple as that.

7. Do not waste food

Do we finish every tiny bit of food on our plates today? Many of us negligently leave food on our plates especially when eating at a restaurant. Subhanallah! Why fill the plate knowing that we can’t finish the food? It has becomes a social ‘cool’ to leave food in the plate. Finishing everything introduces mockery from peers and many tend to avoid that. Nonetheless, as Muslims it is our duty to avoid israaf (waste and extravagance). Those that cannot finish their meals may give it to animals or someone that has not eaten.

Throwing away of food is wrong, some people do not even get a third of what others are blessed with. In addition, piling up food in refrigerators in our homes for it to spoil and get thrown is erroneous. When food remains, it is advisable to give it to someone that would eat it, or make portions of food that you know will be enough for everyone without any israaf (waste).

From Anas (R.A) “When the prophet ate food, he used to lick his three fingers and said: ‘when one of you drops a morsel, he should remove dirt from it and eat it, and should not leave it for satan.’ And he ordered us to wipe the bowl. He said, ‘you do not know what part of the food lays the baraka (the blessing)’” (Bukhari)

8. Sharing of meals and eating together is highly recommended in Islam

Narrated by Abu Huraira (R.A), The prophet (P.B.U.H) said “Food for two is sufficient for three and food for three is sufficient for four” (Bukhari, Muslim).

Umar (R.A.A) narrated The Almighty's Messenger (P.B.U.H) said: "Eat together, and do not separate, for the blessing is in the company." (ibn Maja)

Ali Abbas (R.A) narrated, “I heard the prophet (P.B.U.H) say, ‘The believer is not he who eats while his neighbor is hungry,’” (Bukhari, Muslim)

9. Do not overeat

The prophet always urged never to overeat. Narrated by Ja'far bin Muhammed, from his father: Abu Karima al-Mikdad arma Ma'dikarib (R.A.A) said that he heard The Almighty's Messenger (P.B.U.H) say: "No man fills a vessel which is worse than his stomach. Sufficient for the son of Adam are a few mouthfuls to keep his back upright, but if it has to be more, then let one third (be left) for his breathing" (Tirmidhi).

Allah does not like those who are extravagant and he says in the Quran:

“Eat and drink but avoid excess” {Taha: 81}.

Finally, always be careful of noting halaal and haraam food in Islam. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran”

“Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on earth” {Quran 2:168}

10. Do not abstain from food without a valid reason as well.

Overeating is highly discouraged. Under-eating is as well. Allah says, “Do not forbid yourselves the wholesome things God has made lawful for you” {Quran 5:87}

Let’s try to live according to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. Despite modernization and Western influence, let us all live as exemplary Muslims and stick to our values without shame.  Allah says:

“This day have I perfected religion for you and completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you ISLAM as your religion, But if any of you is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed oft-forgiving, most merciful” {Quran 5:3}.

May Allah make it easy for us to follow these steps and eat better in shaa Allah. Ameen! JazakaAllah.

photo credit: myndzcommunity via photopin cc


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