Sitting Posture While Eating
Your posture while ingesting food is as important as any other healthy habit. Holy Prophet laid exclusive emphasis on how the person must sit while eating food. On one occasion Holy Prophet S.A.W said
“I do not eat while leaning on my side”.
He also said
“I only sit like the slave sits and eat like the slave eats”.
The esophagus or the ‘gullet’ is the passage where the food travels down to the stomach after it is chewed and partially digested into bolus form. This movement is called peristalsis which is highly influenced on the posture of the body. leading on either side while ingesting food can affect this wave like movement cause the bolus to enter the stomach prematurely. The pressure exerted from leaning also forces the diaphragm to push the gut outwards which leads to slow digestion.
This also reflects arrogance and disrespect to the host when eating in a congregation as Holy Prophet S.A.W said,
“I only eat like the slave eats”.
This shows the humble and modest approach of our Prophet even when he/her is to enjoy food.
Holy Prophet S.A.W was always careful on the posture while eating and used to sit on his feet and place his knees to the ground. In this position, the bottom would be on his left foot and on the upper region of his right foot. In this position the body rests its organs as gravity allows it without compromising the movement of food through the digestive tract or exerting pressure on any organs.
Sitting in the prescribed posture maintains the grace of the person and accommodates space for other people to sit as well. This allows the person to share the food with each other while eating it as equals on the platform.
Eating with the Hand
At the time of Holy Prophet S.A.W, food was presented in platters which kept the meal on a wide and flat platform. The platform was joined by a group to eat from the same platter with the hands since modern crockery was not invented yet. Before the advent of Holy Prophet, eating with etiquettes was not introduced and many unhealthy eating practices were used. Arabs did not find importance in hygiene (washing hands and cutting nails), using the right amount of fingers for lifting the food or respecting the sides of platter to start eating. Holy Prophet S.A.W blessed the Arabs and the entire Muslim Ummah with correct teachings of eating food so it does not spread diseases or harm the sentiments of others sitting next to them.
Eating with 3 Fingers
Anas ibn Maalik narrated that when the Holy Prophet ate, he would lick his three fingers. And he said,
If anyone of you drops a piece of food, let him remove any dirt from it and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaitaan.’ And he commanded us to clean the plate, and said, ‘For you do not know where in your food the blessing is.
The ideal method of eating with the 3 primary fingers of the right hand. Holy Prophet S.A.W used to eat with the thumb, forefinger and the middle finger while drawing his hand into the dish. This helps the maintain a firm hold on the food material until it is transported to the mouth. It captures an adequate amount within the fingers hold that is sufficient to satisfy the person’s diet.
This allows the food to be ingested periodically allowing the digestive system to breakdown the food without overburdening it. When food reaches the stomach on a maintained interval, the metabolic activity remains sufficient not to discomfort the body while sending it to the gut smoothly.
Using 5 fingers to eat can send excessive amounts of food to the stomach which can lead to flatulence, gluttony, obesity, acidity, sweating, disturbed homeostatis and other disorders than can cause complications in the long term.
Mentioning the Name of Allah Before Eating
“Allah’s Name we begin with, The Compassionate, Most Merciful.”
Reciting the name of Allah or the prescribed Dua purges the evil intents of people and supernatural forces from the food and declares the person in the guardianship of Allah almighty.
It is compulsory to mention the name of Allah before touching any edible substance. It was narrated from Umm Kalthoom from Hadhrat ‘Aa’ishah, that the Holy Prophet S.A.W once said,
When any one of you eats, let him mention the name of Allah. If he forgets to mention the name of Allaah at the beginning, then let him say ‘Bismillahi Awwalahu Wa Aakhirahu (In the name of Allah at the beginning) at the end.
Eating from the Right Hand
‘Umar bin Abu Salamah reported Holy Prophet saying,
Mention Allah’s Name (Bismillah) eat with your right hand, and eat from what is near you.
The importance of using the right hand is emphasized on many occasions by Holy Prophet S.A.W. The right hand is reserved for touching the cleaner things that are absent of germs and septic substances. In Wudduh, the person is taught to approach the nose with left while blowing it, while filling water in the mouth with the right. Similarly, it is disliked to do istinja with the right as it is preferred to do with the left. It is the method followed since Hadhrat Adam A.S and to the Prophets that followed. This prevents Shaitan’s influence on the food allows the person to safely transfer the amount back to his mouth.
The importance of eating with the right hand was again highlighted through a narration from Ibn ‘Umar R.A that the Holy Prophet S.A.W said,
“No one among you should eat with his left hand, or drink with it, for the Shaitaan eats with his left hand and drinks with it.”
Start Eating from the Front Side
Ibn ‘Abbaas narrated that the Prophet Holy Prophet S.A.W said,
“The blessing descends in the middle of the food, so eat from the edges and do not eat from the middle.”
The person must approach his meal from the side nearest to him/her without disturbing the entire food container. Eating from what is in front was practiced by Holy Prophet as it makes the person modest and disintegrates the greed of eating excessively that they may not be able to digest properly. Ploughing the entire container just to secure the best part of the meal disgusts the congregation and encourages others in its pursuit.
Umar bin Abu Salamah narrated,
“I was a young boy in the care of the Holy Prophet S.A.W and my hand used to wander all over the platter (of food). The Messenger of Allah S.A.W said to me, “O young boy, say Bismillaah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.”
At the time of Holy Prophet S.A.W, food was presented in platters which kept the meal on a wide and flat platform. It was joined by a group to eat from the same platter with the hands since modern crockery was not invented yet.