Before a Muslim begins any task or action, he or she
mentions the name of God. He says Bismillah (I begin with the name of God) to
invoke God’s blessings on whatever he may be about to do, from the grand life
changing moments to the mundane everyday tasks such as washing hands or
eating. The first thing a Muslim does when he finishes eating is to praise and
thank God. He says ‘Alhamdulillah’ (all praises and thanks are due to God) as
an acknowledgement that God is the one who provides all our sustenance.
Whether it be a little or a lot, we thank Him and we praise Him.
“And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its
provision is due from God” (Quran 11:6)
Food is an important part of everyday life, it sustains
us and gives us energy, and a great deal of our time is spent acquiring, preparing,
and eating food. God provides some people with a lot and others with very
little. The reason for this is beyond our comprehension but we do know that
the conditions we survive under are part of a test, not an indication of honour,
or humiliation. God tests us to determine who is patient and grateful for the
blessings He provides. A Muslim understands that he should be equally grateful
for one morsel of food, or a banquet.
It is from the traditions of Prophet Muhammad to praise
God and to make supplication after one has finished eating. Prophet Muhammad, may
the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, would say, “Praise be to God, good
and blessed praise. What we have eaten now will not suffice us for perpetuity
(rather Your graces are continuous upon us) nor will this meal suffice us such
that it will be the last that we eat. We, O our Lord, cannot do without Your
favor nor part with it”
Alternatively, he would say “O God, bless it for us and feed us with better
Prophet Muhammad also told us that “God is pleased when one of His slaves eats
something and praises Him for it, or drinks something and praises Him for it,” and
that is what a true believer is aims for – to please God!
Cleanliness is part of faith
Islam places great emphasis on cleanliness. Prayers are
not preformed unless the body is in a state of cleanliness, and the traditions
of Prophet Muhammad contain advice pertaining to keeping both the body and mind
clean. Islam is a holistic way of life and God said in the Quran that He “loves
those who turn to Him in repentance and He loves those who keep themselves pure
and clean.” (Quran 2:222) To this end, it is important to clean oneself
after eating by washing the hands, rinsing the mouth and if possible, cleaning
Prophet Muhammad advised us all to wash our hands
before and after eating regardless of whether we are in the state of ritual
purity or not. It is acceptable to rinse with water, but the scholars of Islam
have said it is preferable to use soap or a cleaning liquid. It is also
recommended to rinse the mouth after eating. When Prophet Muhammad was in a
place called Al Sahba he called for food but found only some barley mush, the
Prophet and his companions ate the food after which they rinsed their mouths.
Islam attaches great importance to oral cleanliness and
over 1400 years ago, Prophet Muhammad taught his followers the importance of
cleaning their teeth. He recommended using a tooth stick called a miswak or
siwak. It is a natural twig fortified with minerals that cleans the teeth,
prevents the gums from bleeding, kills bacteria, and freshens the breath. Prophet
Muhammad said, “Use siwak, for it purifies the mouth and pleases the Lord,’ and
“Had it not been for fear of making things too difficult for my Ummah (nation),
I would have commanded them to use the siwak
before every prayer”.
Good advice is a mercy
Prophet Muhammad was sent to the world as a mercy, he
came to complete God’s only religion and to teach us in practical ways how to
please and worship God.
listens to what is best for you; he believes in God; has faith in the
believers; and is a mercy to those of you who believe.” (Quran 9:61)
His advice about the etiquette of eating is an important
part of his guidance. As we have seen, the etiquette of eating involves
actions before, during, and after eating, and Prophet Muhammad also suggested
ways for the believers to drink water. He advised that water should be drunk
in three breaths rather than gulping the water in one mouthful, and he
cautioned against breathing into the vessel because it contaminates the water
Correct etiquette is an important part of the religion of Islam.
Reading about the good morals and good manners that are inherent
in the Islamic faith it is possible to see that Islam is a complete way of life,
and every act that a Muslim does is a chance to please God and earn rewards.
Even mundane acts like eating or drinking are viewed as opportunities to
worship God, thus etiquette for eating and drinking has evolved from the words
of God in the Quran and the traditions of his Prophet, Muhammad.