General Recommended and General Discouraged Acts for Eating Food
General Recommended Acts
According to Imam Hassan (A.s), every Muslim should keep 12 points in mind regarding food. Four are compulsory, four are recommended, and four pertain to general manners:
• To know one's Giver
• To know that all we have is from God and be satisfied with the food He gives
• To say "Bismillah"
• To thank Allah
• To wash one's hands before eating
• To sit by keeping one's weight to the left side
• To eat with at least three fingers
• To lick the fingers
The general manners
• To eat the food placed before one
• To take small morsels
• To chew the food
• Not to look at others' faces while eating (Wasael al-Shi'aah)
Other Recommended Acts
• To eat with the right hand whilst sitting on the knees.
• To wash the hands before and after eating, and not to dry them with a towel. Numerous traditions state that if a person wants his house to be blessed, he should wash his hands before every meal. This also prevents poverty and body pains.
• Having a little salt before and after each meal. This has countless benefits; it is narrated that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked Imam Ali (A.S) to do this, for a man who takes salt before and after meals is saved from 70 types of curses, a major one being leprosy. Imam Baqir (A.S) has also said regarding salt: "It is the cure for 70 diseases; if people would know the advantages of salt they would not use any other cure except salt."
General Discouraged Acts
1. To eat while walking, except when forced, as per the tradition of Imam Sadiq (A.S)
2. To take very hot food, but if one does, he should not cool it by blowing on it; rather it should be allowed to cool itself.
3. To eat while lying or relaxing; however, there is no harm in resting on the left hand while eating.
4. To eat alone. It is recommended to eat with one's servants and slaves, sitting on the ground.
5. To leave plates uncovered. Imam Sadiq (A.S) said, "Do not leave your plates uncovered, for Satan spits on uncovered plates and takes from them what he wants." (Mustadrak al-Wasail)
Supplications at the Time of Eating
According to the Holy Prophet (PBUH), when food is served, thousands of angels descend from heaven and surround the food. For those who start their food with "Bismillah", the angels pray to God to send His blessings on them, increase their daily bread, and order Shaitan to leave them alone, as he is the one who broke the law of God; thus, he cannot join them. After having eaten, for those who say "Alhamdulillah", the angels say these people are the thanks-givers, as they have thanked God for the good food He has given them. If they do not say "Bismillah" while eating, they invite Shaitan to have food with them, and if they do not say "Alhamdulillah" after their meal, the angels remark these people are those who are not satisfied with what good food God has given them, for they have forgotten to thank God for the blessing; as such, they are cursed.
Imam Ali (A.S) has said one should remember Almighty Allah whilst eating and should not talk too much, as the food is a blessing from Him, and when one consumes that blessing, it is time to praise and thank Him.
According to Imam Sadiq (A.S), "While drinking water, whoever remembers Imam Hussein and his family members, and invoke the removal of Allah's Mercy from his murderers and tormentors, 100,000 good deeds will be written in his record, 100,000 sins will be forgiven, he will be elevated 100,000 times, and he will be rewarded to the extent as though he has freed 100,000 slaves in the name of God, and on the Day of Judgment Allah will look towards his welfare."
He furthers says it is better for one to recite the following while drinking water: "May Allah shower His blessings on Hussein and his family members and his companions. May He remove his Mercy from the murderers of Hussein and his enemies."
Unless otherwise referenced, narrations in this article are taken from Allama Majlisi's book Tahdhib ul-Islam.
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