What is the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) regarding eating?
There is no list stating that the Prophet ate this and that on this day and that day, etc. It is not certain what the Prophet ate weekly because he did not lead a comfortable life. On some days, he tied a stone on his stomach due to hunger because he did not have any food in his house.
The Prophet’s manner of eating and drinking:
So to speak, Allah placed man in the center of all beings. Everything, whether living or non-living, is like a luna moth around him. He placed sustenance in the center of the realm of humanity. He makes all people turn around sustenance. The reason why man was given so much authority and so much care, why he was created in need of sustenance and why he pursues sustenance throughout his life is thanking Allah.
Thanking Allah means to know who sends us all kinds of material and spiritual sustenance that we need, to feel gratitude toward Him, to express it when it is necessary and to use all kinds of possibilities and energy He gives us in a way to please Him.
The outlines of the manners of eating and drinking become manifest with this criterion. They are to start eating food by the name of Allah, to show respect to bounties, to think about the artistic fineness that bounties have and to praise Allah after eating them.
The second important manner of eating and drinking is to eat and drink halal food. We must not eat the food forbidden by the religion and the food that we have no right to eat. Examples to forbidden food are the meat of the animals that are not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic criteria, pork and other inedible living beings and wine. The table of bounties that Allah prepares for us is very big. The halal (permissible) food is much more than the forbidden food.
Some food is forbidden due to their harms that we know and do not know. The framework of halal food is big enough to meet all of our needs and desires. There is no need to commit a forbidden act. The food that is normally halal but that belongs to others is also forbidden to eat or drink unless their owners give consent to it.
Another manner of eating is not to eat or drink excessively. Just like eating or drinking too much, eating or drinking too little is not halal, either. It is not regarded appropriate by the medicine and ethics. It is not appropriate to eat less than necessary even if one does so in order to worship.
The Prophet did not regard it appropriate to fast every day. He advised us to leave one-third of the stomach for food, one-third for water and to leave the remaining one-third empty. He did not approve of guzzling. He also advised us not to sit at the table before one feels hungry and to leave the table before one feels full.
The Prophet is a good example for us regarding the issue. According to what we learn from hadith books, his table was not a rich table consisting of various kinds of food. His table was plain since he led a plain life. He did not live to eat but ate to live. If there were no food when he came home, he would not make a fuss about it. He would find it sufficient to eat one or two dates.
Hazrat Prophet had two meals a day. He advised us to eat little. He ate and drank all kinds of food that was not haram. He did not feed on only meat or on only vegetables. Although he liked some food more than others, he never said, “I do not love” this or that food.
He took part in dinners and feasts that he was invited to. He washed his hands before and after eating. He started eating by the name of Allah and ended with a short prayer. He always ate using his right hand. He warned those who ate by the left hand. When there was a shared dish in the middle of the table, he ate from the part that was in front of him. He did not lean to the right or left while eating. He advised us not to eat by leaning to one side. He prohibited people from eating facedown.
He prohibited us from wasting. He did not regard it appropriate to eat food that disturbs people like onion and garlic and then mingle with other people. He prohibited us from blowing into food and water. He said that the meals should not be eaten when they were hot. He advised us to cover the lids of food and water containers.
He advised people to eat meals together and said that meals eaten together were blessed and abundant. He talked without going extreme during meals.
Acting upon this sunnah and similar ones, the manners of eating and drinking are listed as follows:
1. To wash the hands before and after having a meal,
2. To eat the food that is in front of you,
3. To eat with the right hand,
4. To eat small morsels and to swallow after chewing the food well,
5. Not to take a new morsel before swallowing the morsel in the mouth and not to talk when the morsel is in the mouth,
6. To look in the glass before drinking water,
7. Not to drink water in one gulp,
8. Not to breathe into the glass,
9. To avoid words and acts that sicken others,
10. Not to look at the morsels of others and what they eat,
11. Not to approach one’s head to the plate while putting the morsel into the mouth,
12. Not to waste while eating; to finish one’s morsel and the food one puts on his plate,
13. To turn one’s face away from the table when it is necessary to remove something from the mouth and to cover the mouth with the left hand,
14. Not to dip the morsel one has bitten off into the dish,
15. To eat halal and clean food; to thank Allah,
16. If one has guests at the table, not to leave the table before the guests finish eating (if the host is someone that eats little he needs to eat slowly or act as if he is eating),
17. To wait for the eldest person or the person with the highest rank to start eating,
18. Not to eat in the streets unless one has to.