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IslamiCity > Articles > Dining etiquette for Ramadan
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If you are uncertain about how much you can eat, it is still wiser to take small helpings of food so that if you want, you can take some more later.

Dining etiquette for Ramadan
8/7/2011 - Religious - Article Ref: MV1108-4802
Number of comments: 3
By: Khadeejah Islam
Muslim Village* -

Ramadan is ironically a month in which we are more eager to dine with others than usual. The Prophet Muhammad said: "Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest." [1]. Undoubtedly, many of us will be hosting an iftaar party and sharing food with others. Whether you are the guest or the host, being aware of certain table-manners can help to make that iftaar an productive one and avoid offending anyone by upholding the following Islamic values:

General Rules:

  • Remember Allah before and after eating.  Prophet Muhammad said: "When any one of you eats, let him mention the name of Allah. If he forgets to mention the name of Allah at the beginning, then let him say "Bismillahi awwalahu wa aakhirahu (In the name of Allah at the beginning and at the end)." [2]. He (peace and blessings be upon him) also said: _"Allah is pleased with His slave when he eats something and praises Him for it, or drinks something and praises Him for it." [3]
     
  • Make du'aa.  Prophet Muhammad used to say when breaking his fast: "Dhahaba al-zama' wa abtalat al-'urooq wa thabata al-ajr inshaAllah ." [4]. It is this time before you break your fast when the opportunity to make dua should be seized as narrated in many ahadith since it is guaranteed the fasting person's dua will be accepted.
     
  • Eat with the right hand.  Prophet Muhammad said to 'Umar ibn Abi Salamah, "O young boy, say Bismillah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you." [5].
     
  • Take whatever is closest to you.  Prophet Muhammad said to 'Umar ibn Abi Salamah, "O young boy, say Bismillah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you." [6]. If something you want is far away, do not lean over others to take it. Instead, ask someone to pass it to you. Furthermore, avoid picking up the best (or even the worst) bits of food by digging into the bowl. The Prophet himself said: "The blessing descends in the middle of the food, so eat from the edges and do not eat from the middle." [7].
     
  • Have patience and wait your turn for taking food.  The party is meant to be a social gathering, not a race although you should hasten to break your fast as soon as its time! Furthermore, do not stare at the food as it doesn't remind you to appreciate the experience of fasting.
     
  • Take only as much as you can eat.  Prophet Muhammad said: "A man does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat enough to keep him alive. But if he must do that, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink and one-third for his air." [8]. If you are uncertain about how much you can eat, it is still wiser to take small helpings of food so that if you want, you can take some more later - this hadith does not also mean that one must literally fill their stomach up!
     
  • Do not eat greedily which entails smacking the lips, tearing apart bits of food ravenously, wrestling with food, etc and whilst it seems like an silly thing to do - it does happen!

     

  • Interact with others.  The gathering is for making du'aa together, bonding with others, and exchanging noble ideas. Therefore, do not focus on only eating. In Saheeh Muslim (2052), it is narrated from Jabir ibn 'Abd-Allah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet asked his family for condiments and they said: "We do not have anything but vinegar." He called for it and he started eating it, saying: "What a good condiment vinegar is, what a good condiment vinegar is." Al-Nawawi said: "This shows that it is mustahabb to talk whilst eating, so as to put the diners at ease." [9].
     
  • Avoid talking while you have food in your mouth.  Doing so provides an unpleasant sight for others however this does not negate the point made about complimenting the hosts dishes or hospitality.
     
  • Look after the people sitting next to you.  Inquire if they need anything and always offer food to others before taking it yourself. You can also help them take the food by serving it yourself or at least, holding the bowl while they take it.
     
  • Maintain hygiene.  Wash your hands before and after handling food, and rinse your mouth after eating. Apart from that, take a regular shower to prevent body odour, wear clean and ironed garments, maintain proper oral hygiene, and have a pure mind and heart.
     
  • Avoid doing anything peculiar at the table such as touching your nose, flossing the teeth, yawning (as it suggests boredom, but if you are overcome by it, put a hand over your mouth), spitting, burping (if you have to do this, at least make it inaudible by doing so with your mouth closed!), reclining while eating, reading books or doing anything which suggests boredom/seclusion, etc. Prophet Muhammad said: "I do not eat whilst I am reclining." [10]
     
  • Don't commit your sins/bad habits.  Whether you consider smoking as haraam or makrooh, it should not be done in the presence of those who do not want to be passive smokers (people inhaling second-hand harmful smoke) or even in the presence of kids and companions who will pick up your unhealthy and harmful habits.
     
  • Avoid extravagance/wastage of all forms, related to food, decorations, eating-utensils, etc. "And eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance)." [11]. Prophet Muhammad said: "Do not drink from vessels of gold and silver, or eat from plates thereof." [12].

I hope the above tips help you in preparation for dining at iftaar this ramadan, we'll continue with more tips for manners at the table in the next part insha'Allah...

Source: MuslimVillage - Khadeejah Islam


Footnotes:

[1] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 807; Ibn Maajah, 1746; Ibn Hibaan, 8/216 and Saheeh al-Jaami, 6415.

[2] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1858; Abu Dawood, 3767; Ibn Maajah, 3264; Saheeh Sunan Abi Dawood, 3202.

[3] Narrated by Muslim, 2734.

[4] Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2357; al-Daaraqutni, 25.

[5] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3576; Muslim, 2022.

[6] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3576; Muslim, 2022.

[7] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1805; Ibn Maajah, 3277; Saheeh al-Jaami', 829.

[8] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2380; Ibn Maajah, 3349; Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1939.

[9] http://islamqa.com/en/ref/142516

[10] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5399.

[11] Qur'an 7:31

[12] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5426; Muslim, 2067.

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