Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
PROPHETIC GUIDANCE FROM THE HADITH
The Hadith is a rich source of guidance on all aspects of life. This is a small sampling of Ahadith pertaining to food and drink and eating manners.
One should recite the name of ALLAH before and after eating and give thanks.
When eating, one should eat with the right hand. Sometimes we feel we are in a rush and must use both hands to eat. It is best to use only the right hand to put the food into our mouths. We can use the left hand to cut the food and prepare it for eating, but the right hand should be used for actually putting it into our mouths. (As with any Islamic requirement, those who cannot fulfill it, for a legitimate reason, are granted an exception.) When sitting at a table where a common serving platter is used, one should eat from the part nearest to them, not from other areas of the platter. This especially applies when one is eating with their hand directly from the platter.
It is encouraged to eat directly with the hand (right), rather than with utensils. This requires cleaning the hands before eating. One is also encouraged to lick any food off their hands once they have finished eating to be sure they obtain the entire blessing of the meal. (It is interesting that this is instinctive in young children.) If one uses utensils, they should not use gold or silver utensils. That is prohibited.
One should never be concerned about having an extra person join them to share their meal. Sharing food is a virtue and it is always possible to feed an extra person with the portion available.
While it is okay to dislike particular foods, one should avoid criticizing or making derogatory comments about any food. You don't have to eat any foods you dislike, but don't put down any food for it is all a blessing from ALLAH.
The following Ahadith from Sahih Al-Bukhari provide the evidence for this guidance.
Abu Umama, radiya ALLAHu anahu, narrated: Whenever the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, finished his meals (or when his dining sheet was taken away), he used to say, "All the praises and thanks be to ALLAH WHO has satisfied our needs and quenched our thirst. Your favor cannot by compensated or denied."
'Umar Ibn Abi Salama, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: I was a boy under the care of ALLAH's Messenger, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, and my hand used to go around the dish while eating. So ALLAH's Messenger, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said to me, "O boy! Mention the Name of ALLAH and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish that is nearer to you." Since then I have applied those instructions while eating.
Abu Huraira, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: ALLAH's Messenger, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said, "The food for two persons is sufficient for three, and the food of three persons is sufficient for four persons."
Abu Huraira, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: The Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, never criticized any food (he was invited to) but he used to eat if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked it.
Huthaifa, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: I heard the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, saying, "Do not wear silk and do not drink from silver or gold vessels, and do not eat in plates of such metals, for such things are for the disbelievers in this worldly life and for us in the Hereafter."
Ibn 'Abbas, radiya ALLAHu anhuma, narrated: The Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said, "When you eat, do not wipe your hands till you have licked it, or had it licked by somebody else."
Halal And Haram
While the Quran specifies foods that are haram, the Hadith expands the list, to include all animals with fangs and all birds with claws. Domesticated donkeys are also haram while horses are Halal. Rabbits are also Halal and so are sand lizards. (Regarding sand lizards, the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, did not eat it but he did not prevent the Muslims present from eating it.) The following Ahadith from Sahih Muslim and/or Sahih Al-Bukhari provide the evidence for this guidance.
Abu Huraira, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: The Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said, "Eating any fanged beast of prey is prohibited." Muslim also reported the aforesaid Hadith from Ibn 'Abbas', radiya ALLAHu anhuma, narration with this version: "He prohibited." And he added: "And every bird with claws."
Jabir, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: On the Day of Khaibar, ALLAH's Messenger, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, forbade the flesh of domestic asses, but permitted horse flesh.
Anas, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated regarding the story of the hare: He (Abu Talha) slaughtered it and sent its haunch to ALLAH's Messenger, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, and he accepted it.
Ibn 'Abbas, radiya ALLAHu anhuma, narrated: The sand lizard was served as food on the table of ALLAH's Messenger, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
Intoxicants Are Haram
All intoxicating drinks are haram as prescribed in the Quran and the following Ahadith reported in Bulugh Al-Maram.
Jabir, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrated: The Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, forbade the drinking of alcoholic drinks prepared from raisins, dates, unripe dates and fresh ripe dates.
'Aisha, radiya ALLAHu anha, narrated: The Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said, "All drinks producing intoxication are haram (prohibited) to drink."
Europe may launch a drinkable potion containing pig whipworm eggs for people suffering from inflammatory bowel disease. Testing in the United States on people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease showed 50-70% of the patients went into remission when given the treatment. (Reported in www.foodingrdientsfirst.com April 7, 2004.)
United States agricultural exports are expected to reach a near-record US$59 billion this year, in spite of trade restrictions on beef and chicken exports. According to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, every one billion dollars in exports supports 15,000 jobs. The largest importing markets are Canada and Mexico, with Japan, Korea and China also ranking high. (Reported in www.just-food.com on April 29, 2004.)
Starting October 1, all genetically modified seeds sold in Vermont, USA, must be labelled as such. (Reported on www.just-food.com on April 29, 2004.)
Most of us are familiar with the leading causes of death. These are diseases and ailments, which are put on death certificates. However, many of these are caused by behavioral actions, which can be modified or avoided. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has examined these actual causes of death and tracked them over the years. They are pretty much unchanged over the last 10 years. Based on information from 2000, over 435,000 annual deaths are caused by tobacco and 400,000 are caused by poor diet or inactivity.
In fact, nearly 40% of deaths are actually caused by smoking, poor diet, inactivity and alcohol consumption.
Leading Causes of Death
Actual Causes of Death
Chronic respiratory disease
Poor diet/ Physical inactivity
The CDC uses this information to develop activities aimed at addressing the behavior and lifestyle factors which result in death.
Tobacco is the leading actual cause of death. Smoking is clearly harmful to the smoker and those around them. Quitting smoking is probably the biggest step one can take to a healthier life. Many Muslims scholars believe that smoking is haram, so Muslims should not smoke anyway.
Diet and activity are also very important to a healthy life. Obesity is a cause of many diseases and ailments, including heart disease. Children need to be helped to develop good dietary habits and to include daily exercise in their regular activities. School programs must complement balanced activities and teaching at home so the child can develop a healthy routine. A Muslim should never overeat.
Consumption of alcoholic beverages is the next leading actual cause of death. Alcohol has a double effect. It has the direct affect on the body and organs and it also leads to behavior that can cause accidents. Alcohol consumption by pregnant mothers can also lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other disorders in children. Drinking alcoholic beverages is haram so Muslims should never drink.
Microbial agents and toxic agents include infectious diseases, pollution and asbestos. Cleanliness, proper medical attention and judicious use of antibiotics can help control the spread of infectious diseases. Corporate responsibility, control of toxic substances and legislation can help control exposure to toxic substances.
There are many uncontrolled reasons why people die. However, there are many controllable reasons that lead to death or a poor quality of life. By making judicious choices, everyone can lead a better life.
(Extracted from the United States Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov.)