Is it true that eating between times of asr (afternoon) and maghrib (evening) is forbidden? What are the appropriate manners for eating? Could you explain?

Details of the Question
Is it true that eating between times of asr (afternoon) and maghrib (evening) is forbidden? What are the appropriate manners for eating? Could you explain?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We do not know a period of time in which eating is forbidden. One can eat any time he needs. What matters is to eat little, not to eat when not hungry and to eat halal. 

Could you give information about how the Prophet ate?

When did the Prophet (pbuh) have his breakfast, lunch and dinner? (after or before the call to the prayer?)

We do not know whether the Prophet determined a certain time for eating after or before prayer or not. 

The Prophet’s way of eating: 

Allah has placed humankind in the center of all creatures. He has made everything that exists, both living and non-living beings, servants for them. And He has placed sustenance in the center of the realm of the humankind and has made all human beings dependant on sustenance. The main reason why the humankind has been given so many privileges and attention and why they have been created to be dependant on sustenance and they strive for earning it throughout their lives is gratefulness. To be grateful means to know by whom all kinds of both physical and spiritual needs of ours, which we are in need of, are met; to feel grateful to Him sincerely; to express this when it is the time and to utilize all kinds of opportunities and energy that He has provided for us in a way that would please Him.  

Given this basic criterion, the outlines of appropriate manners for eating are formed; mentioning Allah’s name before starting to eat food, which we have in our hands and we will utilize; being respectful towards food; contemplating the fine art in it and giving thanks to Allah after eating it. 

The second important fact is that what one eats or drinks must be halal. And food is halal if there is not a religious objection to utilizing it and if we have got a right to utilize it. Meat of animals which were not slaughtered in the Islamic way, pork and other forbidden animal meats and drinking alcohol are a few of the examples of forbidden food and drinks. The range of food and sustenance which Allah has prepared for us on earth is really wide. Halals of them are much more than forbidden ones. And the forbidden ones were forbidden because of their harms, some of which we are aware and some we are unaware. The range of halals is wide enough to meet our all needs and desires. There is no need at all to do things which are forbidden. Indeed, it is also forbidden to eat or drink things which are halal, yet which belong to other people, without asking for their permission. 

Another fundamental fact regarding the issue is that one must not exaggerate eating and drinking. Over-eating is not appropriate; under-eating is not appropriate, either. It is not regarded appropriate both for health concerned reasons and religion concerned reasons. It is not right to under-eat even if because of considering it a kind of worshipping. Our Prophet did not approve fasting every day of a lifetime. Moreover, he recommended saving one third of stomach for food, one third for water and keeping the other one third empty, disapproving filling the whole stomach with food. He also recommended not having food unless one is really hungry and stopping eating before being profoundly full. 

The Prophet is a good example for us in this subject, too. As we find out from hadith books, his table was not a lavish one full of different dishes. As he led a moderate life, his table was moderate as well. He did not live to eat but ate to live. He would not mind if food was not ready when he came back home and would do with a few dates. 

The Prophet ate twice a day. He recommended eating little. He ate all kinds of food and drinks except for those that are haram (forbidden). He did not take one-sided nourishment such as vegetables only diet or meat only diet. Although he liked some foods more than others, he did not say “I dislike this food” for any food. He attended dinner invitations. He washed his hands before and after eating. He began eating by mentioning Allah’s name and finished with an appropriate prayer. He ate with his right hand. He warned those who ate with their left hands. He ate from the part of the food, which was in front of him. He did not lean on his right or left while eating and he did not approve it. He forbade eating lying facedown. He forbade to waste foods. He did not approve being in public after eating dishes which included onion and garlic, for the smell could disturb other people. He forbade blowing into food and water. He said that dishes should not be eaten too hot. He recommended closing the caps of food bowls and water bowls. He recommended that family members eat together and said that it would make food more abundant. He talked in a moderate level while eating. 

Depending on these sunnahs and the likes, appropriate manners for eating and drinking are as follows: 

1- Washing hands before and after eating,

2- Eating from the part of the food which is in front of you,

3- Eating with the right hand,

4- Taking bites in sizes that are appropriate for the mouth and swallowing after chewing enough,

5- Not taking a second bite before swallowing the first bite and not talking while the food is in mouth,

6- Checking the glass before drinking water,

7- Not drinking water all in one gulp,

8- Not blowing/breathing into the glass,

9- Avoiding saying things which can disgust others,

10- Not staring at other people are eating,

11- Not stretching one’s head towards into the plate while eating,

12- Not wasting food, finishing all the food one has taken in his plate,

13- Turning the face off the table when one needs to take off something from his mouth and taking it off with his left hand,

14- Not dipping a bite of bread, etc which one has cut with his teeth, into the plate or bowl again,

15- Eating what is halal (permissible) and clean, and giving thanks to Allah,

16- Not leaving the table unless all the guests have finished eating, so that they will not hesitate to eat. (If he eats little, he should eat slowly and pretend to eat)

17- Seniors in age and position should start first,

18- Not eating out in the streets unless there is an obligation.

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