What was the eating method and sitting style of the Prophet like?

The Details of the Question

I read about the eating manners of the Prophet but I could not understand his sitting style fully. The Prophet (pbuh) tells us to fill one-third of the stomach with water, one-third with air and one third with food. Is water drunk at the beginning or in the end. How was his sitting style?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is stated by experts that the eating manner of the Prophet (pbuh) corresponds fully with the principles of preventive medicine and modern health science. It can be said that the eating and drinking principles of the Messenger of Allah and his eating manners are in the form of the foundation of health and essence of medicine.   

The eating-drinking sunnah and manners of the Messenger of Allah, who is the best model for humans, were as follows:

        * He always washed his hands before and after eating. He said, “The blessing of food is washing hands before and after eating.” (1) It means to wash the hands in any case.

        * He started eating by saying Bismillahi. He warned people as follows: “If one of you eats, he should mention Allah's name first. If he forgets to mention Allah's name at the beginning, he should say ‘Bismillahi at the beginning and in the end’.” (2) To start eating and drinking with Bismillahi is both a deed of worship, and health, as well as blessing. Therefore, to think about the one that gives the boon is more enjoyable than the boon itself for Allah’s friends.  

           * The Prophet always ate with his right hand and from the part of the plate in front of him. He warns us as follows regarding the issue: “Eat with your right hand and drink with your right hand; use your right hand when you take and give something. For, Satan eats with his right hand and drinks with his right hand; he uses his right hand when he takes and gives something.” (3)

         * The Prophet did not eat very hot and very cold food; he did not regard it appropriate to breathe into vessels. This protects teeth along with preventing tissue damage that can lead to cancer. As it is known, it is unhealthy to breathe into vessels containing food and drink because according to today’s medical findings, many diseases can spread through breath. The carbon dioxide in the breath can infect the food. We are advised to keep the glass away from the mouth when we breathe. When mothers feed their children, they should avoid breathing into the spoon.   

Medicine, which makes it compulsory to wear masks against coronavirus, virtually proves a scientific miracle of the Prophet.

        * The Prophet did not eat much in the evening; and he did not include oily food in dinner. He walked at least a hundred steps after a meal.  

        * The Messenger of Allah did not drink water just before a meal and immediately after eating fruit.       

        * The Prophet drank water by sitting and in three breaths. He gave the following advice regarding the issue: “Do not drink water in one breath like a camel. However, drink it in two or three breaths. Say 'Bismillah' and when you drink water; say 'Alhamdulillah'' after drinking water.” (4)  Drinking water like this is more beneficial to the stomach and it eliminates thirst better. The Prophet states the following in another narration: “When you drink water, do not drink by sipping; drink by sucking because sipping leads to liver and spleen diseases.” (5)

It is makruh to eat while standing but there are different narrations about drinking water while sitting or standing; what is essential is to drink by sitting. However, the Prophet sometimes drank zamzam by sitting. It indicates permission that water can be drunk by standing.

It has been understood through scientific research that drinking water by saying bismillahi and by sitting, eating the flesh of the animals slaughtered by bismillahi are among the principles of preventive medicine.  

          * When the Prophet ate, he would not hurry. He did not eat two similar types of food at the same time. He did not have two hot dishes or two cold dishes at the same time on his table.

One of the miraculous acts of the Prophet about nutrition is that he did not make it obligatory for him and his ummah to eat only one type of food. He had different types of food, which is strongly advised by modern medicine.  

He did not make a distinction between food of animal origin and plant origin, which are two sources of nutrition. It has been determined by medicine that health problems occur in people who feed on only food of animal origin and only food of plant origin. Therefore, the Prophet did not ignore them; he sometimes ate both of them together and sometimes separately.   

His eating-drinking style is health-centered.  

The Prophet sat cross-legged or on his left knee by keeping his right knee upright while eating. He did not regard it appropriate to eat by standing or leaning on something. The Messenger of Allah states that there is illness in the food of a stingy person and cure in the food of a generous person (6).

Islam, which is a religion of measure and balance, prohibits going to extremes in nutrition; it orders adequate and balanced nutrition.

It is known that there is a very close relationship between the food we eat and our health. Overeating and overdrinking are stated to be the cause of many diseases. It has been determined by medicine that the main reason for many diseases like respiratory diseases, vascular occlusion and arteriosclerosis, gallstones, coronary failure, snoring, varicose veins, abdominal hernias, intestinal diseases, menstrual disorders and infertility is to fill the stomach fully.

It is known that many diseases in this age originate from inadequate nutrition or overeating and overdrinking. Islam solves this problem with a short statement in the Quran and a hadith:

Allah warns us as follows: “Eat and drink: But waste not by excess.” (7) His Messenger of states the following: “Son of Adam does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If it is not possible, he should divide his stomach into three: Leave a third for food, a third for drink, and third for his breath.” (8) Thus, he gives us the criterion for healthy nutrition.

It can be said that this hadith, which determines the basic principle for human health in this age, is a remedy of salvation for millions of people that die of overeating and of hunger in this age.  

1) Tirmidhi, Atima, 39.
2) Tirmidhi, 1V, 288.
3) Muslim, 1374.
4) Tirmidhi, IV, 302.
5) Tirmidhi, Shamailush-Sharif, p. 238.
6) (see Suyuti, al-Jamius-Saghr, h. no: 8053)
7) al-Araf, 31.
8) Tirmidhi, Zuhd, 47.

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