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On the manners to be observed before the meal

A picture of a man eating alone

The first [rule of conduct]: that the food be lawful both in itself and in the means by which it was acquired; that it shall be in accordance with the Sunnah {qluetip title=[1]}The sayings and actions of the Prophet.{/qluetip} and with piety. It should not have been gained through anything contrary to canonical law, nor through some evil inclination, nor deceit relating to debt - and agreeing with what will be presented in the Book of the Lawful and the Unlawful{qluetip title=[2]}The fourteenth book of the Ihya' and the fourth of the quarter of the Norms of Daily Life ('Adat){/qluetip} regarding the meaning of what is unconditionally good.

God has ordered the eating of that which is good (at-tayyib), this being the lawful. He has put the prohibition of 'wrongful eating' (al-akl bi'l-batil){qluetip title=[3]}In Arabic, al-akl bi'l-batil means acquiring anything unlawfully.{/qluetip} before that of killing, in order to illustrate the gravity of that which is unlawful and the greatness of the blessing of that which is lawful. He said:

"O you who believe, squander not your wealth (la ta'kulu amwalakum) among yourselves in vanity ... and kill not one another," to the end of the verse (ta'kulu is from the same root as akl).
Al-Qur'an 4:29

The basic principle with respect to food is that food must be good, this being one of the duties and fundamentals of religion.

The second [rule of conduct] is to wash one's hands. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) has said:

"Ablution performed before a meal banishes poverty, ablution after a meal banishes minor sins."
This hadith appears in the Musnad of Quda'i, and is close to the hadith in Tirmidhi, At'ima, 1846 and Abu Dawud, At'ima, 3761, 'The blessings of food is the ablution before and after,' generally considered weak

And in another version:

"[Ablution performed] both before and after the meal banishes poverty."

Since the hand cannot escape dirt in the performance of tasks, washing it is the best way to keep it clean and unsullied. And because eating as a support for religion is a form ofworship, it is proper that one approach it in the same state as for prayers.

The third [rule of conduct] is to place the food on a sufra{qluetip title=[4]}A ground cover, generally made of leather, which was carried on journeys and spread out for meals.{/qluetip} on the ground - for this is closest to what the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) did - rather than to place it on a raised table. "When food was brought to the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace), he would place it on the ground,"{qluetip title=[4A]}Ibn Hanbal, Kitab az-Zuhd, p. 21{/qluetip} for this is closer to humility. If not, then it should be on a sufra, as a reminder of travelling;{qluetip title=[5]}Sufra has the same root (sfr) as words denoting travel.{/qluetip} and travelling puts in mind travelling to the Afterlife and the need for provision in the form of pious deeds. Anas ibn Malik said:

"The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) ate neither on a table (khiwan) nor in a sukurruja.''{qluetip title=[6]}Sukurruja is an arabicised Persian word for a bowl-shaped vessel.{/qluetip} Someone asked: "On what have you been eating, then?" "On a sufra,"he said.
Bukhari, At'ima, 5414, in the words of Anas ibn Malik, "The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) ate neither on a khiwan not in a sukurruja; and he ate no refined bread. I said to Qatadah, 'Then upon what were they wont to eat?' He said, 'On a sufra.'"

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On the manners to be observed before the meal

A picture of a man eating alone

The first [rule of conduct]: that the food be lawful both in itself and in the means by which it was acquired; that it shall be in accordance with the Sunnah {qluetip title=[1]}The sayings and actions of the Prophet.{/qluetip} and with piety. It should not have been gained through anything contrary to canonical law, nor through some evil inclination, nor deceit relating to debt - and agreeing with what will be presented in the Book of the Lawful and the Unlawful{qluetip title=[2]}The fourteenth book of the Ihya' and the fourth of the quarter of the Norms of Daily Life ('Adat){/qluetip} regarding the meaning of what is unconditionally good.

God has ordered the eating of that which is good (at-tayyib), this being the lawful. He has put the prohibition of 'wrongful eating' (al-akl bi'l-batil){qluetip title=[3]}In Arabic, al-akl bi'l-batil means acquiring anything unlawfully.{/qluetip} before that of killing, in order to illustrate the gravity of that which is unlawful and the greatness of the blessing of that which is lawful. He said:

"O you who believe, squander not your wealth (la ta'kulu amwalakum) among yourselves in vanity ... and kill not one another," to the end of the verse (ta'kulu is from the same root as akl).
Al-Qur'an 4:29

The basic principle with respect to food is that food must be good, this being one of the duties and fundamentals of religion.

The second [rule of conduct] is to wash one's hands. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) has said:

"Ablution performed before a meal banishes poverty, ablution after a meal banishes minor sins."
This hadith appears in the Musnad of Quda'i, and is close to the hadith in Tirmidhi, At'ima, 1846 and Abu Dawud, At'ima, 3761, 'The blessings of food is the ablution before and after,' generally considered weak

And in another version:

"[Ablution performed] both before and after the meal banishes poverty."

Since the hand cannot escape dirt in the performance of tasks, washing it is the best way to keep it clean and unsullied. And because eating as a support for religion is a form ofworship, it is proper that one approach it in the same state as for prayers.

The third [rule of conduct] is to place the food on a sufra{qluetip title=[4]}A ground cover, generally made of leather, which was carried on journeys and spread out for meals.{/qluetip} on the ground - for this is closest to what the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) did - rather than to place it on a raised table. "When food was brought to the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace), he would place it on the ground,"{qluetip title=[4A]}Ibn Hanbal, Kitab az-Zuhd, p. 21{/qluetip} for this is closer to humility. If not, then it should be on a sufra, as a reminder of travelling;{qluetip title=[5]}Sufra has the same root (sfr) as words denoting travel.{/qluetip} and travelling puts in mind travelling to the Afterlife and the need for provision in the form of pious deeds. Anas ibn Malik said:

"The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) ate neither on a table (khiwan) nor in a sukurruja.''{qluetip title=[6]}Sukurruja is an arabicised Persian word for a bowl-shaped vessel.{/qluetip} Someone asked: "On what have you been eating, then?" "On a sufra,"he said.
Bukhari, At'ima, 5414, in the words of Anas ibn Malik, "The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) ate neither on a khiwan not in a sukurruja; and he ate no refined bread. I said to Qatadah, 'Then upon what were they wont to eat?' He said, 'On a sufra.'"

It was said that after [the death of] the Emissary of God four things were introduced: tables, sieves, potash,{qluetip title=[7]}Ushnan: a substance with which clothes and hands were cleaned.{/qluetip} and repletion.

Know that although we have said that eating on a sufra is more appropriate, we do not say that eating on a table is proscribed as either distasteful or forbidden, for no proscription of it has been established. As for the claim that it was an innovation{qluetip title=[7A]}Al-Ghazali is referring indirectly to the principle derived from the hadith in Muslim, Jumu'ah, 867: "The worst things [in religion] are those things which are started up [muhadathat], and all innovations in religion [bid'ah] are misguidance."{/qluetip} that occurred after the Emissary of God, not everything innovated is proscribed, but only that innovation which is contrary to an established Sunnah, as it does away with the canonical law while not solving the problem. However, innovation may be required in cases where the circumstances have changed. For there is nothing about a table other than that food has been raised from the floor and laid out on it for faciliry of eating and the like. And there is nothing abhorrent about this.

The four things together regarded as innovation are not of equal importance. Potash is good because of its cleansing properties. Washing is desirable for cleanliness and potash perfects cleaning. People had not been using potash perhaps because they were not accustomed to doing so, or it was not easily available, or they were preoccupied with matters more important than indulging in excessive cleanliness. Thus they also used not to wash their hands [before and after meals], their [only drying] cloth being the hollow in the soles of their feet. This, however, does not preclude the desirability of washing.

As for the sieve, its purpose is to render food more pleasant. This is permissible so long as it does not lead to a life of excessive luxury. Just as the table is helpful in eating, it, too, is permissible so long as it does not lead to pride and haughtiness. Repletion is the worst of the four in that it arouses the passions and activates maladies in the body. Therefore, understand the difference between these innovations.

The fourth [rule of conduct] is that upon sitting at the sufra one ought to sit properly and remain in that position. Thus, "The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) used often to squat down on his knees and sit on his heels for the meal. At other times he would raise his right leg and sit on his left." He used to say:

"I do not eat when reclining ... for I am but a slave; I eat as a slave eats and sit as a slave sits."
The first part is from Bukhari, At'ima, 5398. The second part is from the hadith, "I am but a slave. I sit as a slave sits, and I eat as a slave eats, " appears in Ibn Hanbal, Kitab az-Zuhd, p. 19 and p. 21

To drink when reclining is also disagreeable for the stomach, and to eat lying down or recling is abhorrent except when munching seeds and berries. It was related concerning 'Ali (may God ennoble his countenance) that he ate dry bread from a shield while lying down - [in another version], while lying prostrate on his stomach, which the Bedouin Arabs sometimes did.

The fifth [rule of conduct] is to have the intention, when eating, of strengthening oneself in obedience to God, so as to be obedient through food and not to seek gratification and luxurious living through food. Ibrahim ibn Shayban said:

"For eighty years I have not eaten anything for my own appetite."

And yet he resolved to lessen his intake offood. Since he ate for the purpose of increasing his capacity for worship, his intention was sincere only when he ate less than what satisfied him, for repletion obstructs worship and does not increase the capacity for it. Thus for this intention it is necessary that one's appetite be broken, and that one prefer frugality to being distended.

The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said:

"No human being has ever filled a container worse than his own stomach. The son of Adam needs no more than some morsels of food to keep up his strength; doing so, he should consider that a third of [his stomach] is for food, a third for drink and a third for breathing."
Ibn Majah, At'ima, 3349

With regard to this intention, the person must refrain from stretching his hand towards the food unless he is hungry, for hunger is something which must always precede eating. Then he must raise up his hand before repletion. Doing so, he dispenses with doctors. The benefit of eating little and of gradually reducing one's food intake will be dealt with in the 'Chapter of Destroying the Appetite for Food',{qluetip title=[7B]}Al-Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires, trans. TJ Winter, Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1995, pp. 108-164{/qluetip} from the fourth section of those things that bring about a man's end.

The sixth [rule of conduct] is to be content with any sustenance and any food available. One should not strive for luxury, ask for more or expect a condiment{qluetip title=[8]}Udm or idam refer to something eaten with bread.{/qluetip} in which to dip one's bread. In fact, it is a mark of the esteem accorded to bread that no condiment be served with it.

One Tradition{qluetip title=[8A]}Bayhaqi, Shu'ab al-Iman, v. 5869 and Uqayli, Ad-Du'afa al-Kabir III. 28: "Hold bread in esteem, and part of the esteem accorded to bread is that one should not expect anything with it." Ibn Al-Jawzi included this saying in his collection of fabricated hadith{/qluetip} enjoins holding bread in esteem, for everything that keeps the spark of life alive and strengthens one's capicity for worship is of great benefit and should not be despised. In fact, when the time for prayer arrives, one should not put off eating bread [i.e., the meal] if there is sufficient time. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said:

"If the time for evening prayers and that of supper coincide, begin with the supper."
Muslim, Masajid, 557, with the wording, "If the supper is ready and you have made the call to begin the prayer, begin with the supper."

'Abdullah ibn 'Umar would often hear the Imam reciting [the Qur'an at prayers] and would not rise from his supper. So long as one does not yearn for food and there is no harm in putting off the time for food, it is more seemly to give preference to prayer. But if the food is ready and the time for prayer has come, and by putting off the meal the food will become cold or spoiled, giving it preference is more desirable when there is time, whether one craves it or not - according to most Traditions. This is because one cannot abstain from thinking about food that has been laid out, even when it is not very hungry.

The seventh [rule of conduct] is that one should try to have many hands partake of the meal, even if they be only your women and children. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said:

"Gather together over your food and you will be blessed in it."
Abu Dawud, At'ima, 3764 and Ibn Majah, At'ima, 3826, with the wording, "Gather together over your food, mention the Name of God (Exalted be He!) and you will be blessed in it."

Anas [ibn Malik] said, "The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) used not to eat alone."{qluetip title=[8B]}Kharai'ti, Makarim al-Akhlaq 142{/qluetip} And the Emissary of God said:

"The best food is that over which there are many hands."
Bayhaqi, Shu'ab al-Iman, VII, 9622, with the wording, "The food most loved to God is the one over which there are many hands."

On the manners to be observed when eating

One should begin the meal with the words 'In the name of God' {qluetip title=[8C]}Referring to the hadith, "O lad, mention the Name of God, eat with your right hand and eat what is before you." Bukhari, At'ima, 5376 and Muslim, At'ima, 2022{/qluetip} and end it with 'Praise be to God' {qluetip title=[8D]}Bukhari, At'ima, 5458; Muslim, Dhikr, 2734{/qluetip}. It would be well if one were to say with every mouthful 'In the name of God', that greed may not distract one from mentioning the name of God (Exalted be He!). One should say with the first mouthful 'In the name of God', with the second 'In the name of God the Merciful', with the third 'In the name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate' - and loudly to remind others.

A person should eat with the right hand,{qluetip title=[8E]}Cf. note 8C above{/qluetip} commencing and ending with salt.{qluetip title=[8F]}We did not find a source for this practice, other than the hadith in Shu'ab al-Iman, V. 5951: "The master of all your condiments is salt," with the word "master" carrying the sense of 'crowning touch'.{/qluetip} He should keep each mouthful small and chew it well. He should not stretch out his hand for another mouthful before swallowing the first, for eating this way would be too hasty. Moreover, he should not decry any [food] being eaten. The Prophet found no fault in anything he ate; if he liked something he ate it, otherwise he left it alone.{qluetip title=[8G]}Bukhari, At'ima, 3563 and Muslim, Ashriba, 2064, with the wording. "The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) never found fault with any food."{/qluetip}

A man should eat of that which is closest to him, save in the case of fruit, where he may let his hand rove around and choose. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, "Eat of that which is close to you." {qluetip title=[8H]}Cf. note 8C above{/qluetip} Then he circled round the fruit with his hand. He was asked about this and he said, "It is not all of one sort." {qluetip title=[8I]}Tirmidhi related in At'ima, 1848, a long hadith, in which the Prophet first tells 'Ikrash ibn Dhu'ayb to eat from what is in front of him, "because it is all one sort." Then, when a bowl of fruit is presented, he says, "Eat from wherever you please, for it is not all one sort." Ibn Hibban classified the same hadith as weak.{/qluetip}

A person should not eat from the rim of the bowl nor yet from the centre.{qluetip title=[8J]}Referring to the hadith, "Blessing [al-barakah] descends from the centre of the food, so eat from the circumference, not from the centre," Tirmidhi, At'ima, 1805. This expresses the idea that the centre is where the food is piled up the highest{/qluetip} He should eat from the circumference of the loaf - unless it is only a small loaf which should be broken instead of cut with a knife.{qluetip title=[8K]}Ibn Hibban includes a saying prohibiting the cutting of bread with a knife in his collection of weak hadith{/qluetip} Meat, too, is not to be cut. [The Emissary of God] forbade it, saying: "Tear it into pieces." {qluetip title=[8L]}Nasa'i, Siyam, 2243, "Do not cut meat with a knife, but rather bite it off piece by piece." Nasa'i calls this hadith 'disreputable' (munkar). Abu Dawud (At'ima, 3778) includes the following hadith, "Do not cut meat with a knife, for that is the practice of foreigners, but rather tear it off ...," about which Abu Dawud says, "This hadith has no strength."{/qluetip} Neither a dish nor anything else ought to be placed on bread; only that which is eaten with it [may be placed on it]. The Prophet said, "Hold bread in esteem for God (Exalted be He!) has sent it down as one of Heaven's blessings." {qluetip title=[8M]}Cf. note 8A above{/qluetip} Thus one should not wipe one's hand with bread. He (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, "If a morsel falls from one of you, let him pick it up and remove what is harmful from it - let him not leave it for Satan. He should not wipe his hand with a cloth until he has licked his fingers, for he knows not which part of his food contains the blessing." {qluetip title=[8N]}Muslim, Ashriba, 2033{/qluetip}

And one must not blow on hot food. This is prohibited. One should wait patiently until it is easy to eat.{qluetip title=[8O]}Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, IV. 2678. Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 1887, relates a sound hadith prohibiting blowing into vessels (al-ina'){/qluetip}

Of dates a person should eat an odd number: seven, eleven, or twenty-one, or however many they may come to. He must not place the dates and their stones together in one dish, or bring them together in the palm of the hand, but should place the stones from his mouth to the back of his hand and then discard them. Anything that has a kernel or dregs should be dealt with similarly. Any food found distasteful must be left with the dregs rather than put aside in the dish, lest it mislead anyone into eating it.

A person should not drink much while eating unless he has choked on a mouthful or is truly thirsty, for it has been said that this is medically desirable, it being stomachic.{qluetip title=[9]}That is, not drinking a lot of water helps digestion.{/qluetip}

As for the manners of drinking, one should take the jug in the right hand,{qluetip title=[9A]}Muslim, Ashriba, 2033{/qluetip} say 'In the name of God' and drink it in sips rather than in gulps. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, "Drink water in sips, do not gulp it down - for liver ailments are brought about by gulping."{qluetip title=[9B]}Bayhaqi, Shu'ab al-Iman, V. 6009: "Drink in sips and do not gulp." There is no mention of liver ailments{/qluetip} Do not drink either standing up or lying down, for the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) forbade drinking while standing. It was related that sometimes he drank standing up; but he no doubt had a good excuse for doing so.{qluetip title=[9C]}Muslim, Ashriba, 2024, "The Prophet forbade drinking while standing." This is the general rule; while Bukhari, Ashriba, 5617 states, "The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) drank from the well of Zamzam standing."{/qluetip}

A person should be careful about the bottom of the jug lest it drip on him; and he should look into the jug before drinking. He should neither belch nor breathe into the jug,{qluetip title=[9D]}Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 1887: "The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) forbade breathing into what is being drunk."{/qluetip} but move it away from his mouth, saying 'Praise be to God', and handing it back with the words 'In the name of God'.{qluetip title=[9E]}Tirmidhi, Ashriba, 1885, relates, "Do not drink in one breath as does a camel, but in a second and third; and mention God's name when you drink and praise God when you have finished." Some scholars consider part of this hadith's chain of narration weak{/qluetip}

After drinking, the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said:

"Praise be to God who has made it sweet and wholesome through His mercy, and has not made it salty and bitter with our sins."
We were unable to find a source for this hadith

The jug and everything that is passed around to people should be passed to the right. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) was drinking some milk with Abu Bakr on his left, a bedouin on his right and 'Umar alongside him. 'Umar said, "Give it to Abu Bakr" - and the bedouin passed it over. The Emissary of God said, "To the right, then to the right."{qluetip title=[9F]}The version in Bukhari, Hiba, 2571, related by Anas, reads, "The Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) came to our house and asked to drink. So we milked a ewe we had, added some water from our well and gave it to him. Abu Bakr was on his left, 'Umar in front of him and a Bedouin on his right. When he finished [drinking], 'Umar said, 'Here it is Abu Bakr,' but [the Prophet] gave [the cup] to the Bedouin instead, saying, 'To the right, to the right! Is it not to the right?'" Anas said, "So this is Sunnah - Sunnah thrice over!"{/qluetip} And he would drink in three swallows,{qluetip title=[9G]}Cf. note 9B above{/qluetip} saying 'Praise be to God' after each one and 'In the name of God' before. After the first swallow he would say 'Praise be to God', after the second he would add 'Lord of the Worlds', after the third 'the Merciful, the Compassionate.' {qluetip title=[9H]}We were unable to find a hadith source for this last practice of the Prophet{/qluetip}

The above amounts to nearly twenty ways of behaving when eating and drinking for which the Narrations and Traditions of God's Emissary furnish evidence.{qluetip title=[10]}Al-Akhbar wa'l-Athar ('Narrations and Traditions'). According to Lane, these two terms are generally held to be synonymous, though athar often stands for something related by a Companion of the Prophet rather than the Prophet himself.{/qluetip}

One should hold back before becoming replete, and lick one's fingers, wipe them with a cloth, wash them and pick up the [fallen] crumbs of food. The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) said, "He who eats what has fallen from the table shall live in comfort and his children shall be kept healthy." {qluetip title=[10A]}Abu Dawud, At'ima, 3845 relates the hadith, "When the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) used to finish eating, he would lick his fingers thrice and say, 'If a piece of what anyone of you is eating falls, brush away anything harmful on it and eat it, and do not cast it to the Devil.' And he would command us to wipe clean the plate, saying, 'None of you knows in which of the food is the blessing [barakah].'"{/qluetip}

A person should use a tooth-stick but should not swallow what he extracts from his teeth with tooth-sticks except what he can collect from the base of his teeth with his tongue. Whatever he extracts with tooth-sticks must be discarded, and he should rinse [his mouth] after using tooth-sticks for about this there is a Tradition on the authority of the family of the Prophet.{qluetip title=10B]}We were unable to find a source for this{/qluetip}

One should also lick the dish and drink any liquid in it. It is said that he who licks the dish, washes it clean and drinks the liquid shall have the reward of someone who has manumitted a slave:{qluetip title=[10C]}As for wiping clean the dish, see note 10A. We are unable to find a hadith recommending drinking the water of the washed plate{/qluetip} and that the picking up of crumbs is the dowries of houris. And that a person should thank God wholeheartedly for what He has given him to eat, and regard this food as a favour from Him.

God has said:

"Eat of the good things with which We have provided you and give thanks to God."
Al-Qur'an 2:172

Whenever one has eaten lawful food one should say, 'Praise be to God through whose bounty good deeds are accomplished and blessings brought down. O God, nourish us with what is good and make us act virtuously.' If a person eats something dubious, then he should say, 'Praise be to God in any event. O God, do not make this something that strengthens our disobedience to You.'

After eating, a person should recite "Say, God is One" and "For the taming of the Quraysh" {qluetip title=[10D]}Al-Qur'an 112:1 and 106:1, respectively. Nawawi, in Al-Adhkar, p. 228, relates a hadith on the authority of Jabir: "Whoever forgets to mention the name of God upon his food should recite [the surah], 'Say, God is One,' when he finishes."{/qluetip} and And he must not rise from the table until it has first been cleared. If he eats food [prepared] by someone, he should offer these words of supplication: 'O God, increase his benefit; bless for him that with which you have provided him; make it easy for him to do good through it; make him satisfied with what You have given him; and make him and us grateful.' If he has broken the fast at someone's house, then let him say: 'May those fasting break their fast with you, and may the pious eat your food, and may the angels pray for you.' {qluetip title=[10E]}Abu Dawud, At'ima, 3854; Ibn Majah, Siyam, 1747{/qluetip}

He should constantly ask God for forgiveness and grieve over anything dubious he may have eaten, so as to extinguish, through tears and grief, the heat of the Fire to which he is exposed - this by grace of the Prophet's words:

"The Fire is most fitting for every piece of flesh that has originated from what is unlawful."
Bayhaqi, Shu'ab al-Iman, V. 5762, with the wording, "Neither blood nor flesh originating from what is forbidden will enter Heaven; and the Fire is most fitting for every piece of flesh originating from what is unlawful."

One who eats [something unlawful] and weeps [in regret] is not like one who eats and is oblivious.

Let him who has drunk milk say: 'O God, bless us in what You have provided for us and grant us its increase.' When a person eats something else, he should say: 'O God, bless us in what you have provided for us and grant us something better.' In the former supplication the Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) singled out milk for its overall benefit.{qluetip title=[10F]}Ibn Majah, At'ima, 3322, with the wording: "He to whom God gives food should say, 'O God, bless us in what You have provided us with, and provide us with better yet.' And he to whom God gives milk to drink should say, 'O God bless us with it, and increase it for us,' for I know of no other food or drink more rewarding than milk."{/qluetip}

It is recommended that after eating one should say: 'Praise be to God who has given us food, drink and sufficiency, and who has sheltered us. O our Master and Lord, you who defend us from all, whose divine decree nothing can countermand; You have appeased hunger and protected [us] from fear. And so to You be praise. You have given refuge to the orphaned and shown the right path from the wrong; you have relieved people from impoverishment - to You then be praise, praise that is plentiful, everlasting, good, profitable and blessed. For you are worthy and deserving of it. O God, You have fed us with the good things, so make us act virtuosly, and let this help us be obedient to You. We take refuge in You should we make use [of food] in our disobedience to You.'

As for the washing of the hands with potash, the way to do it is to place the potash in the left palm, to wash the three fingers of the right hand first, to strike the fingers against the dry potash and to wipe one's lips with it. After this, one should wash one's mouth with one's finger, rubbing the front and back parts of the teeth, the palate and the tongue. Then, one should wash the potash from one's fingers with water. With the remainder of the dry potash one should rub one's fingers, back and front. By doing this one is able to dispense with putting more potash on the mouth and having to re-wash it.

From Al-Ghazali on the Manners Relating to Eating: Book XI of the Revival of the Religious Sciences, The Islamic Texts Society 2000

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