728. `umar bin abu salamah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh), said to me, "mention allah's name (i.e., say bismillah before starting eating), eat with your right hand, and eat from what is near you.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: there are two things about this hadith. first, we should start eating or drinking by pronouncing the name of allah. second, we should eat from our side without stretching our hand to the side where someone else is eating. this may be the case when more than one or two people are eating the same kind of food from a single dish. good manners do not allow it, yet in case a variety of food or fruit is lying before us on the table, we are free to take our pick.
729. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "when any of you wants to eat, he should mention the name of allah in the begining, (i.e., say bismillah). if he forgets to do it in the beginning, he should say bismillah awwalahu wa akhirahu (i begin with the name of allah at the beginning and at the end).''
[at-tirmidhi and abu dawud].
commentary: this hadith provides us a concession. if we have forgotten to pronounce the name of allah before beginning to eat, we can do it during eating or in the end.
730. jabir (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i heard messenger of allah (pbuh) saying, "if a person mentions the name of allah upon entering his house or eating, satan says, addressing his followers: `you will find no where to spend the night and no dinner.' but if he enters without mentioning the name of allah, satan says (to his followers); `you have found (a place) to spend the night in, and if he does not mention the name of allah at the time of eating, satan says: `you have found (a place) to spend the night in as well as food.'''
commentary: herein, we are told that in order to ward off satan and his followers, we are supposed to remember allah before entering our house and before beginning to eat. the remembrance of allah implies those appropriate prayers of the prophet (pbuh) which have been mentioned in ahadith. for example, we are instructed to pronounce the name of allah before beginning to eat. on entering our house we recite the following prophetic prayer: "allahumma inni as'aluka khairal-mawliji wa khairal-makhraji. bismillahi wa lajna, wa bismillahi kharajna, wa `al-allahi rabbina tawakkalna.'' (o allah! i ask you for what is good of entrance and what is good for exit. with the name of allah do we enter, and with the name of allah do we leave, and upon our rubb allah have we put our trust).
731. hudhaifah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: when we attended a meal with the messenger of allah (pbuh), we would not stretch forth our hands towards the food until he (pbuh) would start eating first. once, we were with him when a little girl rushed in as if someone was impelling her. she was about to lay her hand on the food when the messenger of allah (pbuh) caught her hand. then a bedouin came in rushing as if someone were pushing him. he (pbuh) caught his hand also and said, "satan considers that food lawful for himself on which the name of allah is not mentioned. he (satan) brought this girl to make the food lawful through her but i caught her hand. then he brought the bedouin to make it lawful through him but i caught his hand too. by him in whose hand my soul is, now satan's hand is in my grasp along with their hands.'' then he mentioned the name of allah and began to eat.
[abu dawud and an-nasa'i].
commentary: here, too, we are told that if we do not pronounce allah's name, satan and his minions will share our meal with us. so prior to eating, we must pronounce the name of allah. an incident is related in this hadith. once, messenger of allah (pbuh) and his companions were just to start taking their meal when an unknown girl and a bedouin burst upon the scene. without seeking the formal permission and pronouncing the name of allah they hurriedly stretched their hands to eat. yet, messenger of allah (pbuh) restrained them from doing so. owing to divine inspiration, he had seen the hidden hand of the devil behind their abrupt actions. we have only one way to escape the devil, that is, on such occasions we should first pronounce the name of allah. second, this hadith enlightens us on table manners calling for decency and decorum. it will be called an act of sheer indecency to voraciously pounce upon food as is commonly witnessed in feasts and weddings. indeed, it is the result of deviation from islamic teachings that many muslims have grown ignorant of the prophet's manner of eating. allah, too, has left them unrestrained in their beast-like hunger.
732. umaiyyah bin makhshi (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) was sitting while a man was eating food. that man did not mention the name of allah (before commencing to eat) till only a morsel of food was left. when he raised it to his mouth, he said: "bismillah awwalahu wa akhirahu (with the name of allah, in the beginning and in the end).'' messenger of allah (pbuh) smiled at this and said, "satan had been eating with him but when he mentioned the name of allah, satan vomited all that was in his stomach.''
[abu dawud and an-nasa'i].
commentary: this hadith also informs us that satan shares food and drink with those people who do not mention the name of allah.
733. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) was eating with his six companions when a desert arab came and ate up the food in two mouthfuls. messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "had he mentioned the name of allah, it would have sufficed for all of you.''
commentary: the pronouncement of allah's name brings blessing to the meal, and the omission of his name robs blessing away.
734. abu umamah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: whenever the prophet (pbuh) finished a meal, he would say: "al-hamdu lillahi kathiran taiyiban mubarakan fihi, ghaira makfiyyin wa la muwadda`in, wa la mustaghnan `anhu, rabbuna. (all praise is due to allah, praise which is abundant, pure, and full of blessings, which is indispensable and to which one cannot be indifferent).''
commentary: this hadith mentions a supplication which messenger of allah (pbuh) used to recite after taking meal. the economy of words was the essence of the prophet's (pbuh) eloquence as displayed here. to supplicate this prophetic prayer after taking a meal is recommendable.
735. mu`adh bin anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "he who has taken food and says at the end: `al-hamdu lillahi-lladhi at`amani hadha, wa razaqanihi min ghairi haulin minni wa la quwwatin (all praise is due to allah who has given me food to eat and provided it without any endeavour on my part or any power),' all his past sins will be forgiven.''
commentary: this hadith tells us that if we praise allah after taking a meal, all our minor sins committed in the past will be forgiven by him.