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The Manners of Eating....

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  • The Manners of Eating....

    Al-Ghazali on the manners related to eating

    Chapter One

    What is Necessary for the Person Eating Alone Being three Sections:
    Before the Food is Served; When One is Eating; When the Meal is Over.
    On the manners to be observed before the meal and they are:

    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 Sunna and with piety.Book of the Lawful and Unlawful regarding the meaning of what is unconditionally good.

    God has ordered the eating of that which is good (al-tayyib),this being the lawful. He has put the prohibition of )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 ,to the end of the verse. 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 . The Emissary of God (may God bless him and grant him peace) has said,

    The third [rule of conduct] is to place the food on a sufra on the groundcloser to humility. If not, then it should be on a sufra, as a reminder of travelling; 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 sukurrujasufra

    It was said that after [the death of] the Emissary of God four things were introduced: tables, sieves, potash, 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 that occurred after the Emissary of God, not everything innovated is proscribed, but only that innovation which is contrary to an established Sunna, 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 food has been raised from the floor and laid out on it for facility 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.

    To drink when reclining is also disagreeable for the stomach, and to eat lying down or reclining 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

    The fifth [rule of conduct] is to have the intention,increasing his capacity for worship,

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

    With regard to this intention, the person must refrain from stretching his hand towards the food unless he is hungry,

    The sixth [rule of conduct] is to be content with any sustenance and any food available.

    time for prayer arrives, one should not put off eating bread [i.e., the meal] if there is sufficient 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,
    What does 'freedom' mean?

    Does the eagle want to swim in the sea,
    Restricted by the sky?

    Does the fish want to dance on the wind,
    Not enough river to explore?

    Yet the sky is freedom for the bird
    but death for the fish,

    The sea is wide for the fish
    but will engulf the bird.

    We ask for freedom but freedom to do what?
    We can only express our nature as it was created.

    The prayer mat of the earth is freedom,
    freedom from slavery to other than the One,
    Who offers an shoreless ocean of love to swim in
    and a horizon that extends to the next life,
    Yet we chose the prison and call it freedom.


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