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Adab of Eating

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

19 September 2009 Fenton Zawiya, Michigan

After Dhuhr (last day of Ramadan)

A`udhu billāhi min ash-Shaytān ir-rajīm

Bismil-Lāhi’ r-Rahmāni ‘r-Rahīm.

Nawaytu ‘l-arba`īn, nawaytu ‘l-`itikāf, nawaytu’l-khalwah, nawaytu ‘l-`uzlah, nawaytu ‘r-riyādah,

nawaytu ‘s-sulook, lillāhi ta`ala fī hādha ‘l-masjid.

Obey Allah, obey the Prophet, and obey those who are on authority. (4:59)

As we said before, at-tariqatu kulahaa aadaabun, "Tariqah is built on good manners." Tariqah is the essence of Islam; it is within the framework of Islam and Islamic behaviors. This means if we don’t have good manners, it is as if someone is outside of what Prophet (s) brought. As you like to dress and speak nicely, these actions have their own discipline and respect. You cannot cross the limits. When you have a red light, you cannot pass; you have to stop. When you have a green light, you can move. So in Islam you have to know the red light before you know the green light, because if you don’t know where to stop, you might make lots of mistakes. So the red light is important so you can stop desires and selfishness, or else you could go beyond limits and fall down any moment.

Everything we do has specific characteristics or protocols to remember Allah (swt). And I would like to address this issue that everyone needs everyday and no one can live without it. People might wonder what is that thing you cannot live without? It is important to know. If we think little bit, we have the answer. What is that? (One murid) said "food," one said "water," one said "air." The first answer was right. You cannot live without food, which is the main need, then the others will come. Even in hospital you need food.

When you go to work, you dress nicely so people can see you as handsome or beautiful. Also, when you eat you have to give the highest respect in front of the food. People today eat with hungry eyes, as if they never saw food, and that is shirk. Prophet (s) ate most of the time barley bread, which is hard and has stones. He ate it with water, salt and vinegar or oil. Alhamdulillah, that was a complete meal for Prophet (s)! Today you are fasting. If they bring you bread, oil and vinegar, you will not beat them, but immediately you will get angry and go to a restaurant. You won’t say alhamdulillah if there is only vinegar, oil and bread. There are people in Pakistan and Africa who have no food! Allah (swt) provides us the best food and still we complain it is not good or not enough or what we want.

Mawlana Shaykh Nazim, may Allah give him long life, in his house in Damascus in 1960, it was his habit that when people went to sleep, he went to the kitchen to a closed cabinet, with wire screen with small holes for air, opened it and checked on food that is spoiled. He put it aside for the next day, the smelliest food. The next day Mawlana offered his guests the good food and has the bad food for himself. I saw it many times. He would eat the spoiled food, sometimes with mold and spots, not giving it to anyone else to eat. Today, you will do that? No one will do that. Tons of food will be thrown. Islam came to teach us how to eat!

In government diplomatic trainings, they teach you the protocols of eating with manners. They give lessons that Ibless likes! You go to a restaurant and see most people eat with their left hand, with the fork in their left hand and knife in the right hand. Why? Because Shaytan whispered in their ears. Prophet (s) said if anyone eats with his left handed, (not if they are left-handed), he has no right. I am seeing many people downstairs eating and drinking with their left hand. There is no barakah in that; even worse, it becomes a sickness for you.

So, Islam came with a very high respect and discipline in the way to eat. Prophet (s) said, in the beginning, when you want to eat, begin with bismillah. Imam Ghazali (r) explained said, “When you begin eating, say 'bismillah' in a loud voice.” Why in a loud voice? For the other one beside you to say it as well. He will get the barakah of both, and it will become like a chain that protects Shaytan from entering your food. It is advisable to say on every bite bismillah. Do we say it? Might be some do, especially when you have curry in front of you! (laughter)

Imam Ghazali (r) said, if you say bismillah on every bite, it is good and better, because it delays you from being too greedy, as you are eating with adab and patience. Some people have no time to say bismillah; they eat so quickly and their eyes are so hungry (with greed) and look all over the table to see what others are eating better than them. So saying bismillah delays you, and you must not eat quickly. That is why when you visit awliyaullah, the food takes one hour to finish. Today, people eat much too quickly!

When you make dhikr on that food, how that food can harm you? Prophet (s) said, “The stomach is the house of illness.” So when you remember to say bismillah, you are eating with dhikr and it becomes barakah and it cures you. Health is a combination of dhikrullah and food.

And Prophet (s) said, “He has to eat with the right hand and has to begin with salt, wa yakhtum bihi, and he has to end with salt.” Many people are doing that, especially Mawlana’s mureeds. They eat with their right hand and begin and end with salt.

And Prophet (s) said, “He has to make the bite very small.” Not putting a big spoonful in your mouthy, but a smaller spoonful. Some people are shoveling more and more intheir mouths, one huge bite after another, not leaving food for others! So what you need to do?

Prophet (s) said, “He has to chew very well, not swallow quickly.” Do you notice when Mawlana is eating his bite? How big is the bread, like enough for a bird. I am surprised that he takes the piece of bread smaller than one-third length of your finger, and eating so slowly, chewing very well. Prophet (s) ordered us to make the bite as small as you can, because the time you are sitting at the table, angels are descending, because when you begin with bismillah and salt, those angels come, more and more, and their tasbeeh will be written to you.

Don’t have hungry eyes! I noticed many people, when you put food on the table and you cannot reach the end, your eyes always go there, and you ask people to pass you that one. Eat from in front of you! There is soup in front of you, or meat, say aIlhamdulillah. Don’t be greedy. You have no right to put the bite in your mouth, swallow quickly, and quickly put your hand to take the next bite even before you swallow what is in your mouth! This is the sunnah of Prophet (s). In his time people ate from the same plate, to make sure everyone has a chance to eat (not piling food on individual plates, as we do today). Today people are shoveling in their mouth, and others have none. People search for the meat in rice dishes, and leave the rice behind!

You have no right to extend your hand until the first bite is swallowed. Be patient. Even if whole food is finished, let yourself be hungry for the love of your brothers. I see many people want to be served first and are not happy. Many take their time (on the serving line in the dargah dining hall) and choose their foods so carefully, examining each dish, and they move so slowly, moving the food around to inspect it, wondering should they take from this or that. Watch them and see how long they take; you will stay like that for hours! And I see many people, they are good ones, who will take any leftover food; they are happy with that. Don’t be greedy. Give your brother priority over your selfishness. This is Islam: do not give priority to yourself!

And never say something bad about food. If it has salt or not enough salt, taste or no taste, never say anything bad about food, because it is Allah’s ni`mah (benevolence). People object. I know many husbands complain about their wives cooking, which is not good because it removes barakah from the food.

Prophet (s) said, "wa an yaakula mimma yalee", to eat whatever is within his reach, not what he cannot reach. Allah gave it to that one and didn’t give it to you. That’s why it’s better to sit at a round table; you can reach everything on it! (laughter) Especially in China and the Far East, they use a “Lazy Susan” (circular turntable in the center). They don’t ask, “Give me that plate.” They are clever!

But when you sit on the floor to eat and you cannot reach all the food, why you are asking? Wait until the other person thinks about you and passes it along. Most people today are not like that; they finish the meat and say, “Now it’s your turn,” and what is left—bones! These are real sticky issues with everyone.

So Prophet (s) extended his hand to only what is near him, except you can extend your hand to the fruit. Sahaba (r) asked, “Why only fruits, Ya Rasullullah?” Because in that time they often had only one dish. There is rice on one side, meat on the other side. Prophet (s) said, “It is different kinds of fruits, so you have the right to ask and take.”

And he (s) said, “You have no right to eat from the middle of the tray. You eat from the circumference of the tray near you.”

And he (s) said, “You must eat food with bread, and never cut bread with a knife.” Cutting with a knife is reserved for meat and vegetables, as bread is a heavenly provision (so use your hand to tear it). Today, everyone cuts bread with a knife, which is from Shaytan. Usually it was dry bread in time of Prophet (s) and he used his hand to break it slowly.

Prophet (s) said, ”Honor the bread. Allah (swt) sent it down from the barakah of heavens.” Today, no one honors the bread. No one touches it until you force them. Hajjah Naziha is upset about this. Take, take, take bread for the barakah not to end! To get the barakah, honor that food! Bread and rice are the most blessed foods. People today, I don’t see touching bread but there is barakah in bread. Your stomach will be full if you eat the bread with vegetables and meat. It will not be full without the bread. You don’t see Mawlana? What is in the soup, does he touch the soup before he puts lots of bread in it? Honor the bread. Prophet (s) used to take dry bread, dip in salt until it expands, and eat. Do we do that? No. Are we really behaving with good manners with food or not? No, because no one explained these things for us. You are excused, but now you are not excused. So I told Hajjah to bring a huge pot for us this evening---of bread! Let us see who is going to eat bread and who is not. (laughter)

In Prophet's time, if a bite of food fell on the straw mat or floor, they clean it off and ate it. Today, they throw it away, not only what drops but what what is on their plate, as well. Why you put so much food on the plate, why not a little? Because your eyes are hungry. Eyes are never full. Stomachs may be full. Like in Europe, eating and vomiting (purging). If you throw food away, you are leaving it for Shaytan. Today, we are leaving it, and it might be the barakah of that meal was in the last bite! That is why Prophet (s) said, "Don’t clean your hand with the towel; lick your fingers because the barakah is there." It is sunnah to wash your fingers and hands before eating, because you lick them after. Who is doing that now? We don't know where the barakah of that food is, it may be in first bite.

Sometimes you have cold tea or very hot food. You have no right to blow on it; that is haraam! It is not accepted. I found a way to quickly cool tea that is too hot to drink, by putting ice cubes in it. Don’t blow in the food or on warm or hot water. Narrated by Ahmad (r): "Prophet (s) advised you not to do that." And he is saying that we must be patient until food comes to a temperature suitable to eat it, so don’t rush. The only place you have to rush -- only one time you are allowed to rush for food -- is when you are breaking fast in Ramadan. You have to rush and break. Don’t be like non-Muslims, because they delay in their traditions. Break your fast immediately.

wa min Allaha 't-tawfeeq, bi hurmatl'l-Fatiha.

Don’t drink while standing or while laying down; Prophet (s) prohibited that because you have to pull (the drink) down a little bit. Some people say it is narrated that Prophet (s) drank while standing. Only in ZamZam water, you have to drink it standing, because it is a blessed water coming from heavens. May Allah forgive us and change our imitational fasting into real fasting by the blessings of Grandshaykh `Abd Allah, Mawlana Shaykh Nazim and for the sake of Prophet (s). Ameen.

Still we have to say alhamdulillah that Allah (swt) is sending His sincere servants here and coming for Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s). You are not coming for me, but for Mawlana Shaykh Nazim and Grandshaykh `Abd Allah. There is no difference between us; we are all coming for same purpose, all from same line, silsilat al-rahmah (chain of mercy). Like family relationships (silati 'r-rahm), this rahm is a womb relationship of brothers and sisters coming together. So all of us around the Internet and the world have one "womb relationship". All these benefits coming from their sources. I am nothing. We are sharing the love of Mawlana Shaykh. May Allah (swt) keep that love and guide us and advise us, because such meetings are rare compared to the pop culture in this world. What is rare makes you existing in His existence.

And today we are 30th Ramadan for some it is 29th. Many muslim countries fasted on Friday and some on Saturday. And today many Muslim countries announced Eid for tomorrow, ending 29 days for those who fasted Saturday and ending 30 days who fasted from Friday. Most announced Eid for Sunday. Anyone who did not fast 29 days, he break fast before he was wrong and he was deviant, he has to fast and make over what he missed, and because he missed it intentionally for every day, he has to fast continuously for 60 days if he did it intentionally. Otherwise, if he did it not knowing, then he has to fast and pay kafaarah for those who didn't know. For those who knewMuslims rbreaind on suanday and broke fast on Friday, they missed two days, Friday and Saturday, they are going to pay that liability and resp in front of allah And. Especially I ams saying that to Rabbani in Indonesia. If they are listening and have to know that, if anyone picked up newspaper or whatever they knew, we dont agree (for every day of fasting they missed, there is) 60 days consecutive they must fast, and that makes 120 consecutive days they have to fast. If some ppl cannot because of sickness, they have to feed for every 60 poor people for each day. They have to fast 120 poor people for every one that missed that days. And from what I heard there were 2 groups of 200 so multiply 200 by 120 they have to feed 2400 people in total. So we do not agree. We are not responsible for what they made wrong action. They never asked us. If they would have asked us, we would have told them it was wrong, and they would not have done it. But they did without asking. Those responsible have to fix this problem.Those who did not do, Allah knows best. So we are Sunday celebrating Eid, insha-Allah.

One time also happened here, one crazy one also, from African American, he told his people to break fast two days before. No mind. People they don't have mind. I told them they can fast from Sha`ban no problem and continue witho Ramadan because Sayyida `Ayesha said, "I used to see the Prophet fast whole of Sha`ban even, or some of Sha`ban," then you continue, you continue but you cannot break fast before your country break fast, you have to follow the rules of the religious authority of the country. Who are you to take give the judgment and you make all these 200 people to go astray equal to 120 days consecutive fast. May Allah swt protect us all of us. We don't want to fall into this trap. This is big trap of Shaytaan, and may Allah protect us and protect every Muslim.


May Allah forgive us! Astaghfirullah.

(everyone singing to Shaykh Hisham)

We love you, we love you,

we love you so much,

we love you, what else can we say?!?

Shaykh Hisham!!!!