Wahshi bin Harb (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Some of the Companions of Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "We eat but are not satisfied." He (SAW) said, "Perhaps you eat separately." The Companions replied in affirmative. He then said: "Eat together and mention the Name of Allah over your food. It will be blessed for you."
[Abu Dawud]. Book 3, Hadith 743
The Wise Owl is always telling me, “Sister, we must, as much as possible, live our lives like the Prophet SAW. The way he eats, sleeps, talk and everything else.” So, since I started my rediscovery journey, I have been trying as much as I can, to revive one sunnah at a time, in our lives. After living my life for more than 30 years in a certain way, I know that I can never make drastic or too many changes at once. For me, I felt that I needed to follow a sunnah slowly until it becomes a norm and then it becomes easier to incorporate it in my daily life.
“Say: "If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
Surah Al-Imran 3:31
I realise that I started learning about sunnah at a late stage but, to me, better late than never right? One thing that I am trying to do now is, to make sure that my children do not make the same mistake as I did.
Last night, hubby and I decided to eat according to sunnah. That means, the food is placed in a very big round dish and we all eat from it. It’s like sharing a big plate of food. At first, my kids thought that it was bit weird to be huddling together on the floor and eating from one plate but they went along.
“Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
Messenger of Allah SWT 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].
[At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].
I have to admit that I enjoyed every minute of our dinner. The very act of all 6 of us sitting in a circle and eating together brought us closer as a family. Hubby demonstrated to the kids, the correct way to eat i.e. taking the food nearest to you. One must not reach out and take the food opposite him or her. Eating from one dish teaches us to respect the boundaries of our neighbour.
The Prophet SAW said, "Blessing descends upon food in its middle, so eat from the sides of the vessel and do not eat from its middle."
[At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud]. Book 3, Hadith 744
Umar bin Abu Salamah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I was a boy under the care of Messenger of Allah SWT, and as my hand used to wander around in the dish, Messenger of Allah (SAW), 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].
Throughout the meal, hubby explained to our kids about the spirit of sharing and also demonstrated how Prophet SAW used to sit whilst eating, i.e.with one leg raised. Our kids immediately changed their sitting position to mimicked their father but after a while, they declared that they needed practice and shifted back to sitting cross-legged. Oh well! At least they were willing to give it a try…
Anyway…… the verdict? The kids loved it! They thought it was fun. They simply love the fact that all of us were eating together and sharing food. In fact, they love it so much that tonight they requested that we do it again.
For me, I like it when hubby put food in my path. I like it when the kids asked for permission first before they took more rice from my portion. I also like it when my kids ended up eating more than their usual portion. To strengthen the family bond, I can see why our beloved Prophet SAW recommended this.
However, I do understand the reservations that others may have. Some might find it unhygienic, with so many hands touching the food. Some may even get irritated eating with strangers, especially when they decide to take the food from in front you instead of from their side. Also messy eater might make you uncomfortable.
To me, eating from one big dish will work provided everyone eating from it understands the etiquette behinds it. If everyone understands it, then it is a cool ice-breaker. Making small talk with your dinner mate whilst eating. Unfortunately, not many people do grasp the rationale behind it. That is why we should study the lifestyle of Prophet Muhammad SAW.
After eating we are supposed to eat everything on the plate and once we finished, we should lick our fingers clean.
“Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah SWT commanded the licking of fingers and the gleaning of the dish, saying, "You do not know in which portion the blessing lies."
There are many sunnah of the Prophet SAW that has been lost but hopefully not forgotten and eating from one dish is one of them. Reviving a lost or forgotten sunnah is most highly encouraged.
“Narrated by Bilal ibn Harith al-Muzani: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: He who revived a Sunnah out of my Sunan, which has died after me, for him is the reward like the reward of those who acted upon it, without any decrease in that reward. He who introduced some evil innovation which Allah and His Messenger did not approve has (a burden of sin upon him) like the sins of one who acted according to it, without their sins being mitigated thereby in the least.” [Tirmidhi, 168].
My advice would be, revive this sunnah with your own family first. Start with once a month and then increase it to once a week. Trust me, you will reap the full benefit behind it, In Sha Allah….