I had always known that the Sunnah way of eating was directly with the hand. I was a fork-and-spoon-person at the time but wanted to apply that Sunnah anyway. But, ‘how’ exactly does one eat? I would observe the eating techniques of Muslim people from various racial/geographical backgrounds.
There was a community who would gather rice by a handful (literally) and eat it off the palm of their cupped hands. This was the normal way of eating for them. I tried to picture the Prophet (SalullahoalaihiWasallum) eating this way and my mind rejected it. He was sent to set an example of the best of manners. Surely, i thought, this is not ( or cannot be) the way he exemplified.
I was witness to a feast in another community. There, the diners would pick up large lumps of sticky glutinous rice & roll it around in the palms of their hand till it looked like a large ball. Then they would hurl it in the direction of their mouths! Interesting though it looked, my instincts told me that this couldn’t be the prophetic way either.
Another group of people eat in such a way that they have to shove all their fingers into their mouths in order to transfer the huge morsels they pick up. “Was this the Sunnah way?”, i wondered again. My heart didn’t give a green light.
Then one fine day, i get a chance to dine with a daaiyah. She used the tips of her three fingers (thumb, index & middle) to pick up food. She finished her entire meal without any food particle touching her other two fingers or palm. At the end of the meal she even licked her finger tips in the most refined manner. “SubhanAllah!”, i said to myself. “This MUST be the Sunnah way!”
Later, I learned exactly how the Prophet of Allah (SalullahoalaihiWasallum) would eat.
Ka’ab Ibn Maalik related that his father (RadhiAllahuunhu) said,
“The Messenger of Allah (SalullahoalaihiWasallum) would eat using three fingers, and he would lick his hand before wiping them.”
[Muslim-2031, Ahmad-26626, Abu Dawood-3848]
It takes some practice and patience to adopt the 3-finger eating rule. Besides the rewards of following a Sunnah, i find that there are many other benefits to it:
* You eat slowly
* You tend to consume less quantity
* You ingest less air along with food
* You digest better (as small morsels are easy on the digestive system to work on)
* You enjoy the food more as you get to slowly savor its various flavors.
******* Last & the Best Point ******
* I truly believe that a person who eats this way will never be over-weight, INSHAALLAH!