Eating is necessary to live and human beings are created for prayer (Ibadah) in the broader sense as mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an Surah al-Zariyat Ayah 56: “Wa Ma Khalaqtu Jinne wal Inse Illah Le’yabudoon.”Consequently, man has to eat so that he may fulfill his purpose of creation. The famous proverb says: “Eat to live not live to eat” The human body works as a vehicle for soul; hence the quality of food influences the soul. In al-Kafi of Yaqub-e-Kulayni volume 5, the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) said: “O’ Allah! Grant us abundance of bread, and do not let us be separated from it, for without it we will not be able to perform ritual prayers, fast, and perform our Divine obligations.
The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) chose food that was permissible (Halal), simple, and beneficial. He used to eat with his family, servants, and the poor. He always emphasized on eating with others. He would start with the name of Allah and praised Him when the meal was finished. He will only eat permissible food and was guided divinely if impermissible food was presented to him. Once, it so happened that after he put a morsel of cooked meat in his mouth, chewed it but did not swallow and took out from his mouth and said that the mutton was supplied unfairly! The host confirmed that as they could not get a sheep in the market hence they procured a sheep from the neighbor without his permission but expected to pay later.
He never insisted on any particular type of food, he ate whatever was presented to him within the permissible limits. In most cases he ate barley bread made from whole grain flour. According to Infallible Imam Reza (a.s.), barley was the food of the Prophets and the Righteous People.
He (s.a.w.a.s.) recommended not to eat very hot food but to allow it to cool down as it then becomes blessed. Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (a.s.) said that He (s.a.w.a.s) would broke fast with sweets if available, otherwise with lukewarm water as it cleansed the liver and stomach, strengthens teeth and sharpens eyesight, stimulates blood vessels.
He further said “In the eyes of Allah, nothing is more unfavorable and hated than a full stomach.” It causes disease, hard-heartedness and sluggishness in worship and prayers .Food should be eaten in moderation.
The Infallible Imams had recommended to eat 2 meals a day and a small portion at night and advised not to miss the dinner even if it were 3 morsels, otherwise a vessel dies in the body which will never be revived.
The Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.) said:
“Eat when you have appetite for eating, and stop eating while you still have an appetite.”
“Eat dinner even if it is low quality dates because avoiding dinner will bring about old age.”
“Eating food with people brings about abundance. One person’s food portion is enough for two the people, and two people’s food portion is enough for four.”
He (s.a.w.a.s.) used to drink water in three gulps, praising Allah at the beginning and at the end. He (s.a.w.a.s.) said: “Drink water by sipping and do no drink it all at once, because it causes pain in the liver.” When He (s.a.w.a.s.) drank water, he would remove the container from his mouth. He (s.a.w.a.s.) would use his right for all and every work including eating and drinking. He (s.a.w.a.s.) used to start eating first and finish after every one present. It was to make the guests comfortable and finishing at the end was to accommodate others who will stop eating as a mark of respect. He (s.a.w.a.s.) would wash his hands before and after the meals, as it increases sustenance, keeping away insanity, accuracy of eye-sight etc. He would finish the food completely without wasting the food at the end.
Bihar-al-Anwar by Allama Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (r.a.)
Al-Kafi by Allama Yaqub-e-Kulayni (r.a.)
Makaram –al-Akhlaq by Al-Tabrisi (r.a.)
Tazkirah –Al-Fuqaha by Allama Al-Hilli (r.a.)