14. The Messenger of Allāh disliked to eat while leaning.
Abū Juḥayfah (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “I do not eat my meals while leaning (against something).” (Bukhārī)
Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Āṣ (r.a.) narrates that:
“The Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was never seen reclining while eating.” (Abū Dāwūd)
It is narrated from Abu-d Dardā (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Do not recline when eating.” (Mu’jam-ul-Awsaṭ)
On account of such narrations, the muḥaddithīn (ḥadīth scholars) have ruled that though reclining and leaning while eating is not sinful in general, it is nevertheless a disliked practice. However, if due to a necessity (like weakness or old age), one is required to lean, then there is no harm.
It has been reported that some companions (r.a) and tabi’īn (successors of the companions) would lean and eat. Regarding this, many scholars have explained that it was out of necessity.
The reason as to which the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) disliked leaning while eating, has been discussed by many muḥaddithīn (ḥadīth scholars). Some say that leaning while eating is the way of arrogant and haughty people. Others opine that it is the way of those who eat excessively; a trait disliked in Islam. While others say that leaning while eating adds weight to the stomach and slows digestion.
In summary, the scholars have differed in the legal and medical reasons as to why the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) disliked leaning while eating. Whatever the reason may be, leaning and eating is nevertheless a disliked practice.
There are different types of postures which can be considered as leaning:
1. A wall or cushion is used to support ones back.
2. To lean the right or left side or the elbow against a wall or cushion.
3. To lean with the palm on the ground while keeping the arm straight.
Although, the third type of posture is inferior as opposed to the first two postures, precaution lies in refraining from all three.
Furthermore, lying down to eat, is more reprehensible than leaning. And in lying down to eat, lying on ones stomach entails even more reprehension. There is explicit prohibition of this in prophetic narrations.
It should be noted that some scholars have also included sitting cross-legged in the definition of leaning. However, other scholars have refuted this and stated that if one sits cross-legged to eat but without the intention of pride, it is permissible and entails no wrongdoing. Nevertheless, sitting cross-legged cannot be considered a sunnah-based practice.
Similarly, eating while sitting on a cushion is also undesirable as this contradicts the posture of a servant and that which was desired by the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace).
(Adapted from Khāne Pīne ke Ādāb by Muftī Muhammad Riḍwan. Published by Kutub Khāna Idāra Gufrān, Rawalpindi.)
More to follow …