15. It is desirable that one sits on the floor to eat while the food is placed on a clean cloth. It is preferred that one is level with the food, neither the food or the person eating should be higher or lower than one another. The normal practice of the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was to eat in this manner.
Anas (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not eat at a khiwān (table) until he passed away. (Bukhārī)
The muḥaddithīn (ḥadīth scholars) have mentioned that “khiwān” refers to a table or a raised platform which is higher than the level of the one seated. And that which is called a dastarkhān (a tablecloth which is spread on the ground) in the Indian subcontinent, is not the same as a khiwān (table) in the Arabic language.
Scholars have said that eating from a khiwān (table) remained a custom of the arrogant, as it prevented them from leaning the body towards the food which displayed humility.
16. Like the traditional Arab khiwān (table), scholars have deemed eating on table and chairs as contradictory to the sunnah and Islamic teachings.
Firstly, this is contradictory to creating a sense of humility and was originally the style of the arrogant, which has now sadly crept into many Muslim households.
Secondly, the food and the person sitting on the chair are unaligned.
Thirdly, in some cases ones shoes are not removed.
Fourthly, (sometimes) the back is leaned on a chair when eating in this manner.
For the above-stated reasons, it is better to avoid the use of table and chairs. The use of a table and chair should not be made a permanent habit. However, if out of necessity or on a rare instance, one resorts to its use, there is no harm. Nonetheless, it is advised, when sitting on a chair, that one leans a little forward and avoids leaning on the chair so as to attain the closest posture to that which is sunnah.
(Adapted from Khāne Pīne ke Ādāb by Muftī Muhammad Riḍwan. Published by Kutub Khāna Idāra Gufrān, Rawalpindi.)
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