Food Habits in Islam

Food Habits in Islam – Dietary Principles in Islam


In Islam, food habits are governed by Islamic dietary laws, known as “Halal” and “Haram.” These guidelines are derived from the Quran and the Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad). Observing these dietary rules is considered an important aspect of a Muslim’s lifestyle and a way to maintain spiritual purity and closeness to God.

The Holy Quran emphasizes on following Sunnah / Uswah-e-Hasanah of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in every matter of life including food habits, dietary principles and eating etiquette:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِيْ رَسُوْلِ اللّٰهِ اُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ

Translation: “Verily in the (beloved) Messenger of Allah you have the best example (to follow)”. (Al-Ahzab: 21)


Food Habits and Dietary Principles in Islam

The following food habits have been practised and approved by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him):

1. Always consume Halal food and drinks:

Islam strictley commands its followers to always consume Halal food and drinks as prescribed in the religion. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

كُلُوْا مِنْ طَيِّبٰتِ مَا رَزَقْنٰكُمْ وَلَا تَطْغَوْا فِيْهِ

Translation: “Eat from the good things We have provided to you, and do not exceed the limits in it”. (Al-Taha: 81)

2. Keep Food and Drinks covered:

All eatables and drinks must be kept covered and not be left open to anything harmful like insects, flies, dust or vinomous animals like lizard etc. Doing this, is to keep the food safe and clean. If food is kept open for long time, it may be exposed to the said harmful elements.

3. Consume the Food and Drink in Light:

Islam encourages its followers to consume food or drink in light so that it remains visible. One should at least, see the food or drink before consuming, wheater or not there is anything harmful in it.

4. Ensure Cleanliness and Purity of the food:

Islam emphasizes ensuring cleanliness and purity, especially during meal times. Before eating, it is recommended to wash hands and, if possible, rinse or gargle the mouth. Likewise, if required, wash or clean the eatables before eating e.g. fruits, vegetables etc or remove their peels.

5. Eat with Three Fungers and Small Bites:

If eating with your hand, use three fingers. Always use small bites as it makes the digestion process easy. However, Islam does not disallow the use of eating utensils like spoons and forks.

6. Eat First:

If it’s time to pray by the time you set the table to eat, eat first.

7. Eat calmly and peacefully:

It is better to eat calmly and peacefully and don’t rush. However, remembering Allah Almighty or good talk is better than complete silence. Hazrat Huzaifah (رَضِیَ اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَنْہُ) narrates that the Holy Prophet (صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم) said:

إنَّ الشَّيْطَانَ لَيَسْتَحِلُّ الطَّعَامَ الَّذِيْ لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللہ عَليْهِ

Translation: “Satan considers that food lawful for himself on which the Name of Allah is not mentioned. (Sahih Muslim)

8. Avoid eating your food if it’s piping hot:

Full hot food is of course, harmful to health and may burn the mouth as well. Therefore, it is advised to consume the food when it is not that much hot.

9. Avoid Wastage of Food:

Islam strictly discourages the wastage of food. If you accidentally drop the food, pick the food up, clean and eat it. Likewise, if eating food with fingers, at the end clean the fingers with your mouth so that food is not wasted even a little bit. It is a sign of a search for blessings in food.

10. Pray for the Host:

If invited by someone for a meal, make the following dua for your host has fed you:

اَللّٰهُمَّ أَطْعِمْ مَنْ أَطْعَمَنِي، وَاسْقِ مَنْ سَقَانِي

Translation: Ya Allah, feed the one who has fed me, and give drink to the one who has given me a drink. (Sahih Muslim)

11. Hastening to eat: when food is brought by the host. An unnecessary delay in starting the meal can create doubts in the host’s mind.

13. Do not eat and drink in silver and golden utensils as their use is prohibited in Islam.

14. Always eat when you feel an appetite. Along with the ways of eating, timing is also important to be considered.

15. Islam encourages avoiding extravagance in consuming food. Islam encourages a balanced and modest approach to eating. Extravagant or luxurious food choices that lead to wastefulness or excessive spending are discouraged.

16. Eating Less / Do not Eat to Your Full

Islam recommends that one should not eat to his full. He must leave some empty space in his stomach.

Hazrat Abdullah Ibn-e-Umar (May Allah Be Pleased With them) narrated that the Beloved Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said: 

إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ يَأْكُلُ فِي مِعًى وَاحِدٍ، وَالْكَافِرَ يَأْكُلُ فِي سَبْعَةِ أَمْعَاءٍ

Translation: “Verily, the believer eats in one stomach whilst the kaafir (disbeliever) eats in seven.” (Muttafaq Alaihe Hadith)

An Interesting Story about Eating to Full

ایک بار ابلیس حضرت یحییٰ علیہ السلام کے سامنے آیا۔ تو آپ علیہ السلام نے اْس سے منہ پھیر لیا۔ وحی آئی: ’’اے یحییٰ اس سے سوال کرو وہ تم سے سچ کہے گا‘‘۔ چنانچہ حضرت یحییٰ علیہ السلام نے اس سے چند سوال کئے۔ ایک سوال اْن میں سے یہ تھا۔آپ علیہ السلام نے پوچھا ’’بتا تو کبھی مجھ پر بھی قادر ہوا ہے؟ ‘‘
ابلیس بولا’’ ہاں۔ ایک شب جب کہ تمہارا پیٹ کھانے سے بھرا ہوا تھا اور آپ اپنا ورد چھوڑ کر سو گئے تھے‘‘
حضرت یحییٰ علیہ السلام نے فرمایا: ’’اب کبھی پیٹ بھر کر نہیں کھاؤں گا‘‘۔ یہ سن کر ابلیس نے خود کو  ملامت کی اور بولا: ’’اب میں  بھی کسی کو نصیحت نہیں  کروں گا”۔

The Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said:

مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ حَسْبُ الآدَمِيِّ لُقَيْمَاتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ غَلَبَتِ الآدَمِيَّ نَفْسُهُ فَثُلُثٌ لِلطَّعَامِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلشَّرَابِ وَثُلُثٌ لِلنَّفَسِ

Translation: “A human being fills no worse vessel than his stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to eat a few mouthfuls to keep his spine straight. But if he must (fill it), then one-third of food, one-third for drink, and one-third for air”. (Sunan Ibn-e-Majah)

17. Eating Slowly and Chewing the Food Well

Eating slowly is recommended for health. Slow eating reduces the consumption of food, as it postpones much of the meal to a time when the absorption of nutrients begins to produce physiological signals of satiety.

Slow eating helps in chewing the food well. This results in the exercise of the jaws (mandibles) and the mixing of saliva with food. Hence, efficient digestion takes place because the food particles are cut into smaller pieces, not requiring as much churning in the stomach or intestine.

18. Moderation in Food Consuming

It is said that:

“Excess in everything is bad.”

According to a narration (Hadith Sharif):

خَیْرُ الْاُمُوْرِ أَوْسَطُهَا

Translation: Best of the things is their center (being moderate in them). (Sunan Darmi)

وَّكُلُوْا وَاشْرَبُوْا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوْا  ۚ اِنَّهٗ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِيْنَ

Translation: “And eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess”. (Al-Aaraf: 31)


These Islamic dietary recommendations are cherished by Muslims all over the world; and they are to be cherished by the Muslim generations to come. In 1952,a group of university students in Alexandria, Egypt, of varying weights went on a diet of only milk and dates, under medical supervision. There were no restrictions other than the type of food. While on the diet the subjects were involved in a camp which required physical work. Those who had an overweight problem from overeating were able to bring their appetites back to normal without losing the pleasure of eating food. Gradually the feeling of hunger became less frequent than formerly. After the experiment, 60% of the subjects with overweight problems were able to return to a normal diet without reverting to overeating. The underweight and normal weight subjects felt an increase in appetite; however, no weight was gained. (The increase in appetite may have been a result of the physical work). Furthermore, no cases of dizziness were recorded, which was associated with previous dieting attempts by some of the obese subjects. This was due to the fact that the blood sugar level was kept normal by the dates, although the general food intake was reduced.

FAQs about Food Habits & Dietary Principles in Islam

1. What are the dietary restrictions in Islam?

Muslims are required to follow certain dietary restrictions outlined in the Holy Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad صَلَّی اللہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم). They are forbidden from consuming pork and its by-products, as well as any form of intoxicants including alcohol. Additionally, the method of slaughtering animals for consumption must follow specific guidelines known as “halal” slaughter, which involves mentioning the name of Allah during the process.


2. What is the significance of halal food in Islam?

Halal means permissible in Arabic, and halal food refers to food that adheres to Islamic dietary laws. Consuming halal food is seen as an act of obedience to Allah Almighty and a way to maintain spiritual purity. The concept of halal also emphasizes ethical treatment of animals and proper hygiene during food preparation.


3. Are there any specific foods that are encouraged or discouraged in Islam?

Islam encourages the consumption of wholesome and nutritious foods. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and lean meats are generally recommended. The overconsumption of rich or extravagant foods is discouraged. Additionally, fasting during the month of Ramadan-Ul-Mubarak is an essential practice, where Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours.


4. What is the ruling on seafood in Islam?

Seafood is generally considered halal in Islam, with the exception of those creatures that are harmful or toxic. Fish are widely consumed and are considered a permissible source of protein. Crustaceans like shrimp, crab, and lobster, while debated among scholars, are often considered permissible by many Muslim communities.


5. Can Muslims eat food prepared by non-Muslims?


Muslims are allowed to eat food prepared by non-Muslims, as long as the ingredients used are halal and the food is prepared in a clean and hygienic manner. However, there are some exceptions, such as the case of alcoholic beverages being added to the food. In situations where the halal status is uncertain, some Muslims may choose to avoid such foods to ensure compliance with their dietary guidelines.