Dec 5, 2010

Western Dining Etiquette - UnIslamic?

I have met several individuals that criticized those who follow the 'western' dining etiquette, calling them 'un-Islamic' or 'westernized' because they put the food inside their mouth using the fork on their left hand, instead of right, which is, according to them, more 'Islamic'.

It is an understandable, albeit unacceptable misconception among Muslims. Most probably due to the misinterpretation or generalization of the hadis (narrated by Muslim), "Eat with your right hand."

As un-Islamic as it sounds, the Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Ali Jumuah said in one of his fatwas that it is alright to feed yourself with your left hand if both hands are occupied, as in eating using fork and knife. The problem is only when one uses his left hand when his right hand is empty.

It's based on the hadis reported by Imam Ahmad, that the Prophet used to eat from both hands alternately, where in his right hand was a cucumber while in his left hand was a watermelon.

So similarly, when both hands are occupied with a fork and a knife, do we really have to defy the standard dining etiquette and switch them just because we think that it is 'more Islamic' (when it's actually not)?

Some might say that they don't see any problem with switching the fork and the knife.

Well brother, Islam is not exclusive for Arabs.. Or Malays. They are thousands of Westerners who are muslim too. We might not think that it's a big deal. But there are some Westerners who feel very strongly about having to change the way they eat.

Islam did not come to destroy any customs or traditions. So as long as they do not contradict with Islamic laws or value, they should not be abolished or prohibited.

So the only remaining question is, "Does putting one's food into his mouth using the left hand while the right hand is occupied even contradict any Islamic moral code?"



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