Every Wednesday, I will share a part of the translation of the book Kitab Al-Kasb (the book of Earning a Livelihood) written by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Shaybani.
Part 36: Types of Squandering in Food.
There are various ways of squandering food. These include eating beyond satiety, for the Prophet says, “A son of Adam does not fill a vessel eviler than his stomach. If he cannot avoid it, then (let it be filled) one third with food, one third with drink, and one third with the breath” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad]. And the Prophet says, “A few small morsels are enough for the son of Adam to fortify his backbone” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ahmad]. And he says, “There is no censure on sufficiency” [Narrated by Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, and Ahmad].
For he only eats to benefit his self, however, there is no benefit in eating beyond satiation, but rather harm; and such an act amounts to casting away food on a dung heap, or worse. Furthermore, there is in whatever that is more than the amount of what one requires of food a right that belongs to another person, who will assuage with it his hunger when he sends it to him in exchange for payment or not in exchange for payment. Hence when the former partakes of it, he is actually committing a crime against the right of another person, and that is forbidden. And also eating beyond satiation may cause him to be ill, and that will be like injuring his own self.
The basis of this ruling is the narration that a man belched in a gathering of the Messenger whereupon the Messenger of Allah became annoyed at him and said, “Remove from us your belching! Do you not know that the people enduring the longest punishment on the day of the resurrection are the ones who are the most satiated in this world?” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-Mundhiri and Ibn Majah].
When Ibn Umar fell ill, the Prophet asked about the reason for his illness and it was said, “He has indigestion,” whereupon he said, “From what?” and it was said, “From eating too much.” Then the Prophet said, “Indeed if he had died I would not have attended his funeral nor prayed over him” [Abu Ghuddah says this narration does not make any sense which is hadha khabar batil].
When it was said to Umar, “Shall we not bring you some sweetmeat?” He said, “And what is sweetmeat?” It was said to him, “A digestive to digest the food.” He said, “Glory to be Allah! Should a Muslim eat beyond satiation?”
However, some of the latter-day scholars made an exception in this regard, which is that if there is sound purpose for eating beyond satiation, then there is no harm in that, such as when a guest comes visiting after he has eaten his fill, and he then eats with his guest so that he does not feel embarrassed for eating by himself. Likewise, when one wishes to fast the next day, then there is no harm in eating more than one’s fill in the night in order to fortify oneself for fasting in the day.
Squandering food also involves augmenting the number of permissible varieties of food, for the Prophet counts that as among the signs of the last hour, and he says, “Large bowls (of food) are circulated around their table spreads, while divine condemnation descends on them” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, a hadith of similar meaning].
It is narrated from A’ishah, that she was in reception, in which it was brought to her bowls after bowls (of food), whereupon she stood up and began to say, “Wasn’t the first bowl eaten? If it was, then what is this second bowl, when the first sufficed us? The Messenger of Allah used to forbid such as this” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi a hadith of the similar meaning].
The exception is when this is done for a need, such as when one is bored with one kind, and so increases the varieties of permissible kinds, based on what was narrated that al-Hajjaj wrote to ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, complaining to him about three things, inability to eat and to enjoy sexual pleasure, and halting speech; whereupon he wrote back to him (saying), “Augment the varieties of your food, have new concubines each time and gaze at the females in the audiences during your oration.”
Squandering also involves serving on the dining table varieties of food beyond what is needed for eating, and we have explained that in any increase over the amount one needs, there is a right due to others; except when his objective is to invite group after group of guests until they finish the food, in which case there is no harm in that, for it is not destructive.
Squandering also involves eating the middle part of the bread loaf and leaving uneaten the periphery, or eating the fluffy part of the bread loaf, like some ignorant people do, thinking that that part is more delectable; however this is if others do not partake of the periphery parts that have been left aside, but if others partake of those, then there is no harm in that, for it is as if he is choosing to partake of one piece rather than another.
Squandering also involves handling the bread loaf after finishing eating without eating what one has handled, for others will find that to be gross and will not eat it; but if he eats what he has handled, then there is no harm in that.
Squandering also involves (the case) when one leaves aside a morsel that has fallen from one’s hand, but rather he should begin with that very morsel first and partake of it, for abandoning it would be taking food for granted, while partaking of it indicates honoring it, for we have been commanded to honor bread as the Prophet has said, “Show your respect to bread, for it is of the blessings of heaven and earth” [As a documented in Majma’ al-Zawa’id and narrated by al-Bazzar and al-Tabarani].
Showing respect to bread involves (the act of) not waiting for the condiments when the bread is already served, but rather to begin eating the bread even before the condiments are served. This ruling is so because people are recommended to express gratitude for favors and to safeguard themselves from ingratitude towards favors; whereas in abandoning the fallen morsel there is the meaning of ingratitude towards favors, and in immediately partaking of the bread before the condiments are served there is the meaning of display of gratitude for favors. When one is hungry, abstaining until the condiments are served is indicative of an aspect of tardiness, and one should safeguard oneself from that.
With regard to this matter, there is an anecdote (namely that) Abu Hanifah met Bahlul the Mad one day while he was sitting by the road eating food, whereupon he said, “Are you not ashamed of yourself for eating by the road?” He said, “O Abu Hanifah! You say this to me, while my soul is my creditor and bread is on my lap?; whereas the Prophet has said, “The tardiness of the rich is an injustice’ [Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim], and so how can I deny its right until I enter the house?”