In my younger days. my parents had us all to themselves for the school holidays and they always wanted some breathing space. Myself and three other siblings could be a handful most times, so we were usually sent to Islamic Vacation Camps. We were always thrilled to go and practically always drove the car there ourselves. At this particular camp, the lessons were as usual very good and our curiosity was piqued and satisfied. At one of our lectures, we were taught the hadith about dividing your stomach! The lecturer wanted us to imbibe these rules early in our lives as Muslim children.
It was hard at first but I picked it almost immediately with an eagerness to please Allaah. When I got back home. I started to practice this hadith; I would divide my food into three parts and then eat one part with my fingers. What did I do with the remaining two portions? Kept them in the kitchen! Sometimes I wonder what I would have done if I had known then the hadith that says food should not be wasted. I would have been in a real dilemma To my knowledge, my siblings never followed my example and my parents never really noticed because we ate at odd times and they were both working. so because of the sunnah I was practicing.
I was always hungry). Matters came to a head one clay when I was invited at a friends house for lunch. I was a bit bothered about the division food part, so I prayed to Allaah to forgive me and I began to pick at my food, with three fingers. The youngest child of the house noticed first and began to nudge the others, one after the other, to notice me. Very soon, everyone on the dining table was giggling and laughing. I became very upset and in my bid to explain that I was practicing the Sunnah. I began to cry. Their mother rushed out in anxiety, and asked what was wrong.
Amidst laughter and giggles, her children pointed at me. She took me aside and listened to my own side of the story. She was quick to commend me for trying to emulate the Prophet (peace be upon him) and then she prayed for me. She then explained that in the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him), they ate light food such as dates: hence eating with the fingers was okay for them. Then she added that if! wanted to emulate the Prophet (peace be upon him) by eating with the fingers then I should do so. She also warned me of how people will make fun of me and my practices, and prayed that Allaah would make it easy for me.
I went home with a lighter heart that day knowing that Allaah will be pleased with me for trying. Do I still eat with any fingers now? No, I have since learnt that it was one of the personal traits (sunnah) of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that Muslims are not obliged to emulate. Do I still divide my food into three portions, cat one part and leave the other two parts to waste? I stopped that a long time ago because I was always going hungry: Besides, it was quite silly because I got it all wrong. the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "A person does not fill a vessel worse than his stomach. It is enough for a person to have some morsels to strengthen his back. If he must eat more, then it should be one-third of his stomach for food, onethird for drink, and one-third for his breathing. " (Ahmad) All it means is that a Muslim should avoid over eating and overfilling his stomach. May Allaah forgive us all our shortcomings. Ameen
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited