A Lesson in Table Manners
By Sheesha He!
The Prophet is said to have remarked: “No father can give his child anything better than good manners.” (Tirmidhi, Baihaqi)
The Prophet is said to have remarked: “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Malik)
Bino was a very well-mannered boy. Bino’s parents wanted that he should always behave politely. One of the things they were very particular about were Bino’s ‘table manners’—manners one should follow while eating.
Here are some of the ‘table manners’ Bino’s parents taught him:
Wash your hands well before a meal.
Take small bites.
Chew your food properly.
Keep your mouth closed while you chew.
If you’re drinking something, sip it slowly. And don’t slurp.
While eating, talk only if you have to.
After your meal, wash your hands and rinse your mouth.
Don’t waste food. Take only as much as you need, and eat whatever you’ve taken.
If you’re getting up from the table while others are still sitting, say ‘Please excuse me’.
If someone invites you for a meal, remember to say ‘Thank you’ when you leave.
Bino’s parents followed these rules of eating very carefully, and were glad that Bino did so too.
One year, during his summer holidays, Bino’s parents arranged for Bino to spend some days at his friend Soli’s place. Bino had a lovely time there. He learnt many new things from Soli and his family.
One wonderful thing that Bino learnt on this trip were some additional table-manners that Soli’s family followed. Before they got down to eating, everyone sitting at the table would lower their heads, close their eyes and fold their hands. Then, one or the other person (they took turns for this) would say the following prayer:
“Thank you God for this food You are giving us. God, please bless this food. God, please bless all the beings that have gone into this food. God please bless all those people who have gone into arranging for this food.”
After saying this, the family would begin eating. Then, later, when they had finished their meal, they would say, together and in a low voice: “Thank You God for the food You’ve given us.”
This was very new for Bino. The first day, he found the practice strange. But soon, he decided that it was a wonderful thing to do.
When Soli’s father learnt that in Bino’s house they didn’t remember God at meal-times, he called him aside and gently said: “Thanking God before and after a meal is the first rule of table manners, dear. It’s God who gives us food, and so, it’s good manners to thank God for it.”
“You’re right, Uncle,” Bino replied. “I’ve never seen people do this before. We don’t do this at our home, but I think we really should.”
The next day, Bino sent an email message to his parents, excitedly telling them about the new table manners that he had learnt. He even requested Soli’s father to make a short video on his ‘smart phone’ of all of them praying to God before and after dinner (with Bino leading the prayer) so that when he returned home he could show it to his parents. He wanted to continue with this practice when he got back, and he hoped that the rest of his family would follow it too!