I would like to know if it is sunnat muakkidah or mustahab to sit and eat on the floor ?
And if a person gets invited occasionally to such places where meals will be served on the table , should a person accept or decline such an invitation ?
It is Mustahab (recommended) for a person to eat while sitting on the floor. We found many narrations supporting the fact that Nabi ﷺ had never eaten at a table during his life time but rather he used to sit on the floor and eat from the cloth upon which the food was presented (السُّفرةِ).
Anas (RadhiyAllahou ‘anho) said: “Nabi ﷺ never ate at a dining table, nor ate thin well-baked bread till he died”.
حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا مُعَاذُ بْنُ هِشَامٍ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنِي أَبِي، عَنْ يُونُسَ – قَالَ عَلِيٌّ: هُوَ الإِسْكَافُ – عَنْ قَتَادَةَ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، قَالَ: «مَا عَلِمْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَكَلَ عَلَى سُكْرُجَةٍ قَطُّ، وَلَا خُبِزَ لَهُ مُرَقَّقٌ قَطُّ، وَلَا أَكَلَ عَلَى خِوَانٍ قَطُّ» قِيلَ لِقَتَادَةَ: فَعَلَامَ كَانُوا يَأْكُلُونَ؟ قَالَ: عَلَى السُّفَرِ – صحيح البخاري رقم 5386
Imam Bukhari, Ahmad and Tirmizi reported from Qatadah who reported from Anas (RadhiyAllahou ‘anho) that the latter said: “Nabi ﷺ never took his meals at a dining table, nor in small plates, and he never ate thin well-baked bread”. Qatadah’s student asked him, ‘On what did they have their meals?’ Qatada said, ‘On leather dining sheets’(السُّفرةِ).
Ibn Hajar (rahimahoullah) explained in Fathul-baari (the famous commentary of Sahih-ul-Bukhari) that the verb “يأكلون” is used is in the plural form and indicates that this action was not confined to Nabi ﷺ only, but the companions (RadhiyaAllhou‘anhoum) also used to practice upon this noble Sunnah of Rasulullah ﷺ. (See Fathul-baari v12 p305).
Mulla Ali Qaari (Rahmatoullahi ‘alayhi) states in “Mirqaat” that eating on a table is generally a sign of proud people and a bid’ah (an innovation) but not completely forbidden in itself.
Moulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (Rahmatoullahi ‘alayhi) explains the reason for which Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) abstained from eating on such a platform is that he can bend over to reach the food. (Al-Kawkabud Durry, vol.3 pg.4)
Mawlaana Yusuf Ludhyanwi (Rahmatoullahi ‘alayhi) has written in ‘Aap Ke Masaa’il Unka Hal’ (v7 p174) that eating on table is the common practice of the people of the west, therefore a Muslim should avoid their practice as far as possible.
In principle, to sit and to eat at a table will be permissible but against the Sunnah and not the ideal manner of eating. In all cases, we must try our best to practice upon all the Sunnah of Nabi ﷺ whenever the opportunity arises and try to attain maximum benefit and reward from it.
If you are invited occasionally to such places where meals are served on the tables, you should accept the invitation since the acceptance of invitation is also Sunnah and a practice to avoid ill feelings amongst each other, but only with the condition that the event is hosted within the limits and rules of Shari’ah.
Checked and Approved By:
Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.
والمعنى على أي شيء كانوا يأكلون قال أي قتادة على السفر بضم ففتح جمع سفرة في النهاية السفرة الطعام يتخذه المسافر وأكثر ما يحمل في جلد مستدير فنقل اسم الطعام إلى الجلد وسمي به كما سميت المزادة رواية وغير ذلك من الأسماء المنقولة اه ثم اشتهرت لما يوضع عليه الطعام جلدا كان أو غيره ما عدا المائدة لما مر من أنها شعار المتكبرين غالبا فالأكل عليها سنة وعلى الخوان بدعة لكنها جائزة رواه البخاري (مرقاة)