The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “I do not eat reclining.” [Sahih Bukhari]
There is a difference of opinion as to what reclining means. Some say that it means leaning on one side, whether right or left, or against a wall. Imam Al-Khattabi takes it in this sense that somebody should lay out a mattress and sit on it comfortably as one sits cross-legged. Ibn Hajar says that one should sit with the right knee drawn up and the left one bent down. The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) hardly used to take an adequate meal.
Eating in a reclining position connotes a casual attitude towards food – eating as a pastime. The meals of the Chinese emperors might have taken 3 days to complete, so many were the courses offered, however, a Muslim has a very different attitude towards food. He/she looks forward to enjoying unlimited food in Jannah, endless varieties of all that they like to eat. But they eat in this world only enough to get by.
As a student preparing for the most important exam of his life doesn’t spend hours on his meals, so also a Muslim lives his life trying to fulfil its higher ideals – living in servitude to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), trying to establish His rule on earth since Allah put Adam (alaihis salam) on earth to be His Khalifa, and trying to bring others into Allah’s servitude and eternal mercy. Jannah is the place to eat in a reclining position.
Do you eat to live or live to eat?