In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)
A few years back I attended a friend's 'kenduri kahwin' (wedding feast). I went there alone; after taking the food, my eyes searched around, hopping someone I knew was there.
'Alhamdulilah' there was a group of my 'masjid friends' at a table, I joined them; while enjoying my food, the friend next to me, surprised me when he said: "Why are you eating with fork and spoon? It's a 'sunnah' (recommended) to use the hand when eating."
My face became hot, perhaps blood started ozzing to it. 'Alhamdulillah' perhaps from the 'barakah' (blessing) from the hundreds of 'tazkirah' (lessons) I have had attended, I managed to put a calm face and repeated calmly the point mentioned by the friend...yes, it's 'sunnah'.
He then continued his 'lecture' by saying that during his army days (he is an ex soldier) he was 'masak' (used) to using 'fork and spoon' and even the 'knife' when eating especially during functions.
I just kept quiet, still enjoying the food with my 'sudu' and 'garpu'...in my heart saying "well it's only a 'sunnah'...there's nothing much in it...my mind raced back to my early days when I was taught some fine aspects of dining such as using fork, spoon and knife.
It was at one top residential school in Perak in the 70s...and since then I was in the habit of using fork and spoon when eating. Imagining the feeling I had when reminded about the usage of fork and spoon for the first time in public after all the years - to be exact more than 40 years.
Well, in the first place, it was true that wanted to 'left alone' my friend's remark about the 'sunnah', but at home, thinking about it, suddenly I remembered 'the event' happened in Rabiulawal, the month Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was born - perhaps Allah SWT wanted me to reflect and refresh myself on my lifestyles based on the incident.
I was further convinced when during the night 'tazkirah' and next day 'kuliah subuh', both 'ustaz' reminded congregators to prove their love to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. by following his 'sunnah' (way of life) be it regarding the 'wajib' (compulsory) obligations or the 'sunnah' (or sunat) ones.
The former 'ustaz' mentioned the importance of us performing our five times 'solat fardhu' (obligatory prayers) in mass (jemaah) at the 'masjid' based on events shortly before the death of the Prophet s.a.w. while the latter reminded us to emulate him including in performing things we think are small such as using our right hand when eating or drinking and putting on the beard.
He said, "it may be a small thing to us but remember the order is from the Prophet s.a.w. himself and Allah SWT (The Greatest) thus it is the best thing and highest level of manners encompasses everything in the world."
The 'ustaz' said: "If in our life we choose other's people way of life (I remembered 'my love' of using the fork and spoon) and not fallen in love to the Prophet's s.a.w. way of life, I am afraid in the Hereafter where every human being would seek the 'syafaat' (blessing) of the Prophet s.a.w. we 'nauzubilah (God forbids), would not be recognized by him."
"What would happened to us if the Prophet s.a.w. uttered 'I do not recognize you' three times after we pleaded 'syafaat' three times to him in the Hereafter when the sun is only a span of our fingers from the sun and our bodies were soaked in flirty waters from excreting parts of our bodies.
In an another 'ceramah' (talk), the 'ustaz' said many of us did not know the life story of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his struggle, thus how could we fall in love with him? He said the love for the Prophet s.a.w. was very, very, very important because he is the only one among Allah SWT's creations (makhluk) who could render us help in our journey in the Hereafter beginning with our lives in our graves (barzakh).
He said, once inside our graves, the angels, Munkar and Nakir, would pose questions such as who is your Lord and who is your Prophet? What do you know about this man (Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.)? Based on this, the 'ustaz' said, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. would be beside us in our graves; but if in our lives we were ignorant of him and his teachings, then it would be difficult for us to have his 'syafaat'.
One way to get to know the Prophet s.a.w. is by following his 'sunnah'. Many 'sunnah' are so simple yet because of our ignorance, we just look it down or push it aside. He said, please do away with our ego and shyness in following the Prophet’s s.a.w. way of life.
On drinking and eating, the 'ustaz' said what a simple thing to emulate the Prophet.The general rule is to sit whenever one eats or drinks; begin with reciting 'Bismillah' (in the name of Allah) and when finished, recite 'Alhamdulillah' (all praises to Allah). Then one should drink or eat with one's right hand.
"But this simple thing of the Prophet s.a.w. too people cannot follow...look around you, there are functions where even the ones organized by educated people and religious bodies where you find the guests drinking and worst of all, people eating whist standing."
The 'ustaz' did not mentioned about using fork and spoon when eating, but I could feel the pang of it when he said those words. "I must change, I must change,"...I kept repeating this words in my mind.
Finally, now I use my hand almost 100 percent while eating including when taking fried mee, beehon, 'nasi lemak'...alhamdulillah it is only for the shake of the Prophet s.a.w. and his Lord, Allah SWT. Yes dear readers, 'salawat' a lot to him whats more during Rabiulawal, his 'birthday month' - 'Allahumma solli 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala ali Sayyidina Muhammad .."