Akeel and his parents had been invited for a meal at his uncle’s house. Before they left, Akeel’s mother warned him ‘not to make his eyes bigger than his stomach’. This meant he was only to dish out a portion of food he’d be able to eat, without wasting. Akeel promised to be good and to display good table manners.
Not long after they arrived at his uncle’s house, meals were served. Akeel washed his hands and seated himself. He dished out a small portion of food and after reciting the dua for eating, began to eat. He took care to neither eat from the center of the plate (where blessings descend), nor to lean and eat. He was still eating when his cousin Farook finished and left the table to wash his hands. Moments later he appeared with an electronic hand-game and Akeel suddenly lost his appetite. He was just itching to play with Farook’s game and couldn’t wait to finish his food.
Meeting his mother’s gaze he exclaimed, “Mummy, may I leave the table?” His mother looked at his plate, frowned and made big eyes at him. She was about to scold him and demand he eat all the food remaining on his plate, when his aunt intervened. “Akeel!” she said, “Don’t you want your plate to pray for you?” Akeel raised his eyebrows in surprise, wondering what she was talking about. His aunt went on to explain: “When we eat all our food, lick our fingers and clean our plate (utensil), the plate makes dua for our forgiveness.”
Akeel was astonished. Looking at his plate he saw he only had a morsel or two to eat, to finish his food. He decided he would take the time to clean his plate thoroughly, so that the plate could pray for him. When he finished, he licked his fingers and smiled with satisfaction, thinking to himself that he had certainly not spared a single morsel of food from his meal for shaitaan. He then recited the dua after eating and was about to rise to rinse his hands, when his mother reminded him to make dua for his hosts. He recalled the dua for eating elsewhere and silently recited, “Allahhumma barik lahum feema razuqtahum, wagfir lahum, warham hum.” (O Allah, bless them in what you have provided them with and forgive them and have mercy upon them.)
Nowadays Akeel cleans his plate so thoroughly that family members have to closely examine his plate to see if someone has eaten in it or not. Now that he knows that plates (utensils) pray for our forgiveness when we clean them thoroughly after eating, he always makes certain he licks his fingers clean and cleans his plate, so that no food is left behind for shaitaan.