Revival of Religious Learnings Vol-II
Category: Islam
11:25 h
Iḥyā′ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn (transl. The Revival of the Religious Learnings; Arabic: احياء علوم الدين‎) is an 11th-century book written by Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazali. The book was composed in Arabic and was based on personal religious experience. It is regarded as one of his chief works and a classic introduction to the pious muslim's way to God.




Translated by FAZL-UL-KARIM




The Book of worldly usages is the second book of Imam Gazzali’s world renowned master piece Ihya Ulum-id-Din or the Revival of religious learning. This work is an attempt to translate the second part of the Ihya not too literally but in substance from the original written in Arabic. The book II deals with the worldly usages, etiquettes, manners, rules and regulations concerning eating and drinking, marriage, earnings and trade, lawful and unlawful earnings, duties towards Muslims, neighbours, servants and slaves, harms and benefits of seclusion and society, journey, music, enjoining good and forbidding evil and character and conduct of the Holy Prophet.

A literal translation is avoided in order to omit the unnecessary arguments of sects and things prevailing in the world and to omit the sayings of less important sages. But no verse of the Quran or saying of Prophet has been omitted in this book.

I pray to the Almighty Allah that He may guide the people of the world in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah and the spirit in which the Ihya was written by Hujjatual Islam (the Proof of Islam), a title received by Imam Gazzali and about which it has been said “If all the books of Islam were destroyed, it would be but a slight loss if only the Ihya of Gazzali were preserved”.



All praise is due to God who conducts the whole creation in an orderly manner. Who gives provision according to a measure, Who increase the strength of animals by food and drink and Who nourishes religion and good deeds by good foods and drinks.

The object of the wise is the vision of the Lord in the next world and the only way to gain it is learning and action and there is not other way, but it is not possible to stand constantly on them without a healthy body which is also not possible without food and drink, such food and drink which are absolutely necessary and which are taken according to prescribed rules. For this reason, some learned sages said that food and drink appertain to religion. God said Eat pure food and do good deeds — 23:51 Q. If a man takes food for helping his learning and actions and God-fear, his food and drink are considered as divine service. For that, he should not spend his time uselessly and remain busy like a lower being which roams from field to field in eating and drinking. The modes and the ways of food and drink are the lights of religion. A religious man must stick to these ways and control his passion and greed for food and drink by weighing them in the balance of Shariat. The Holy Prophet said: A man can acquire virtues in all his actions, even in a morsel of food he lifts up his mouth and to the mouth of his wife.


The rules of eating alone are three kind — (a) rules before eating (b) rules at the time of eating and (c) rules after eating.

(a) RULES BEFORE EATING: There are seven rules before eating. (1) The food must be lawful. God enjoined eating good and lawful food and prohibited bad and unlawful food. There is benefit in the former and harm in the latter. God says: O believers, don’t eat the properties of one another unjustly — The root of religion is lawful food which is the basis of all religious action. (2) The hand shall be washed before eating. The Prophet said: Wash before eating prevents poverty and wash after eating prevents frivolous thoughts.” Dirts and germs that keep attached in hands as a result of manual labour can be removed by wash. So wash before eating is necessary as ablution before prayer is necessary. (3) Food shall be placed on the ground as it is the way of the Prophet. Whenever any food was taken to the Prophet, he kept it on the ground as it is the sign of humility. The Prophet used not to take food in any plate except in a big dish with others. Four things were innovated after the Prophet — (a) to eat on tables, (b) to sift food-stuffs by sieve, (c) to use soaps and (d) to eat to one’s heart’s content. These things, though not unlawful, are not good for an humble man. (4) One should take food sitting straight. The Prophet said: I don’t leaning as I am a mere slave and I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits”. To eat leaning is bad for stomach. (5) One shall make niyyat before eating: I eat to gain strength in worship. He will take promise to eat little and not much as full belly prevents worship. The more the intention is pure for religion, the less is the greed for food. The Prophet said: Such quantity of food is sufficient for a man which can keep his backbone erect. If he is unable to do it then one part of the belly is for food, one part of for drink and one part for breathing.” If the niyyat or intention is true, one should not extend his hand towards food if he is not hungry. (6) Be satisfied with the food served and don’t be greedy for varieties of curries. Food is honoured only when one does not wait for curry. The Prophet said: When the time of night meal and the time of night prayer come together, first take meal. (7) The more are the people to partake food, the better. The Prophet said: Eat all together, as there is blessings in it. The Prophet used not to eat single. He said: The food in which many hand participate is best.

(b) RULES AT THE TIME OF EATING: Being eating reciting ‘Bismillah’ — in the name of God and end it reciting ‘Alhamdollah’ — all praise is due to God. Eat with the right hand and begin and end it with salt. Take little morsels and chew each morsel well. Don’t extend your hand to a morsel till you swallow the previous one. Don’t speak of the defects of cooking. The Prophet never did it. When he liked a food, he ate; and when he did not like it, he did not eat it. Except fruits, he used to take from the nearest side of the dish. The Prophet said: Eat from the side of your front and not form every side, nor from the middle. Don’t cut bread or meat with knife. The Prophet said: Cut meat with your teeth. He said: Honour the principal foods as God sent them from the blessings of heaven. The Prophet said: If any morsel of food falls down, take it up and clear off the dust attached to it and don’t leave it for the devil. Don’t wipe out your hands with handkerchiefs till you like lick your fingers, because you don’t know in which food there is blessing. Don’t blow breath in hot food as it is prohibited, but be patient till it becomes cold. Eat odd number of dates, grapes and such other fruits which can be counted.

RULES OF DRINKING WATER: Don’t drink water at the time of eating except when thirsty. It is better and keeps stomach sound. Take the name of God and drink slowly. The Prophet said ‘Drink water drought by drought and not a time.’ Don’t drink water standing or lying as the Prophet prohibited it except for an excuse. Don’t throw breath into pot or yawn. The Prophet used to recite after drinking water: All praise is due God who has made it delicious and sweet by His grace and has not made it either saltish or distasteful for our sins. Drink water with three breaths and at the end recite ‘Alhamdolillah’all praise is due to God and at the beginning ‘Bismillah’-in the name of God.

(c) RULES AFTER EATING: Lift up your hand before the stomach is filled up and lick up the fingers. Then wipe them with a towel and then wash them. Lift up the remnants of food. The Prophet said: He who eats what lies on the dinning cloth will remain safe, will pass his life in solvency and his children will remain safe. Then make pick of teeth and don’t swallow what comes out of teeth as a result of pick. Thereafter gurgle, lick the dish and drink its water. It has been said that he who licks his dish and drinks its water will get the reward of the manumission of a slave. Express gratefulness to God sincerely for what God has given you to eat and take food as His gift. God says: Eat of the good things which I have produced for you and be grateful for the gifts of God — 2:168. Whenever you eat a lawful thing, say: All praise is for God for whose mercy good deeds are completed and blessings descend. O God, give us good food and engage us in good deeds. If you eat doubtful things, then say: All praise is due to God under all circumstances. O God, let it not lead us towards Thy transgression. Alter meal, recite chapters Ikhlas and Lailafe. Don’t rise up till the dining cloth is lifted up. If you take food in the house of another person, pray for him and say: O God, give him abundant good and give him blessing in what Thou hast provided him. The Prophet said: Hell is better for the flesh which has been nourished by unlawful food. If you drink milk, say Give blessing in what Thou hast provided us and increase it for us. After meal, recite the following: All praise is due to God who provided us with food and drink sufficiently and gave shelter to our leader and chief. Then wash your hand with soap.


(1) If there any elderly or honourable man with you, don’t begin eating till he begins.

(2) Don’t remain silent at the time of eating and hold talks.

(3) Don’t wish to eat more than your friend. It is not lawful for you to eat more when food is equally disturbed unless your friends give you out of their own accords.

(4) Eat in such a way that there remains not necessity of saying to your companion ‘eat, eat’. Eat according to your habit.

(5) It is no fault for one to wash hand in the dish and for all in the same pot. If the same pot is used by all for washing hands, the following rules shall be observed. There should be no spitting on the pot, the chief guest should be honoured, beginning should be made from the right hand side. A servant should pour water upon the hands and throwing water from the mouth should be slow.

(6) One should not look at the eating of his companions and should withdraw his hand before his companions finish eating.

(7) One should not do what appears bad to his companions and talk not such words as may offend them.


There is a great merit in showing hospitality and in entertainment of guests. Hazrat Jaffar Sadeq said: When you sit with guests in the dining cloth, sit for a long time as no account will be taken of that time. Hazrat Hasan Basari said: Accounts will be taken of what one spends for himself, for his parents or for any other persons, but not account will be taken of what one spends for food of his Muslim brethren as God will feel shame in taking its accounts. There are many traditions to this effects. The Prophet said: Angels like one till there is food before him. He said.: When your Muslim brethren lift up their hands after they finish eating, no account will be taken of one who eats the remaining food. He said: No account will be taken for the food which he gives to his brother Muslim. He also said: No account will be taken for three things — (1) pre-drawn tiffin for fasting, (2) what is eaten for breaking fast and (3) what is eaten with a brother Muslim. Hazrat Ibn Omar said: To take good food in journey and to give it to the companions appertain to generosity. Some companions said: To eat together is the sign of good conduct. There is in one Hadis: God will say to a man: O son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not give Me food. He will reply: How could I have given Thee food while thou art the Lord of the universe? God will say: Your certain brother Muslim was hungry, but you did not give him food. If you had given him food, it would have reached Me. The Prophet also said: Honour one who comes to see you. He said: There are high places in Paradise, the outer sides of which are visible from the inner sides. These are for those who are modest in treatment, give food and pray at night when the people remain asleep. The Prophet said He who gives food is best of you. He said: If a man gives food to his brother Muslim to his satisfaction and gives him drink till his thirst is appeased, God will keep him away up to seven ditches from Hell, the distance of every two ditches is the path of five hundred years.


(1) When enter the house of your friend to take your meal, don’t enter it suddenly as it is prohibited. God says: Don’t enter the house of the Prophet at the time of meal without permission and don’t look at the dish of food. The Prophet said: He who joins a feast without invitation is a transgressor.

(2) If a man goes to the house of another man for a necessity and if then the time of meal comes, he should not take meal without being requested. When the host says: Take meal, he should see whether it has been said willingly or out of shame. If it is said out of shame, he should not join it.

(3) It is sunnat to demand food from the house of a bosom friend. The Holy Prophet, Hazrat Abu Bakr and Omar used to go to the house of Abul Haisam and Abu Ayub Ansari for taking meal. They used to take meal in the houses of Ansars in the beginning. God said: There is not fault in taking meal in the houses of your friends. Once the Prophet took meal in the house of Barirah without her permission. When questioned about friends, Hasan Basri said: He is friend to whom mind finds peace and is pleased with.

(4) To present food before the guest don’t take too much trouble in preparing food. Place before the guest whatever you have got. If you have got no food and also no money, don’t run into debt and don’t inflict trouble on yourself. If you have got measured food and you have no mind to part with it, it is not necessary to give food to a guest. Give better food to your guest than what you eat. A certain sage said: If any of my friends comes to me, I don’t care to feed him as I don’t inflict any trouble on myself for his sake. I present to him whatever I have got. If I take trouble, I don’t welcome him. It is said that once when Hazrat Ali was invited, he said: I can accept your invitation on three conditions — (1) don’t buy anything from the market for me; (2) don’t hoard up what is in your house; and (3) don’t give trouble to your family members. Hazrat Salman said: The Prophet prohibited us to take trouble for a guest for what is not in our houses and ordered us to present before him what is ready. It has been reported of Prophet Jonah that whenever his friends came to see him, he used to place before them pieces of bread and vegetables of his garden and say Eat. If God does not curse upon those who take trouble, I would have taken trouble for you. Hazrat Anas said that they used to present before a guest dried bread and dried dates and say: We don’t know who is a greater sinner between the two — one who dislikes the food presented before him or one who dislikes to present what is near him.

(5) A guest should not order his host to arrange meal or for a particular item of food. It causes trouble to the host. There is in a Hadis that the Prophet used to like the easier of two things. A certain sage said: Feast is of three kinds (1) to eat with the poor with I’ sar (sacrificing own interest), (2) to treat with friends with pleasure and (3) to treat with the worldly men with good manners. The host will ask his guest what kind of food he likes. There are merits in giving food to the guest according to the wish of the latter. The Prophet said: The sins of one are forgiven who takes care to fulfill the desires of his brother Muslim. God will please one who pleases his brothers Muslim. The Prophet said God writes thousands of merits and forgives thousands of sins of one who gives taste to what his guest likes. God gives him thousands of ranks and will feed him from three Paradises — Ferdous, Adan and Khuld. Don’t say to a guest: What food shall bring for you? Present to him whatever food is ready. The sage Sufyan Saori said: When your brother Muslim meets you, don’t say to him: What food will you eat? What food shall I present to you? A certain Sufi said: When the poor come to you, give them food. When the theologians come to you, ask them about legal decisions. When the learned come to you, show them the praying clothes.


There are six rule of entertainment of guests — to invite, to accept invitation, to attend at the invitation, to present food, to take meal and then to depart. The Prophet said about the entertainment of guests. Don’t take trouble for a guest, lest you think bad of him. He who thinks bad of a guest, thinks bad of God and God also thinks bad of him. He also said: There is no good in one who does not entertain guest. The Prophet once passed by an owner of many camels and cattle who did not entertain him. A woman who had some goats only entertained him by sacrificing a goat. At this, the Prophet said: Look at these two persons and this conduct is in the hand of God. He gives it to whom He is pleased with. Once a guest came to the Prophet who said: As I have got a guest, tell that Jew to give me a loan, I shall repay it in the month of Rajah. The Jew said: By God, if you do not keep something as pawn, I will not give you the loan. On being informed of it, the Prophet said: By God, I am trustworthy in heaven and trustworthy in the earth. If he gives me loan, I shall repay it. Take my shield and give it to him as a pawn.

Whenever the Prophet Abraham wished to take meal, he used to seek as guest to take meal with him up to the distance of one or two miles for which he was surnamed Abu Zaifan or father of guests. The custom of entertainment of guest is still prevalent by the side of his grave as a commemoration of this attribute of his. Not a single night passes there when one to three hundred guests are not entertained. The manager of this place says that up to this day no night passed there without a guest. The Prophet was once asked: What is faith? He replied: Not to be miserly in giving food and in tendering salam. The Prophet said: Giving food and praying at night when people remain asleep expiate sins and increase rank. Being asked about an accepted pilgrimage, the Prophet said: Giving food and talking sweet words. Hazrat Anas said: Angels do not enter a house where a guest does not enter. There are many other traditions regarding the merits of entertainment.


Don’t invite other than religious men and don’t invite the transgressors. The Prophet once prayed for a person thus: Let your food be eaten by religious men. He said: Don’t eat except the food of religious men and don’t give your food to be eaten except by the religious men and invite the poor. The Prophet said: The worst feast is that of marriage where the rich are invited and not the poor. Don’t neglect the relatives in feasts as neglecting them produces their displeasure and the evils of the the of relationship. Treat with the friends and acquaintances in such a manner as no other people are dissatisfied if special persons are invited. Follow the ways of the Prophet in feeding and incur the pleasure of the believers. Don’t invite such a person who will not join a feast or the guests may suffer owing to his presence. Don’t invite except one who willingly accepts invitation. The sage Sufyan Saori said: He who invites a person who does not accept it commits sin. If the latter accepts the invitation at last, he commits two sins as he comes to him inspite of his unwillingness. If a religious man is fed, it helps his religion; and if a sinner is fed, it helps sin.


To accept invitation is sunnat or the practice of the Prophet. Some say it is compulsory. The Prophet said: If I am asked to eat goat’s thigh, I shall accept it. There are five rules of accepting invitation.

(1) Don’t distinguish between the poor and the rich. It appertains to pride and is prohibited. For this reason, those who accept the invitation of the rich in comparison with that of the poor appertain to the class of proud people and are opposed to the ways of the Prophet. The Prophet used to accept the invitation of the slaves and the poor. Once Hasan, son of Hazrat Ali, was passing by a group of poor people who were begging by the side of a path way and were eating food in a dusty place. Hazrat Hasan was riding on a camel. They said: O grandson of the Prophet, join us in our food. He at once got down, sat with them on the ground, ate food with them and them rode upon his camel and said: I accepted your invitation. Now accept my invitation. They accepted it and he entertained them on a fixed date.

(2) Invitation should not be refused for distance. There is written in the Torah: Go to see a sick man even to a distance of one mile. Join a funeral prayer even to the of three miles and meet with a friend for the sake of God even to the distance of four miles. The Prophet said: Had I been invited to a place in the village of Gamim (It is several miles off from Medinah), I would have accepted it. The Prophet once broke fast there in Ramzan and made his prayer short.

(3) Don’t refuse invitation owing to fast and attend feast and break fast so as to incur the pleasure of the host, as it brings greater rewards than that of optional fast. The Prophet said: Your brother has taken trouble and you say: I am fasting. Hazrat Ibn Abbas said: The best virtue is to eat with friends after breaking (optional) fast. There are signs of entertainment of guest — to give antimony and scents or scented oils.

(4) Don’t accept invitation where you know or doubt that food unlawful earned will be served or irreligious acts will be performed such as unlawful food and wine will be placed, gold and silver cups and plates will be used or immoral songs will be sung. Acceptance of invitation is not lawful if the host is a tyrant, transgressor or innovator.

(5) Don’t accept invitation for satisfaction of belly, but intend to gain strength for acquiring merits in the next world. Be careful of disobeying God. The Prophet said: He who does not accept invitation, disobeys God and His Apostle. According to this Hadis, intend to honour your brother believer. Intend to incur pleasure in the minds of the Muslim according to this Hadis: He who incurs the pleasure of a believer incur the pleasure of God; Intend to meet a believer in order that you may love him as the Prophet imposed this condition for it. Therein there is meeting with each other and expense for the sake of God. Intend to be free from defamation, so that it may not be said that he did not attend owing to pride. Don’t take pride in it and don’t show bad conduct and don’t hold in contempt your brother Muslim. If one of the above intentions is observed, it will bring one to the nearness of God. A certain sage said: I wish to have niyyat or intention in all my actions, even in food and drink. The Prophet said: All actions are judged by intention. Every man gets what he intends. Whose emigrates for the sake of God and His apostle, his emigration is for God and His Apostle, he who emigrates for worldly gain or for marrying a woman will get that for which he emigrates. There is no effect of intention in unlawful things. So don’t intend to do an unlawful thing.


(1) When you attend an invitation, don’t sit in the middle place and don’t occupy the best space.

(2) Don’t make delay in attending an invitation, as the guests may be waiting for you. Don’t attend it before the fixed time as the host may not prepare food beforehand.

(3) Don’t sit in such a manner as causes inconvenience to others. If there is any fixed place for you, don’t act contrary to it. The Prophet said: To remain satisfied with a little space for sitting for the sake of God appertains to humility.

(4) Don’t look towards the place wherefrom food comes, as it is against good manners.

(5) Entertain one who sits by your side and hold talk with him.

(6) When a guest comes to a host, the latter should show to the former the direction of Qibla, places of calls of nature and ablution.

(7) Make delay after meal to wash your hands.

(8) If you see anything opposed to Shariat, remove it if you are able or else go away expressing your dislike therefor.



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