When people follow diets they say that it is good to eat snacks during the day and a total of 5-6 times a day. Is there anything mentioned in the Hadith regarding how often a person should eat?
I have come across the following which sheds light on how many meals were usually taken during the era of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam):
1. There is mention of a daytime meal (around midday) and a night meal (supper) in several Hadiths.
Refer: Sunan Nasai, Hadith: 2324, Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadith: 1856, Musnad Ahmad, vol.1 pg.254, Sunan Darimi, Hadith: 2092, Jami’ul Usul, vol.5 pg.399 and Al-Mu’jamul Mufahris, vol.4 pg.226 & 467.
2. Eating twice in a day was not encouraged:
Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu’anha) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) one day noticed me having two meals in the day time. So he said:
‘O ‘Aishah, don’t you like to have concerns other than your tummy?! Eating twice in the daytime is wastage, and Allah Ta’ala does not love those who waste.
(Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 5253 with a weak chain. Also see Targhib, Hadith: 3169)
-This would mean that Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu’anha) -on that day- ate twice in the day time, besides supper.
Note 1: This was a rare case scenario, as usually there was hardly any food in the homes of Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam).
Note 2: This ‘additional meal’ that Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah (radiyallahu’anha) had taken on this rare occasion, wouldn’t be the supper meal. It was probably a second meal during the day time, besides the usual ‘ghada’ (meal around midday).
Note 3: People who are under treatment (like diets etc) may obviously differ in their prescribed meals and times thereof.
3. In one narration, Sayyidatuna ‘Aishah (radiyallahu’anha) says that Rasulullah (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam) never ate to his fill twice in a day ever.
(Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 5251)
Note 4: It should be borne in mind, that what is referred to as a ‘meal’ in the that golden era would’ve been far less than what we consider as a meal.
Note 5: Lastly, when trying to emulate our Nabi (sallallahu’alayhi wasallam), one should not over exert oneself, thereby causing harm to one’s health. Sometimes, one may need to train oneself gradually before reaching the ideal.
And Allah Ta’ala Knows best,
Answered by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar