The infamous question — “how do you eat in that?”
Don’t worry, like many things, it’s much easier than it looks, and like many things, practice brings ease. :)
First things first, if it can be avoided, that is best. What does that mean? That means that if you don’t have to go out and eat in public, and you have the option of staying home and eating with your family or of eating in privacy, take the easier option. Eating out is not all it’s cut out to be, so don’t worry, you’re not missing much.
If however, you find yourself with no alternative, then the rest of this post can apply inshaAllah.
There’s a lot of things to keep in mind, and over time I might edit this post so that it’s more organized and comprehensible, but for now, it might come out a bit jumbled so please bear with me.
Which niqaab should I use?
Some niqaabs are easier to eat in than others. The elastic ones may be the most difficult because they have to keep being tucked back in, and you risk showing skin as you lift and try to navigate your way inside. If you know you’re going to eat out, try not to wear the elastic one. If you absolutely must or if you can’t go back and change, try to sit in between other women so that if you do have to lift, you are covered by them.
The ones that are tied in the back, or have Velcro in the back, outside your hijab, are probably easier (I don’t wear the Velcro ones, which is why I’m saying ‘probably’ but the tie ones I do think are easier). They don’t have to be tucked back in, they fall back into place on their own. On top of that, it’s just easier to lift and to work with.
Forks vs. Spoons
Actually, neither lol. I find it easiest to eat with your hands. And the way to do it is simply to hold the food in your right hand, and to lift the niqaab very slightly with your left hand, giving yourself just enough room to move your right hand in. Make sure you don’t get the food on your hijab but if you do, don’t panic, you’re probably the only one who will notice (because your niqab will probably cover it) and you can just go home and wash it. Let your hand hit the bottom of your chin, and then from there, you know exactly where your mouth is. Trust me, it’s so easy alhamdulillah. Especially if the food is not messy or wet.
If it really comes down to using a fork or a spoon (given that you have a choice and its not like.. trying to drink soup with a fork), then it’s best to use a fork and spear the food and then take it to your mouth. That is my opinion. I once was eating fruit salad doused in juice. I put the little pieces of fruit in my plate, speared them one or two at a time and guided the fork to my mouth (and I was wearing an elastic one…yeah lol).
Believe it or not, the niqab actually great for eating in general. (What is she talking about…?) The Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:
“A believer eats in one intestine (is satisfied with a little food), and a kafir (unbeliever) eats in seven intestines (eats much food).”
(From Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 305)
And he also said, 3layhi salat wasalaam:
“The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2380; Ibn Maajah, 3349. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1939).
So the fact that you eat at a slower pace and eat less when wearing niqab, is beneficial from so many angles. walhamdulillah
As for those who have friends or family members who wear niqaab, and you are watching them from the other side: I’m not saying pity them, because mashaAllah Allah swt is with them, but have mercy on them and if you can, make things easy for them. And if you can’t do that, then at the very least… at least don’t make things difficult for them. They are slaves of Allah who are trying to get closer to Him, and are striving to earn His Pleasure. If however this is not enough as an incentive for you, then fear Allah and know that:
“Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe…” Surah Al Baqarah; ayah 257