“Its not good to talk while eating.” I’ve heard that many times and although it’s definitely rude to talk with food in your mouth and your mouth open, I think this issue needs further examination.
For one, lets admit that Ramadan is as much about food as it is about fasting these days with all of the iftar parties, etc.
The upside of that though is that food brings people together…sometimes. In many households today, iftar/dinner is when everyone comes and gets their food and then goes their own way. It’s also a time where the TV might be on or everyone’s got their own text messaging conversations going, and even though people are sitting together, they’re actually all individually warped in their own world with no one but the TV or the person they’re texting.
So its from the sunnah to eat together, especially with family, and also to have good conversation accompany the food. Some of the greatest sayings of the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) were said over a meal which is why Imam Al Nawawi (rahimahullah) said:
وَفِيهِ اِسْتِحْبَاب الْحَدِيث عَلَى الْأَكْل تَأْنِيسًا لِلْآكِلِينَ
“And in that is a sign that it’s recommended to hold conversations while eating in a way that soothes those that are eating with you”
So use your meals to reconnect with family and friends, demonstrate good manners, and have beneficial conversations. Put away the phones, tvs, laptops, etc.
Particularly for those of you whose parents are still alive and live with you, one of my greatest regrets from my childhood is not eating with my parents more often. You have no idea how soothing it is to them for you to eat with them and TALK to them.
For those of you who don’t have family with you, invite good people to eat with you and try to use that as an opportunity to form or stabilize your bond with righteous people.
On a side note for Ramadan, it would help facilitate iftar conversation if there wasn’t a mountain of food to finish before taraweeh.