Imam Muslim records in his Saheeh from Anas ibn Maalik that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
إِذَا حَضَرَ الْعَشَاءُ وَأُقِيمَتِ الصَّلاَةُ فَابْدَءُوا بِالْعَشَاءِ
“When the supper is brought and the prayer begins, one should first take food.”
[Saheeh Muslim #557]
Imam al-Nawawi, in his commentary on Saheeh Muslim, wrote the following:
قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : إذا حضر العشاء وأقيمت الصلاة فابدءوا بالعشاء ، وفي رواية : إذا قرب العشاء وحضرت الصلاة فابدءوا به قبل أن تصلوا صلاة المغرب ولا تعجلوا عن عشائكم وفي رواية : إذا وضع عشاء أحدكم وأقيمت الصلاة فابدءوا بالعشاء ولا يعجلن حتى يفرغ منه ، وفي رواية : لا صلاة بحضرة طعام ، ولا وهو يدافعه الأخبثان .
His statement (ﷺ), “When the supper is brought and the prayer begins, one, should first take food“, and in another narration, “When the supper is brought before you, and it is also the time to say prayer, first take food before praying salaat al-Maghrib and do not rush your dinner.” And in another narration, “When the supper is served to any one of you and the prayer also begins, then first take supper, and do not hasten (to the salaah) until you have finished it.” And in another narration, “There is no prayer can be when the food is present, or when he is prompted by the call of nature.“
في هذه الأحاديث كراهة الصلاة بحضرة الطعام الذي يريد أكله ، لما فيه من اشتغال القلب به ، وذهاب كمال الخشوع ، وكراهتها مع مدافعة الأخبثين وهما : البول والغائط ،
In these ahaadeeth is the dislike of prayer while there is food which one would like to eat present, for therein is something which would thereby distract the heart and which would diminish the completeness of khushoo’ (concentration during the prayer). (And also in these ahaadeeth) is the dislike of prayer while one is prompted by the call of the two uncleanlinesses, which are urination and defection.
ويلحق بهذا ما كان في معناه يشغل القلب ويذهب كمال الخشوع ، وهذه الكراهة عند جمهور أصحابنا وغيرهم إذا صلى كذلك وفي الوقت سعة ، فإذا ضاق بحيث لو أكل أو تطهر خرج وقت الصلاة صلى على حاله محافظة على حرمة الوقت ، ولا يجوز تأخيرها .
And related to this is in meaning is whatever distracts the heart and diminishes the completeness of khushoo’, and this is disliked by the majority of our companions (i.e. the scholars of the Shaafi’ madhhab) and others – i.e. to perform salaah in that condition while there is abundant time. And as for when the time is tight such that if one were to eat or (to answer the call of nature and then) perform tahaarah (ritual purification) that the time for the salaah would exit, then he should pray in that condition (of hunger or while feeling the call of nature) thus preserving the inviolability of the times of the salaah, and it is not permitted to postpone it.
وحكى أبو سعد المتولي من أصحابنا وجها لبعض أصحابنا أنه لا يصلي بحاله ، بل يأكل ويتوضأ وإن خرج الوقت ؛ لأن مقصود الصلاة الخشوع فلا يفوته ، وإذا صلى على حاله وفي الوقت سعة فقد ارتكب المكروه وصلاته صحيحة عندنا وعند الجمهور ، لكن يستحب إعادتها ولا يجب
And Abu Sa’d al-Mutawalli reported from our companions (in the Shaafi’ madhhab) that the view of some of our co-jurists was that one should not perform salaah in that state, but rather that he should eat or (answer the call of nature and then) perform wudhu’ even if the time for the prayer leaves, because the the purpose of the salaah is the khushoo’, so do not neglect it. And if one performs salaah in that condition while the time is abundant, then he has committed a disliked act, but his salaah is correct (i.e. acceptable inshaaAllaah) according to the Shaafi’ madhhab and according to the majority position, however it is preferred that he repeats it*, but he is not obligated to do that.
وقوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – : ( ولا يعجلن حتى يفرغ منه ) دليل على أنه يأكل حاجته من الأكل بكماله ، وهذا هو الصواب . وأما ما تأوله بعض أصحابنا على أنه يأكل لقما يكسر بها شدة الجوع فليس بصحيح ، وهذا الحديث صريح في إبطاله
And his statement (ﷺ), “and do not hasten (to the salaah) until you have finished it” is evidence that one should eat his fill of the food such that he is satisfied, and this is correct. And as for the interpretations of some of our companions that one should eat (just) a morsel or a mouthful in order to break the severity of hunger (and then proceed to the salaah), then this is not correct, and this is a clear hadeeth in the invalidation of that interpretation.
[Sharh al-Nawawi ‘alaa Muslim #557]
*Translator’s note:i.e. if he performed the salaah with the jamaa’a in this condition, then he should repeat the salaah on his own after fulfilling the conditions under discussion which allow him to achieve fuller khushoo’
Full Arabic text available here.