Question to Shaikh Abdullaah Bin Humaid (rahimahullaah)
Some of the people come for Umrah and eat in the Haram because they are travellers; but they eat in the presence of the people. Is it permissible for them to do so?
It is permissible for a traveller to eat, but the scholars have stated that he (or she) should not eat in the presence of the people. He (or she) should eat in private lest the people disapproved of him (or her) and say that this person is thoughtless or lest the sinful people blindly follow him (or her).
You have a (legislated) excuse because you are a traveler. But it is not befitting that you eat in the presence of the people because they will accuse you and a person is commanded to safeguard his (or her) honour. Also the sinful people will follow you when they see you eating, saying: ‘’Such and such a person eats so we will also eat like him.’’
And indeed the scholars from the Hanaabilah (i.e. the scholars of the Madhab of Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullaah) and other than them have stated that it is permissible for the traveller to eat during the day in Ramadhaan and there is no harm in doing so, except that it is not befitting for him (or her) to eat in the presence of the people, rather of he (or she) should eat in private.
[Source: Al-Fataawaa Wad-Duroos Fil Masjidil Haraam…pages: 493-494]