A top religious body in Turkey has warned Muslims not to eat or drink with their left hand because only "demons" do that. Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has claimed that the prophet Muhammad was against the practice.

The state-backed religious body issued a statement on its website on Saturday (3 February) saying that Muslims should not consume food or drink using the left hand because "demons eat and drink with their left hand".

The remarks were in response to a question posted by a user on eating habits. Diyanet replied: "Establishing general principles regarding eating and drinking, the Prophet Muhammad did not regard eating with the left hand as pleasant.

"Indeed, he attached great importance to this issue and warned his community that demons eat and drink using their left hand. He, therefore, advised children to only use their right hand when they eat or drink."

Those with physical disabilities were allowed to break the proscription, according to Turkey's Hurriyet News.

IBTimes UK has contacted Diyanet for more information.

Diyanet's directives have raised controversies in the past, especially in Turkey. On one occasion it claimed that if a husband called his wife "mother" or "sister" by mistake, their marriage would become void.