By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Bestower of Mercy
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, donating food or feeding the poor is a virtue that is promoted by Islam and this good gesture is mentioned in the Surah Al-Insan of the noble Qur’an. The verse (Qur’an, 76:8) mentions that:
“They feed food to the needy, to the orphan and to the captive despite the scarcity of food and their love and need for it.”
Donating food is a key aspect of Islam and feeding the hungry and needy is considered a noble and great deed. In fact, this charitable act is key to being a devout believer.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), in his first speech at Madinah said:
“O people, Spread the greeting of Salam (peace), feed people, support the ties of kinship and pray at night when people have fallen asleep and you will enter the paradise in peace.”
This Hadith clearly indicates that giving food is one of the greatest deeds. In another one of the Prophet’s Hadiths, a man asks him of the best Islamic traits. And the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Feeding the poor and greeting those whom you know and also those whom you do not know.”
Imam An-Nakha’i has commented on another verse (Qur’an, 90:14) in the Qur’an saying that:
“They feed the hungry at times when the food is not ample.”
Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari reported the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying that:
“You should feed the hungry, free the captives and pay a visit to the sick.”
Imam Muhammad Ibn Al-Munkadir has said that:
“Feeding hungry peoples guarantees the forgiveness of sins.”
He also said that:
“Feeding food to the hungry and speaking kind words to others takes you to paradise.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) has shown that what is actually given in charity and what is fed to the poor is actually what remains. In many of the Prophet’s Hadiths, the importance and the benefits of donating food are glorified. It is believed that those who indulge in the good deed of donating food are among the ‘companions of the right.’
However, the good deed in this regard is not just limited to the act of giving food but also in the act of showing hospitality to guests. This can be done by meeting the guests with a smile, offering them food and speaking kindly to them. Along these lines, Abu Dharr narrated the message of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying that:
“When you make some soup, add plenty of liquid to make a good amount of it and feed some to your neighbours.”
In this respect, it is a duty of Muslims to not just offer food to other fellow human beings but also to the other living creatures including the birds and animals.
Respected brothers and sisters, it is believed that the food that is given in charity is the eternal reward. It is what actually remains as opposed to the food that we consume.
This act of donating food or feeding the hungry or poor actually gives rise to many other acts of worship like showing affection to fellow Muslims who are fed. This act also gives rise to being in the company of other righteous people. It is also described that those who feed others are granted paradise or Jannah.
Respected servants of Allah, let us know that donating food is a very important aspect of Islam. The noble Qur’an and several of the Prophet’s Hadiths encourage this act. In fact, the righteous predecessors (Salaf As-Salih) have always favoured this act whether it was feeding a hungry person or a righteous Muslim. All of this tells us how amazing a deed feeding food to others is, not just for us but also for the others.
And keeping all of this in mind, it is important that we all work hard and do our best to feed the poor as well as the needy in our societies. Moreover, it is also important that we show love, respect and gratitude to our neighbours by feeding and sharing food with them.
We must also remember to spread this message as much as we possibly can and also encourage our friends and family to do so. This can be done by making it a point to feed the food to the needy or poor ourselves or even by supporting the sincere organisations that are donating food.
Beloved brothers and sisters, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity/sadaqah.” [Reported by At-Tirmidhi]
Dear servants of Allah, being caring and compassionate for one’s fellow human beings is a central part of Islam, especially in this trying time that Allah the Almighty sent the economic hardship to test the whole world. When reading the Qur’an, one cannot help being struck by the number of times charity or sadaqah is mentioned: Feeding the poor and needy, supporting orphans, relatives and travellers, spending in the way of Allah… All of these references emphasise the importance of charity for every Muslim.
And several Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) refer to this deep affection and brotherhood. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“You will not believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”
He also said:
“The believers are like one body in their mutual love and affection: if one limb is injured, the rest responds with sleeplessness and fever.”
Respected brothers and sisters, if a Muslim feels the pain of his or her fellow human being, and wishes the same comfort and good life for others which he wishes for himself, it is a natural reaction to give in charity, to ease this suffering.
In addition to the indisputable benefits for those receiving charity, Islam also highlights the spiritual to give your wealth away selflessly to remember that every blessing they have in this life comes from Allah the Almighty. We must not hoard our wealth and blessings but instead recognise that He (Allah Almighty) wishes for us to be compassionate and share our provisions with others without pride. Allah the Most High says:
“You who believe, do not cancel out your charitable deeds with reminders and hurtful words.” [Qur’an, 2:262]
And the Qur’an reminds us that there is a:
“Recognised right, for the needy and deprived” over our wealth.” [Qur’an, 70:24-5]
So by giving for the sake of others, a Muslim is fulfilling a duty to those in need and preventing him or her from becoming proud of their own generosity.
In fact, Allah the Most High describes those who prevent the supporting of orphans and the feeding of the poor as:
“Those who reject the faith.” [Qur’an, 107:1-3]
As charity should be given in:
“Prosperity or adversity.” [Qur’an, 3:134]
Without fear for one’s wealth. We should have faith that a sincere act of giving can only bring abundant reward. Allah the Almighty says:
“Those who spend their wealth in Allah’s cause are like grains of corn which produce seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains.” [Qur’an, 2:261]
And with Zakah – the obligatory annual tax due on an adult Muslim’s wealth – one of the five pillars of Islam, supporting the poor and needy through charity is an undeniable cornerstone of faith.
My beloved people, wallahi, charity or Sadaqah is something that is encouraged every day. Let our governments at all levels, and the rich and wealthy among us fear Allah and help the poor and the needy, so that Allah Almighty can use it to protect us, protect our family and protect our dear country from all kind of fitnah and tribulations.
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“There is no day in which the servant rise in the morning except that two angels descend; one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate the one who spends.’ The other angel says, ‘O Allah! Destroy the wealth of the one who is stingy.’” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
It is also confirmed that charity repels calamities, as stated in the Hadith. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Doing good (to the people) protects one from misfortunes, secret charity extinguishes the anger of the Lord (Allah), and keeping ties with kinship increases one’s life span.” [At-Tabarani reported it and Imam Al-Albani classified it as hasan]
Also, Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Doing good (to the people) protects one from misfortunes, from calamities, and destruction; and the people of goodness in this worldly life will be the people of goodness in the Hereafter.” [Imam Al-Albani classified it as Sahih]
Moreover, in the Hadith reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim about the solar eclipse reads:
“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘When you see that [i.e. the eclipse], supplicate to Allah, say Allahu Akbar, pray, and give charity.’”
Sheikh Ibn Daqiq Al-Id, when interpreting this Hadith, said, “This Hadith is evidence that charity is desirable when someone fears something in order to repel the misfortune and the calamity that he fears.”
And Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim may Allah have mercy upon him said in his book Iddat As-Sabirin:
“In charity, there are numerous benefits which no one can enumerate but Allah, among which is that it protects one from misfortunes, from calamities and repels trials to the extent that it repels tribulations off an oppressor (i.e. charity repels tribulations even if it was given by an evil or an oppressive person). Ibrahim An-Nakha’i said: ‘They (the righteous predecessors) held that charity protects the oppressed man, wipes out the sin, preserves wealth, brings forth sustenance, brings joy to the heart, and necessitates having trust in Allah and thinking well of Him in the same manner that stinginess is mistrust in Allah. Charity repels the devil, purifies one’s soul and develops it, endears the servant to Allah and to His creation, and conceals all his defects in the same manner that stinginess conceals every good trait. Charity increases one’s lifespan, incites people to supplicate for the person and to love him, repels the torment of the grave from the person, provides shade for him on the Day of Judgment, intercedes for him with Allah, eases the difficulties of this world and the Hereafter for him, and makes it easier for him to do all good deeds; indeed, its benefits are many times more.’”
Therefore, there is no harm in giving charity or sadaqah in order to attain what is confirmed in the Shari’ah as a promise to repel a calamity from the person who gives charity.
Dear brothers and sisters, in Islam, feeding people carries great virtues as can be seen from Qur’an and Hadith. Many Hadiths mention that feeding people is among the best aspects of Islam.
Noble Qur’an mentions feeding people as a quality of those who love Allah. Allah Almighty says:
“And they give (their own) food, in deep love of Allah, to the needy, the orphan and prisoner (out of sacrifice, despite their own desire and need for it).”
And He says:
“We are feeding you only to please Allah. We do not seek any recompense from you nor (wish for) any thanks.” [Qur’an, 76: 8-9]
And not feeding the poor and the needy is a bad quality as can be seen from the following Qur’anic verses, were Allah Almighty says:
“But (so is) man that when his Lord tests him (by providing him pleasure and comfort) and honours him and gives him bounties, he says: ‘My Lord has honoured me.’ But when He tries him (by afflicting pain and discomfort) and limits his means of sustenance, he says: ‘My Lord has humiliated me.’ No indeed! But (the truth is that after you gain honour and good fortune) you do not give honour and care to orphans. Nor do you inspire one another (in society) to promote feeding the destitute (the poor and the needy). You lay hand on the inherited wealth and devour it (yourselves and do not pay the poverty-stricken their due).” [Qur’an, 89: 15-19]
And Allah Almighty said:
“(They) will be in Gardens and will be asking one another, About the evildoers. (And they will say): ‘What has brought you into Hell?’ They will say: ‘We were not of those who used to offer Prayers. Nor did we feed the poor. And we indulged in vain activities with those who had cast themselves into vain activities. And we rejected the Day of Reward and Punishment, Until that (death) came upon us which was certain to come.’ So (now) intercession of the intercessors will not be of any benefit to them.” [Qur’an, 74: 40-48]
And from the Hadiths of the Prophet (Peace be upon him):
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“Allah Almighty says: ‘I asked you for food and you did not feed Me.” He (His servant) will say, ‘Lord, how could I feed You when You did not ask me for food and You are the Lord of the universe?’ He will say, ‘Do you not know that My servant so-and-so asked you for food and you did not feed him? Do you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that action with Me?….” [Reported by Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]
Abdullah Ibn Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said:
“Worship the All-Merciful and feed people. Make the greeting common practice among you and you will enter the Garden (Paradise).” [Reported by Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]
Abdullah Ibn Amr (RA) said:
“A man asked the Prophet (Peace be upon him), ‘Which aspect of Islam is best?‘ He said, ‘FEEDING THE PEOPLE and greeting those you know and those you do not know.’” [Bukhari in Kitab Al-Iman]
In a Hadith reported by Abu Musa Ash’ari (RA), The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“FEED THE HUNGRY, visit the sick and free the captives.” [Narrated by Bukhari]
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“He who eats to satisfaction while his neighbour is hungry is not a believer.” [Narrated by Al-Baihaqi in Al-Sunan Al-Kubrah]
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.