Chapter 62: Selflessness and Sympathy
allah, the exalted, says:
"and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves, even though they were in need of that.'' (59:9)
"and they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of him), to the poor, the orphan, and the captive.'' (76:8)
564. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: a man came to the prophet (pbuh) and said; "i am hard pressed by hunger.'' he (pbuh) sent a word to one of his wives who replied: "by him who has sent you with the truth, i have nothing except water.'' then he sent the same message to another (wife) and received the same reply. he sent this message to all of them (i.e., his wives) and received the same reply. then he (pbuh) said, "who will entertain this (man) as guest?'' one of the ansar said: "o messenger of allah, i will.'' so he took him home and said to his wife: "serve the guest of messenger of allah (pbuh).''
another narration is: the ansari asked his wife: "have you got anything?'' she answered: "nothing, except a little food for the children.'' he said: "keep them busy with something, and when they ask for food put them to sleep. when the guest enters, extinguish the light and give him the impression that we are also eating.'' so they sat down and the guest ate and they passed the night hungry. when he came to the prophet (pbuh) in the morning, he said to him, "allah admired what you did with your guest last night.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith describes a unique example of hospitality and kindness liked by allah. it imparts to man the sense of self-sacrifice and a feeling of fellowship.
565. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "the food for two suffices for three; and the food for three suffices for four persons.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
in muslim, jabir (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "the food for one person suffices for two; the food for two suffices for four, and the food fof four suffices for eight persons.''
commentary: we are told that if on some occasion a host feels that the prepared food is too little to feed his guests, all of them should willingly share it with each other. this will be both blessing and rewarding from allah.
566. abu sa`id al-khudri (may allah be pleased with him) reported: once we were on a journey with messenger of allah (pbuh) when a rider came and began looking right and left. messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "whoever has an extra mount should offer it to him who is without it, and whoever has surplus food should give it to him who has nothing;'' and he continued mentioning other properties until we thought that none of us had any right to surplus of his own property.
commentary: the mention of this hadith in this chapter reveals that in their social life, particularly in a period of crisis, the muslims should adopt a co-operative, consolatory and sympathetic attitude towards one another, being willing to give over their superfluous things to the needy muslims. this commandment, however, is not of essential and binding nature. if it were so, no muslim could be in a position to amass wealth. this is simply desirable and based on free will. if the common muslims were possessed of generosity, this moral instruction would have been practised by all and sundry with muslim society being exemplary in terms of brotherhood and solidarity. yet, the lack of sublime morals has denuded this precept of its entire import and significance. small wonder, in muslim communities there is a general deplorable trend of showing indifference to fellow-muslims, instead of establishing a worth-emulating example of co-operation and fellow-feeling.
567. sahl bin sa`d (may allah be pleased with him) reported: a woman brought a woven piece of cloth to messenger of allah (pbuh) and said to him: "i have woven this sheet with my own hands for you to wear.'' he accepted it as he was in need of it. he later came out wearing it as a lower garment. someone said: "how nice it is! kindly give it to me.'' messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "very well.'' he remained in our company for some time, then he went back, folded it and sent it to the man. the people said (to that man): "you did not do well. messenger of allah (pbuh) wore it and he was in need of it, and you asked him for it when you are well aware that he (pbuh) never refuses a request.'' he said: "i swear by allah that i did not ask it for wearing. i asked him for it so that it might be my shroud after my death.'' sahl (the narrator of this hadith) said: and in fact it was used as his shroud.
commentary: first, the hadith is suggestive of accepting a present because the exchange of presents increases mutual love. messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "offer presents to each other as these generate mutual love.'' second, the prophet (pbuh) would never turn down anyone asking for something. third, it is permissible to get a thing prepared to meet a future need. fourth, we are allowed to receive a benediction from the pious ones as the companions did in case of those things which had touched the blessed body of messenger of allah (pbuh). yet, today the benedictory sanction is being misapplied by people. for example, the washing of graves is erroneously taken to be a sacred act. whereas, going by the islamic law, there is no room for the concretion of a grave, still less of washing it. rather this act is unclean and sacrilegious. similarly, we see some half-mad and insane people bereft of the sense of purity and cleanliness. yet, the masses consider them to be ecstatics and even try to seek benediction from them. as a matter of fact, such lunatics are totally unconscious of the obligations of islam, rather everything else. but the sanity of a man becomes questionable if he considers them saints. also there are places where some relics, attributed to the prophet (pbuh), are at display but without historical authenticity. we are supposed to shun them.
568. abu musa (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "when the ash`ariyun run short of food in the jihad or when they are at home in al-madinah, they collect all the provisions they have in a sheet and then divide it equally among themselves. they are of me and i am of them.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: "they are of me and i am of them''. these prophetic words of the prophet (pbuh) imply nearness to and psychic identity (with some souls) in matter of moral sense, character and good actions. apart from the superiority of ash`ari clan, the hadith suggests the significance of brotherhood and the sense of togetherness. particularly there is an emphasis on this point that if in times of crisis and tribulation, people extend co-operation to one another, the have-nots will escape hardship and embarrassment. herein lies the essence of all the ahadith of this chapter. the ash`ariyun are the people of abu musa al-ash`ari, the companion (may allah be pleased with him).