Chapter 56: Excellence of Simple Living and being Content with Little
allah, the exalted, says:
"then, there has succeeded them a posterity who have given up as-salat (the prayers) [i.e., made their salat (prayers) to be lost, either by not offering them or by not offering them perfectly or by not offering them in their proper fixed times] and have followed lusts. so they will be thrown in hell. except those who repent and believe (in the oneness of allah and his messenger muhammad (pbuh)), and work righteousness. such will enter jannah and they will not be wronged in aught.'' (19:59,60)
"so he went forth before his people in his pomp. those who were desirous of the life of the world, said: `ah, would that we had the like of what qarun (korah) has been given! verily, he is the owner of a great fortune.' but those who had been given (religious) knowledge said: `woe to you! the reward of allah (in the hereafter) is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds'.'' (28:79,80)
"then, on that day, you shall be asked about the delights (you indulged in, in this world)!'' (102:8)
"whoever desires the quick-passing (transitory enjoyment of this world), we readily grant him what we will for whom we like. then, afterwards, we have appointed for him hell; he will burn therein disgraced and rejected (far away from allah's mercy).'' (17:18)
491. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: the family of muhammad (pbuh) never ate to the fill the bread of barley for two successive days until he died.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
another narration is: `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) said: never did the family of muhammad (pbuh) eat to the fill, since their arrival to al-madinah, the bread of wheat for three successive nights until his death.
commentary: this hadith tells us about the extreme piety, contentment and simplicity of the prophet (pbuh). this mode of his life continued to his last days when he had started storing provision for one year for the maintenance of his wives. but he would always distribute it among the needy, so much so that nothing was left with him. thus, the statement of the wives of the prophet (pbuh) that the family of muhammad (pbuh) had never taken bellyful of food for two days is absolutely true. if they had it on one day they did not have it on the next day. this is how they lived their whole life in the companionship of the prophet (pbuh).
492. `urwah from `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported that she used to say to urwah (may allah be pleased with him): "o son of my sister, by allah, i used to see the new moon, then the new moon, then the new moon, i.e., three moons in two months, and a fire was not kindled in the house of messenger of allah (pbuh). "i (`urwah) said, "o my aunt, what were your means of sustenance?'' she said; "dates and water. but it (so happened) that messenger of allah (pbuh) had some ansar neighbours who had milch animals. they used to send messenger of allah (pbuh) some milk of their (animals) and he gave that to us to drink.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) did not say this by way of complaint but as warning and exhortation to the muslims, especially women, so that they would also live a simple life. the latter should prepare their family budget keeping in view the lawful earnings of their husbands and do not place so much burden on them that they are compelled to look for unfair means of earning.
493. abu sa`id maqburi reported: abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) said that he happened to pass by some people who had a roast lamb before them. they invited him, but he declined, saying: "the messenger of allah (pbuh) left the world without having eaten his fill with barley bread.''
1. this hadith shows how much care the companions of the prophet (pbuh) exercised in following him. they would even emulate him in matters in which it was not obligatory under the shari`ah to follow him. it was in fact the result of that extreme love that they had for the prophet (pbuh). they were not like the present-day lovers of the prophet (pbuh) whose love does not go beyond lip-service. they were his true lovers and they followed him faithfully.
2. one should refuse to participate in feasts where extravagance is displayed, as is in common practice today, so that the evil tendency of extravagance and wastage is discouraged. one who avoids such parties, does not refuse invitations but respects the principles and values of shari`ah which is a highly meritorious act.
494. anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) neither ate on a dining cloth, nor ate soft bread throughout his life.
one narration adds: he (pbuh) never even saw a samit lamb.
samit is an animal prepared for food by removing its hair by boiling water, and then roasted without being skinned. this type of food is preferred by wealthy people. (editor's note)
commentary: it means that the prophet (pbuh) has not adopted the ways of the rich but embraced a simple way of life which is the mode of fuqara' - poor people. thus, he remained contented with simple food and had no relish for extravagant feasts.
495. an-nu`man bin bashir (may allah be pleased with them) reported: i have seen your prophet (pbuh) when he did not find enough of even the inferior quality of dates to eat and fill his belly.
496. sahl bin sa`d (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) had never seen bread made out of fine flour throughout his life, since allah commissioned him until his death. he was asked, "did you not have sieves at the time of the messenger of allah?'' he replied, "messenger of allah (pbuh) never saw a sieve.'' he was asked, "how did you manage to eat barley bread made of unsieved flour?'' he said, ''we used to ground it and then blew away the husk, and what remained we kneaded into dough.''
497. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) went out (of his house) one day, or one night, and there he met abu bakr and `umar (may allah be pleased with them) also. he (pbuh) said, "what made you leave your houses at this hour?'' they said, "it is hunger, o messenger of allah.'' he said, "by him in whose hands my soul is, what made you leave, made me also leave, so come along!'' and he went along with them to a man from the ansar, but they did not find him in his house. when the wife of that man saw the prophet, she said, "you are most welcome.'' messenger of allah (pbuh) said to her, "where is so-and-so?'' she said, "he went to fetch some fresh water for us.'' in the meantime, the ansari came back, saw messenger of allah (pbuh) and his two companions and said: "praise be to allah, today no one has more honourable guests than i.'' he then went out and brought them a bunch of date fruit, having dates, some still green, some ripe, and some fully ripe, and requested them to eat from it. he then took his knife (to slaughter a sheep). messenger of allah (pbuh) said to him, "do not kill a milch sheep.'' so he slaughtered a sheep for them. after they had eaten and drunk to their fill, messenger of allah (pbuh) said to abu bakr and `umar (may allah be pleased with them), "by him in whose hand my soul is, you will certainly be questioned about this treat on the day of resurrection. hunger brought you out of your homes, and you do not return to your homes till you have been blessed with this treat.''
1. this hadith refers to the period of great hardship through which the prophet (pbuh) and his companions had passed after hijrah (emigration).
2. it is permissible for one to seek help from such friends about whom one is confident that they will be happy to help.
3. the hadith enjoins us to respect our guests and to thank allah on their visit.
498. khalid bin `umar al-`adawi reported: `utbah bin ghazwan, the governor of basrah, delivered a khutbah. he praised allah, glorified him, then said: "amma b`adu, verily, the world has been given the news of its end and is running to meet its end swiftly. nothing is left out of it but a very little amount. similar to the remainder in a dish whose owner is collecting it to drink; and you are going to move to an abode which knows no end, and you should proceed there with the good before you, for we have been informed (by the prophet (pbuh)) that a stone would be thrown at one side of the hell and it would travel down for seventy years but would not reach its bottom. by allah, it will be filled (with men and jinn). do you find it strange? we have been informed (i.e., by the prophet (pbuh)) that the distance between two shutters of the gate of jannah is forty years (distance). and a day would come when it would be fully packed; i was the seventh amongst the seven who had been with messenger of allah (pbuh), and we had nothing to eat but the leaves of the tree until the sides of our mouth were injured. we found a sheet which we tore into two and divided between myself and sa`d bin malik. i made the lower garment with half of it and so did sa`d. today, there is none amongst us who has not become the governor of a city, and i seek refuge with allah that i should consider myself great while i am insignificant to allah.''
commentary: this hadith brings the following points into prominence:
1. remembrance of al-akhirah (the hereafter) and the torment of hell.
2. description of the fast decline of the world and its trend towards destruction.
3. description of the vastness of jannah and hell.
4. reference to the affluence of the companions of the prophet (pbuh) which they had at a subsequent stage. it was in fact fulfillment of the promise of allah that he will bestow upon them power and majesty in this world.
5. the description of the graceful conduct of the companions of the prophet (pbuh). in spite of having power and authority, they had neither arrogance nor pride. goodwill and humility were special traits of their character and they always sought refuge with allah against vanity and pride.
6. the companions of the prophet (pbuh) had sought to gain the pleasure of allah rather than that of the people.
7. humbleness of the companions of the prophet (pbuh), as well as their good conduct and uprightness despite being in a position of authority.
499. abu musa al-ash`ari (may allah be pleased with him) reported: `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) showed us a sheet and a thick lower garment and said to us messenger of allah (pbuh) was wearing them when he died.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: the incident reported in this hadith abundantly proves that the prophet (pbuh) was not only austere in the matter of food but also in clothes and other worldly goods. he was contented with a minimum of necessities of life.
500. sa`d bin abu waqqas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: by allah, i am the first arab who shot an arrow in the cause of allah. we fought along with messenger of allah (pbuh) when our food was only the leaves of hublah and samur trees (wild trees) until one of us would defecate like the droppings of sheep.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
1. this hadith offers justification for enumerating the blessings of allah and the hardships which one may have suffered in one's past life, provided one does not mention the latter by way of complaint.
2. lack of provision does not mean that the companions of the prophet (pbuh) did not make any arrangement for food when they used to go for jihad, but that their provision would finish during their campaigns.
what it actually means is the scarcity of food. they did not have foodstuff which could last till the end of the war, nor had they any system for its supply according to the requirements, with the result that they sometimes had to live on the tree-leaves.
501. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) used to supplicate: "o allah, make the provisions of family of muhammad (pbuh) bare subsistence.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
502. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: by allah other than whom there is none worthy of worship, i used to press my stomach against the earth owing to my hunger; i would tie a stone over it. one day, i was sitting on the way they usually take when the prophet (pbuh) passed by me. when he saw me he smiled at me and knew my condition and my feelings. he called me and i replied, "at your service, o messenger of allah.'' he said, "follow me.'' so i followed him. having arrived at home, he sought permission and entered. he allowed me in and i, too, entered. he found milk in a bowl and asked, "where is this from?'' he was told that it was a gift for him from so-and-so. he called me and i responded: "at your service, o messenger of allah.'' he said, "go to the people of as-suffah and usher them in.'' he abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) explained: the people of as-suffah were guests of islam; they had no family, no property and no relations. when messenger of allah (pbuh) used to receive something in charity, he would send it to them without taking anything from it. when he received a present, he would send for them and share it with them. on this occasion, i disliked to give them anything. i said to myself: "this meagre quantity of milk will not be enough for all the people of as-suffah! i am more deserving of it than anyone else. by drinking it i may attain some strength. when they come, he will order me to give it to them. i do not expect that anything will be left for me from this milk.'' as there was no alternative but to obey allah and his messenger (pbuh). i went and called them. they came and sought permission which was granted. they took their seats. the prophet (pbuh) called me and i responded, "at your service, o messenger of allah.'' he then said, "take the milk and give it to them.'' i took the bowl and gave it to one man who drank his fill and returned it to me, and i gave it to the next and he did the same. i went on doing this till the bowl reached messenger of allah (pbuh). by that time all had taken their fill. he (pbuh) took the bowl, put it on his hand, looked at me, smiled and said, "abu hirr.'' i said, "at your service, o messenger of allah.'' he said, "now you and i are left.'' i said, "that is true, o messenger of allah.'' he said, "sit down and drink.'' i drank, but he went on saying, "drink some more.'' i said, "by him who has sent you with the truth, i have no room for it.'' he said, "then give it to me.'' so i gave him the bowl. he praised allah, uttered the name of allah and drank the remainder.
commentary: first, this hadith indicates the miracle of the prophet (pbuh) as well as his love and compassion for ahlus-suffah, i.e., those poor people who used to stay at as-suffah. second, the prophet (pbuh) would not accept charity, but only gifts. third, he would also let others share a gift given to him by somebody. fourth, as seen in this incident, the leftovers of a muslim, whether food or drink, is permissible to others to consume. fifth, to persuade a guest to eat or drink more is commendable. sixth, to eat or drink to one's fill, without extravagance, is also permissible.
503. muhammad bin sirin (may allah be pleased with him) reported: abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) said: "i would fall in swoon between the pulpit of (the mosque of) messenger of allah (pbuh) and the chamber of `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) and every passer-by would put his foot on my neck thinking i was insane. i was not insane but i was awfully hungry.''
commentary: the hadith throws light on the poverty of the companions as well as their self-respect, patience and contentment which prevented them from begging people.
504. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: when messenger of allah (pbuh) died, his armour was mortgaged with a jew for thirty sa` (measures) of barley.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: in the hadith, there is a mention of the asceticism of the prophet (pbuh) and also a permissibility for transactions with the people of the book (the jews and the christians). that is why he mortgaged his coat of mail with a jew and took a loan against it.
505. anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the prophet (pbuh) mortgaged his armour for a quantity of barley, and i took to him some barley bread and rancid fat. i heard him saying: "the family of muhammad never possessed a measure of wheat from dawn to dusk although they were nine houses (to feed).''
commentary: the prophet (pbuh) was perfectly humble and very generous to the point that he did not put anything away for himself until he had to mortgage his own armour for food.
506. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i saw seventy of the people of as-suffah and none of them had a cloak. they had either a lower cloth or a blanket which they suspended from their necks. some reached half way down to the legs and some to the ankles, and one of them would manage to keep it in his hand to avoid exposing his private parts.
507. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: the mattress of messenger of allah (pbuh) was a piece of tanned skin stuffed with palm fibres.
commentary: the prophetic model of a simple way of living pictured in these ahadith is vastly different from today's luxurious lifestyle adopted by muslims. may they adopt the simplicity of their prophet (pbuh)!.
508. ibn `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: we were once sitting in the company of messenger of allah (pbuh) when a man from the ansar came and greeted. as he was leaving, messenger of allah (pbuh) said to him, "o brother of the ansar, how is my brother sa`d bin `ubadah?'' he replied, "he is well.'' messenger of allah (pbuh) asked, "which of you is desirous of visiting him?'' having said this he got up and we followed him. we were ten and odd in number and we had neither shoes nor light boots nor caps nor shirts. we walked on foot through the barren plain till we came to the residence of sa`d (may allah be pleased with him). his people made way and messenger of allah (pbuh) along with those who accompanied him went up to him.
commentary: in this hadith the description which the companions made about their condition reflects its relevance with this chapter. second, we come to know that the prophet (pbuh) called sa`d (may allah be pleased with him) as his brother. this shows his perfect humbleness and great care for his companions. third, if the house is small, the host is presumed to make arrangement within the narrow space to accommodate the visitors, so that they may sit beside the patient for a while and enquire about his health.
509. `imran bin husain (may allah be pleased with them) reported: the prophet (pbuh) said, "the best of you, are my contemporaries, then those who follow them, then those who will come after them. (`imran said, i do not know if he said this twice or thrice). then, they will be followed by those who will testify but will not be called upon to testify; they will betray the trust, and will not be trusted. they will make vows but will not fulfill them, and obesity will prevail among them.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: in this hadith, three eras have been called as the best of ages in a graded order: first, the prophetic era, second, the successors' era, and third, the followers of the successors' era. goodness and religion collectively prevailed during this time. then gradually there was an overall deterioration and every new era that the pass of time brought it, proved to be worse than the preceding one. today's muslims have fallen due to their weakness in character. now, the majority of muslims lack morals and belief as described in the qur'an and the hadith. the complaint is to be lodged only with allah!
510. abu umamah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "o son of adam, if you spend the surplus, it will be better for you; and if you retain it, it will be evil for you. you will not be reprimanded for storing what is enough for your need. first of all spend upon those who are your dependents.''
commentary: the muslims have been allowed, rather emphatically told and commanded, to possess as much wealth as could meet their personal and family needs. yet, they have also been advised to spend the spare money on the needy. man has been told that it is unwise on his part to be niggardly about money because it spawns unfavourable results in this world as well as in the hereafter. the concentration of wealth within a few hands freezes its vitality and leads to corruption in society. as for the hereafter, the result of stinginess will be definitely bad as the qur'an says:
"the things which they covetously withheld shall be tied to their necks like a collar on the day of resurrection.'' (3:180)
some `ulama' are of the opinion that after the payment of the annual zakat (poor-due), it is not necessary to spend more. but to be accurate, if somebody pays zakat and yet retains enough money with him, and there are some needy people also in his knowledge, then he will be bound to spend on them. at-tirmidhi quoted a hadith in which messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "indeed there is a right (for poor) in the wealth in addition to zakat.''
511. `ubaidullah bin mihsan al-ansari (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "whosoever begins the day feeling family security and good health; and possessing provision for his day is as though he possesed the whole world.''
commentary: to have one-day food and to enjoy peace and health is indeed a great blessing. it may be said that one has the same satisfaction which one can have on getting the whole world. and if one lacks peace and health, the treasures of the whole world will be of no use because the heaps of wealth cannot provide peace of mind to one, nor can it make one enjoy sound health. the hadith also implies an advice to man that instead of running after wealth, he should endeavour to seek patience and contentment which alone can guarantee him peace and satisfaction. otherwise, he is likely to stake everything on the pursuit of this mirage.
512. `abdullah bin `amr bin al-`as (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "successful is the one who enters the fold of islam and is provided with sustenance which is sufficient for his day's needs, and allah makes him content with what he has bestowed upon him.''
commentary: the real success of a man will be measured by his being blessed with divine mercy and forgiveness in the hereafter, and this is contingent on islam alone. if he lacks the wealth of islam, all the worldly possessions will not ensure his success in the next world. this hadith tells us that richness is not to be defined in terms of a lot of belongings, and that the real richness is gauged by the contentment of the soul.
513. fadalah bin `ubaid al-ansari (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i heard messenger of allah (pbuh) say: "happiness is due to him who is guided to islam and possesses provision that suffices him for his day and remains content.''
commentary: the word tuba (translated here as happiness) is given to jannah. some ahadith say that it is the name of a heavenly tree as well. lexically, however, it means greeting and good tiding. the sense of this hadith is analogous to that of the previous one.
514. ibn `abbas (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) went to bed hungry for several successive nights, nor did his family have a thing for supper for many consecutive nights; and their bread was mostly of barley.
commentary: this hadith also displays the asceticism and economic scantiness of the prophet (pbuh) and his wives.
515. fadalah bin `ubaid (may allah be pleased with him) reported: when messenger of allah (pbuh) led salat, some people would fall down from their standing posture out of extreme hunger. they were of the people of as-suffah. the nomad arabs would say that they were insane. after concluding salat, messenger of allah (pbuh) would turn to them and say, "if you were to know what is in store for you with allah, the exalted, you would wish to augment your starvation and lack of provisions.''
commentary: the habit of maintaining self-respect in the period of studentship makes man self-respecting, patient and content throughout his life. the dignity of `ulama' lies in patience, contentment and indifference and not in wishing to drain the purses of others and asking them for alms.
516. miqdad bin ma`dikarib (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i heard messenger of allah (pbuh) say: "no man fills a container worse than his stomach. a few morsels that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. if he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for his breathing.''
commentary: this hadith dissuades us from overeating as this causes laziness and affects one's health.
517. abu umamah bin tha`labah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: the companions of messenger of allah (pbuh) mentioned the life of the world before him. he (pbuh) said, "do you not hear? do you not hear? simplicity (in life) is part of faith, simplicity is part of faith.''
commentary: this hadith invites our attention to a simple way of living - ordinary dress and simple and non-rich food - and discourages us from being habitual of an affected life style - use of costly dress, delicious and rich food and other dainties of life. the more a man shuns the trappings and accessories of life, the better engaged will he be in being readied for the hereafter. the increased degree of his involvement in worldly comforts and luxuries will keep decreasing his concern for the accountability of future life. we may keep it in mind that simplicity does not mean escape from cleanliness. because cleanliness is in itself `half the faith'. how can a believer ignore purity and cleanliness?
518. jabir bin `abdullah (may allah be pleased with them) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) sent us in an expedition under the command of abu `ubaidah (may allah be pleased with him) to intercept a caravan of the quraish. he provided us with a bag of dates, apart from which he found nothing for us. abu `ubaidah (may allah be pleased with him) gave each of us one date (every day). he (the narrator) was asked: "what did you do with that?'' he said: we sucked that just like a baby and then drank water over that, and it was sufficient for us for the day until night. we beat off leaves with the help of our sticks, then drenched them with water and ate them. we then went to the seaside, when there appeared before us something like a big mound. we came near it and we found that it was a beast called al-anbar. abu 'ubaidah (may allah be pleased with him) said: "it is dead (so it useless for us).'' he then said: "no (but it does not matter), we have been sent by messenger of allah (pbuh) in the way of allah and you are hard-pressed (on account of the scarcity of food), so you can eat that.'' we, three hundred in number, stayed there for a month until we fattened up (having plenty to eat of that fish). he (jabir) said: i saw how we extracted pitcher after pitcher full of fat from the cavity of its eye, and sliced from it compact piece of meat equal to a bull or almost like a bull. abu 'ubaidah (may allah be pleased with him) called thirteen men from us and he made them sit in the cavity of its eye, and he held one of its ribs and raised it erect and then saddled the biggest of the camels we had with us and it passed through it (the arched rib), and we carried large pieces of meat for use in our journey. when we came back to al-madinah we went to messenger of allah (pbuh) and told him about that, whereupon he said, "that was a sustenance allah had brought forth for you. do you have any piece of meat left with you, for us to eat.'' jabir (may allah be pleased with him) said: we sent to messenger of allah (pbuh) some of that (meat) and he ate it.
commentary: this hadith also points to the economic pinch from which the companions suffered in the early phase of islam. they braved it patiently. secondly, the blessing came to them in the sense that each one of them was patient enough to live on a single date-fruit and water in twenty-four hours. thirdly, it emphasizes that according to the circumstances, there is always room for ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning). first abu 'ubaidah (may allah be pleased with him) hesitated, but later he established a different opinion on the basis of his ijtihad and decided to use the body of the giant fish as food. fourthly, it provides us a proof of the sacrifice of the companions that allah miraculously granted them such a huge sea-fish that a group of three hundred people kept eating for one month. fifthly, it tells us that a sea-carrion is a lawful food as indicated in another hadith: "the water of the sea and its carrion are both halal.'' sixthly, this particular fish, like the whale, is a gigantic phenomenon which is normally about 50 feet long.''
519. asma' bint yazid (may allah be pleased with them) reported: the sleeves of the shirt of messenger of allah (pbuh) reached his wrists.
commentary: wearing long clothes is commonly known to be a sign of arrogance. moreover, such type of dress retreads physical movement, whereas short clothes cause inconvenience to the wearer in summer and winter. moderation, therefore, is the best way and therefore, the prophetic example.
520. jabir (may allah be pleased with him) reported: on the day of the battle of al-khandaq (the trench), we were digging the trench when a very hard boulder came in our way. the companions went to messenger of allah (pbuh) and told him about it. he said, "i will go down the trench to see it.'' he stood up and it was noticed that he had tied a stone over his stomach due to intense hunger. we had not tasted anything for three days. he took up a spade and struck the hard rock with it and it turned into sand. i sought his permission to go home, (after reaching home i) said to my wife, "i have seen the prophet (pbuh) in a state that i am unable to endure. have you got anything in the house?'' she said, "i have a small quantity of barley and a lamb.'' i slaughtered the lamb, ground the barley and put the meat in the cooking pot. then i went to the prophet (pbuh). in the meantime the flour had been kneaded and the meat in the pot was nearly cooked. i said to him, "o messenger of allah, i have some food, will you come along with one or two companions?'' he asked, "how many men should go there?'' i told him the number. he said, "it will be better if they are more in number. tell your wife not to remove the pot from the hearth nor the bread from the oven till i arrive.'' then he said to the muhajirun and the ansar: "let us go (to eat).'' they all rose (and went with him). i went to my wife and said, "bless you, the prophet (pbuh), the muhajirun, the ansar and the whole company are coming.'' she said, "did he (pbuh) ask you?'' i replied in the affirmative. (when they arrived) messenger of allah (pbuh) said to his companions, "enter, but do not crowd in.'' then he started breaking up the bread and putting meat on it. he would take from the pot and the oven then would cover them up, approach his companions and hand it over to them. he would then go back and uncover the pot and the oven. he continued to break up the bread and put meat on it till all had eaten to their fill and still some of the food remained. then he said to my wife, "eat from it, and send it as a present, for the people have been afflicted with severe hunger.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
another narration is: jabir said: when the trench was being dug, i noticed the signs of hunger on the face of the prophet (pbuh). i returned to my wife and said to her, "have you got anything in the house? i have seen the signs of severe hunger on the face of messenger of allah (pbuh).'' she brought out a bag which contained a sa` (a measure that equals approximately 3kg.) of barley. we had a lamb which was reared in the home. i slaughtered the lamb and she ground the flour for baking bread. i then cut the meat and put it in the cooking pot. when i was returning to messenger of allah (pbuh), my wife said to me, "do not embarass me before messenger of allah (pbuh) and his companions.'' (she said this because she thought that the food would not be enough for everyone, for how can very little food cater for a thousand people?) when i came to him, i said to him in a low tone, "o messenger of allah (pbuh), we have slaughtered a small lamb and have ground a sa` of barley. please accompany me with a few of your companions.'' thereupon he (pbuh) announced in a loud voice, "o people of the trench, jabir has arranged a feast for you, so all of you are welcome.'' and addressing me he said, "do not take the pot off the fire, nor bake the kneaded flour till i arrive.'' so i came home and he came ahead of the people. my wife said, "it will be a matter of disgrace for you (because there is not enough food).'' i said, "i did only what you told me.'' she brought out the kneaded flour and messenger of allah (pbuh) spat into it, and invoked the blessing of allah on it, and then he spat into the cooking pot and invoked the blessing of allah on it. then he said, "call another woman to help bake bread and let her take out from the cooking pot, but do not take it off the fire.'' there were about a thousand guests. all of them ate till they left the food and went off. our pot still bubbled as before and the dough was being baked as before.
commentary: this hadith throws light on the simple life style which the prophet (pbuh) and his companions led. it also throws light on the miracle of the augmentation of food. besides, it highlights the humbleness of the prophet (pbuh) that he, side by side with his companions, also did hard and arduous jobs. also we are informed that it is preferable to make an offering, particularly to a needy and hungry person.
521. anas (may allah be pleased with him) reported: abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him) said to (to his wife) umm sulaim(may allah be pleased with her), "i noticed some weakness in the voice of messenger of allah (pbuh) and i feel it was due to hunger. have you got any food?'' she said, "yes.'' so she brought out barley loaves, took off her head covering, in a part of which she wrapped these loaves and then put them beneath my mantle and covered me with a part of it. she then sent me to messenger of allah (pbuh). i set forth and found messenger of allah (pbuh) sitting in the mosque in the company of some people. i stood near them whereupon messenger of allah (pbuh) asked, "has abu talhah sent you?'' i said, "yes.'' thereupon he said to those who were with him to get up (and follow him). he went forth and so did i, ahead of them until i came to abu talhah and informed him. abu talhah said, "o umm sulaim, here comes messenger of allah (pbuh) along with the people and we do not have enough (food) to feed them.'' she said, "allah and his messenger know better.'' abu talhah went out (to receive him) until he met messenger of allah (pbuh), and he came forward along with him until they both (messenger of allah (pbuh) and abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him) came in. then messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "o umm sulaim, bring forth what you have with you.'' so she brought the bread. messenger of allah (pbuh) commanded that the bread be broken into small pieces and after umm sulaim (may allah be pleased with her) had squeezed clarified butter out of a butter container and made it just like soup. messenger of allah (pbuh) recited over it what allah wished him to recite. he then said, "allow ten guests to come in.'' they ate until they had their fill. they then went out. he (messenger of allah (pbuh)) again said, "allow ten (more to come in)'', and he (the host) ushered them in. they ate to their fill. then they went out. he (pbuh) again said, "allow ten (more),'' until all the people ate to their fill. they were seventy or eighty persons.
[al-bukhari and muslim].
another narration is: anas said: when all had eaten, the remaining food was collected. it was as much as there was in the beginning.
yet another narration is: anas said: the groups of ten people ate by turn. after eighty persons had eaten, messenger of allah (pbuh) and the family of that house ate, and there was still a quantity left over.
another narration is: anas (may allah be pleased with him) said: i visited messenger of allah (pbuh) one day, and found him sitting in the company of his companions, with a belt tied over his waist. i asked, "why has messenger of allah (pbuh) tied the belt on his waist?'' i was told, "due to hunger.'' i went to abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him) the husband of umm sulaim (may allah be pleased with her) and said, "o father, i have seen messenger of allah (pbuh) with a belt tied over his waist. i asked one of his companions about the reason of it and he said that it was on account of severe hunger.'' abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him) went to my mother and asked, "have you got anything?'' she said, "yes. i have a piece of bread and some dry dates. were messenger of allah (pbuh) to come alone, we could feed him his fill, but if he comes along with others, there would not be enough food.'' anas then narrated the hadith in full.
commentary: this hadith mentions the same things we have seen in the previous one. yet, in this latter one, there is an elucidation that the prophet (pbuh) and the host-family took meal after everybody had taken it. imam an-nawawi said: this shows that it is desirable that hosts should take meal after guests have taken it.
secondly, anas (may allah be pleased with him) addressed abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him) as father and he did so out of respect. abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him) was the step-father of anas (may allah be pleased with him). his real father was malik bin an-nadir and mother was umm sulaim (may allah be pleased with him). she embraced islam but her husband remained a non-believer. he left his muslim wife and migrated to syria where he died. afterwards she married abu talhah (may allah be pleased with him). thirdly, the events of ascetic, contented and destitute life as experienced by the prophet (pbuh) and his companions are unthinkable today. but these are such facts, reported most authentically, as can be hardly refuted by being labelled as myths. yet, some scholars say that it was a particular phase of time when there existed a conflict between islam and paganism. it demanded that muslims, by being indifferent to the world and its comforts, should be engaged day and night in uprooting disbelief, and paving the way for the predominance of islam.