Give food and return Salaam

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
الحمد لله رب العالمين وصلى الله وسلم على رسول الله وعلى آله وأصحابه ومن اهتدى بهديه إلى يوم الدين أما بعد

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Hamzah ibn Suhayb narrated that:

عَنْ حَمْزَةَ بْنِ صُهَيْبٍ أَنَّ صُهَيْبًا رَضِيَ الله عَنْهُ كَانَ يُكَنَّى أَبَا يَحْيَى وَيَقُولُ إِنَّهُ مِنْ الْعَرَبِ وَيُطْعِمُ الطَّعَامَ الْكَثِيرَ فَقَالَ لَهُ عُمَرُ رَضِيَ الله عَنْهُ: يَا صُهَيْبُ مَا لَكَ تُكَنَّى أَبَا يَحْيَى وَلَيْسَ لَكَ وَلَدٌ وَتَقُولُ إِنَّكَ مِنْ الْعَرَبِ وَتُطْعِمُ الطَّعَامَ الْكَثِيرَ وَذَلِكَ سَرَفٌ فِي الْمَالِ فَقَالَ صُهَيْبٌ: إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَنَّانِي أَبَا يَحْيَى وَأَمَّا قَوْلُكَ فِي النَّسَبِ فَأَنَا رَجُلٌ مِنْ النَّمِرِ بْنِ قَاسِطٍ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْمَوْصِلِ وَلَكِنِّي سُبِيتُ غُلَامًا صَغِيرًا قَدْ غَفَلْتُ أَهْلِي وَقَوْمِي وَأَمَّا قَوْلُكَ فِي الطَّعَامِ فَإِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ يَقُولُ: “خِيَارُكُمْ مَنْ أَطْعَمَ الطَّعَامَ وَرَدَّ السَّلَامَ“ فَذَلِكَ الَّذِي يَحْمِلُنِي عَلَى أَنْ أُطْعِمَ الطَّعَامَ

Suhayb Ar-Rumi رضي الله عنه used to have the kunya ‘Abu Yahya’, used to say that he is an Arab and used to give out a lot of food to people. ‘Umar رضي الله عنه said to him, “O Suhayb! Why is that you are given the kunya “Abu Yahya” (i.e. father of Yahya) while you don’t have a child, you say that you are an Arab, and you give out a lot of food to people while that is excess in wealth?” Suhayb replied, “Without a doubt, the Prophet of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم gave me the kunya “Abu Yahya”. As for your statement about my lineage, I am a man from Namir ibn Qasit from the people of Mawsul (one of the tribes of the Arabs (of Iraq) – i.e. my lineage is Arab); but I was captured as a slave when I was a young boy and as a result, I surely neglected my family (identity) and people. As for your statement about the food (that I give out), without a doubt the Prophet of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم used to say: “The best of you are those who give food to people and those who return the Salaam”, so that is what causes me to give out food to people.”

[Musnad Ahmad, 6/16 and others; authenticated by Ibn Hajr in ‘al-Ahadeeth al-‘Aliyaat’, 25 – classed as saheeh in ‘Silsilah as-Saheehah’, 1/73]

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1. After pointing out a number of benefits from this hadeeth, al-Albani رحمه الله تعالى further commented on Islam’s great emphasis on hospitality and the adverse influence European custom and way of life has had on Muslims when it comes to honouring guests, which the former generally practise on certain occasions:

هذا الحديث فوائد: الأولى: مشروعية الاكتناء , لمن لم يكن له ولد , و قد هجر المسلمون لاسيما الأعاجم منهم هذه السنة العربية الإسلامية , فقلما تجد من يكتني منهم و لو كان له طائفة من الأولاد , فكيف من لا ولد له ? و أقاموا مقام هذه السنة ألقابا مبتدعة , مثل : الأفندي, والبيك , والباشا , ثم السيد, أو الأستاذ, و نحو ذلك مما يدخل بعضه أو كله في باب التزكية المنهي عنها في أحاديث كثيرة. فليتنبه لهذا. الثانية: فضل إطعام الطعام, و هو من العادات الجميلة التي امتاز بها العرب على غيرهم من الأمم , ثم جاء الإسلام و أكد ذلك أيما توكيد كما في هذا الحديث الشريف , بينما لا تعرف ذلك أوربا , و لا تستذوقه , اللهم إلا من دان بالإسلام منها كالألبان و نحوهم , و إن مما يؤسف له أن قومنا بدؤوا يتأثرون بأوربا في طريقة حياتها, ما وافق الإسلام منها و ما خالف , فأخذوا لا يهتمون بالضيافة ولا يلقون لها بالا , اللهم إلا ما كان منها في المناسبات الرسمية , و لسنا نريد هذا بل إذا جاءنا أي صديق مسلم وجب علينا أن نفتح له دورنا , و أن نعرض عليه ضيافتنا , فذلك حق له علينا ثلاثة أيام , كما جاء في الأحاديث الصحيحة.

2. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Feed the people, and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know.” [Al-Bukhari, 12, 28 and 6236; Muslim, 39]

– About this hadeeth, Ibn Rajab said: “The hadeeth makes the connection between feeding others and spreading salaam because this combines good actions in both word and deed, which is (perfected) good treatment (ihsaan). Indeed, this is the best thing that you can do in Islam after the fara’id (obligatory duties).” [Fath al-Baari, 1/43]

– Al Sanoosi said: “What is meant by salaam is the greeting between people, which sows seeds of love and friendship in their hearts, as does giving food. There may be some weakness in the heart of one of them, which is dispelled when he is greeted, or there may be some hostility, which is turned to friendship by the greeting.” [Ikmaal al-Mu’allim, 1/244]

– Ibn Hajar said: “Do not single out anybody out of arrogance or to impress them, but do it to honour the symbols of Islam and to foster Islamic brotherhood.” [Fath al-Baari, 1/56]

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3. Uqbah bin ‘Amr رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

لا خَيْرَ فيمَنْ لا يُضيفُ

“There is no good in the one who does not invite guests.” [Musnad Ahmad, 17089; Shu’b al-Imaan, 8962 and others – graded as saheeh by al-Mundhiri and al-Albani (see ‘Silsilat as-Saheehah’, 2434)]

It is from the characteristics of the believer to invite guests and serve them food; as it shoes their generosity and sense of brotherhood, while disproving characteristics of miserliness. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم sought refuge with Allaah from miserliness and cowardice, from worry and sorrow and from the oppression of men…

The Qur’an also points to the profound traits of the Anbiya in serving their guests and being generous towards them. In Ad-Dhariyat, 26, Ibraheem عليه السلام is shown turning to his household and serving a roasted calf to his guests. This is a description of praise from Allaah for Ibraheem and also encourages the adoption of such attributes in honouring one’s guests for which he عليه السلام was known for.

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From the following narrations, we also learn the importance of being hospitable and sharing:

i. Umar bin al-Khattab رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

كلوا جميعا و لا تفرقوا ، فإن طعام الواحد يكفي الاثنين ، و طعام الاثنين يكفي الثلاثة و الأربعة ، كلوا جميعا و لا تفرقوا ، فإن البركة في الجماعة

“All of you eat together and do not be divided, for the food of one person is sufficient for two and that of two persons is enough for three and four. Do not be divided (dispersed) among yourselves, for blessing is in (being a) community.” [Graded as hasan in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami’, 4501 – (see also Saheeh Muslim, 2059)]

ii. Hani bin Yazeed رضي الله عنه narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

عليك بحسن الكلام ، وبذل الطعام

“Have good speech and give food.” [graded as saheeh in ‘Saheeh al-Jaami, 4049 and ‘Saheeh at-Targheeb’, 2690]

iii. Abdullah ibn Salam رضي الله عنه reported that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “O people, make the greeting common practice and provide food and pray at night while people are asleep, and you will enter the Garden in safety.” [Sunan at-Tirmidhi]

iv. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said:

أحب الطعام إلى الله ما كثرت عليه الأيدي

“The (most) beloved food to Allaah is the one touched by many hands (i.e. shared by many).” [Shu’ab al-Imaan, 7/3154 and others – graded as hasan by al-Araqi, Ibn Hajar and al-Albani (see ‘Saheeh at-Targheeb’, 2133)]

vi. The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم advised to: “Shake hands and rancour will disappear. Give gifts to each other and love each other and enmity will disappear.” [Imam Malik, Muwatta’, 47.4.16]

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And Tawfeeq is from Allaah سبحانه و تعالى alone.

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