One of the actions which is most emphasised in Islam is feeding other people. We can see this clearly in the way the Prophet (saw) encouraged us to provide iftar to Muslims in Ramadan and commanded us to give Zakat al-Fitr to feed the poor on Eid al-Fitr. Sharing food is a way of taking care of the vulnerable and bringing the community together.
With that in mind, we've put together a list of ten benefits you can gain from feeding others, as mentioned in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Here they are!
1. You will have one of the best Islamic traits
Abdullah bin Amr (ra) said, 'A man asked the Prophet, "What Islamic traits are the best?" The Prophet said, "Feed the people, and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know"'. [Bukhari]
On another occasion, he (saw) said:
SubhanAllah, both ahadith make the 'best' of qualities sound so simple - just say salam and give food to other people! Even giving £1 a day to provide bread would be enough to nurture this beautiful characteristic in ourselves.
2. You will be following the Sunnah
There are countless ahadith about the Prophet (saw) showing generosity towards those who are vulnerable. From giving comfort to orphans to supporting the elderly, he (saw) was the epitome of expressing his love and mercy to others through tangible actions.
He (saw) said it most beautifully and concisely when he told us, 'Free the captives, feed the hungry and pay a visit to the sick'. [Bukhari]
We can see this Prophetic wisdom in action in the following hadith:
'I used to forbid you to store the meat of the (Qurbani) sacrifices for more than three days, so that there would be enough for everyone. But now Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has bestowed plenty upon us, so eat some, give some in charity and store some. For these days (of Eid) are the days of eating, drinking and remembering Allah…' [Nasa'i]
SubhanAllah, during Eid al-Adha, the Prophet (saw) used to forbid people from keeping more than three days' worth of Qurbani meat for themselves - solely because he wanted the whole community to share in the blessings of this occasion. But once Allah (swt) blessed more Muslims with the opportunity to sacrifice an animal, he (saw) allowed the Muslims to keep as much of the meat as they liked.
This is a beautiful example of how he (saw) encouraged compassion towards the vulnerable during times of hardship. This is especially relevant to us today, with the impact of the pandemic and countless conflicts worldwide.
3. It is the quality of the believers
Giving food is an important part of being a Muslim - and not doing so is specifically mentioned in the Qur'an as a quality of a disbeliever. Allah says:
'And when it is said to them, "Spend from that which Allah has provided for you", those who disbelieve say to those who believe, "Should we feed one whom, if Allah had willed, He would have fed? You are not but in clear error"'. [The Noble Qur'an, 36:47]
Allah also says:
SubhanAllah, feeding the poor has been given such a high status by Allah that he places it directly after the words 'believe in Allah, the Most Great'. Elsewhere, He elevates this action by mentioning it after Salah:
'They will say, "We were not of those who prayed, nor did we used to feed the poor…"' [The Noble Qur'an, 74:43-44]
It is thus the essence of the believer to feed the poor. It is especially important to feed our neighbours:
Moreover, Abu Dharr reported, 'The Prophet (saw) said, "O Abu Dharr, when you cook a stew, put more water in the broth and take care of your neighbours"'. [Muslim]
SubhanAllah, the Prophet (saw) gave us such a practical way of fulfilling our obligation as believers - simply add more water to the food you are already making! This adds barakah (blessings) to your meal and ensures you are nurturing a good relationship with your neighbours, regardless of their faith.
4. You will be questioned about it
Since Allah mentioned feeding the poor after worshipping Him and performing Salah, it is no surprise that He will question us as to whether we fulfilled this obligation. The below quote has been taken from a longer Hadith Qudsi:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'Allah, Mighty and Sublime be He, will say on the Day of Resurrection […] "O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you did not feed Me". He will say, "O Lord, how can I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds?" He (Allah) will say, "Did you not know that My servant so-and-so asked you for food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that had you fed him you surely would have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me?"' [Muslim]
In the above hadith, Allah rebukes a person with the powerful words 'I asked you for food and you did not feed Me'. SubhanAllah, if we were to imagine that, every time a hungry person comes to us, it is Allah who is asking us to feed this person, we would surely not be able to turn them away! Even if all we had to give them was bread, we would not hesitate to do so.
5. You will gain the Jannah of Ar-Rahman
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'Worship Ar-Rahman, feed others, spread the (greeting of) peace, then you will enter Paradise with security (salam)'. [Tirmidhi]
On another occasion, he (saw) mentioned the food of Jannah as a specific reward of feeding the poor, saying: 'Whichever believer feeds a hungry believer, Allah feeds him from the fruits of Paradise on the Day of Resurrection…' [Tirmidhi]
In addition to this immense reward, Ali (ra) said that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, '"Indeed, in Paradise there are chambers whose outside can be seen from their inside, and their inside can be seen from their outside". A Bedouin stood and said, "Who are they for, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "For those who speak well, feed others, fast regularly, and perform Salah during the night while the people sleep"'.
But Allah describes how He will bless those who feed others even more beautifully, in the following powerful verses from Surah Al-Insan:
'And they give food, in spite of love for it, to the needy, the orphan, and the captive. [Saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah. We don’t want from you either reward or gratitude. Indeed, we fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful”. So Allah will protect them from the evil of that Day and give them radiance and happiness. And He will reward them, for what they patiently endured, with a Garden and clothes of silk. Reclining therein on adorned couches, they will not see therein any (burning) sun or (freezing) cold. And the shade of the (Garden) will come low over them, and its bunches (of fruit) will hang low (i.e. within reach)'. [The Noble Qur’an, 76:8-14]
8. You will be shielding yourself from the Fire
Just as giving food leads to Jannah, it also protects us from the Fire.
In fact, even feeding your family can carry this weight, as the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink, and clothes them from his wealth - they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection'. [Ibn Majah]
On the other hand, actively denying someone food and preventing them from access it can lead to the Fire. The below hadith teaches us that even keeping an animal hungry is a weighty sin:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'A woman punished her cat by imprisoning it until it died of hunger and because of it, she entered the Fire. It was said - and Allah knows best - "You did not feed it nor give it water when you imprisoned it, nor did you release it and let it eat from the creatures which creep on the earth"'. [Bukhari]
7. You will be carrying out a Sadaqah
We tend to think of charity as something we give to the poor, but the truth is that sharing food is always a Sadaqah, if you do it for the sake of Allah. In fact, the Prophet (saw) even said that feeding our own selves is considered a charity, subhanAllah!
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'What you feed yourself is Sadaqah for you. What you feed your child is Sadaqah for you. What you feed your wife is Sadaqah is for you. What you feed your servant is Sadaqah for you'. [Bukhari]
Therefore, it is important for us to always make the intention to cook, eat and share food for Allah's sake, to ensure this action is spiritually meaningful and that we reap its rewards.
8. You can give food on behalf of others
Because feeding others is a Sadaqah, you can do it on behalf of someone else - and the Prophet (saw) used to encourage this!
Aishah (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'When a woman spends (and Aishah added that her father had specified 'when a woman feeds') from her husband's house, without spending too much, she will have her reward, and he will be rewarded likewise because he earned it, and she will be rewarded for what she spent…' [Ibn Majah]
You can give food on behalf of your loved ones with Great Charity Gifts, including planting olive and fruit trees and providing poultry and livestock to families in need.
9. You can even reap Sadaqah Jariyah rewards for it
When we think of giving food, we often associate it with 'one-off' charity, such as donating a food parcel or sharing a meal. But you can also gain the rewards of continuous charity by providing a sustainable food source to someone in need - such as giving them livestock, poultry or planting a tree for them.
'The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, 'No Muslim plants a tree or sows a seed and then a bird, or a human, or an animal eats from it but that it is charity for him'. [Muslim]
Every single time someone benefits from your donation, it will be recorded as a good deed for you and, in sha Allah, it will make you from the best of people, who will one day be welcomed into the Jannah of Ar-Rahman!
10. It will be as if you saved all of humanity
So far, we have said that feeding others is one of the best Islamic traits and an intrinsic part of the Sunnah and being a believer; it is an action which we will be questioned about and will lead us into Jannah while protecting us from the Fire; and it is a Sadaqah which we can give to our family, on behalf of our loved ones and even give it as a Sadaqah Jariyah.
In addition to these nine important points, the tenth benefit of feeding others is that it is a life-saving action, which carries immense rewards in Islam:
'Whoever saves one (life) - it is as if he had saved all of humanity'. [The Noble Qur'an, 5:32]
SubhanAllah, we definitely cannot miss out on the amazing benefits of this good deed! This Ramadan, here are just three ways you can gain the incredible rewards of feeding others:
- Give to the Blessed Bakeries if you want to have an immediate and far-reaching impact. Every £10 provides bread to 50 people in blessed Yemen and Syria, protecting them from hunger and malnutrition.
- Plant an olive tree if you want to give a Sadaqah Jariyah! £15 will provide food for generations and you can even gift it on behalf of a loved one.
- Finally, don't forget to provide iftar to others! We are distributing food in emergency zones like Afghanistan and Yemen, as well as to impoverished communities in Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere. Breaking someone's fast carries incredible rewards:
The Prophet (saw) said, 'Whoever provides iftar for a fasting person in it (i.e. in Ramadan), then that shall be a forgiveness for his sins and freedom from the Fire. And for such a feeder shall be the same reward as the one who fasted (whom he fed), without that person’s reward being decreased in the least'. [Ibn Khuzaimah and others]
May Allah reward you immensely for following the Sunnah and feeding others, amin!
Muslim Hands is an award-winning charity established in 1993 to provide emergency relief and tackle the root causes of poverty. We hope this article was helpful to you - please share with family and friends so they can benefit! Remember, the Prophet (saw) said, ‘Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like one who did it’. [Muslim]