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10 Verses & Hadiths on Social Solidarity and Fighting Hunger

This is part 3 of the series: How Islam Fought Hunger.
Part One shows how Islam encourages work and production, prohibits wasting of resources, and maintains food security.
Part Two presents texts that praise plantation and highlights the state duties in fighting hunger.
This part focuses on social solidarity as an important way to fight hunger.

Solidarity is one of the strategies that Islam uses to combat hunger. It is not acceptable in Islam that people live below the poverty line while others are spending extravagantly on unnecessary luxuries.

Catering for the needs of those underprivileged is a duty and obligation. The Qur’an described it as a right for the needy; it is not a favor on the part of the giver but an obligation and responsibility he owes to the community.

Zakah, one of the forms of such social solidarity, is one of the pillars of Islam that must be collected and distributed among its legal recipients. The first Caliph, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), waged a war to fight tribes that withhold it.

It is the right of those who are unable to support themselves and their families and cannot find suitable work to be supported by the society in a way that protect their dignity and honor, knowing that they are indeed receiving a right decreed for them by Allah Almighty.

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Wealth belongs to Allah and we are trustees who are supposed to distribute it according the command of the original Owner, Allah Almighty.

A Significant Duty

21. Allah Almighty says:

{Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and spend of that whereof He has made you trustees. And such of you as believe and spend (in Allah’s Way), theirs will be a great reward.}  (Al-Hadid 57:7)

22. Allah Almighty says:

{And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful torment.}  (At-Tawbah 9:34)

Trait of True Believes

23. Allah Almighty 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.”} (Yasin 36:47)

24. `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The believer is not he who eats his fill while his neighbor is hungry.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

25. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

The worst food is that of a wedding banquet to which only the rich are invited while the poor are not invited… (Al-Bukhari)

26. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

Every day… two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends (in Your cause,)’ and the other (angel) says, ‘O Allah! Bring destruction to one who withholds.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

27.  `Adi ibn Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a -date-fruit (in charity.)” (Al-Bukhari)‏

Great Examples

These clear directions were genuinely embraced and applied by early Muslims. An amazing spirit of solidarity and giving permeated the Muslim society and yielded wonderful examples that are recorded in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

28. Allah Almighty says:

{And they give food in spite of love for it (or for the love of Him, i.e. Allah) to the needy, the orphan, and the captive.

[Saying], “We feed you only for the countenance of Allah . We wish not from you reward or gratitude.

Indeed, We fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful.”} (Al-Insan 76:8-10) 

29. Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

When the people of Ash`ari tribe ran short of food during battles, or the food of their families in Medina ran short, they would collect all their remaining food in one sheet and then distribute it among themselves equally by measuring it with a bowl. So, these people are from me, and I am from them. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Amazing Story

30. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

A man came to Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)! I am suffering from fatigue and hunger.”

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) sent (somebody) to his wives (to get something), but the Messenger found nothing with them. So, the Messenger of Allah said (to his companions). “Is not there anybody who can entertain this man tonight so that Allah may be merciful to him?

An Ansari man got up and said, “I (will, entertain him), O Allah’s Messenger!” So he went to his wife and said to her, “This is the guest of Allah’s Messenger, so do not keep anything away from him.”

She said. “By Allah, I have nothing but the children’s food.”

He said, “When the children ask for their dinner, put them to bed and put out the light (so that the guest does not realize that they are not eating); we shall not take our meals tonight,” She did so.

In the morning the Ansari man went to Allah’s Messenger who said, “Allah wondered or laughed (because of the good deed of) so-and-so man and woman (the Ansari man and his wife.)”

Then Allah revealed: {They give [the immigrants] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation} (Al-Hashr 59:9)

About Muhammad Fathi
Muhammad Fathi is the managing editor of the Shari`ah page, and a former Imam and teacher at the Quran Institute of America, MI, USA.