Narrated by Imran ibn Husayn(Radhiallaho anho): Allah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu `alaihi wasallam) said : If anyone swears a false oath in confinement, he should make his seat in Hell
on account of his (act).
Sunan of Abu-Dawood 3236
Narrated by AbuSa’id al-Khudri(Radhiallaho anho): Allah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu `alaihi wasallam) said :A man giving a dirham as sadaqah (charity) during his life is better than giving one hundred dirhams as sadaqah (charity) at the moment of his death.
Sunan of Abu-Dawood 2860
Narrated by Ibn Abbas (Radhiallaho anho): Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam)said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 8 : No. 421
Narrated by Abu Huraira (Radhiallaho anho): Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, ” “Whoever believes in Allah and His Apostle, offers prayer perfectly and fasts the month of Ramadan, will rightfully be granted Paradise by Allah, no matter whether he fights in Allah’s cause or remains in the land where he is born.” The people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we acquaint the people with this good news?” He said, “Paradise has one-hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the mujahidin who fight in His cause, and the distance between each of two grades is like the distance between the Heaven and the earth. So, when you ask Allah (for something), ask for Al-Firdaus which is the best and highest part of Paradise.” (i.e., The sub-narrator added, “I think the Prophet also said, ‘Above it (i.e. Al-Firdaus) is the Throne of Beneficent (i.e. Allah), and from it originate the rivers of Paradise.”)
Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 4 : No. 48 Hadith
Narrated by Abu Huraira (Radhiallaho anho): Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Angels come to you in succession by night and day and all of them get together at the time of the Fajr and ‘Asr prayers. Those who have passed the night with you (or stayed with you) ascend (to the Heaven) and Allah asks them, though He knows everything about you, well, “In what state did you leave my slaves?” The angels reply: “When we left them they were praying and when we reached them, they were praying.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 1 : No. 530
At-Tahhaawi said, in his book on al-‘Aqeedah al-Salafiyyah (correct belief in accordance with that of the early generations of Islam) that is known as al-‘Aqeedah al-Tahhaawiyyah.
“Paradise and Hell have already been created. They will never come to an end or cease to exist. Allah (swt) created Paradise and Hell before the rest of creation, and He (swt) created inhabitants for each of them. Whoever He (swt) wishes (will enter) Paradise by His grace and mercy, and whoever He (swt) wishes (will enter Hell) as a result of His (swt) justice. Every person will behave according to that for which he was created, and his destiny will be that for which he was created; good deeds and evil deeds are foreordained for all men”.
Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Abul-‘Izz al-Hanafi remarked, in his commentary on
“With regard to his saying that Paradise and Hell have already been created, Ahl as-Sunnah agree that Paradise and Hell have been created and are in existence at the present moment. Ahlus-Sunnah continued to hold this view, until some odd ideas of the Mu’tazilah and Qaadariyyah came along, which denied that. These groups said: “Allah will create them (ie Paradise and Hell) on the Day of Resurrection.” They said this because of their false arguments by means of which they seek to improve regulations on what Allah (swt) should do; (they say) it befits Allah (swt) to do this, or it does not befit Allah (swt) to do that. They compare Him to His creation and their actions. This is a kind of anthropomorphism with regard to deeds; they have allowed the ideas of Jahmiyyah (a sect of Mu’tazilah named after the deviant, Jahm ibn Safwan) to creep into their thinking, and have become mu’attalah (those who deny that Allah can see). They said, “It does not make sense for Paradise to be created before the time of reward, because it will not be used or inhabited for a very long time. They rejected the aayaat and reports that contradict these false notions they seek to project onto Allah (swt). They misinterpreted the texts and accused those who disagreed with them of going astray and concocting bid’ah”.
Proofs from the Qur’an and Hadeeth in support of this are, for example:
“Race with one another in hastening towards forgiveness from your Lord, and Paradise the width whereof is as the width of the heaven and the earth, prepared for those who believe in Allah and His Messengers. That is the Grace of Allah, which He bestows on whom He is pleased with. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty”. (57:21)
“…for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for al-Muttaqun” (3:133)
“And fear the fire, which is prepared for the disbelievers” (3:131)
“And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him (Jibreel) at a second descent (ie another time), near Sidrat al-Muntahaa (lote tree of the utmost boundary (beyond which none can pass), near it is the Paradise of Abode” (53:13-15)
The Prophet (saw) saw Sidrat al-Muntahaa, a tree in Heaven, and near it, Paradise, as is mention in al-Bukhaari, and Muslim in the hadith of Anas (ra). At the end of this narrative of al-Israa, the Prophet (saw) said, “Then Jibreel brought me to Sidrat al-Muntahaa which was veiled in colours indescribable. Then I entered Paradise, and its lights were of pearls and its soil was musk”.
Muslim, Abu Dawud and Imaam Ahmad report from Abu Hurayrah (ra) that the Messenger (saw) said, “When Allah (swt) created Paradise and Hell, He sent Jibreel to Paradise, saying “Go and look at it and at what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants”. So he went and looked at it and at what Allah had prepared therein for its inhabitants…. then He sent him to Hellfire saying, “Go and look at it and what I have prepared therein for its inhabitants” So he looked at it and saw that it was in layers, one above the other….”
Muslim reports from Aishah (ra) that there was a solar eclipse in the time of the Messenger (saw) and he said, “Whilst I was standing here I saw everything that you have been promised, I even saw myself picking some of the fruits of Paradise, when you saw me stepping forward. And I saw Hellfire, parts of it consuming other parts, when you saw me stepping backward”.
al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Ibn ‘Abbas the same incident, “I saw Paradise and I tried to take a bunch of its fruit. If I had managed to do so, you would have eaten from it until the end of time. And I saw the Fire of Hell, and I have never seen anything so horrific or terrifying. I saw that the majority of its inhabitants are women.”
Muslim also reports from Anas that the Prophet (Saw) said, “By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, if you had seen what I saw, you would laugh little and cry much.” They said, “What did you see, O Messenger of Allah?”, He said, “I saw Paradise and Hell”.
The Prophet (saw) also ascended into jannah on the night of Mi’raj in his ‘Isra (night journey): for example
* “…I saw four rivers flowing out from beneath Sidrat al-Muntahaa, two visible and two hidden.” (Muslim, Kitaab al-Imaan, Baab al-‘Israa, 1/150, no.164) * “Whilst I was walking in Paradise I saw a river whose banks were domes of hollow pearls and I asked, “What is this, O Jibreel?” He said, “This is al-Kawthar which your Rabb has given to you”. (from Anas ibn Maalik, Sahih al-Bukhaari, Kitaab ar-Riqaaq, Baab fil-Hawd, Fath al-Baari, 11/464)
* al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Jaabir that the Messenger of Allah said, “I entered Paradise where I saw ar-Rumaysa, the wife of Abu Talhah. And I heard footsteps and asked, “Who is that?” He (Jibreel) said, “That is Bilaal”. And I saw a palace with women in its courtyard. I asked, “Whose is this?” They said, It is for ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab” (Mishkaat al-Masaabih, 3/226)
Imaam Ahmed, Ibn Hibbaan and al-Haakim report from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (saw) said, “The children of the believers are in Paradise, being cared for by Ibraahim (as) [and in the narration of Abu Nu’aym, ad-Dawylami, and Ibn Asakir it adds- “and Sarah, until they give them back to their parents on the day of Resurrection”]
al-Bukhaari and Muslim also report from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “When anyone of you dies, he will be shown his position morning and evening. If he is one of the people of Paradise then he will be one of the people of Paradise, and if he is one of the people of Hell, then he will be one of the people of Hell, and he will be told, “This is your position, until Allah (swt) resurrects you on the Day of Resurrection”.
According to al-Muwatta of Imaam Maalik and as-Sunaan, Abu Dawood, “Ka’b ibn Maalik said the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Verily the soul of the believer is a bird hanging on to the trees of Paradise, until Allah Swt returns it to its body on the day of Resurrection”
This makes it clear that souls will enter Paradise before the Day of Resurrection.
As for the specious arguments of those who say that Hell has not been created yet, they say: If it was already created now, then it would of necessity have to come to an end of the Day of Resurrection and everyone in it would have to perish because Allah says: “Everything will perish save His Face” (28:88) and “Everyone shall taste death..” (3:185) The response to this is: If you mean that Paradise does not exist until the Trumpet is blown and people are resurrected from their graves, then this is incorrect and is refuted by the evidence quoted above and other proofs which we have not mentioned here. If you mean that Allah (swt) has not yet completed the creation of everything that He will prepare for the inhabitants of Paradise and that He is still creating more and more things in it, and that when the believers enter Paradise, Allah (swt) will create even more things in it, then this is true and cannot be refuted, and the evidence that you give can only mean this, but when you use the aayah – “Everything will perish save His Face” – as evidence, your problem is that you misinterpret this aayah. Using it to prove that Paradise and Hell do not yet exist is like your colleagues using it to prove that they will both be destroyed and their inhabitants will all perish! You and your scholars did not understand the aayah properly; only the leaders (great scholars) of Islaam have understood it properly. They say that “everything” for which Allah (swt) has decreed destruction and oblivion “will perish” but Paradise and Hell have been created to last forever and never pass away, as has the Throne, which forms the roof of Paradise.
“It was suggested that it meant that everything would perish except His dominion, or whatever was done for His sake. Another suggestion was that when Allah (swt) revealed the word: “Whatever is on it will perish” – the angels said, “The people of earth are doomed”, and hoped that they would remain. Allah said that the people of heaven and earth would perish and said, “And invoke not any other ilaah along with Allah, Laa ilaaha illaa Huwaa. Everything will perish save His Face” (28:88) because He is the Living and does not die. The angels realise that they too were destined to die. Their words should be taken in the light of and reconciled with other clear and unambiguous reports that prove that both Paradise and Hell are eternal”.
(Sharh at-Tahaawiyyah, p.479, see also Siddeeq Hasan Khan, Yaqadhah ula al-‘i’tibaar, p. 37 and ‘Aqeedah as-Safarini 2/230)
Just as a child should be taught ritual acts of worship, he should also be taught good habits and etiquettes until they become second nature to him.
The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “The believers who have the most perfect faith are those who have the best manners.” [Abu Daawood]
Good manners are an acquired trait that must be adopted from a young age. Of such manners are the following:
Being respectful and dutiful to parents:
The first person from whom a child learns good manners is the father. If a child is raised in a good Islamic home, then it would be natural for him to treat his parents respectfully.
Allah Says (what means): “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them reach old age in your life, never say ‘uff’ (an expression of displeasure), nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And humble yourself to them out of mercy and say, ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.'” [Quran, 17:23,24]
Maintaining good relations with relatives:
Sound cultivation also stipulates teaching children to maintain good relations with their relatives.
Allah Says (what means): ”Worship Allah and associate none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful. ” [Quran, 4:36]
The fulfillment of this Divine command can be accomplished only by sound cultivation which makes them grow attached to their relatives out of obedience to Allah.
Since relatives are an extension of the family, then strengthening ties with them strengthens the whole family and it is like strengthening the whole community and this reflects an Islamic community that enjoys a cohesive structure. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “The example of the believers in their reciprocal love and mercy is like a human body, when one of its organs suffers, the rest of the body remains awake and suffers fever.” [Muslim]
Inculcating brotherly love:
Brotherly love and believers’ solidarity must be embedded in children’s minds and that the believers are brothers-in-faith. For example to follow the pious predecessors, the Muhajireen and the Ansaar, may Allah be pleased with them, whose brotherly love and altruism Allah commands in His Book.
Giving a friendly gesture or a happy greeting to Muslim brothers generates friendliness in their hearts and, strengthens the love among the believers. This indeed is a fine trait, which is instructed by Allah, the Exalted. He describes the believers by saying (what means): “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves…” [Quran, 48:29]
Allah also addressed His Messenger, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, saying (what means): “Had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you…” [Quran, 3:159]
Guarding the tongue:
Giving a good word is a type of remembrance of Allah, telling the truth, guarding one’s own tongue against slandering other Muslims are good deeds. The best Muslim, according to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, is the one from whose tongue the Muslims feel safe.
Parents should make their children aware of the gravity of abusing others with their tongue and of the fact that the tongue is a double-sided and dangerous weapon. Therefore, they should be warned in particular against abusing it.
Warning children against backbiting and slandering:
Children should be taught that backbiting is speaking slanderously about an absent person. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Do you know what back biting is?” They (companions) said: “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “It is to attribute to your brother what he dislikes.” He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked: “What do you think if what I say about my brother is true?” He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “If what you attribute to him is true, then you have backbitten him, and if it is not true, then you have lied about him.” [Muslim]
While talebearing is to circulate slanderous rumors between two persons to damage or sever the ties between them. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Talebearer will not be admitted to Paradise.” [Muslim]
Deriding people in their presence by making negative facial expressions or by hand gestures while they are unaware is also forbidden in Islam.
Warning children against lying:
Children must be taught to tell the truth and to keep away from lying, which is the most horrible habit. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “There are four traits whoever possesses them is a sheer hypocrite, and he who possesses one of them, possesses a trait of hypocrisy unless he quits it. They are: when he speaks, he lies; and when he enters into an agreement, he acts unfaithfully; when he promises, he breaches his promise; and when he litigates, he behaves treacherously. While the liar receives the anger of Allah on the Day of Resurrection.” [Al-Bukhaari]
Parents should not take this evil habit lightly, or consider it funny when their children tell lies because later on, it becomes easy for them to lie without any compunction.
Among the worst of manners is reviling people and swearing at them. If this bad habit is not redressed while the child is growing up, it becomes hard for him to avoid it later on.
Islam enjoins guarding the tongues. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “He who guarantees, what is in between his jaws (tongue), and what is in between his thighs (private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.” [Al-Bukhaari]
This means guarding one’s own tongue against uttering anything that displeases Allah, and guarding one’s own private parts against committing illicit acts or fornication.
(i) Its trees and fruits are of many kinds and everlasting
The trees of Paradise are abundant and good and of many kinds. Allah has told us that there are grapevines, datepalms and pomegranate trees in Paradise, as well as lotus trees and acacia trees:
“Verily, for the muttaqoon, there will be a success [Paradise], gardens and grape yards” [78:31-32]
“in them [both will be fruits, date palms and pomegranates” [55:68]
“And those on the Right Hand – who will be those on the Right Hand? [They will be] among thornless lote-trees, Among Talh trees with fruits piled one above another, In shade long-extended, By water flowing constantly, And fruit in plenty” [56:27-32]
The lotus tree [ad-Sidr] is a thorny plant, but in Paradise it will be thornless. at-Talh [acacia tree] is a tree of Hijaaz, a kind of ‘idah [a fair sized thorny shrub], but in Paradise its fruits will be ready to eat, with no effort required.
What Allah (swt) has told us about the trees of Paradise is only a small part of what Paradise contains. Hence Allah told us
“In them [both] will be every kind of fruit in pairs” [55:52]
Because of its abundance, people will be able to leave what they want and take what they want:
“…and therein they will call for fruits in abundance and drinks”. [38:51]
“With fruits, any that they may select” [56:20]
“Verily the Muttaqoon shall be amidst shades and springs, And fruits – such as they desire” [77:41-42]
In short, Paradise contains all kinds of fruits and other joys that one’s heart could desire:
“Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them, [there will be] therein all that one’s soul could desire, all that the eyes could delight in, and you will abide therein forever” [43:71]
Ibn Katheer spoke very cleverly about the greatness of the fruits of Paradise, and concluded that by means of understatement, Allah (swt) conveyed the abundance and greatness of those fruits. He said, “The lotus tree [as-Sidr] does not bear any fruit other than some insignificant, inferior fruits, and it is thorny. The acacia tree [at-Talh] is only used for shade in this world [not for fruit] but in Paradise there will be many of them, growing beautifully, and bearing such abundant fruit that a single fruit will have seventy kinds of taste and colour that resemble one another.
So how do you think the trees that are grown for their fruit on earth will be in Paradise, like apple trees, date palms, grape vines and so on? How do you think the flowers will be? In short, there will be what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no human heart can comprehend and we ask Allah (swt) to grant us some of this, by His Grace” [an-Nihaayah, 2/262]
The trees of Paradise bear fruit constantly, unlike the trees of this world, which bear fruit only at certain times or seasons. The trees of Paradise always bear fruit and offer shade:
“The description of the Paradise which the Muttaqoon have been promised! -Underneath it rivers flow, its provision is eternal and so is its shade” [13:55]
“And fruit in plenty, whose season is not limited, and their supply will not be cut off” [56:32-33]
The supply is continuous and the people of Paradise are never denied. one of the delights that the people of Paradise will enjoy is finding that its fruits are similar in appearance, but different in taste:
“Everytime they will be provided with a fruit therefrom, they will say, “This is what we were provided with before”, and they will be given things in resemblance [ i.e. in the same form but different in taste]” [2:25]
The trees of Paradise are of rich and lush foliage – “With spreading branches” [55:48], and they are intensely green – “dark and green [in colour]” [55:64]. The intensity of the colour is because of the density of the trees in Paradise.
The fruits of the trees will be low-hanging, in easy reach of the people of Paradise:
“Reclining upon the couches lined with silk brocade, and the fruits of the two Gardens will be near at hand” [55:54]
The shade of these trees will be as Allah (swt) says:
“..and We shall admit them to shades wide and ever deepening”. [4:57]
“In shade long-extended” [56:30]
(ii) Some of the trees of Paradise
The Messenger of Allah (saw) told us wondrous things about some of the trees of paradise which indicates that they are so amazingly huge that trying to imagine them makes one’s head spin. We shall quote some examples here:
(a) A tree whose shadow it takes one hundred years to cross.
This is a huge tree, whose true size is known only to its Creator. The Prophet (saw) conveyed an impression of its size when he said that “In Paradise there is a tree which the rider of a swift horse would need one hundred years to pass beneath” [al-Bukhaari, Kitaab ar-Riqaaq, Baab Sifaat al-Jannah, Fath al-Baari, 11/416; Muslim, Kitaab al-Jannah, Baab inna fil-Jannah Shajarah, 2/2176, no. 2828, from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri; see also al-Bukhaari, Kitaab Bid’ al-Khalq, Baab ma jaa’a fi Sifaat al-Jannah, Fath al-Baari, 6/319]
And in the narration of Muslim from Abu Hurayrah and Sahl ibn Sa’d it is said that “In Paradise there is a tree under whose shade a traveller could travel for one hundred years and not reach the edge of it” [Muslim, Kitaab al-Jannah, Baab in fil-Jannah Shajarah Yaseer al-Raakib fi dhiliha mi’ah ‘aam, hadith no 2826, 2827]
(b) Sidrat al-Muntaha
There is a tree in paradise which Allah has mentioned in a clear and unambiguous revelation. Allah (swt) told us that our Prophet Muhammad (saw) saw Jibreel in the form in which Allah created him at that tree. He also told us that it was veiled with something known only to Allah (swt) when the Prophet (saw) saw it:
“And indeed he [Muhammad] saw him [Jibreel] at a second descent [i.e. a second time] near Sidrat al-Muntaha [the Lote-tree of the utmost boundary beyond which none may pass] near it is the Paradise of Abode. When that covered the lote-tree which covered it! The sight of [Muhammad] turned not aside [right or left], nor did it transgress beyond [the] limit [ordained for it]” [53:13-18]
The Prophet (saw) told us about what he saw of this tree:
“Then I was taken up until I reached Sidrat al-Muntaha and I saw its Nabq [fruits] which looked like the clay jugs of Hajar, its leaves were like the ears of elephants, and one of these leaves could cover the whole of this ummah. It was veiled in colours indescribable. Then I entered Paradise, and its lights were pearls and its soil was musk”. [Saheeh al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer, 4/82, no. 4075, al-Bukhaari and Muslim; see also al-Bukhaari, Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi and Muslim, Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3/18, no. 2861]
This is a huge tree which produces the fabric for the clothing of the people of Paradise. Ahmad Ibn Jareer and Ibn Hibbaan report from Abu Sa’eed
al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Tooba is a tree in Paradise, as big as a hundred year’s journey; the clothes of the people of Paradise comes from its calyces [the outer parts of its flowers]” [Silsilat al-Hadith as-Saheehah, 4/639, no. 1985, the isnaad is hasan]
Narrated by Ahmad from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr, who said, “A man came to the Prophet (saw) and asked, “O Messenger of Allah, tell us about the clothes of the people of Paradise; are they created or are they woven?” Some of the people laughed. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Why are you laughing? Because someone who does not know has asked someone who does know?” Then he turned and asked, “Where is the one who asked the question?” The man said, “Here I am, O Messenger of Allah”. He said, “No, they are produced by the fruits of Paradise” three times” [Silsilat al-Hadith as-Saheehah, 4/640]
(iii) The best aromatic plants in Paradise
Allah told us that in Paradise there are aromatic plants:
“[there is for him] rest and provision [Rayhaan – literally – sweet smelling plants, here used as symbolical of complete satisfaction and delight]” [56:89]
In Mu’jam at-Tabaraanee al-Kabeer, a report from ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr whose isnaad is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim states that the Prophet (saw) said, “The best of the aromatic plants of Paradise is henna.” [SilSilah as-Saheehah, 3/407, no. 1420]
(iv) The trunks of the trees of Paradise are of Gold
One of the wondrous things that the Messenger of Allah (saw) told us is that the trunks of the trees are gold:
“There is no tree in Paradise that does not have a trunk made of gold” [Ibn Hibbaan, at-Tirmidhi, al-Bayhaqee, from Abu Hurayrah, Saheeh al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer 5/150 saheeh]
(v) How can the Believer increase his share of the trees of Paradise?
al-Khaleel ar-Rahmaan and the Father of the Prophets, Ibraaheem (as) asked our Prophet Muhammad (saw) on the night of the Israa’ to convey his greetings to this ummah and to tell them the way in which they could increase their share of the trees of Paradise. at-Tirmidhi reported with a hasan isnaad from Ibn Mas’oud that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“I met Ibraaheem…and he said, “O Muhammad, tell your ummah that Paradise is a land whose soil is good and its water is sweet. It is an empty plain, which will be planted with SubhaanAllah, al-Hamdulillaah, and Allahu Akbar” [Saheeh al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer, 5/34, no. 5028]
Bismillaahi wa’Alaa barakatillahi (“[I am eating] In the name of Allah (swt) and with the blessings of Allah (swt)”). These words are spoken before taking a meal to express our gratitude for the food on our table.
Food is life, a gift from Allah (swt) given to humans for sustenance. The Qur’an states “O believers, eat the clean things we have provided you, be grateful to Allah if you sincerely want to obey Him” (7:158).
The resources that Allah (swt) has provided to us are His gifts, and by respecting them, we are in turn being grateful to Allah (swt). No human can produce his own sustenance; we are, in essence, living off of the fruits of the earth, which are gifts from Allah. The food which we garner from the earth is our only means of sustenance. Without that food, we cannot survive. Hence, we owe our everyday existence to Allah, for Allah is our Provider and our Sustainer, ar-Razzaq being one of His many names.
According to the Qur’an and Sunnah, Muslims must follow certain etiquette, before, during and after eating, not only to be satiated with what is given to us, but also to be grateful and appreciative of the gifts of food and life that Allah (swt) has blessed us with. During a meal, Muslims have to abide by certain protocol to show their gratitude towards Allah (swt) and respect for His gifts. Prophet Mohammad (saw) said “mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish which is nearer to you (Bukhari VII; 65:288). In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says, “Eat and drink but do not waste by excess, for Allah does not love the wasters” (VII: 31). Islamic law emphasizes the importance of remembering and thanking Allah (swt) while eating and only consuming enough food to survive. “A Muslim eats in one intestine (i.e. he is satisfied with a little food) while a Kafir (unbeliever) eats in seven intestines (eats much)” (Bukhari VII, 65:308).
Gluttony is considered wasteful. When one has greater access and availability of food and resources, one should take only what is necessary to sustain oneself without over-consumption. If there is an excess of food, then one must distribute it to the needy instead of hoarding or throwing it away.
Many of us are guilty of leaving food on our plates and trashing leftovers from the refrigerator. The amount of food wasted by well-off people could easily feed the famished stomachs of young children all around the world. Homelessness and starvation could lessen if charity were practiced locally. Major epidemics, famine and hunger could also be reduced if the right steps were taken to distribute food evenly round the world instead of having the wealthy few cache a majority of the resources. If charity were practiced more frequently, and an understanding that food and resources of this world are a blessing and gift from Allah (swt) were more widespread, then may be food shortage and hunger wouldn’t be so widespread today.
As the centuries have passed, people who can afford to, eat more, while those who can’t are left famished and dying. It is important to understand that Allah (swt) is the Sustainer of life and provides many of us with resources so we can preserve our lives. How we use the gifts of Allah (swt) is important. If we throw away these gifts instead of carefully cherishing them and sharing them with the needy, then we are disrespecting Allah’s gifts and being ungracious.
Because food is the key to life, Allah (swt) has outlined rules for us to respect food and treat it as a valuable and important part of our lives. Remembering Allah (swt) for His gift is integral to understanding the value of food. When Muslims are done with their meals, they must say, “Al-hamdu lill’hilladhi at-amana’ wasaq’n’ waja-alana minal muslimin.” (“All praise is due to Allah (swt) who gave us food and drink and made us Muslims”) (Tirmidhi). It is our duty to show our gratitude for our food by sharing it with others, thus showing our thankfulness to Allah for our gift of life.
By Mahruq Siddiqui
SIDDIQUI is a UC Irvine Alumna with a B.S. in Information and Computer Science.