Hadith 12

Chapter: Feeding people is part of Islam

“Umar Ibn Khalid narrated from Al-Layth from Yazeed from Abi Al-Khayr from Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “A man asked the Prophet, ‘Which (aspect of) Islam is best?’ He responded, ‘Feeding people and greeting (with salam) those you know and those you do not know.'”

Ibn Hajar’s explanation

His saying, “(aspect of) Islam”

Al-Aseele recorded it as “aspect of eemaan” meaning “which branch of eemaan is best?” The author (Bukhari) used this as further evidence of the increase and decrease of eemaan, which he previously documented and followed up with proof from the Quran and Sunnah.  (i.e. some aspects of Islam being better than others)

The questioner in this narration inquired about which ‘aspect’ of Islam is best, while the questioner in the previous narration asked a more general question (which Islam is best?) This counters those who assert that both questions held the same meaning yet received a different answer.

There is a connection between the two qualities mentioned (feeding the people and greeting them with salam) as feeding people entails good deeds preformed with the hand, whereas greeting people entails good that is carried out by the tongue.

Al-Karmane said, “The virtue (of these actions) lies in the great amount of reward received in exchange for a small amount (of action), and a good deed is that which brings about benefit as opposed to evil.”

Often times a similar question may receive a different answer due to the state or type of the questioner. In the previous narration the answer (the Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe) may have been directed at a person whose harm was feared, and was therefore advised to avoid harming the people.  In the second narration, the answer (feeding the people and greeting them) may have been directed at a person whom good was expected from and was therefore advised with good actions to perform.  Each answer was given in light of the situation of the questioner. This explanation is further supported by the fact that the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم gave the advice regarding which good actions to perform upon entering Al-Medinah, as was recorded by Al-Tirmithi and others from the narration of Abdullah Ibn Salam.

His saying, “greeting (with salam) those you know and those you do not know”

Meaning one should not specify giving the salam (Islamic greeting) to only specific people whether it be due to arrogance or any other reason, and rather the purpose should be to honor and esteem the Islamic slogan and also to honor and maintain the Islamic brotherhood.

-If it is said that the wording (regarding greeting the people) is general, therefore the disbeliever, the hypocrite, and the wrongdoer are also included.

The answer is that this generality is specified with other proofs, or it may be that the negation (of greeting certain types of people with salam) came later.

*The rule is to act upon the general proof until another proof comes to specify it.

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