A stranger came to Madinah and met Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He was hungry and needed a place to stay overnight. Prophet Muhammad sent out word to the members of his own household about the unexpected guest, but he was informed that there was nothing in the house for dinner. Prophet Muhammad turned to his companions and asked, “Who is willing to host this man?” One of the companions stood up and said “I can.”
The companion went home with the stranger and told his wife, “We have Prophet’s guest.” The wife was embarrassed and told her husband quietly, “We have very little for ourselves.” The husband said, “please make the food, turn down the lamp and let the guest eat in dark. We will pretend to be eating.” She prepared the food, turned down the lamp and both husband and wife sat down with the stranger in the dark.
The guest hungrily ate the dinner while both husband and wife sat side by side and only pretended to eat. That night, the entire family went to bed hungry. In contrast, their guest went to sleep with a full stomach, unaware of the sacrifice of his hosts. The next day, the companion went to see Prophet Muhammad. Upon his arrival, Prophet Muhammad greeted him with a smile and told him, “Last night, Allah was very happy at your actions! And revealed to me about you and your family.”
“And those who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith― show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls, they are the ones that achieve prosperity.” [Qur’an: 59-9)
Every year near Christmas, the Calgary Herald raises funds to help the most vulnerable and the neediest Calgarians. This is a noble cause which should be supported by every Calgarian, including almost 100,000 Calgary Muslims. I request every Muslim organization and individual to donate to the Calgary Herald’s Christmas Fund. Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly have always supported such projects and will support it this year as well.
If we want to know what is a good deed? We should remember this verse from the holy Qur’an, “By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye love; and whatever ye give, Allah knoweth it well.” (3:92)
Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib said, “Do not feel ashamed if the amount of charity is small because to refuse the needy is an act of greater shame.” (as written in Nahjul Balagha)
Imam Syed Soharwardy is chairman of the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Assembly, and is the founder and current president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.