Did the wives of the Prophet have the custom of inviting women and serving them meals?

The Details of the Question

Did the wives of the prophet have the custom of inviting a lot of neighboring women and serving them meals by preparing various kinds of food?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is an important issue that is advised in the Quran and hadiths and a widespread Islamic tradition to treat others to meals.

Some hadiths about serving meals to others are as follows:

- When the Prophet (pbuh) was asked what the best deed in Islam was, he answered as follows: “To invite people to meals and to greet the people that you know and you do not know.” (Muslim Birr, 161)

- The Prophet (pbuh) advised those who said, “We eat but we do not feel full” to eat meals together and that there was blessing in eating together. (Ibn Majah, Atima, 17)

- “Try to be saved from Hell by giving something, even if it is half a date.” (Bukhari, Adab 34)

- “O Abu Dharr! When you make soup, add more water. Then, check your neighbors and give those who are in need some soup.” (Muslim, Birr, 143)

“Goodness reaches a hose where guests are entertained faster than a knife reaching the hump of the camel." (Ibn Majah, Atima, 55)

- “O Muslim women! No woman should underestimate giving some food to her neighbor even if it is a foot of a sheep.” (Bukhari, Hiba 1, Adab 30)

It has been a tradition among Muslims since the Era of Bliss to give everybody food and drinks, whether they are neighbors or guests, poor or rich, and it is regarded as charity.   

The Prophet (pbuh) advised us to invite people especially neighbors to meals.

They served food to people whether they were Muslims or non-Muslims.

The Prophet’s wives and daughters were pioneers in giving people food and drinks.

However, as it is known, poverty was widespread at that time and the food that was served contained basic food items. They sometimes did not eat but gave food to others. They went hungry that day. They preferred others to themselves.

There was not abundant food at that time; therefore, people invited others for wedding feasts or special feasts.  

It is permissible for women to invite people for a meal if they act in accordance with certain conditions.

Those conditions can be summarized as follows:

  1. Avoiding waste.
  2. Avoiding show off.
  3. Serving halal food and drinks.
  4. The people that are invited need to be neighbors, relatives, guests and the poor.
  5. The person hosting for the meal needs to give from his/her own wealth.
  6. Issues like privacy and tasattur (hijab) need to be observed.
  7. It needs to be based on Allah’s consent.

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