04 Safar 1435 AH
GIFTS AND INVITATIONS
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي ; وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي ; وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِنْ لِسَانِي ; يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي
Exchange of gifts, inviting each other over food etc. are important acts which have been recommended in Islam. There are lot of narrations about what Rasool-Allah (PBUH) said about various aspects related to giving and taking of gifts, and about invitations. The most important virtue associated with exchanging gifts and inviting each other to one’s place is that it helps in unifying the folks. The bond of love and unity among each other gets strengthened by doing so. And that is what Islam wants its followers to do i.e. to be united, to remain in harmony, to love each other, of course within the limits prescribed by Allah.
There are several narrations in Sahih Bukhari which prove that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) encouraged exchange of gifts among husbands and wives. He led by example by exchanging gifts with her wives.
1. Gifts to / from neighbours
Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to encourage his wives to exchange gifts even with the neighbours. Refer to following hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said, “O Muslim women! None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her she neighbour, even if it were the trotters of the sheep (i.e. the fleshless part of legs).”
(Hadith No. 2566, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
In one narration it is reported as follows:
Narrated Aishah (RA): I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I have two neighbours, which of the two should I give a gift?’ The Prophet (PBUH) said, “To the one whose door is nearer to you.”
(Hadith No. 2595, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Above mentioned narrations tell us that our beloved Prophet (PBUH) encouraged exchanging gifts among the neighbours. However, it should be noted that for women, it is specified that they should exchange gifts with their neighbouring women (only).
2. Gifts to one’s own children
Narrated An-Numān bin Bashir that his father took him to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and said: I have given this son of mine a slave. The Prophet (PBUH) asked, “Have you given all your sons the like?” He replied in the negative. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Take back your gift then.”
(Hadith No. 2586, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
This hadith highlights the importance of maintaining a balance and equality in treating our kids. If we have to give gifts to our kids, all the children should be treated equally (i.e. equal / similar types of gifts should be given to all children).
3. Special mention of Maternal Uncle when it comes to giving gifts
Rasool-Allah (PBUH) recommended giving gifts to one’s maternal uncle (i.e. brother of one’s mother). Refer to following hadith:
Narrated Maimuna, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) that she manumitted her slave-girl and the Prophet (PBUH) said to her, “You would have got more reward if you had given the slave-girl to one of your maternal uncles.
(Hadith No. 2594, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
4. It is recommended not to reject or turn down the gifts and invitations.
Islam recommends accepting and giving gifts as well as invitations. The importance can be understood by following hadith:
Narrated Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said, “I shall accept the invitation even if I was invited to a meal of a sheep’s trotter, and I shall accept a gift even if it were an arm or a trotter of a sheep.”
(Hadith No. 2568, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Please note that when we talk of invitations here, we are referring to invitations to food (or any similar invitation). However, when we talk of gifts, it takes into account not only food items but also other things which may be given as a gift. Now, keeping this in mind, we should analyze ourselves that how often we turn down invitations from our relatives / friends etc. without having any genuine reason to do so. A Muslim is supposed to accept every invitation from a fellow Muslim; however he can reject an invitation only if he is already committed to someone else during the time the new invitation is given to him (or due to any other genuine reason like being sick etc.).
5. When can one reject a gift?
It is not allowed to take gifts when in a state of Ihram. Following hadith explains this ruling:
Narrated As-Sā’b bin Jath’thama (RA): An onager (a type of wild ass) was presented to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) at the place called Al-Abwa’ or Waddān, but Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) rejected it. When the Prophet (PBUH) noticed signs of sorrow on the giver’s face, he said, “We have not rejected your gift, but we are in state of Ihram.” (i.e. if we were not in state of Ihram, we would have accepted your gift).
(Hadith No. 2573, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Other than this, if someone gives a gift which is prohibited in Islam, then it should be rejected.
6. Rejecting a gift or an invitation on the basis of one’s own inner doubts
I wish to attract attention of readers to this particular aspect. Go through the hadith mentioned below, and after that I shall, Insha’Allah, explain a little more about why I am emphasizing on this particular part of the discussion.
Narrated Aishah (RA): Some people said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Meat is brought to us by some people and we are not sure whether the Name of Allah has been mentioned on it or not (i.e. at the time of slaughtering the animal).’ Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “Mention the Name of Allah and eat it.”
(Hadith No. 2057, Book of Sales, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Keeping the above mentioned hadith in our minds, let us turn our attention to a particular approach of few people. One of my friends was telling me that he had been with a famous personality, and what a nice man he is and so on and so forth…kept on showering praises. Then he added that the person he is talking about never eats at anyone’s place, he never accepts invitations from anyone. He also mentioned that he even refused him when he invited him over a cup of tea. Hearing this, a third friend of ours in the conversation said: Yes, it is his Taqwa that makes him do so. Hold on here….. Relate such an attitude with what we have discussed so far about accepting the gifts and invitations. Brothers and sisters, rejecting gifts and turning down invitations from fellow Muslims (just on the basis of our personal doubts about others), is not Taqwa. It is rather wrong and against the Sunnah to do so.
Please refer to our separate discussion under the heading ‘Definition of Al-Birr‘ to understand the definition of Taqwa.
Therefore, never let our biased doubts (in our minds) about others make us reject an invitation or a gift. However, if we are 100% sure that the earnings of the person who is inviting us, come from unlawful means, then we can turn down the invitation.
But the ruling for gifts in such a case is still different. It shall be clear in next section of our discussion, Insha’Allah.
7. Giving and taking gifts from Mushriks
لا يَنْهَاكُمْ اللَّهُ عَنْ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُمْ مِنْ دِيَارِكُمْ أَنْ تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ
“Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.”
(Aayah No. 8, Surah Al-Mumtahanah, Chapter No. 60, Holy Qur’an).
The above mentioned verse from Holy Qur’an says it all. It is allowed to deal with Mushriks in a just manner. Therefore, one can exchange gifts with Mushriks (such Mushriks as mentioned in the verse from Qur’an above) also. Refer to following hadith also to have a better understanding of the ruling:
Narrated Asma bint Abu Bakr (RA): My mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and she was a ‘Mushrikah‘. I said to Prophet, ‘My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?’ The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Yes, keep good relation with her.”
(Hadith No. 2620, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Tafsir of the above mentioned verse from Surah Al-Mumtahanah (Chapter No. 60, Holy Qur’an) by Imam Ibn Kathir mentions another hadith (with reference of Sahih Muslim) where it is narrated that Asma’ bint Abu Bakr (RA) was not allowing her mother to enter her house and not accepting the gifts she had brought for her daughter. Then Rasool-Allah (PBUH) ordered her to accept the gifts and let her mother enter the house.
8. Some etiquettes associated with giving and taking gifts
8.1 Gifts in return
Narrated Aishah (RA): Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) used to accept gifts and used to give something in return.
(Hadith No. 2585, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Therefore, it is recommended for us to give a return gift to the person who gives us a gift.
8.2 Do not take back the gift.
It is not allowed to take back the gift which has already been given. Rasool-Allah (PBUH) strongly condemned this act. Refer to following hadith:
Narrated Ibn Abbas (RA): Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “One who takes back his gift (which he has already given) is like a dog that swallows its vomit.”
(Hadith No. 2589, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
9. What is ruling concerning if a gift was promised and the giver and/or receiver die before the gift
Narrated Jābir (RA): The Prophet (PBUH) said to me, “I will give you so much (the Prophet pointed thrice with his hands) when the funds from Bahrain will come to me.” But the Prophet (PBUH) died before money reached him. (When the money came,) Abu Bakr (RA) ordered an announcer to announce that whoever had a money claim on the Prophet (PBUH), or was promised to be given something, should come to Abu Bakr (RA). I went to Abu Bakr (RA) and told him that the Prophet (PBUH) had promised to give me so much. On that Abu Bakr (RA) gave me three handfuls (of money).”
(Hadith No. 2598, Book of Gifts, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3).
Based on these guidelines, a consensus has been reached among the scholars that the gift is to be delivered to the receiver if it was promised by the giver and the giver dies before transferring the gift. In case the receiver also dies, then the ruling is as follows:
Case 1. If the gift is separated from the giver (at the time of death of receiver) then the gift shall be given to the inheritor of the receiver (who was promised by the original giver during their lifetimes).
Case 2. If the gift is not separated from the giver, then it shall be given to the inheritors of the giver.
10. What is ruling concerning if someone gives gifts and invitations to other(s) in order to get
This happens a lot. Lot of people give gifts to some government officials, or some other influential people, with an intention of getting some favours for them which shall benefit their businesses or jobs etc. Sometimes, some of us invite such officers at our places for a cup of tea or lunch / dinner etc. Such practices have been strictly condemned by Allah and the gifts given with such intentions have been compared to as Riba’ (i.e. usury). Refer to following verse from Holy Qur’an:
وَمَا آتَيْتُمْ مِنْ رِباً لِيَرْبُوَا فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلا يَرْبُوا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ
“And that which you give in Riba’ (the gifts), in order that it may increase from other people’s property, has no increase with Allah.”
(Aayah No. 39, Surah Ar-Rūm, Chapter No. 30, Holy Qur’an).
It is a matter of serious concern that such practices are growing more and more. Please wake up, stop all such practices and seek Allah’s refuge.
Several points are to be learned from this discussion. Let us all understand the importance of gifts and invitations in Islam, and bring them into our normal lives, as per the recommendations of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). We should stop turning down the invitations unless we have a genuine reason to do so. Do not give preference to personal adventures, luxuries etc., the comforts of which make us turn down the invitations from our brothers and sisters. Adopt these more and more; these are beneficial for the society, as it creates harmony among the Muslims. And above all, it is what our beloved Prophet (PBUH) asked us to do. Further, we should not use gifts and invitations to achieve personal benefits. Adopt the habit of exchanging gifts and invitations with an intention to earn rewards from Allah, not for personal worldly gains.
May Allah forgive me if I am wrong and guide us to the right path…Ameen.
سُبْحَانَ رَبِّكَ رَبِّ الْعِزَّةِ عَمَّا يَصِفُون َ ; وَسَلامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ ; وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ.