We are aware of the famous Hadith that its meaning is ‘we are people that we don’t eat unless we feel hungry and when we eat we don’t up to feeling full’. But what about other hadits that describes otherwise. For example the hadiths in Bukhari where the Prophet gave Abu Hurairah to drink milk until he is so full that he cannot drink anymore.


“We are a people etc.” is not a hadith but a saying of one of the early Muslims that might be `Umar b. al-Khattab (r) or Abu `Ali al-Daqqaq (q), even if some late books of Sira mistakenly cite it as a Prophetic hadith such as the Halabiyya and Dahlan, and it is also thus misidentified in some Shia books.

Furthermore, its meaning is not absolute but rather “most of the time,” as opposed to our own state when we never stop eating until we are chockful of burping.

Actual hadiths do not describe otherwise. Most of the hadiths show that the Prophet (s) and his Companions went hungry a lot of the time or most of the time.

As for the hadith of the milk, it does not bear on the issue but rather is about the generosity and from the miracles of the Prophet (saws) because Abu Hurayra (who at times fainted from daily hunger) was tasked by the Prophet (s) with passing a big milk bowl around at a time when everyone was suffering from hunger and he was thinking to himself, “I am the neediest, what if it finishes before I get to drink from it?” but everyone drank and there was still enough, then Abu Hurayra drank and the Prophet (s) told him “Drink more, more!” until he could not drink anymore. And only after that did the Prophet (s) himself drink the remainder. So the Prophet (s) wanted to show him:

(1) that his thoughts were clear to him;
(2) that the divine generosity was bigger than his fears of penury;
(3) that the Prophet (s) was the most trusting and most surrendering of creation to that divine generosity;
(4) that the Prophet’s high adab also did not allow him to partake in sight of anyone who might still be needy;
(5) that milk was a meal in itself;
(6) that its baraka or blessing would make one more than sated with little;
(7) that as Asharis and all Ahl al-Sunna hold, “Things do not act of their own nature, neither does water quench thirst, nor does bread sate hunger, nor does fire burn, but Allah creates satedness simultaneously with eating, and hunger at other times” (Ibn Khafif al-Shirazi); and
(8) an allusion that Abu Hurayra (r) is of the People of Paradise, as it is connected to Paradise because one asks, “O Allah give me better than it in Paradise” after every meal except milk because it is a drink of Paradise.

There are surely many more meanings and benefits which more knowledgeable people can draw out. And Allah knows best.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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