Sayyiduna ‘Utbah bin Farqad (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was a noble companion of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). He was appointed by Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) as the commander of the Muslim army in a few expeditions and it was under his command that the famous Iraqi town of Mosul was conquered in the year 18 A.H. (Usdul Ghaabah vol. 3, pg. 202 and Al-Isaabah vol. 4, pg. 364)
On one occasion, he came to visit Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) with a few huge baskets filled with an exclusive sweet dish. When Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) enquired regarding the baskets, Sayyiduna ‘Utbah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “I have brought some food for you (to partake of). Undoubtedly, (being the Ameerul Mu-mineen,) you fulfil the needs of people from the early part of the day, hence when you return (home), you may partake of it (and enjoy it).” Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) then asked him to open one of the baskets. As he opened it, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) said, “I insist that when you return, you should give every Muslim one basket of this.” Sayyiduna ‘Utbah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) took an oath and replied, “O Ameerul Mu-mineen, even if I spend the wealth of the entire Qais (a huge tribe among the Arabs), it would not be enough.” Upon hearing this, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) said, “(If this is the case,) then I have no need for it.”
Thereafter, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) requested for his food to be brought, which was a bowl of gravy that had pieces of dry bread and tough meat in it, and he began eating it with relish. Sayyiduna ‘Utbah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) says, “I stretched my hand towards a white piece which I thought was the camel hump. However, when I began chewing it, (to my utter amazement) it was a tendon or muscle. I (also) took some pieces of meat and began chewing them but was unable to swallow them.” (Perhaps Sayyiduna ‘Umar [radhiyallahu ‘anhu] realized that Sayyiduna ‘Utbah [radhiyallahu ‘anhu] might think that he does not have the means to eat good quality meat, hence) he then said to him, “O ‘Utbah, we slaughter a camel every day, but the fat and the good pieces of meat are given to the Muslims and the needy who come to us, whereas the neck (piece) is for ‘Umar.” (Musannaf Ibni Abi Shaibah #33589 and Taareekh Ibni ‘Asaakir vol. 44, pg. 296)
1. A salient feature in the lives of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) was their concern for others and the quality of giving preference to others over themselves. Despite it being totally permissible to accept and partake of the sweet dish which was gifted to him, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) chose to feel the pain and share in the plight of others.
2. An unfortunate practice nowadays is that people get rid of their ‘dead stock’ and useless items by donating them and giving them in charity. The same happens at the time of qurbaani, where people give low grade meat and those pieces and cuts which they themselves would not eat. This is not in keeping with the teaching of the Quraan Majeed and the blessed way of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). Allah Ta‘ala says, “O you who believe, spend of the good things you have earned and of that which We bring forth for you from the earth. And do not opt for the inferior things, spending from it, while you are not going to accept it (if such a thing is offered to you), unless you close your eyes to it (i.e. do not give what you would not like to receive from others). And know well that Allah Ta‘ala is Independent, Worthy of praise.” (Surah Baqarah v267) Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was not slaughtering a camel only once a year. Rather, he was slaughtering one camel every day, and yet, he would not keep any of the prime cuts and good quality meat for himself. Whilst it is perfectly permissible for us to keep the prime for ourselves, we should try to emulate these illustrious personalities by at least giving a portion of the good quality meat to the poor as well.
3. We must strive to eat simple food and keep our standard of living simple. This needs to be taught to our children as well. Many households cannot manage the financial strain of only eating extraordinary meals. Bringing about simplicity in our lives and homes, even if we can afford a higher standard, will be very helpful for us in the eventuality of us suffering some financial setback in life, and for the future of our children.
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