Ibn Kathir (701 H-774 H / 1300 – 1373AD) narrated in Al-bidayah (vol.10/ 191) a very touching story of piety and asceticism. He said:
Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak (118 -180 AH /726-797 /CE) once went out to the Hajj and crossed some of the countries, and a bird died with them, so he ordered it to be thrown on a dunghill there, and his companions proceeded in front of him while he was left behind them.
When he passed by the dunghill, a girl came out of a house close to the dunghill, and she took that dead bird, then wrapped it, then hurried it to the house. Ibn Al-Mubarak came and asked her about her matter and why she took the dead bird.
She said, “My brother and I live here. We have nothing but this linen, and we have no food except what is thrown on this dunghill, and therefore the dead meat has become to us permissible since days ago. ”
Our father had money, then he was persecuted, his money was taken from him and later killed.
Ibn al-Mubarak ordered the return of the loaded caravan and said to his agent: How much of the money do you have? He said: A thousand dinars.
He said: Count twenty dinars of it, which will suffice us back to Merv (Antiochia in Margiana), and give her the rest. This is better than our Hajj this year, then he returned back. [ ]
One doesn’t need ibn Mubarak to decree that feeding the poor is better than Supererogatory hajj or umrah. Allah said in the Quran, chapter 90 (Al-Balad – in reference to Mecca) that Man would not heed admonition. 6. He says, “I have squandered vast wealth.” 11. But he did not brave the ascent. 12. And how would you know what the ascent is? 13. The freeing of a slave. 14. Or the feeding on a day of hunger. 15. Of an orphaned relative. 16. Or a destitute in the dust.
Truly, the ascent is more rewarding and beneficial to the giver and the given.
Just as a judiciously performed Hajj and Umrah expiate sins, in the same sense simple acts of kindness to animals talk less of humans would not only expiate and atone sins but put someone directly to Paradise.
Malik (179H) narrated through Abu Hurairah who reported that: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “While a man was walking on his way, he became extremely thirsty. He found a well, he went down into it to drink water. Upon leaving it, he saw a dog that was panting out of thirst. His tongue was lolling out and he was eating moist earth from extreme thirst. The man thought to himself: ‘This dog is extremely thirsty as I was.’ So, he descended into the well, filled up his leather sock with water, and holding it in his teeth, climbed up and quenched the thirst of the dog. Allah appreciated his action and forgave his sins”. The Companions asked: “Shall we be rewarded for showing kindness to the animals also?” He (PBUH) said, “A reward is given in connection with every living creature”[ ]. In the narration of Al-Bukhari: “. Allah forgave him in appreciation of this act and admitted him to Jannah”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Another narration says: “Once a dog was going round the well and was about to die out of thirst. A prostitute of Banu Israel happened to see it. So, she took off her leather sock and lowered it into the well. She drew out some water and gave the dog to drink. She was forgiven on account of her action”.
This is an admonishing to our rich people to put more effort in feeding the poor and training them to ‘fish’ for themselves.
May Allah show us the best ways of getting His pleasures. Amin
From the wall of Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi