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Feeding the Orphan and the Destitute Is Obligatory For All Muslims

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam

29 March 2019

In many verses in the Quran Iman (belief) has been linked with paying the Zakat. Economic concerns of a true believer are a part of a Muslim’s Iman. Without it Iman (belief) is not complete. Zakat is one of the fundamental principles of the Quran and without fulfilling this obligation one cannot be a true or complete Muslim. Zakat has been mandated with a Muslim because God does not want devotion only to him but also wants Muslims to care for the society in which he lives. He cannot be a true Muslim until and unless he fulfils his duty towards his neighbours (both Muslim and non-Muslim) and attends the needs of the poor, the orphan and the destitute around him.

“For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord; Who establish regular prayers and spend (freely) out of the gifts We have given them for sustenance”.(Al Anfal: 2-3)

“And render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer: But squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift.” (Bani Israel: 26)

Similarly, the Quran has linked Namaz with feeding the poor too and enjoins Muslims to offer Namaz and feed the orphan and the poor in the same vein in some verses.

“But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep. And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?- (It is:) freeing the bondman; Or the giving of food in a day of privation To the orphan with claims of relationship, Or to the indigent (down) in the dust.”(Al Balad: 12-16)

Here the steep path suggests to the path that leads to the Heaven. People who offer Namaz and feed the poor move fast towards Heaven.

God enjoins Muslims to part with some of their food and feed the poor and the indigent. The Quran puts it in the following words:

“And they (the righteous and the believers) feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive,” (Ad Dahr:8)

But more importantly, feeding the poor is not merely envisaged or advised lightly or left to the discretion of the Muslims. In some verses, feeding of the poor has been made a part of iman or belief and has been made obligatory for the true believers so much so that those who do not feed the poor may be destined to the hellfire inspite of their being Muslims. The Quran warns Muslims of severe torment in the Hereafter for not caring for the hungry and not feeding them.

“And (ask) of the Sinners: What led you into Hell Fire? They will say: "We were not of those who prayed; Nor were we of those who fed the indigent; (Al Mudatthir: 43-44)

(The stern command will say): "Seize ye him, and bind ye him, And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire. Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits! This was he that would not believe in Allah Most High. And would not encourage the feeding of the indigent!: (Al Haqqah:32)

Another important point is that the Quran does not merely want Muslims to feed the poor and the indigent but also wants them to encourage each other to feed the poor. This is also a part of Amr bil Maruf and Nahya anal Munkar (enjoining good and forbidding evil). As Muslims have their duty towards other Muslims advising them to go good deeds and refrain from evil, they also have the duty to tell other Muslims to feed the poor. This verse points to a collective responsibility of the Muslims to make arrangements for feeding the hungry and the indigent. Since the Quran makes it a collective duty of the Muslims to feed the hungry, every Muslim locality should have a community hall where food should be made available daily for those who do not afford it. But unfortunately, Muslims have ignored this social responsibility entrusted to them by the Quran. The idea of langar finds place in other religions but not among Muslims. So the Quran laments this insensitivity of the Muslims on this issue.

“Nay, nay! but ye honour not the orphans! Nor do ye encourage one another to feed the poor!” (Al Fajr-18)”

S. Arshad is a regular columnist for


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