Assalamualaikum ustaz, will a mother who cooks for her family receives the rewards of providing food for those who are breaking fast?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In the month of Ramadhan, we are greatly encouraged to increase our good deeds. Among the good deeds encouraged is providing food for people who are breaking fast. This is in accordance with a hadith narrated by Zaid bin Khalid al-Juhani RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِهِ غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ لاَ يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَجْرِ الصَّائِمِ شَيْئًا
"Whoever provides the food for a fasting person to break his fast with, then for him is the same reward as his (the fasting person's), without anything being diminished from the reward of the fasting person."
Sunan al-Tirmizi (807)
Furthermore, Imam Izzudin Al Izz bin Abd al-Salam when explaining the benefits of providing food for those who are fasting said: “Whoever provides food to 36 people who are fasting throughout the year, then he would receive the rewards of fasting for a whole year.”
Refer Maqasid al-Saum, Izz Abd al-Salam (pg. 18)
The reason is for every good deed performed by a person, he will receive 10 rewards of it as stated in the statement of Allah SWT:
مَن جَاءَ بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا
“Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit],”
Surah al-An’aam (160)
Thus, when a person provides food to 36 people who are fasting, then he would have received the rewards of fasting of 36 times. After that the rewards are multiplied by 10 for each, which makes a total of 360 rewards and this is the total number of days in a year according to the hijri calendar.
Coming back to the above presented question, the word providing food for people who are breaking fast is in a general form. Which means it includes the act of spending money to buy the food, cook the food to be given to people who are breaking fast as well as helping in the preparation and distribution of the food. Every individual involved in the effort of providing food for people who are breaking fast will be rewarded in accordance with the effort put into it, whether it is a lot or a little.
Thus, there are differences of opinions among jurists as to whether the food given is filling or any other form of food such as dates, a glass of water, light refreshments and others, in our opinion, the prioritized type of food is of which is filling. While for a person who provided food such as dates and a glass of water is also rewarded for the act of providing food.
This is clear from a narration by Salman al-Farisi RA, he said, the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا كَانَ لَهُ عِتْقُ رَقَبَةٍ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ لِذُنُوبِهِ قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ لَيْسَ كُلُّنَا يَجِدُ مَا يُفَطِّرُ الصَّائِمَ قَالَ يُعْطِي اللَّهُ هَذَا الثَّوَابَ مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا عَلَى مَذْقَةِ لَبَنٍ أَوْ تَمْرَةٍ أَوْ شَرْبَةِ مَاءٍ
“Whoever provides food for those who are breaking fast, he receives the rewards of being free from the hellfire and the forgiveness for his sins. Then, it was asked of the Messenger PBUH: “O Messenger of Allah, not all of us are capable to give something for those who are breaking fast. Then the Messenger of Allah SWT replied: “Allah rewards those who provide food for people who are breaking fast with milk mixed with water, date, or drinking water.”
Narrated by Ibn Khuzaimah (1878)
Thus, the lesson from the above hadith is the rewards are given according to the amount of effort for each person in providing food for those who are breaking fast. This is as showed in a hadith narrated by Khalid al-Juhani RA where he said the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنَ جَهَّزَ غَازِيًا فَقَدْ غَزَا وَمَنْ خَلَفَ غَازِيًا فِي أَهْلِهِ فَقَدْ غَزَا
"Whoever prepares a fighter in Allah's cause, he has participated in a military expedition, and whoever looks after the family of a fighter, he has participated in a military expedition."
Sahih Muslim (1895)
Imam al-Nawawi in the commentary of the above hadith, he said:
وَهَذَا الْأَجْرُ يَحْصُلُ بِكُلِّ جِهَادٍ وَسَوَاءٌ قَلِيلُهُ وَكَثِيرُهُ وَلِكُلِّ خَالِفٍ لَهُ فِي أَهْلِهِ بِخَيْرٍ مِنْ قَضَاءِ حَاجَةٍ لَهُمْ وَإِنْفَاقٍ عَلَيْهِمْ أَوْ مُسَاعَدَتِهِمْ فِي أَمْرِهِمْ وَيَخْتَلِفُ قَدْرُ الثَّوَابِ بِقِلَّةِ ذَلِكَ وَكَثْرَتِهِ وَفِي هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ الْحَثُّ عَلَى الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَى مَنْ فَعَلَ مَصْلَحَةً لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ أَوْ قَامَ بِأَمْرٍ مِنْ مُهِمَّاتِهِمْ
“The rewards are a result of every effort, whether it is a little or a lot and (this rewards are also attained) by every individual who takes care of the welfare of their families who went to war in terms of fulfilling their necessities, helping them in terms of monetary or physical help in their affairs and it (the rewards) is different according to the rate of the effort whether it is a little or a lot. In the hadith, there is also encouragement to have ihsan for those who are working for the betterment of the Muslim ummah or taking their place in protecting their responsibilities and interests.”
Refer Syarah Al Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim (13/40)
To conclude, after analysing the above evidences and arguments, we would like to state that for a mother who cooks the food for breaking the fast for her family who are fasting, it is also included as the act of providing food for those who are fasting. The same for all of her family member, regardless of whether they are her husband or children who also help her in cooking or preparing the food, they would also receive the rewards stated in the hadith. This reward is according to the effort put into it, in terms of the greater the effort the greater the rewards. Wallahua’lam.
Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to give us all the correct understanding in practising the religion. Amin.