As children, Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain were once sick. The Beloved of Allah صلي الله عليه واله وسلم had advised his daughter, Bibi Fatimah and son-in-law, Hadrat Ali to promise to fast if their sons would get better. After doing so, Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain recovered from their illness. It was then that Hadrat Ali, Bibi Fatimah, Imam Hasan, and Imam Hussain all began their three day fast out of shukr to Allah.
Hadrat Ali went to borrow some barley from a neighboring resident. He came back home and gave it to Bibi Fatimah who then ground it up and prepared some loaves of bread so that her family could open their fast with it. Just as iftaar time was upon them, they heard someone knocking at the door. It was a poor person who said, “Asalaamu ‘Alaykum, Oh people of the house of Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم , I am poor and needy. Please feed me, and may Allah feed you from the food of Paradise.”
Seeing the pale disheveled person, they couldn’t help but give him all the food they had. With nothing else to eat, they had to open their fast with water, and they slept that night with nothing to eat.
The next day, the four had become extremely hungry and were waiting to fill their stomachs with food. It had almost come time for iftaar until, at that moment, someone came knocking at the door. This time, it was an orphan. The orphan explained his condition of hunger and asked for food from the House of Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلم . Bibi Fatimah and Hadrat Ali cheerfully gave the orphan all the food they had even though this left them with nothing but water to open their fast with. Again, they slept with empty stomachs and little to eat for suhoor.
On the third day, Bibi Fatimah had used the last of the barley to make some few pieces of bread for the iftaar. It had been two days since any of them had last eaten food and weakness was starting to over take them. As the sun set, a knocking was heard at the door again! It was a captive, prisoner of war, who was asking for food and shaking from hunger. Even though Hadrat Ali and Bibi Fatimah were feeling dizzy and weak from their starving condition, they still gave everything they had for the sake of Allah, smiling. They couldn’t bring themselves to refuse anyone out of their love for Allah even though the four of them had nothing to eat for three days in a row. They went to sleep hungry as they would rather help and feed others rather than themselves!
The next day, Hadrat Ali took his family to Rasulullah’s صلي الله عليه وسلم house. Rasulullah صلي الله عليه وسلم was shocked to see their condition. They were weak and hardly holding steady from the lack of nourishment. Imam Hasan and Imam Hussain were shaking and Bibi Fatimah was hollow-eyed with her back stuck to her stomach. Even though Bibi Fatimah, Hadrat Ali, Imam Hasan, and Imam Hussain were fasting, they still gave their food to others, and placed others above themselves. It was to this beautiful sacrifice and act of generosity that Allah revealed the ayats: “Verily the Righteous shall drink from a cup tempered with Kafoor; from a well-spring the servants of Allah shall drink, flowing in abundance; they fulfill their vows, and fear the Day whose evil shall spread far and wide; And (in spite of their need), they give food to the poor, the orphans, and the captives, out of love for Allah…” (76:5-22).
Such generosity is unheard of! Subahan’Allah! Allah even further describes the multiple awards that await in Jannah for those who are generous to others. We should learn from their example and strive to place Service to Allah above our own needs just as the Righteous had done before us.