By Ibrahim Hooper
As we join family and friends in celebrating Thanksgiving, let us remember those less fortunate or alone on what for many can be a not-so-happy holiday.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be invited to an idealized Norman Rockwell-style Thanksgiving celebration.
That person might be a student stranded far from home on campus, a senior who never has visitors in a nursing home or just someone whose life circumstances leave them alone this Thursday.
So, invite that student, visit the nursing home or even volunteer to hand out Thanksgiving meals at a homeless shelter. Do something to move beyond your traditional Thanksgiving activities and guest list.
One Islamic tradition (hadith) stresses the spiritual reward for feeding those in need. In that tradition, God is quoted as saying: “(O humankind). . .Did you not know that had you fed (those in need), you would surely have found (the reward for doing so) with Me?” (Hadith Qudsi)
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “He who has enough food for two, let him invite a third, and he who has food for four, let him invite a fifth or a sixth.” He also said: “Anyone whose food exceeds his needs, let him share it with those who do not have food.”
In the Quran, God states: “What will explain to you the path that is steep? It is the freeing of a (slave) from bondage, or the giving of food in a day of famine to an orphan relative or to a needy (stranger) in distress, and to be of those who believe, enjoin patience (in adversity) and encourage deeds of kindness and compassion.” (The Holy Quran, 90:12-17)
The Quran also states: “(The truly virtuous are those) who feed the poor, the orphan and the captive for the love of God.” (76:8)
As Muslims, we believe that in helping others, we help ourselves in this life and the next.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever fulfills the needs of his brother, God will fulfill his needs. Whoever eases his brother’s difficulty, God will ease his difficulty in this life and on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Let us all do our best to help everyone feel the blessings of being surrounded and supported by those they love this Thanksgiving.
Ibrahim Hooper is the national communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. He may be contacted at email@example.com.