The Prophet (Peace be upon him) lifted the status of man to such heights and raised the value and importance of bringing relief to the needy to such a level as any level higher than that is unimaginable even. Any one committing dereliction in this is just like one disobedient to Allah and a backslider. As per the famous Qudsi (Devine) Tadition, ‘Allah, the Sublime, would ask his bondman on the Day of Judgement: I fell ill and you did not come to enquire about my health. The bondman would say: How was I to enquire about your health? You are but the Lord of the worlds. Allah, the Almighty would say: Weren’t you aware that so-&-so of my bondsmen was ill? But you did not visit him to enquire about him. Had you visited him you had found me there with him. O son of Adam! I asked you for food; but you did not give it to me. He would say: O my Lord! How was I to give you food? You are but the Lord of the worlds. Allah Almighty would say: Weren’t you aware that so-&-so of my bondsmen wanted you to give him food. But you did not do so. Had you done so it would have reached Me. O son of Adam! I asked you for water, but you did not give it to Me. He would say: O Lord! How was I to give you water. You are the Lord of the worlds. Allah would say: So-&-so of my bondmen asked you to give him water. But you did not do so. Had you done so you have found me there with him?
What is ultimate in this respect and which no gesture of compassion, benevolence, equity and justice can surpass is what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) made it a maxim when he said:
‘None of you can be a perfect Muslim unless he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.’ 
The life-style of the reverenced Companions:
The life and character of Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him) made its utmost and indelible impact on the life, inclinations, attitudes and their behaviour with their family and their properties. This spirit had pervaded deep into their veins and arteries and ran with their blood in their hearts and minds. Their lives had become, to a great extent, a reflection or a mirror-image of the Prophet’s life itself. And, of course, the nearer to him, the greater the resemblance with him.
The incidents and instances of their austerity, compassion, bringing relief to anyone in need, contentment, simplicity and forbearance, altruism and self-denial that the history has kept preserved for us are the superior-most and brightest instances found in the annals of the entire history of ethics and religions. No nation in the world could ever come anywhere closer to it. It is a famous episode recorded and reported by history that the wife of Caliph Abu Bakr once desired to have some sweetmeat dish made. By putting by daily a little bit cut off her daily stipend she got a sum accumulated for the purpose.
When Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) came to know of it he got these few dirhams also deposited with the Baitul-Mal and got the daily stipend slashed by that much amount as she had been able to save for preparing the sweetmeat dish saying that the experience has proved that we could do without that also.
The austerity and asceticism and the simple life led by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) has become, in history, something proverbial. In this regard it should suffice to relate a journey he made to ‘Jabia’ (Syria) in his capacity as the Caliph of Muslims and the Head of the Islamic State. Here is the depiction penned by a renowned historian:
‘He was riding on a camel. His head was shining in the sun. He had neither a cap on his head nor a turban. Both of his legs were dangling on the two sides of the saddle. There was under him only a poor-quality woolen mattress which served as his bed when he got down from the camel and served as a pack-saddle when he rode. There was a bag stuffed with cotton. When on the move, he used it as a pouch and when camping it served as a pillow. His apron was made of a coarse cloth. It was worn-out and old and was also torn on one side’ 
About Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) who was the richest and most well-off among his colleagues, Shurahbel Ibn-e-Muslim says: He would play his role as a host to others in a princely manner; but he himself would take, on-going back home, just bread and oil.
The portrayal of the ascetic life of Ali Ibn-e-Abi Talib (who is counted one among the most notable ascetic Companions) is made by Dhirar Ibn-e-Dhamra thus:
‘He was scared of, and disgusted with, the world and its adornments and was familiar with the darkness of night. He was very lachrymose, very reflective, wringing his hands and accosting his own self. His dress was ordinary and his food coarse and crude. By God! He looked like just one of us. If we asked him anything he would answer at once. If we came to see him, he would himself begin the conversation. If we invited him, he would accept the invitation.’
This reflection of the Prophet’s life and character and this mirror-image of his Apostolic comeliness was relative to the association one had with, and the guidance he received from, him (Peace be upon him). Hence, the place attained by Aisha, the Ummul-Momineen, (who was the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) most beloved wife) in self-abnegation, altruism, magnanimity and benevolence is very high. It is put on record by the chroniclers that ‘once she gave away one lakh dirhams in charity whereas she herself had only one worn-out dress to put on, and she was fasting. Her maid said to her it would have been better if she had saved a few dirhams for Iftar (fast breaking meal) Aisha replied, ‘So would have I done, had you reminded me in time’. She gave away one lakh of dirhams forgetting her own hunger and keeping only others in mind.
This moral attitude and spirit had seeped so deep into the earliest Islamic society that all the Companions seemed as if cast in just one mould. The self-effacement had become a second nature with them.
Ibn-e-Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) states that ‘We have had a time when none of us deemed himself more entitled to his own Dinars and Dirhams than his Muslim brethren.
As a result thereof such prodigious events and incidents took place as made the borders of kindliness and compassion joined with those of equality and egalitarianism, and got the good-neighbourliness lifted to the highest point of altruism.
Self-same Ibne-Umar narrates that: ‘Once one of the Prophet’s Companions got a gift of a goat’s head. Thinking that such-&-such person had a greater need of it than him, he sent it to him. But he, too, thought the same about some third person and, so, he sent it to him. And, thus, the head of the goat kept changing hands from one to another till after making a round of seven homes it came back to the same Companion who had first received it.
Talking of the abstinence and altruism, the share of Tabeyeen (successors of the Prophet’s Companions) in this refined sensibility, craving for compassion with others, and the passion for being helpful to every one that got transferred to latter generations, was naturally the greatest.
Hasan Basri (may Allah be pleased with him), the ‘doyen of Tabeyeen’ states that: (In his times) the moral and spiritual state of Muslims was such that daily at day-break one of the men would call out: ‘O the inmates of the houses! Take care of the orphan amidst you! Take care of the indigent amidst you!’
In particular, the Banu-Hashim and the reverenced members of the Prophet’s household were far ahead in this field. They kept pursuing this path with sincerity and integrity. Innumerable instances of generosity and benevolence, sympathy and kindheartedness of Imam Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) and Abdullah Ibn-e-Jafar (may Allah be pleased with him) are recorded in history. Imam Ali bin Husain bin Ali (may Allah be pleased with them) (Zain-ul-Abedin) had excelled and attained superiority in these virtues and qualities inherited by him from his ancestors.
Mohammad Ibn-e-Ishaque narrates that there were quite a number of people who did not know how were they surviving and where their subsistence came from. On Ali Bin Husain’s (may Allah be pleased with him) demise, this supply line was snapped off. And, then, they came to know that it was none else but he who used to bring, incognito, to them the provisions in the night. It was learnt on his death when the marks were seen on his back and shoulder that were caused by the bags he carried to houses of the widows and paupers.
 Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah: Vol. VII; pp. 59-60
 ‘Safwat us-Safwa’ by Ibn-e-Jauzi
 ‘Al-Mustadrak’ by Hakim
 Bukhari: ‘Al-Adab ul- Mufrad
 Ihya ul-Uloom; Vol.ii, P.174
 Bukhari: ‘Al-Adab ul-Mufrad’
 These incidents have motly been reproduced from Dr. Mustafa Siai’s “Socialism in Islam’
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