In the Name of Allah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah exalt his mention and grant him safety, said:
These are [some of] the best actions: Bringing joy to your believing brother (1), repaying a debt on his behalf, or serving him bread. (2)
Understanding the Hadeeth (3):
1. “Best Actions”: That a believer can do for another believer.
2. This hadeeth applies to your believing brother [or sister], even if they are not biological.
3. Bringing joy could be related to religious affairs or worldly delights.
4. Repaying a debt on behalf of a believer has been mentioned because it relieves hardship and removes humiliation.
5. Bread has only been singled-out because it is readily available; thus, eliminating any excuse not to be kind. If meat were to be offered, that would be better. And better than that, is to offer the type of food which that believer loves to eat (4) …
6. Offering food is recommended, except if a Muslim is in dire need; in that case, it is obligatory.
7. It is not hidden that repaying a debt on behalf of a believer, or feeding a believer, falls under the general meaning of causing joy. So this hadeeth is an example of mentioning something specific after something general, in order to show its importance.
(1): TN: This is an encouragement to bring joy to our loved ones: our spouses, our children, et al.
(2): Authenticated by Imaam al-Albaanee. See Saheeh al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer, #1096.
(3): See Fayd al-Qadeer, vol. 2/ pg. 33.
(4): TN: Serving a favorite food/ dish really brings joy.