The meaning of dafaf was ‘khafi’ or small. The linguists therefore still differ. For this reason Mailik bin Dinaar RA. asked a badawi the meaning. Some have said that ‘to eat a stomachful in company means that if he was invited he ate a full meal, otherwise at ordinary times he did not have a chance to eat enough to fill his stomach. Some ‘ulama have strongly rejected this by saying: “To say this of Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam is a disgrace and a shameful act”. If this is attributed to someone in these times, it will be regarded as defamatory, for it is considered very rude for one to do so. According to this humble servant, there should be no objection to this, because in these times, if it is said of someone that he does not fill his stomach at home, it would mean that he is a miser, but as is well known, in those days poverty was widespread. It is also known that for many days Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam went without food. In spite of all this, whenever Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam received anything, he distributed it to the As-haab as-Suffab. In such circumstances when could he have ever filled his stomach? The commentators of this hadith misinterpreted it. Their instructions are a hujjah (testimony). Therefore if this explanation (of mine) is incorrect, may Allah Most High forgive me. I seek Allah’s refuge from saying anything that does not befit His beloved Rasul, Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam.
The majority of the ‘ulama have disliked this interpretation. They state that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam ate a stomachful when invited so that guests would not get up with Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam while they still remained hungry. When Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam had guests, although not having anything available, he used to care for them, and find for them whatever could be made available. It is possible that his “eating with company” is meant in a general sense. It could either be at his own house or at some other person’s place. In whichever gathering Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam was, if he stopped eating, naturally all the others stopped eating.
Note: Wherever it is mentioned that Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam ate a stomachful, it will mean he ate two-thirds of the stomach’s capacity. This also applied at invitations. He never ate till his stomach was completely full at any gathering, nor while alone.