Simplicity is Served

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Maslamah bin ‘Abdil Malik was the brother-in-law of ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah). He was among the members of the Banu Umayyah family who enjoyed the most luxurious and comfortable lifestyle.

Once, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) learned that Maslamah was spending one thousand dirhams (silver coins) daily on food alone! Concerned over this extravagance, he instructed Maslamah to come and see him early the next morning. He also instructed for a dish of simple lentils and a few different meat-dishes to be prepared.

The next morning, Maslamah arrived and remained with ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) until a significant portion of the morning had passed. At that point, feeling the pangs of hunger, Maslamah arose and attempted to leave. However, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) did not allow him to leave and instructed him to sit. Unable to disobey ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah), Maslamah remained seated. When midday arrived, Maslamah again attempted to leave, but ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) again instructed him to sit and prevented him from leaving.

Eventually, when ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) perceived that Maslamah could no longer bear the pangs of hunger, he instructed for the food to be served. As previously arranged, the simple lentils were served first. Maslamah had not eaten the entire day, and he thus ‘attacked’ the food, eating like a man who was dying from hunger.

After he had eaten to his fill, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) instructed for the dish of simple lentils to be taken away and for the next dish to be served. When the dishes of meat were now served, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) turned to Maslamah and asked him to eat. However, Maslamah responded, “I have already eaten to my fill! I cannot eat any more!”

‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) then said to him, “When a dish that costs one third of a dirham can suffice you, then why do you spend a thousand dirhams on food every day? How can you be extravagant in your food?”

The unique manner in which ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) corrected Maslamah had a profound effect on him. Hence, he realized his mistake and thereafter desisted from extravagance.

(Seerat ‘Umar bin ‘Abdil ‘Azeez libni ‘Abdil Hakam pg. 49 and Muhaadharatul Abraar vol. 2 pg. 406)

Lessons:

1. We should all strive to attain simplicity, as it is part of imaan. A person who adopts simplicity will easily be contented. If simplicity is abandoned, one will become part of the rat-race for “even more” and “even better” all the time. This rat-race destroys the peace and enjoyment of life. One gets left with all the luxuries and amenities of life – but without a real life.

2. There are different methods of advising people. Sometimes, speaking to a person will prove beneficial, while at other times, a practical lesson may be beneficial. Each person should assess his situation and ponder over the method that he should adopt in order to bring about a positive change.

3. Maslamah did not become angry. Instead, he acknowledged his error and accepted the correction. If a person sincerely wishes to improve himself, he will always be prepared to accept correction.

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