The Pious Prince

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‘Abdullah bin Faraj (rahimahullah) narrates the following incident:

One day, I went out in search of a person to carry out some repair-work in my home. On enquiry, I was directed to a man with a handsome face who had a trowel and bucket before him. I enquired, “Will you carry out some work for me?” He replied, “Yes, for the fee of one dirham (silver coin) and one daaniq (one-sixth of a dirham).” I accepted and he thus accompanied me and carried out work equivalent to one dirham and one daaniq times three (i.e. thrice the fee that he had requested).

Thereafter, I went in search of him on another day, but was informed that he would only work on one day of the week (Saturday). Hence, when that day arrived, I approached him and asked, “Will you carry out some work for me?” He replied, “Yes, for the fee of one dirham and one daaniq.” I responded, “For one dirham,” but he insisted, “For one dirham and one daaniq.” I said to him, “Come!”

In reality, I did not have the daaniq to pay him, but I was curious to find out more about him (and that is why I called him, despite not having the daaniq). When the evening arrived, I measured out a dirham (and offered it to him). He asked me, “What is this?” I answered, “A dirham.” He responded, “Did I not tell you that the fee is a dirham and a daaniq? Now you have put me into difficulty!” So I replied, “And did I not tell you that I would pay one dirham?” The man then said, “I am not going to take anything!”

I then measured out a dirham and a daaniq and offered it to him, but he refused to accept it saying, “Subhaanallah! I told you that I will not take anything, and now you insist!” Saying this, he refused to take the money and left. My wife then came to me (and reproached me) saying, “Woe be to you! What were you trying to achieve by making it difficult for the man when he carried out your work?”

Thereafter, on another occasion, I went in search of the man and enquired regarding him, but was informed that he was ill. I was then directed to the house in which he resided. I went to the house and sought permission to enter. On entering, I found that he was suffering from an abdominal illness, and (I observed that) he had no possessions besides his trowel and bucket. I greeted him with salaam and then said to him, “There is something that I need from you – and you are aware of the great virtue of pleasing a fellow believer. I want you to come to my home so that I can attend to you in your sickness.”

The man asked me, “Do you really want that?” When I confirmed that I did, he said, “(I will come) on three conditions.” I agreed, and he explained his conditions saying, “Do not offer me any food until I ask you for food, and when I pass away, then enshroud me in this same clothing and jubbah of mine.” I agreed to these two conditions. He then said, “The third condition is more difficult than the first two – it is very difficult to fulfil.” I replied, “I will fulfil it, no matter how difficult it may be.” I then carried him to my home, at the time of zuhr.

The following morning, he called out, “O ‘Abdullah!” I asked him, “What is the matter?” He replied, “My final moments have arrived. Open the purse on the sleeve of my jubbah.” I opened the purse and found that it contained a ring with a red gemstone. The man then said, “When I pass away and you have completed my burial, then take this ring and give it to Haaroon (Rasheed), Ameerul Mu-mineen. Tell him that the owner of this ring says to him, ‘Woe to you! Do not ever die in this intoxicated state of yours, for if you do so, you will regret!’”

After (he passed away and) I buried him, I made enquiries regarding the day when Haaroon, Ameerul Mu-mineen, would come out (of the palace). (On that day,) I wrote the incident on a piece of paper, interrupted his entourage and handed the story I had written to him, due to which I was treated very harshly (by his men). On entering his place, he read the story and then instructed, “Bring to me the man who wrote this story!” When I was brought in before him, he reprimanded me angrily saying, “You interrupt us and behave like this?”

On seeing the extent of his anger, I took out the ring. As soon as he saw the ring, he asked me, “Where did you acquire this ring?” I replied, “From a man who worked as a plasterer.” He exclaimed to me, “A plasterer! A plasterer!” He then brought me closer to himself, after which I said, “O Ameerul Mu-mineen! He asked me to fulfil a bequest.” Haaroon said to me, “What is it? Speak!” I replied, “O Ameerul Mu-mineen! He instructed that when I give this ring to you, then I should tell you that the owner of this ring conveys salaams to you and says, ‘Woe to You! Do not ever die in this intoxicated state of yours, for if you do so, you will regret!’”

(Hearing these words,) Haaroon stood up, and then cast himself down onto the carpet where he rolled saying, “O my beloved son! You have advised your father well!” (When I heard him say this,) I thought to myself, “It seems that the man was actually his son!”

Haaroon then sat and his attendants brought water and wiped his face. He then asked me, “How did you know him?” I then narrated the entire incident to him, causing him to weep.

(After hearing the incident,) he explained, “He was my first-born. My father, Al-Mahdi, recommended to me that I marry Zubaidah, but my sight fell on another woman and her love entered my heart. She was beautiful, and I married her in secret, not allowing my father to know what I had done. She gave birth to this son of mine, and I sent her to the city of Basrah. At that time, I gave her this ring, along with other possessions, and said to her, ‘Remain in hiding. When you hear that I have ascended to the position of khaleefah, then come to me.’ After I became the khaleefah, I made enquiries regarding the two of them, but was informed that they had both passed away. Hence, I was unaware that he was living. Where did you bury him?”

I said to him, “I buried him in the cemetery of ‘Abdullah bin Maalik.” Haaroon then said to me, “I need you to do something for me. After the Maghrib Salaah, wait for me at the door, until I emerge. I will go to his grave in disguise.” I thus waited for him and he emerged in disguise with his servants around him. He took my hand and called out to the servants to move away. I then took him to the grave where he remained the entire night until the morning, weeping and repeating, “O my beloved son! You have advised your father well!”.

Observing the manner in which he was weeping, I felt sympathetic towards him and was also moved to tears. Eventually, he heard the voices of people and remarked (in surprise), “It seems as though I can hear people speaking!” I replied, “Yes, it is morning already, O Ameerul Mu-mineen! The time of dawn has set in!”

Haaroon then said to me, “I have instructed that you be given ten thousand dirhams. Also, write the names of your dependents together with my own, as well as any other person for whom you care, for indeed you have a right over me for attending to the burial of my son. In the event of my death, I will make a bequest for my successor to continue to make this allowance for you and your progeny, so long as they remain.”

He then held my hand (and we walked) until we drew near the palace. The servants were there (awaiting his return). Haaroon then said to me, “Consider this request of mines. After sunrise, stand and wait for me. When I look towards you and call you, then (come and) narrate the incident of my son to me.” I replied, “Insha-Allah.” However, I did not return.

Note: This son of Haaroon Rasheed was named Ahmad. He would only work on a Saturday, and would devote the other days of the week to engaging in ‘ibaadah. He would earn one dirham and one daaniq (one-sixth of a dirham) every week, amounting to seven daaniqs, as he required just one daaniq for his daily expenditure. He passed away in the year 184 A.H.

Ibnul Jowzi (rahimahullah) has mentioned that this is the most authentic version of this incident, although there are other reliable versions as well.

(Sifatus Safwah vol. 1, pg. 464 and Al-Bidaayah wan Nihaayah vol. 10, pg. 254)

Lessons:

1. The son of Haaroon Rasheed was aware of his father’s identity. Had he wished, he could have travelled to the royal court, flashed his ring and claimed his position as prince. This would have afforded him immediate recognition, wealth and privilege. However, he chose to lead a life of simplicity, out of the limelight, so that he could devote himself entirely to Allah Ta‘ala. In fact, his disinterest in the material world was such that he only earned as much as he required, and he possessed nothing besides the clothing on his back and the tools of his trade! The wealth he possessed was the wealth of contentment and his heart was enriched with the love of Allah Ta‘ala, hence he did not feel the need to pursue wealth, riches and a luxurious lifestyle.

2. When a person shows us some kindness or renders us a favour, we should acknowledge it and do our best to repay them. Hence, Haaroon Rasheed acknowledged that he was indebted to ‘Abdullah and thereafter made provisions for him and his family in order to repay him.

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