Once, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) was on a journey, accompanied by his pupils and disciples. When they stopped for meals, a shepherd passed by with his herd of goats and greeted them by saying: “Assalaamu ‘alaikum”. Ibnu ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) invited him to join them, but he said that he was fasting. At this, Ibnu ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) said: “You are fasting in a shadeless desert, on such a hot day when a hot wind is blowing!”

The shepherd replied: “I want to receive my rewards for the past days (al-ayyaamul khaaliyah).” He was referring to the following verse of the Quraan Majeed:

كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئًا بِمَا أَسْلَفْتُمْ فِي الْأَيَّامِ الْخَالِيَةِ

(It will be said to those in Jannah) “Eat and drink at ease for that which you sent on before ‘in the past days’.”

Ibnu ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) then said to him, by way of trial: “We want to buy a goat; name a price and we shall pay it. We shall then slaughter the goat and give you some of its meat to serve you for iftaar (breaking the fast).” The shepherd said: “These goats are not mine; I am but a slave and the goats belong to my master.” Ibnu ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) said: “How will your master know? You can tell him that a wolf devoured a goat.” At this, the shepherd turned away saying: “What about Allah? (Who is watching us at all times? How could I deceive Him and say that a wolf had devoured a goat?).” Ibnu ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) was delighted with these words from a simple shepherd and he began to say to himself, again and again (in an ecstasy of joy): “A simple shepherd says: ‘What about Allah (who is watching us at all times)?’”

When Ibnu ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) came back to Madeenah Munawwarah after the journey, he bought the slave from the master, together with the herd of goats, emancipated him and bestowed the herd upon him as a gift. (Shu‘abul Imaan #4908).

Lesson: Such was the honesty and Allah consciousness of the simple shepherds of the past. As we draw closer to the final hour, these two qualities are leaving us very rapidly, resulting in most of the vices and complications we are experiencing presently. We need to nurture these great qualities in our hearts and the hearts of our families in order to have an enjoyable stay in this world and the Hereafter.