Shaikh Ebrahim bin Muhammad Al-Hilaali (rahimahullah) was a great ‘Aalim who was born in 1155 A.H. (1742 A.C.) in a small village on the outskirts of Halab (Aleppo).
He departed from Halab in 1178 A.H. (at the age of twenty three) and travelled to Egypt to acquire the knowledge of Deen from the great luminaries who were teaching in Al-Azhar at the time. He remained there for twenty years, only returning to Halab in 1198 A.H. He eventually passed away in the year 1238 AH (1823 A.C.) at the age of 83 (some reports suggest that he passed away in 1248 A.H.). Together with being a great ‘Aalim, he was a renowned Shaikh of Tasawwuf (spiritual guide) at whose hands many people gained guidance and spiritual reformation.
While Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) was studying in Egypt, he once underwent a period of poverty. During this trying time, two days had passed in which the Shaikh was unable to find anything to eat. In a state of hunger and desperation, he left Al-Azhar and began to wander through the streets, hoping that Allah Ta‘ala would perhaps make some means for him to acquire food.
While wandering through the streets, he entered a certain alley and saw a double-story house with a huge door. Seeing the size of the house and the door, he understood that the owner of the house was a wealthy person and thus entered the home. On entering, he did not encounter anyone on the ground floor, and so proceeded directly to the kitchen where he found a pantry fully stocked with all types of delicious foods! The sight and smell of the food assaulted his senses and the pangs of hunger urged him to help himself to the food. However, his sense of taqwa and the fear of Allah Ta‘ala did not allow him to eat from that which did not belong to him. For close to an hour, he remained in this predicament, torn between the desperation to eat and the fear of Allah Ta‘ala, until eventually, he closed the pantry and departed without eating anything.
Unbeknownst to Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah), the owner of the house had seen him enter, from the upper story, and had been observing him all along! The owner, however, was quite perplexed at the behaviour of Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah). Why did he enter the kitchen and remain there for so long, yet depart without taking anything? With this question in mind, he instructed his servant to call Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah). When Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) arrived, he asked him the secret to his confusing conduct. Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) explained that he had not eaten for two days and had thus entered the home out of desperation. However, the fear of Allah Ta‘ala prevented him from eating that which did not belong to him. When the man heard the story, he was impressed by the taqwa of Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) and the fact that he was studying the knowledge of Deen in Al-Azhar. Hence, without delay, he requested the principal of Al-Azhar as well as some of his friends to come. As soon as they arrived, he married his daughter to Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah).
(I’laamun Nubalaa bi Taareekhi Halab Ash-Shahbaa vol. 7, pgs. 221 & 223)
1. Allah Ta‘ala alone is the Sustainer of the entire creation, and it is His divine promise that if a person has taqwa, He will bless him with sustenance from avenues which He never imagined. Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah), due to his taqwa, did not eat the food that did not belong to him. Allah Ta‘ala then gave him the very same food in a halaal manner and with honour. Furthermore, Allah Ta‘ala gave him a wife and made him from the people of that very same home. Hence, if we leave out haraam, Allah Ta‘ala will compensate us with something that is far better than the haraam with which we were tempted.
2. When looking for a spouse, there are many factors that a person will consider. However, our Deen teaches us that the foundation of a successful and happy marriage is the bedrock of piety. Hence, the instant the man in the above incident noticed the piety and taqwa of Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah), he wasted not a moment and got his daughter married to him though he had known that the person he was choosing as a son in-law was a pauper.