Story: The old man and the lost purse

A medieval purse circa 1600.

A medieval linen purse circa 1600.

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari relates:

I was in Makkah during the season of Hajj and I saw a man from Khurasaan calling out to the people: “Oh pilgrims, oh people of Makkah – from those who are present and those far off, I have lost a pouch that contains a thousand dinars. So whoever returns the pouch, Allah will reward them with good, save them from the hell fire, and His bounty and favors will be acquired on the Day of Accounting (Day of Judgment).”

An old man from the people of Makkah approached him and said: “Oh Khurasaani, our city is in a very tough condition, and the days of hajj are few, and its season is appointed, and the doors of profit-making are closed. This money might fall in the hands of a believer who is poor and old in age. Maybe he plans to give it if you make a promise that you will give him a little bit of money that is halal (permissible) for him to use.”

The Khurasaani said: “How much does he want?”

The old man said: “He wants one-tenth of the money (a hundred dinars).”

The Khurasaani said: “No. I will not grant him the money and instead I will take my case to Allah, and complain to Him on the day we meet Him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in.”

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: “I realized that it was the old man is poor, and he was the one who took the pouch of dinars and wishes to have a little portion of it. So I followed him until he returned to his home. My assumptions were confirmed. I heard him calling onto his wife:”Oh Lubabah.”

She said: “I am at your service, O Abu Ghayth.”

The old man said: I found the owner of the dinars calling for it, and he does not intend to give any reward to the person who finds it. I said to him “Give us a hundred dinars and he refused and said he would take his case to Allah. What should I do O Lubabah? I must return it, for I fear my Lord, and I fear that my sin is multiplied.

His wife said to him: Oh Man! We have been struggling and suffering from poverty with you for the last 50 years, and you have 4 daughters, 2 sisters, my mother and I, and you are the ninth. Keep all the money and feed us for we are hungry, and clothe us for you know better our situation. Perhaps Allah, the All-Mighty, will make you rich afterwards and you might be able to give the money back after you fed your children, or Allah will pay the amount you owe on the day when the kingdom will belong to the King (Allah).

He said to her: Will I consume haram after 86 years of my life, and burn my organs with fire after I have been patient with my poverty, and become worthy of Allah anger, even though I am close to my grave?! No, By Allah, I will not do so!

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: I left with amazement concerning his condition and that of his wife. At a later point during the day, I heard the owner of the pouch calling out…

Saying: “O people of Makkah, O pilgrims, who ever of you find a pouch containing a thousand dinars, let him return it and they shall surely find great reward with Allah.”

The old man said: Oh Khurasaani, I have addressed you the other day and advised you that our land is low on cultivation, so reward the person who found the pouch so that he is not tempted to break the laws of Allah. I have advised you to pay the person who finds it a hundred dinars but you refused. If your money falls into hands of a person who fears Allah the All-Mighty, will you give him 10 dinars at least, instead of a 100?

The Khurasaani said: I will not do so, and I will complain to Allah on the day I meet him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in.”

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: The people dispersed and left. Later on during the hours of the day, once again, the Khurasaani made the same call, saying:

“O people of Makkah, O pilgrims, who ever of you find a pouch containing a thousand dinars, let him return it and they shall surely find great reward with Allah.”

The old man came again and said: O Khurasaani, I said to you the day before yesterday to reward the finder a hundred dinars and you refused. Then I advised you to give him ten dinars and you refused, so will you give only one dinar so that he can buy with half of it things he needs and with the other half, sheep milk, so that he can give to the people and feed his children?

The Khurasaani said: I will not do so, and I will complain to Allah on the day I meet him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in. ”

The old man angrily said: Come you, and take your money so that I can sleep at night, for I have not had a good mood ever since I found this money.

Ibn Jarir said: So the old man went with the owner of the money and I followed them until the old man entered his house, dug a hole and pulled out the money and said: Take your money and ask Allah to forgive me and bless me from His bounty.

The Khurasaani took the money and intended to leave, but when he reached the door he said: O old man, my father died, May Allah have mercy on him, and left behind three thousand dinars and said to me: Take out a third of this money and give it to a person from the people who is most deserving of it. Therefore I tied it in a pouch so that I may spend it on someone who is worthy of it. By Allah, I have not seen a person, since I left Khurasaan until now, who is more worthy of it then you. So take it, May Allah’s blessing be upon you, and May He reward for the trust you kept, and your patience during poverty. The Khurasaani man left without the money.

The old man wept and prayed to Allah, saying: May Allah bless the owner of the money in his grave, and May Allah bless his son.

Ibn Jarir said: I left after the Khurasaani but Abu Ghayth (the old man) followed me and brought me back. He asked me to sit down, and said: I have seen you following me since the first day; you have come to know of our situation yesterday and today. I have heard that the Prophet said: “If you are gifted from the provision of Allah, without begging or asking, then accept it and do not reject it.” So this is a gift from Allah to all those attending.

The old man called: O Lubabah, O so and so, O so and so. He called on his daughters and his sisters and wife and her mother, and sat down and made me sit down. We were 10. He opened the bag, and said spread your clothing over your laps.

So I (Ibn Jarir) did, but the girls did not have proper clothing that would enable them to do that, so they extended their hands. The old man gave dinar by dinar in order until he reached me (Ibn Jarir) and said: “Here is a dinar.” The process continued until the bag was empty and I received a hundred dinars.

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: So joy filled my heart because of the provision they received more then the joy I had because I received a hundred dinars.

When I was leaving the old man said: O young man. You are blessed; keep this money with you for it is halal. And know that I use to wake up for Fajr prayer with this wet shirt. After I was done I would take it off, and give it so that my daughters can pray – one by one. Then I would go to work between Dhuhr prayer and Asr prayer and then I would come back at the end of the day with what Allah has given me from dates and dry pieces of bread. Then I would take off my clothes for my daughters and they would pray Dhuhr prayer and Asr prayer, and the same would happen for the Maghrib and Isha prayers. And we did not ever expect to see this kind of money. So may Allah make us make good use of them, and may Allah bless the person in his grave and multiply the reward for him.

Ibn Jarir said: So I greeted him goodbye, and took the hundred dinars and used them to write knowledge for two years! I used it to buy paper and pay rent and after sixteen years I returned to Makkah and inquired about the old man. I was told that he died a few months after the incident that occurred between us. His wife died, along with her mother, and his 2 sisters. The only ones that remained were the daughters whom, when I asked about, found that they were married to kings and Princes. I dropped by and they honored me as a guest and treated me kindly until they died also. So May Allah bless them in their graves.

{That will be an admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).

And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things. (Quran, Surat At-Talaq 65: 2-3)

Put Down the Stone

Wael and Salma, February 15, 2013

Wael and Salma, February 15, 2013

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

As-salamu alaykum everyone,

What’s up? How is everyone?

My apologies for not updating this page quite as often recently. Many of you know that my father died of a heart attack on November 28, 2012. I went through a period of deep sadness that lasted for a few months. Alhamdulillah, I’m doing better now.

I’m doing a lot of writing these days, but the reason you don’t see it here is that I’ve been working on a novel featuring Muslim characters. I’m about half done, Insha’Allah. I’ve also been nurturing my “I Love Islam” Facebook page, which now has almost 100,000 followers. I don’t write articles for that page, but you can see some inspiring images and little blurbs that I’ve written.

Of course I continue to manage the IslamicAnswers.com advice page, and that takes time every day, as it is a high-traffic website. It provides common-sense advice on marriage and family issues.

As far as my own work goes, I’ve been developing a website with a variety of text tools for writers and web publishers. It’s called TextElf.com. Feel free to check it out, though it’s still in development, so not everything looks perfect yet.

And of course amid all this, I care for my daughter Salma – she is six years old and is my joy ma-sha-Allah – and I practice martial arts fairly intensively. Salma has become an amazing reader for her age, and is also an imaginative and resourceful artist. In the martial arts arena, I am hoping to test for nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Jujitsu this year, Insha’Allah.

Since I’m here anyway, I’ll take a moment to say a few words, inspired by something that I read recently:

Put Down the Stone

Imagine you take something light – say a stone that weighs one pound – and hold it out at arm’s length, with your arm rigid. In the beginning it’s easy, right? But after a while your arm begins to tire. Your shoulder aches, your muscles tremble, and the stone begins to feel like a boulder. The pain becomes agony and the only thing you want in the world is to set the stone down. All other considerations are forgotten.

Did the stone become heavier? In absolute terms no, but because you could not set it down, it became a mountain.

That’s how it is with the burdens of life. You’re anxious about how you’re going to pay your bills or your debt, worried about your parent whose health is deteriorating, worried about your job or school grades, fearful that you will not find a good husband or wife, stressed about problems in your marriage, self-critical because you are not the kind of good Muslim you feel you should be…

The longer you hold on to these worries the heavier they become, until life itself feels like a burden.

We all know the feeling.

Just as with the stone, you must set these burdens down.

The only way to do that is to hand them to Allah. This is called tawakkul, or trust in Allah. It doesn’t mean that you flutter through life carefree as a butterfly, no. You strive to excel in every aspect of life, but you realize that the outcomes belong to Allah; so you trust Him to handle them. You hand over your fears to Allah. You set that stone down by giving it to Allah, Who feels no fatigue, and for Whom all things are easy.

Live the Moment – It’s All You Have

Amazing meadow, river, mountain and sunrays

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Try to appreciate the present moment and truly live it, rather than using it up by feeling guilty about the past, or fretting about the future. Regret for the past is a waste of spirit, and worrying about the future is pointless.

Hanan Bilal, a community activist and motivator from Florida, asks, “When will we stop living in the past and longing for our future? All we really have is this moment. The question is what are we going to do right now? Our time is now!”

The Past

That’s not to say that contemplation of past and future is verboten. The Quran tells stories of the past in order to educate us. The Messenger of Allah (sws) told us many stories of past Prophets and the Bani Israa’il, for the same reason. We study world history, we study the seerah of our Prophet and the lives of the Sahabah, because it inspires and informs.

I taught a martial arts class several hours ago and I’m still reviewing it in my mind, examining what I could do better next time. That’s part of the learning process for me.

I have a sweet young daughter named Salma and I often think about my time with her, something funny that she said, or the small gifts that she likes to make for me. Yesterday she made me a card that says “I love Baba.” A few days ago we had a poetry reading at our local Muslim community center, and in between readings our host told jokes. For some reason Salma positioned herself in the front row, and every time our host told a joke I heard Salma laughing loudly, even though I’m sure she did not understand the jokes (“do vegetarians eat animal crackers?”). Crazy kid, ha ha. So yeah, I think about past moments. But I’m not stuck in the past. I think about those moments because they educate me or make me smile, so they become a part of my present and future.

On the other hand, I occasionally think about my former marriage, and those are usually not good thoughts, because I tend to dwell on the mistakes I made, and I feel sadness or guilt. I’ve already contemplated deeply on that period in my life, and I’ve learned my lessons. I don’t need to keep returning there in my mind, punishing myself. If I did, then I would indeed be stuck in the past, unable to move forward. That is the kind of pointless regret that weighs people down and burdens their spirits.

The Future

We plan for the future by having goals, getting an education, working hard, saving money, always learning and improving ourselves. We plan for our aakhirah by dedicating ourselves to Allah, worshiping, giving our money to the poor and orphans, and humbling ourselves. We build our futures step by step. But it’s not productive to sit around biting our nails and thinking, “What if I fail my exam, oh, when will I get married, what’s going to happen if I lose my job, how will I pay my bills…” You make yourself sick and it doesn’t help.

Don’t worry, plan. There’s a huge difference! Then acknowledge that you don’t control the future. That’s Allah’s province.  Trust in Him, let him be your guide, find your security in Him.

The security of the dunya is false security. Suffering is the lot of all Adam’s children, in one way or another, and death comes when we’re ready or not. The security of Allah is real and transcends this world.

The Moment

This moment is all we have, my friend. The past is gone, and the future never comes, because when we get there, we’re still in the present.

If you take this moment to breathe deeply and say, “SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi” – glory to Allah and all praise to Him – and then thank Allah for the blessings in your life, or sit down and play a game with your child, go for a walk in the sunshine, maybe take a few nature photos, call an old friend, write your spouse a love note, read a verse from the Quran and contemplate it – then you have lived! You have turned that moment into a precious gem, something to smile about and feel good about.

Let’s live the moment, be conscious of it, feel it, and give Allah the credit, and in doing so let’s turn the moment into a circle of sunshine and barakah.

P.S. Isn’t that the most amazing photo above? I absolutely love it. I want to roll around in that grass, bathe in that river, call the adhaan to the sky, and build a small house among those trees. SubhanAllah.

Believe in Allah, Because He Believes in You

Amazing sunrays and clouds

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I believe in Allah because He believes in me… and He believes in you too. Believe in His plan for you, have faith in Him, trust His guidance to you, because He has faith in you, and trusts you.

Some people might challenge this assertion that Allah believes in us and trusts us. To me, that’s surprising. Allah created nothing in vain. Everything He does has a purpose. His creation of humanity was done with intent.

Why were we created? Many Muslims will automatically respond, “To worship Allah.” That’s true, but why does Allah want to be worshiped? Furthermore, why did He create everything else – the stars, planets, forests, seas, mountains, animals?…

Without presuming to know Allah’s intentions, and returning to the realm of the human for a moment, I will make a simple observation. As a writer, one of the reasons I write is because the act of putting my thoughts and feelings on paper satisfies something deep within me. I’ve been writing creatively since I was a child, and to me it’s not a hobby but a calling. I’m a writer, therefore I write; and I am a writer because I write.

The same is true for a painter or any other artist. I imagine if you asked a painter why he paints, you might get many different answers:

  • “It makes me happy”
  • “It’s my passion.”
  • “To express my ideas.”
  • “To make money.”
  • “I don’t know, I just do.”

The bottom line is that it’s the painter’s nature to paint; it’s her calling, her function. She is a painter, therefore she paints; or she paints, therefore she is a painter. Same difference.

Allah is Al-Khaaliq, The Creator. That is one of His names, one of His attributes. He expresses this attribute by creating. You are a part of that expression, and so am I. So is a blue whale, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Grand Canyon, a dolphin, a mouse and an amoebum. Everything that Allah created is amazing in its function and awesomely complex in its design. Everything that He created is beautiful and purposeful. Including you and me.

To create is an act of love. It is an act of faith. The Creator loves you and believes in you. Believe in Him, believe in yourself, believe in humanity, and believe in the unique path that Allah has chosen for you.

Give Me Something Better

Corner Brook, Canada

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

The Messenger of Allah (sws) said: “There is no calamity that befalls one of the Muslims and he responds ‘Inna Lillahi wa inna ilahi raaji’oun, Allahumma ujurni fi museebati w’ukhluf li khayran minha,’ (Truly to Allah we belong & truly to Him we shall return, O Allah reward me in this calamity & compensate me with something better than it), but Allah will compensate him with something better than it.” (Muslim 918)

In other words, if you’ve lost something precious, or if disaster has hit you, and you respond with faith in Allah, asking Him to replace your loss with something better, then Allah will surely respond and give you something better.

SubhanAllah! What more could we ask? Allah is the only one who does this. If your house is destroyed, the insurance company will try to find a way to deny your claim, and if they finally pay then they will pay less than it’s worth.

The crucial thing is that the dua’ must be said in that moment of pain and loss, when you are really hurting. You can’t respond at first by saying, “Why did you do this to me Allah, I didn’t deserve this!” then months later when you’ve recovered somewhat, think you can say this dua’ and it will work for you.

The whole point is that in those moments when life is most difficult and you are totally thrown for a loop, you respond by turning to Allah. That’s the test. Those moments are the proving ground of your soul. If you can face Allah in those moments of agony and say – I trust You, all things return to You, I know you will give me something better – then indeed Allah will give you more than you can imagine.

May Allah give us the strength to remember Him and turn to Him instinctively in times of calamity and times of joy as well.

Allah Will Make a Way Out

Al-Masjid An-Nabawi Al-Sharif, in Madinah

Al-Masjid An-Nabawi Al-Sharif, in Madinah

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Are you stressed? Take a deep breath, and as you release it, let your heart slow down and be calm.

Step back and look at your situation objectively. It’s almost never as bad as you think. Just do your best, and trust Allah. He will show you a way forward, and bring you through. He will bring you relief from a direction you did not expect.

This is true. I have experienced it over and over in my life, and it is a promise from Allah:

“And whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make for him a way out, And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (Quran 65:2-3)

Here is a true story that illustrates this point in an amazing way:

The Hotel Manager

Recently, a Muslim man was caught in a dilemma, where he faced two choices, both of which were onerous. This man was the manager of one of the largest hotels in Egypt. The hospitality industry in Egypt is one of the most competitive in the world so this manager always strived to provide the best possible service in his hotel. He paid attention to the smallest details, set the budget priorities, observed his staff, and got personally involved whenever a problem occurred. He was very good at his job. Because of this he was highly valued by his superiors.

However, there was one element of the job that galled him. A duty that he felt ashamed over. In any large hotel in Egypt, serving alcoholic drinks is a must, and that duty was killing him inside. He knew that serving alcohol is haram. It is forbidden by Allah, and whatever money comes from it is not blessed but haram; but it was part of the job and had to be taken care of, regardless of how he felt towards it.

Time went by and he performed his job admirably, but this business of selling alcohol was eating him up inside. Finally he decided to go to one of the well- known Egyptian sheikhs and ask his advice. After arranging for an appointment to meet this sheikh, he met him and explained the problem. The sheikh without hesitation said, “You must leave this job.”

That was not enough of an answer for the manager. He explained to the sheikh, “This is the only job I know. I’ve been working in this field all my life. I don’t know what else to do. I have a wife and children to take care of. I can’t just leave the job and be unemployed and penniless like so many others in Egypt.”

The sheikh replied, “Did you come to me thinking that I might give you permission to do what Allah forbids? Leave this job for the sake of Allah.”

The man, not knowing what to do, said, “But I have family to take care of. I’m their only source of money. How will I feed my children? If I leave the job, I won’t be able to provide them with the simplest needs of life. What shall I do?”

The sheikh reminded the manager of a verse from the Quran:

“And whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make for him a way out, And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.”

The man returned to the hotel, knowing that he had to make the most difficult decision of his life. He knew now that this job would not satisfy Allah. As frightened as he was for his future, he was not willing to lose his faith and lose the hereafter because of a job; but he trembled when he thought of the risk he was taking, and the fear of what the future might hold for him and his family.

At the hotel the manager went about his job, looking normal on the outside. But inside he was thinking furiously, considering.  Then he made his decision. He decided to quit the job with no regrets. He became convinced that this was the right thing to do. With a strong faith and an absolute trust in Allah, he made a plea to the heavens: “O Allah, I trust You, and I’m doing this only for You. I know you will make for me away out, so please help me.”

He headed directly to his office, sat at his desk, and began writing his resignation.

As he was writing, the phone in front of him rang. It was his superior at the corporation office, calling with news. The manager was stunned and could hardly believe the news he heard, but it was true. The man was informed that he had been promoted and would no longer be responsible for managing this hotel but instead he would manage a new hotel located in Al-Madinah, the holy city of our Prophet (peace be upon him), and right next to the Masjid of the Prophet. Of course, being in Saudi Arabia, this new hotel sold no alcohol.

His dua had been answered in a heartbeat, from one moment to the next, before he even finished the letter of resignation.

Till this day, the man is still the manager of the hotel in Madinah.

Subhan’Allah…

“Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Quran 002.286)

Shoot with your eyes open

Sailboat and moon

No, I’m not talking about guns. I’m talking about pursuing your dreams, taking chances on good things, and trusting in Allah.

“We miss all the shots that we don’t take… so stop fearing the unknown. God knows best… trust and believe…. When we let go and let God, everything will be alright. So shoot with your eyes open.”

– Hanan K Bilal

“If we put our whole trust in Allah as we ought, He most certainly will satisfy our needs, as He satisfies those of the birds. They come out hungry in the morning, but return FULL to their nests.”

– Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), related in At-Tirmidhi

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