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Grateful before the Giver

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Abu Bilaal Al-Aswad recounts the following:

I once set out on the journey of hajj. After traveling some distance, I encountered a woman who had neither a conveyance to ride nor a utensil to use. I asked her, “Where are you from?” She replied, “I am from the land of Balkh.”

I then remarked to her, “I see that you neither have any provisions, nor a utensil in which you can carry provisions.” She responded, “When I departed from Balkh, I had ten dirhams with me. I still have some of that amount with me.” Hearing this, I asked her, “What will you do when the money is depleted?” She replied, “This cloak that I am wearing is extra. I will sell it, and then use the money to buy a cheaper cloak. I will then use the surplus money to see to my needs.”

I next asked her, “What will you do when that amount is depleted?” She answered, “I will sell my scarf and purchase a cheaper one, using the surplus money to see to my needs.” To this, I asked, “And what will you do when that amount is depleted?” She retorted, “O useless one! I will ask Allah Ta‘ala and He will see to my needs!” I replied, “Why do you not make du‘aa to Him before that (i.e. before your money is depleted and you are forced to sell your cloak and scarf)?” She responded, “Woe to you! I am ashamed to ask Allah Ta‘ala for anything material while I already possess more material possessions than I require!”

I thereafter said to her, “Have a turn to ride upon my donkey for some time.” In reply, she said, “Leave it.” I thus left the donkey with her and remained behind for some errand that I had. After completing my errand, I resumed the journey, hastening behind the woman, following her tracks. However, I found only my donkey, standing with its saddlebags full. In these saddlebags, I found white flour that was better than any flour I had ever seen before. I sought the woman and searched for her thereafter, but I was unable to find her.”

(Sifatus Safwah vol. 2, pg. 343)

Lessons:

1. When a person has true imaan, his conviction in Allah Ta‘ala being the sole Provider becomes so strong that he does not become overly concerned for wealth and material possessions. Rather, he turns to Allah Ta‘ala and firmly believes that Allah Ta‘ala will see to his needs, just as He sees to the needs of the birds and all other creatures.

2. A believer should not have his hopes in other people’s wealth. Rather, he should place his hopes in Allah Ta‘ala alone.

3. The woman in this incident had such a strong sense of shukr (gratitude) for the few items that she possessed, that she considered it an act of ingratitude to still ask Allah Ta‘ala for more while she enjoyed these bounties. On the other hand, we possess so many material bounties, yet remain ungrateful and still hanker after more.