There was once a person, from the people of Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam), who had caused great inconvenience and harm to the people.

One day, the people approached Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam) saying, “O Nabi of Allah! Make du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala cursing this person (i.e. make du‘aa for Allah Ta‘ala to destroy this person)!” Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam) replied, “Go, for you have been sufficed from him (and his evil)!”

That day, the evil person went out to collect firewood, as was his daily routine. He took with him two loaves of bread, eating one and giving the other in sadaqah (charity). After collecting firewood, he returned home, safe and sound.

When the people saw that he had returned safely, and no punishment had befallen him, they came to Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam) and enquired, “How is it that he has returned safely with his firewood, and no punishment has afflicted him?”

Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam) summoned this person and asked him, “What actions did you carry out today?” The man replied, “I went out with two loaves of bread. I ate one loaf and gave the other in charity.” Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam) instructed the man, “Open your bundle of firewood.” The man obliged, and on opening, they saw a snake inside which resembled a log of wood and was biting one of the logs in the bundle!

Seeing this, Nabi Saalih (‘alaihis salaam) remarked, “It was due to the charity you gave out that you were saved from this snake.”

(Az-Zuhd lil Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal vol. 1, pg. 80)

Lessons:

1. Charity is a means of warding off calamities and extinguishing the anger of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, we should try to give some sadaqah daily. Whether it is a little food or money, it will definitely earn us reward and benefit us. Often, we narrowly escape some tragedy or calamity, such as a robbery or car accident, and we do not realize that it was through the barakah (blessings) of some sadaqah that we had given.

2. Just as showing kindness to people is a means of earning their du‘aas, causing inconvenience and harm will earn their curses. We should therefore be cautious and avoid hurting anyone in any way – be it mentally, emotionally, physically, etc.