Basheer was a government officer. He lived a happy life with his wife Hameeda and daughter Noorie.
Hameeda and Noorie loved him and always looked forward to his early return from office. But such occasions were rare. He would have work till late in the evening or would have visitors who came with requests for pushing their files for grants, contracts, sanction of government funds or requests for projects in their area. Basheer would help them and in return they would pay him some money for his services.
One day, he returned home, late as usual, and proudly flashed before his family a wad of currency notes, “I am sorry for coming late, but I will make it up by taking you both to a five-star hotel for a late night dinner.”
But Noorie looked extremely worried. “Father!” she said to him, “please tell me from where you got all that money.”
“Well, my daughter,” he said grandly, “A businessman who was in a hurry to push his files in the office, paid me a fee for the services rendered to him.”
“But father, that’s a bribe and how could we use that money?” She said.
“Says who?” asked her father puzzled.
“My teacher for Islamic studies, who teaches me Qur’an and Hadith,” she replied.
Basheer was clearly angry, “He is a mad-cap! What does he know about the realities of life? We live in a big city, and we all have our needs and have to maintain a certain lifestyles and cherish some ambitions in our heart! Don’t listen to him and I will not hear another word from you on this subject!” he declared.
Noorie persisted with her argument, “But, father, he does not say it on his own authority. Whatever he teaches me is based on the authority of the Quran and Hadith. There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet (saws), which clearly states: ““If a person made a recommendation for anyone in a just manner and accepted a gift from the gratified party in return, he committed a grave error,” which means that it, too, is a form of bribery!
Her father now looked at her clearly displeased, tongue-tied, suddenly finding himself at a loss for words. He retired to bed without taking the dinner that was laid out for him by his family.
However, he continued to take such bribes on the sly and continued to bring home, new costly things to adorn his house. Noorie watched it daily with growing unease. She resolved that one day, she would make her father see sense and correct himself before things got out of hand.
Soon, it was her birthday. Her father came to her that morning with a smile. “Happy Birthday, my child! Tell me what would you like to have as a birthday gift and you will have it when I return home this evening.”
“Really!?” said Noorie, “Now let me think...I know exactly what I want! But, No! I don’t think you can do that!”
Basheer was surprised: “There is nothing, which I will deny you today. For it was today, that you brought happiness into our life eighteen years ago.”
Noorie was precisely waiting for these words. She said immediately: “Don’t take any bribe today, however large the amount may be. Do it for one day. That will be the best birthday gift you can give to me in this life ever!”
Basheer was pleased at his daughter’s answer: “Well,” he said, “that’s easily done. I promise you and give you my word; I will turn down any bribe that would be coming my way today, no matter how big the amount!”
That afternoon, when Basheer was hard at work, two businessmen who wanted to talk to him on matters relating to mutual interest were ushered in the office.
“Mr. Basheer, my name is Victor,” said one of them, “We are both contractors and we need your help in getting our tenders passed. You will have your commission.”
He opened a briefcase, which was stacked by bundles of currency notes. Basheer’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. Nobody had offered him such a huge sum of money as a bribe earlier. His mind raced furiously with a million thoughts about the things he could do with that kind of money, but for a second. But then he remembered the promise he had made to Noorie. Those words still rang loud and clear in his mind.
“I don’t know what you mean gentleman, for everything in my office goes according to rules and I cannot stretch myself beyond that to please you,” said Basheer to the contractors.
The contractor urged: “Come on Mr. Basheer, you help us and we will help you,” and pushed the briefcase before him.
Basheer did not like the familiarity with which the contractor had addressed him. He shouted angrily at the top of his voice: “Take back your money instantly, or I will be forced to call the Chief of Police, and have you both arrested for offering a government servant a bribe.”
Suddenly, the two men before him broke into large smiles on their faces: “Congratulations! We are both from the Anti-Corruption Squad,” he said, while flashing a badge of a police officer before him, “We had received complaints about shady deals and corruption from this office, but they were obviously false. If you had fallen for this trap, we would have arrested you on the spot and you may have lost this job.”
“My God,” thought Basheer, “I had a lucky escape, thanks to the promise that I had made to Noorie.
Later in the day, he received a call from the Ministry of Home Affairs that he was being considered for a promotion to the rank of a secretary, reporting directly to the Cabinet Minister.
When Basheer went home that night, he related the episode to his family: “I escaped being arrested today because of the promise that I had made to Noorie. Now my superiors are so pleased with my honesty that they have marked me for a promotion.”
He promised to Noorie that he will never take any bribe in future.