The Simple Pious Labourer – Son of the Wealthy King
Imam Abu Bakr al-Ajurri (d.330AH) mentions the following incident in his treatise Sifatul Ghuraba….
It has reached us that Abdullah ibn al-Faraj, the worshipper, said, ‘I was in need of someone to make something for me so I went to the marketplace looking for a suitable person. At the end of the market, I found a pale young boy before whom was a large basket, he wore a garment of wool and had a woolen towel.
I asked him, “Do you work?”
He replied, “Yes,”
“How much do you charge?” I asked.
“One and one-sixth of a dirham.”
I said, “Stand and come to work.”
He said, “I have one condition..”
“What is it?” I asked.
He replied, “When the time for Zuhr comes and the azaan is given, I leave, purify myself, pray in congregation in the mosque and then return. The same applies for ‘Asr.”
He went with me to my house and I explained to him what needed to be done. He tightened his belt and commenced work, not saying a single word until the azaan for Zuhr had been called. He left for prayer and when he returned, he worked assiduously until ‘Asr and left for prayer again, when he returned, he worked until night fall, then I paid him his wage and he left.
A few days later, we were in need of some more work and my wife advised me to find the same youth again because of his sincere efforts. I went to the marketplace, but could not find him and upon asking about him I found that he only came on Saturday and always sat alone.
On Saturday, I went to him and asked, ” Do you wish to work?”
He replied, “You already know the wage and my condition.”
I agreed and he stood and worked for me as he had previously done. This time I paid him more than he had asked for but he refused to accept anything additional, I insisted and he became irritated and left. This bore down on me heavily and I left after him to at least give him the wage he had agreed upon.
After some time, I needed more work done and on Saturday I went looking for the youth, but did not find him. I inquired after him and discovered that he was ill, someone who knew about him told me that he would work for one and one-sixth dirham, and spend one-sixth everyday to meet his daily needs.
I found out where he lived and went to his house, and there I found an old woman and enquired after him. She told me that he had been ill for a number of days; I visited him and found him in a state, resting his head on a brick.
I extended the salaam to him and asked him if he needed anything.
He said, “Yes, if you accept.”
I said, “I accept in’shallah.”
He said, “If I die, sell this iron spade, wash my woollen garment and towel and bury me in them. Undo the pocket of my garment, you will find a ring in it, take it and await the day that Harun al-Rashid, the Khalifah, comes; stand in a place that he can see you, call him and show him the ring. He will call you and when he does, give him the ring, but make sure this only happens after my burial.”
I agreed and he passed away. I did what he asked and awaited the day that al-Rashid would pass by.
When that day came, I called out to him, “Leader of the Believers! I have a trust to discharge,” and I showed him the ring.
He ordered me to come and I went with him to his house, he then called me to him and everybody else left. He asked me who I was and I told him, then he asked me where I got the ring from. I told him the story of the youth and he wept, and kept weeping until I felt sorry for him and comforted him.
When his weeping subsided, I asked him who the youth was, he replied, “My son. He was born to me before I was afflicted with leadership; he was a righteous boy who learnt the Quran and knowledge, when I became the Caliph, he left me, not desiring anything of the world that had been opened before me. I gave his mother this precious ring to give to him, knowing that he was obedient to his mother, in the hope that he could sell it and use the money. His mother passed away and after that I have heard nothing of him till this day.”
Then he said, “At nightfall take me to his grave.”
When night came, I took him to his grave, he sat by it and weeping overtook him, when dawn broke, we arose and returned. He asked me to stay with him and help him to go to the grave every day and I did so.
I never knew that youth was the son of al-Rashid until al-Rashid himself told me.’
(Source: The Journey of the Strangers, Imam Abu Bakr al-Ajurri, pg-56-58
Also mentioned in al-Tawwabin pp.171-173 by Imam ibn Qudamah and Tanbih al-Ghafilin vol.2pp.681-683 by Imam Samarqandi.)