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“Even if I Die Trying”

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Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) owned a slave whose work was to earn an income for Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu).

One night, the slave presented Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) with some food that he had earned. As soon as the food was placed before him, Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) picked up a morsel and began to eat. Seeing this, the slave was surprised and asked, “What is the matter? You normally ask me every night (as to how I earned the wealth). Why have you not asked me tonight?” Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “I was overcome by extreme hunger. From where did you get this food?” The slave answered, “During the days of Jaahiliyyah (the days of ignorance, before the advent of Islam), I once passed by a certain tribe and recited some words and blew, as a form of treatment for them. On account of my service, they had promised me that they would later compensate me. It so happened that I passed by this tribe today while they were engaged in wedding festivities. As they still owed me for my service, they gave me some food from the wedding as payment.”

When Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) heard this, he exclaimed, “You almost destroyed me (by feeding me haraam)!” He then began to stick his hand into his throat in an effort to spew out the haraam morsel. However, although he retched and gagged, the morsel could not be expelled (as his stomach was too empty). Seeing this, somebody remarked, “The morsel will not be expelled from your stomach unless you drink water.” Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) thus asked for a large bowl of water and began to drink. After he had filled his stomach with water, he again began to stick his hand into his throat, forcing himself to vomit, until the haraam morsel was finally expelled.

A person who had witnessed the scene said to Hazrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), “May Allah have mercy on you! You underwent all this difficulty for just one morsel?” Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) responded, “Even if I had to lose my life to remove the morsel, I would have done so! I heard Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mention, ‘Every body which is nourished by haram, the fire (of Jahannum) is more worthy of it.’ I was thus afraid that some part of my body would be nourished by this haraam morsel.” (Hilyatul Awliyaa vol. 1, pg. 64)

Lessons:

1. It is every Muslim’s responsibility to ensure that he consumes only that which is completely halaal. In this regard, we cannot be lax and complacent. Rather, we should remain vigilant and should always make the relevant enquiries when necessary. When purchasing a house or a car, we ensure that everything is above board and meets our expectations. Similarly, when nourishing our bodies, which house our imaan and are our vehicles to Jannah, we should never settle for anything besides that which is completely halaal.

2. ‘Halaal’ entails more than slaughtering correctly and avoiding haraam e-codes, etc. Rather, we have to ensure that our wealth, which is what we use to acquire all our food, clothing, etc., is totally halaal. If our wealth is haraam, then everything that subsequently results from it will also be tainted with the effects of haraam and will thus be void of barakah (blessings).

3. When the slave of Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) recited and blew for the tribe, he would have recited words that were used by the people of the era of Jaahiliyyah (as this was before the advent of Islam). Due to the possibility that those words contained elements of kufr (disbelief), Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) refused to allow his body to be nourished by the morsel earned through that service. This clearly highlights the high level of caution that was exercised by Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). Furthermore, this was not an isolated incident, as many similar incidents have been reported regarding Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu).

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