BISMILLĀHIR RAHMĀNIR RAHĪM
Glory to Allāh and Salutations on the Holy Prophet Muhammad Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam.
Sheikh Mālik bin Dīnār* (Rahmatullāh ‘Alaihe) was once walking through the streets of Basrah when he came across a gaudily dressed slave-girl, puffed with pride and attended by her servants and slave-boys, with the air of pampered slave-girls of the Princes and the Kings of that era. The Sheikh said to her in a loud voice, “Little maid, doesn’t your master want to sell you?”
The question bruised her ego and she said, in the bewilderment of wounded pride, “Old man, could you repeat your words?” The Sheikh said, “I say: would your master like to sell you?”
The maid said, “Even if he were to sell me, could a pauper (beggar) like you pay my price?” The Sheikh answered, “Certainly, and I can buy a slave-girl even better than yourself”.
On hearing this she laughed and told her attendants to catch hold of the Sheikh and let him accompany them. “He (her Master) would have a bit of fun at the old man’s expense,” she added.
So Mālik bin Dīnār (Rahmatullāhi ‘Alaihe) was taken by them to their house. On reaching home, when the slave-girl told her master all that had transpired between her and the Sheikh, the master laughed heartily and then desired that the poor man be brought before him.
As soon as Mālik bin Dīnār (Rahmatullāhi ‘Alaihe) appeared before him, the rich man was struck with sudden awe. He then asked the Sheikh, “What do you want?” The Sheikh replied, “I want to buy your slave-girl.”
The man said, “Can you pay what she is worth?”
“In my estimate she is worth two date-stones,” said the Sheikh. On hearing this, the whole company laughed. The man asked, “On what basis do you set this price for the maid?”
The Sheikh replied, “She has many defects.”
“And what are they, if I may know?” the man asked.
The Sheikh replied, “If your girl does not perfume her body, it will give off offensive odour; if she does not clean her teeth, her mouth will have a foul smell; if she does not oil or comb her hair, she will look disheveled; her hair will become lousy (and foul smelling); in a few years time, her youth will be gone and all her charm will be lost. She has menses and passes out all kinds of filthy wastes and secretions from her body.
“She is moody, suffers from misfortunes, is so selfish that she makes pretense of loving you for her own ends; saying that she loves you, though she loves the life of ease and comforts that she is enjoying with you. Should she come to be harmed through you, she would complain and forget all her claims of love. Most fickle is she in her love, most insincere and betraying, untrue to words and false in her claims of love. If you send her away or die earlier, she will go to someone else and there she would make tall claims of loving him passionately.
“I have a slave-girl who far excels your maid in beauty and is much easier to possess. She has been created from the essence of camphor mixed with musk and saffron; she is appareled in heavenly light (Noor) and ornamented with pearls. If she were to talk to a dead man, he would come back to life. If she were to uncover her wrist in this world, the sun would pale in comparison and its radiance would be eclipsed; if she were but to step into a dark room, she would illuminate it with her presence. If she were to come into this world with all her beauty and adornments, she would fill it with fragrance and Divine radiance. She has been nursed and brought up in the gardens of musk and saffron, has been playing and swinging on boughs of trees made from red rubies and coral-stone, has been living in pavilions, surrounded by all manners of bounties. She has been nourished on the waters from ‘Tasneem’ (a rivulet in Jannah). She never breaks promises, never betrays the one she loves, nor changes her loyalties.”
Thus, after recounting some of the qualities of the ‘Houri’ of Jannah the Sheikh asked, “Tell me now, which of the two maids is worth aspiring for?”
All the gentlemen gathered there said, with one voice, “It is of course, the one you have described, whom one should try to possess.”
The Sheikh said, “This beautiful maid can be had for just a nominal price, which everybody can pay at all times and in all circumstances.”
On being asked what her price was, Mālik bin Dīnār (Rahmatullāhi ‘Alaihe) said, “A damsel of such extraordinary merit and excellence can be had in return for small acts of devotions, observing (at least) twoRaka’at of Tahajjud Salaat, with purest motive of winning His pleasure; when you sit down to dinner, remember also a poor, needy fellow man (let him share your meal); let your desires be subservient to the pleasure of Allāh; remove from the road anything harmful to the wayfarer (a thorn, a piece of brick); lead a simple, contented life; turn your thoughts away from this world which is abode of deception, and concentrate whole-heartedly on Eternal Abode of Hereafter. if you persevere in these acts of virtue, you will not only live honourably in this world, but will also have no anxiety in the life hereafter and be raised to the position of honour and high status, living forever in Jannah (the abode of Eternal Bounties) in the blessed vicinity of AllāhTa’ala, the Lord of Eternal Might.”
Hearing this, the rich man said to his slave-girl, “Did you listen to what the Sheikh said? Do you believe it to be true?”
She replied, “He has certainly spoken the truth, has admonished us in good faith and given us good counsel.”
The master said, “I set you free then, and give you such and such of my property as a parting gift.” He also freed all his slaves, bestowing upon each of them a considerable amount of his property, and gave away asSadaqah for the cause of Allāh, his house and all the effects therein. He stripped the costly clothes from his body, giving them away as Sadaqah and wrapped himself in the coarse, rough curtain cloth which he tore off his house-door.
The slave-girl said, “My Lord, I too would like to follow your way of life, for there is no charm left for me in the sensuous joys of life.“ And she gave away, in Sadaqah, all her clothes, ornaments and valuables as well as her household effects and property. She put on a dress of coarse cloth and entered upon a new life of austerities along with her master.
Mālik bin Dīnār (Rahmatullāhi ‘Alaihe) took leave of them, supplicating Allāh’s blessings for them.
The two of them, the master and the slave-girl, abandoned their sensuous joys, renounced the luxuries of the world and devoted their lives to the worship of Allāh, persevering in devotions till they passed away to the mercy of Allāh Ta’ala. May Allāh bless them with Forgiveness, and bless us too with them!
To dust the graves will turn
The bodies of the beautiful
Based on a narration given in ‘FAZAIL-E-SADAQAAT’