Patience and firmness of faith during the pangs of difficulties and trials are indeed the traits of the Saaliheen (righteous ones). Without a doubt, Allah rewards those who fear and obey Him, observing Taqwa in even the toughest circumstances.
Indeed Allah, glory be to Him, says in the Qur’an: “And whoever fears Allah, He will make for him a way out [of every difficulty]. And He provides for him from sources he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” [Qur’an 65:2-3]
An example of such steadfastness and Taqwa is narrated by Imam Abu Jafar Mohammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, reported in Sifatus Safwah. The Imam narrates:
In the year 240 Hijri I was in Makkah, where I heard a person from Khurasan announcing, “O pilgrims, whoever finds a purse containing a thousand dinars should kindly return it to me. May Allah reward you well!”
An old man from Makkah approached him and said, “O Khurasani, the inhabitants of this city are experiencing difficult times and the time for Haj is near. Perhaps it is in the hands of a believing man who will return it to you if you give him a portion of it, which will then be Halal (permissible) for him.”
The Khurasani asked, “How much does he want?”
The old man answered, “One tenth of it – a hundred dinars.”
The Khurasani said, “This I cannot do. But, I will hand the affair over to Allah Almighty.” They then separated.
Imam al-Tabari says, “I thought to myself that the old man had himself found the purse, as he appeared destitute. I followed him and my assumption was confirmed. He entered a very run-down old house and called out, “O Lubabah!”
From within, a woman replied, “I am here, Abu Ghiyaath.”
He said to her, “I found the owner of the dinars making an announcement for it, but he does not intend to reward the person who has found it. I suggested to him that he should give a tenth of it to the finder but he refused. What should we do as they have to be returned?”
His wife replied, “We have lived in poverty with you for the last fifty years. You have four daughters, two sisters, my mother and I to support. Feed us and clothe us with the money! Perhaps Allah will make you wealthy and you can then return it, or He will settle the debt on your behalf.”
But the old man refused, saying, “I will not destroy my last breath after being patient for eighty-six years!”
Imam al-Tabari continues, “The discussion then ended and I returned. The next day I again heard the Khurasani calling out, “O pilgrims who have come from far and near! Whoever finds a purse containing a thousand dinars should kindly return it to me. May Allah reward you well!”
Again, the old man approached him and said, “I have already advised you yesterday. Our city is in drought and the inhabitants are in poverty. I told you to apportion a reward of a hundred dinars for the honest finder who returns it to you, but you refused. Assign a reward of ten dinars. Perhaps the money will be returned to you and the reward of ten dinars will preserve the honor of the finder as well.”
The Khurasani said, “This I cannot do. But, I will hand the affair over to Allah Almighty.” Then they separated.
Imam al-Tabari says, “This time I did not follow the old man or the Khurasani, but continued with my writing. The next day the Khurasani again made the announcement. The old man again came up to him and said, “I first advised you to give a hundred dinars as a reward and then ten dinars. Now, I appeal to you to give only one dinar as a reward. With half a dinar, the finder may purchase a water bag which he can use to give water to the people of Makkah and thereby earn a living and with the remaining half dinar, he may purchase a sheep which will provide milk for his family.”
Again the Khurasani refused, “This I cannot do. But, I will hand the affair over to Allah Almighty.”
The old man then pulled the Khurasani, saying, “Come and take your purse so that I can sleep at night and I can be relieved of this burden.”
The old man led the Khurasani, and I followed them to the house of the old man. He entered and after a short while, asked the Khurasani to enter as well.
He dug open a small hole in the ground and removed the purse. It was black in colour and tied firmly with a string.
He asked the Khurasani, “Is this your purse?’
The Khurasani looked at it and said, “Yes. This is my purse.” He untied the string and emptied the dinars on to his lap. He then ran his fingers through them a few times and remarked, “These are our dinars.”
He placed all of them back into the purse, tied it loosely and rose to leave. As he reached the door, he turned around and said to the old man, “My father passed away – may Allah have mercy upon him – and left behind three thousand dinars. He instructed me to give a third of it to the most deserving person I could find. He also advised me to sell his conveyance and use the proceeds for my Haj expenses. I did as my father had said. I placed a third of his wealth, the thousand dinars, in this purse. Since I left Khurasan, I have not met anybody more deserving of it than you. Take it and may Allah grant you barakah (blessings) therein.” He then left, leaving the purse with the old man.
Imam al-Tabari says, “I l turned to leave but the old man followed me and brought me back. He made me sit and said, “I noticed you following me from the first day, and you are well aware of what has transpired between us up to now. I have heard a Hadith in which Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Umar says that the Beloved Messenger told Sayyidina Umar and Sayyidina Ali, “If Allah grants you a gift without you asking or requesting for it then accept it and do not reject it, as it will be as if you are throwing it back at Allah.” (Mujamul Awsat, Tabarani) This is a gift from Allah to everyone present here.”
The old man then called out to his wife Lubabah, his daughters, sisters, wife and her mother. When all ten of us were seated, he opened the purse saying, “Spread a cloth over your laps.” I did so. The women did not have excess clothing to do the same and so they spread their hands out instead. He then began handing out one dinar to each person. This continued until the purse was empty.
Imam al-Tabari says, “I was filled with more joy for them having received a hundred dinars than for myself.”
As I left the old man said to me, “Young man, you are blessed. I never seen such money in my life, nor did I ever hope of seeing it. Know that it is Halal and look after it. I used to perform Fajr Salah with this old garment and then remove it, so that the women folk could wear it, one at a time and perform their Fajr Salah as well. I would then go out to earn something between Zuhr and Asr Salah. At evening time, I would return with that which Allah had granted me. This would include some dates, cheese, pieces of bread and some discarded vegetables. I would then remove my garment and we would each take turns to perform Maghrib and Isha in the same garment. May Allah bless the women, myself and you with what we have received. May Allah have mercy on the deceased person, who owned this wealth. May Allah also reward the person who brought it to us.”
Imam al-Tabari continues, “I greeted the old man and left. For two years, I used the wealth to purchase paper, to travel and pay rental during my studies. After sixteen years, I returned to Makkah and enquired about the old man. I was informed that he had passed away a few months after the incident had happened between us. His daughters were married to kings and princes. His sisters, wife and her mother had also passed away. I visited the daughters’ husbands and children, and related to them the incident. They honoured me and treated me kindly.”