Friday, May 15, 2009

May Chivalry Endure

Following is paraphrased from "The Book of Character" by Helminski, the story itself is from Al-Sulami, The Way of Sufi Chivalry.

One day three young men entered the presence of Caliph Umar who was seated with the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Two of the young men had brought the murderer of their father for punishment. 

The accused said that he had arrived to Madinah to pay his respects to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and was resting at a spot while his horse started eating from the branch of a date tree hanging over a wall. As soon as he noticed this, the man pulled his horse away. However, an angry old man approached from the house and threw a stone at his horse, instantly killing it. The man due to love for his horse lost control and threw the stone back at the old man, which killed him instantly. 

The accused claimed that had he wished, he could have escaped since no one had witnessed this event. But he did not want to be punished in the hereafter and had thus stayed.

Caliph Umar ordered that according to law the youn man must be punished. Upon hearing this the young man kept his composure and calmly requested that he be allowed to visit his village so that he could entrust to someone an orphans fortune that he was charged with safeguarding. 

Caliph Umar replied, "Your request cannot be accorded unless somebody takes your place and vouches for your life."

The accused looked at the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and pointed at Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari as the man who would vouch for him. Without hesitation, Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari, agreed to replace the young man.

When three days passed and the accused had not returned, the two brothers went to Caliph Umar and demaned their right. The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were gravely concerned for Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari. However, when the day was about to end, the young man appeared. He was tired, dusty, and hot. "I am sorry to have worried you." he said breathlessly and explained his reason for being late. 

Then the young man turned to the crowd and said, "The man of faith is loyal to his word. The one who fails to keep his word is a hypocrite. Who can escape death which comes sooner or later anyway? Did you think I was going to disappear and make people say, "The Muslims do not keep their word anymore?"

The crowd then turned to Abu Dharr Al Ghiffari and asked him if he had known the young man's character. He replied, "Not at all, but I did not feel I could refuse him when he singled me out, as it would not have been in keeping with the laws of generosity. Should I be the one to make people say that there is no more kindness left in Islam?"

The hearts of the accusers trembled and they dropped their claim for revenge, saying, "Should we be the ones to make people say that there is no more compassion left in Islam?"

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