People unanimously agree that one of the ways of attracting others is to choose the topic their listeners would like to discuss. The Prophet (saw) took this into consideration, and his speech with young men would be different from that with the elderly, the women or the children.
Once, a young man Jabir (rtam), travelled with the Prophet (saw) on the Dhat ar-Riqa expedition, and, due to his poverty, he rode a very weak camel that could hardly walk.
The Prophet (saw) struck the camel gently with a whip, and it got up energetically. Jabir (rtam) jumped on its back and went alongside the Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) turned to Jabir (rtam) to converse. Jabir (rtam), like other young men, was possibly concerned about marriage and livelihood:
The Prophet (saw) asked: “O Jabir, are you married?”
He replied: “Yes.”
The Prophet (saw) questioned: “To a virgin or to a previously married woman?”
He responded: “Previously married.”
The Prophet (saw) was surprised at his choice: “Why didn’t you marry a virgin so that you could fondle one other?”
Jabir (rtam) explained: “O Messenger of Allah, my father was martyred on the day of Uhud and left nine (orphan) daughters, who are my nine sisters. I thus disliked to marry a young girl of their age, and instead, married someone older than them, so she could be like their mother.”
The Prophet (saw) realized that he had sacrificed his own pleasures for his sisters. Thus, the Prophet (saw) decided to tell an appropriate joke for a youth of his age. He (saw) said: “Perhaps, when we head for Madinah and stop over at Sarar (five km from Madinah), your wife will hear of our arrival and lay out the pillows [meaning, she will prepare for his grand arrival].”
Jabir (rtam) said: “Pillows?! By Allah, O Messenger of Allah, we do not have pillows!”
The Prophet (saw) said: “Insha’Allah, you will soon have pillows.”
The Prophet (saw) wished to help him, so he returned to Jabir (rtam) and asked: “Will you sell me your camel?” Jabir (rtam) thought that the camel was his capital, and even though previously weak, it had now become strong! However, he thought it rude to reject the Prophet’s (saw) offer. Thus, he stated: “Make an offer, O Messenger of Allah! How much will you pay?”
The Prophet (saw) said: “A Dirham.”
“A Dirham! You are cheating me, O Messenger of Allah,” replied Jabir (rtam).
They continued raising the price, until it amounted to forty Dirhams, or an ounce of gold.
Jabir (rtam) said: “Fine, but it is on the condition that I continue to ride it until we reach Madinah.” The Prophet (saw) agreed.
When they reached Madinah, Jabir (rtam) went to pray with the Prophet (saw) and tied his camel next to the mosque. When the Prophet (saw) came out of the mosque, Jabir (rtam) said to him: “This is your camel, O Messenger of Allah!” The Prophet (saw) said: “O Bilal, give forty Dirhams to Jabir (rtam) and more.” Bilal (rtam) gave Jabir (rtam) forty plus Dirhams. Jabir (rtam) took the money and went away, thinking about what he could do with it.
The Prophet (saw) suddenly turned to Bilal (rtam) and instructed: “O Bilal, take the camel and give it to Jabir.” Bilal (rtam) took it and went to Jabir (rtam), who was surprised and wondered, if the Prophet (saw) had cancelled the sale.
Bilal (rtam) said: “Take the camel, O Jabir.”
Jabir (rtam) asked: “Why? What’s the news?”
Bilal (rtam) replied: “Allah’s Messenger has ordered me to give you the camel and the money.”
What wonderful manners! The Prophet (saw) chose an appropriate topic for conversation with the young man, and helped him with kindness and compassion.
(This story has been narrated in a Hadeeth recorded by Bukhari and Muslim.)
Adapted (with permission) from “Enjoy Your Life” published by Darussalam. Compiled for hiba by Bisma Ishtiaq.