Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, a great scholar of Islam, used to praise the level of knowledge and Taqwa (fear of Allah (SWT)) of his teacher and guide, Imam Shafai in front of his family members. One day, he invited his teacher over for dinner. Imam Shafai accepted the invitation – he came over to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal’s house, had dinner and then went into the guestroom to sleep.
In the morning, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal’s daughter asked her father: “Is this the same Imam Shafai, about whom you have told us so many times?”
“Yes,” replied the Imam.
“Well,” said the daughter, “I have observed three things about him, which are puzzling me greatly.”
“What are they?” asked the Imam.
“Firstly, when we sat down for dinner, he ate a lot (meaning, he ate greedily),” explained the daughter. “Then, when he went into the guestroom, he immediately settled down to sleep, instead of standing up for night prayers. Thirdly, the jug of water that we had set out for him for doing ablution at Fajr time remained untouched. This means he prayed Fajr without doing ablution.”
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, who had listened attentively, went to his teacher to inquire about these three things.
Imam Shafai replied: “To answer your first question, I had a lot of food at dinner, because I was very sure that the food had been bought from Halal earning.”
“To answer your second question, the reason why I did not stand up for night prayer was because when I settled down to sleep, a few Ahadeeth of the Prophet (saw) propped up in my mind. I started to mull over them and figured out the solutions to about 72 Fiqh issues, from which Muslims can benefit.”
“To answer your third question, the reason why I did not make use of the water set out for my ablution was because I had been awake the whole night and, hence, I didn’t need to repeat Wudhu for my Fajr prayers.”
Moral of the story
- Every action has a reason. You must search for that reason.
- It is quite alright to ask questions, if you don’t understand something or are not sure.
- It is better to ask a question, rather than to remain doubtful about something and form assumptions about someone.