12.THE THREE PEOPLE: A HADITH ABOUT GRATITUDE (SHUKR)
Narrated Abu Huraira: that he heard Allah’s Apostle (SAW) saying,
“Allah willed to test three Israelis who were a leper, a blind man and a bald-headed man. So, he sent them an angel who came to the leper and said, ‘What thing do you like most?’ He replied, “Good colour and good skin, for the people have a strong aversion to me.’ The angel touched him and his illness was cured, and he was given a good color and beautiful skin. The angel asked him, ‘What kind of property do you like best?’ He replied, ‘Camels (or cows).’ (The narrator is in doubt, for either the leper or the bald-headed man demanded camels and the other demanded cows.) So he (i.e. the leper) was given a pregnant she-camel, and the angel said (to him), ‘May Allah bless you in it.’
The angel then went to the bald-headed man and said, ‘What thing do you like most?’ He said, ‘I like good hair and wish to be cured of this disease, for the people feel repulsion for me.’ The angel touched him and his illness was cured, and he was given good hair. The angel asked (him), ‘What kind of property do you like bests’ He replied, ‘Cows,’ The angel gave him a pregnant cow and said, ‘May Allah bless you in it.’
The angel went to the blind man and asked, ‘What thing do you like best?’ He said, ‘(I like) that Allah may restore my eye-sight to me so that I may see the people.’ The angel touched his eyes and Allah gave him back his eye-sight. The angel asked him, “What kind of property do you like best?’ He replied, ‘Sheep.’ The angel gave him a pregnant sheep.
Afterwards, all the three pregnant animals gave birth to young ones, and multiplied and brought forth so much that one of the (three) men had a herd of camels filling a valley, and one had a herd of cows filling a valley, and one had a flock of sheep filling a valley.
Then the angel, disguised in the shape and appearance of a leper, went to the leper and said, I am a poor man, who has lost all means of livelihood while on a journey. So none will satisfy my need except Allah and then you. In the Name of Him Who has given you such nice color and beautiful skin, and so much property, I ask you to give me a camel so that I may reach my destination. The man replied, ‘I have many obligations (so I cannot give you).’
The angel said, ‘I think I know you; were you not a leper to whom the people had a strong aversion? Weren’t you a poor man, and then Allah gave you (all this property).’ He replied, ‘(This is all wrong), I got this property through inheritance from my fore-fathers’
The angel said, ‘If you are telling a lie, then let Allah make you as you were before.’
Then the angel, disguised in the shape and appearance of a bald man, went to the bald man and said to him the same as he told the first one, and he too answered the same as the first one did. The angel said, ‘If you are telling a lie, then let Allah make you as you were before.’ The angel, disguised in the shape of a blind man, went to the blind man and said, ‘I am a poor man and a traveler, whose means of livelihood have been exhausted while on a journey. I have nobody to help me except Allah, and after Him, you yourself. I ask you in the Name of Him Who has given you back your eye-sight to give me a sheep, so that with its help, I may complete my journey.’
The man said, ‘No doubt, I was blind and Allah gave me back my eye-sight; I was poor and Allah made me rich; so take anything you wish from my property. By Allah, I will not stop you for taking anything (you need) of my property which you may take for Allah’s sake.’ The angel replied, ‘Keep your property with you. You (i.e. 3 men) have been tested and Allah is pleased with you and is angry with your two companions.” (Bukhari)
Remember that crucial turning point in our lives: where we begged Allah on the eve of our final exam, or how our hearts were thumping with anxiety before our results from college or university were announced? What about that job interview where we prayed so hard to Allah, making so many vows to Him if we received the job? Or when we were so ill that we promised Allah the world if we were to be cured?
Then, after the exam results, new job, restored health, we gradually forget Allah’s bounty. We attribute our academic achievements to our long hours of study, our jobs to our string of credentials and our recuperation to the medical system. Allah is eradicated from the equation, and instead of feeling grateful and thankful to Him, we are enveloped in a sense of entitlement to all that we have been granted. Rather than acknowledging the bounty of Allah, we attribute the rizq solely to our efforts and hard work, forgetting that it was Allah who gave us these very abilities, aptitude, skills and continued health in the first place.
How many promises did we make and after that we become so greedy and selfish, accumulating material life and we forget the bounty. Wasn’t this what happened to Qarun:
And among them are those who made a covenant with Allah , [saying], “If He should give us from His bounty, we will surely spend in charity, and we will surely be among the righteous.” But when he gave them from His bounty, they were stingy with it and turned away while they refused. So He penalized them with hypocrisy in their hearts until the Day they will meet Him – because they failed Allah in what they promised Him and because they [habitually] used to lie.
Did they not know that Allah knows their secrets and their private conversations and that Allah is the Knower of the unseen? (Al Qur’an 9:75 – 9:78)