Saturday, February 28, 2009

Story of a Handmaid

Once upon a time, Hadrat Malik B. Dinar (Mercy Be Upon Him) was walking in the streets of Basra. On the way, he happened to see a female servant walking with such pomp and show as the maidservants of king’s generally do. Hadrat Malik (Mercy Be Upon Him) after witnessing the manner in which she walked, called her and said: "O handmaid! Would your master like to sell you?" She was surprised to hear this voice. She said "What? Repeat it again." Hadrat Malik did accordingly. She said to him "Would a beggar like you, be able to purchase me if my master agrees to sell at all?" He replied in the affirmative and added that he could purchase a better one than she.

On hearing this reply she laughed and ordered her servants to take this beggar along with them (just for making fun of him). On reaching home she narrated this whole story to her master, who laughed boisterously and ordered to bring him (Hadrat Malik) before him When he was brought before him, he (the master) asked him: "What do you want?" In reply, he advised him to sell his handmaid to him. He asked him “Can you pay her price?" Hadrat Malik replied "For me, her price is not more than two stones of dates." On hearing this whole audience began to laugh. The master asked him "What prompted you to fix this price for her?" He replied that there were many shortcomings in her. The master asked him to let him know of the shortcomings. Hadrat Malik enumerated them thus:

“In case she applies not perfume, her body emits a foul smell. If she cleanses not her teeth, these begin to putrefy. If she combs not her hair, the disheveled and untidy hair is infested with lice. She on becoming a bit old would bear the appearance of an old woman, not worthy to be loved. She menstruates. She makes water and relieves herself. In other words, she emits all sorts of filths (spittle, mucus, saliva). She suffers from agonies and hardships. She, being much greedy, shows her love to you merely for her self interests. She shows her love to you only for her material benefits. Today, if any loss is incurred by her because of you, the whole edifice of her love will within no time crumble down. She is absolutely faithless and fulfills not her promise. Her love is based on falsehood. As soon as you breathe your last, she will sit by the side of another person and sing the song of her permanent and everlasting love for him, in the same way as did for you. On the contrary, said Hadrat Malik, I have a handmaid; her price is much less than. She is made of camphor's essence; she has been fashioned out of musk and saffron. She has played amidst the branches of ruby and coral. Her abode is a place of great blessings. She drinks water from Tasnim (a fountain in paradise). She never backs out to her words. Her love is constant.”
Hadrat Malik then asked the master to let him know what handmaid, according to price, was more beneficial to him. All said unanimously that the latter was more valuable. He added: "Everyone can afford to buy her at any time and in every age."

The people asked Hadrat Malik her price. He replied "If they want to purchase such an important and valuable thing, they will have to spare some time at night and observe two rakah's of Tahajjud prayer in order to seek the pleasure of Almighty Allah; they shall have to invite some poor and the needy to meals at the time of eating; they shall have to give preference to Allah's pleasure to their own wishes; they shall have to remove any troublesome thing lying in the way; they shall have to lead simple lives and they will have to be more anxious for their eternal abode than this mortal world."

Then Hadrat Malik told them that if they would act on this advice, they would lead an honorable life and be blessed with honor both in this world and the hereafter. After that the master asked the maid-servant whether she had listened to the advice of the venerable old man. If so, what was her opinion? She confessed that the preaching’s of the venerable old man were true and were calculated to promote good and virtue. The master set the maid-servant free and gave her a portion of his property as gift. He donated the rest of his wealth to the poor. After casting off his elegant dress he covered his body with a thick cloth of a door's curtain. The maid-servant told her master that she could not live without him and after sacrificing her elegant dress and property she also accompanied her master. Malik B. Dinar prayed for them and departed. Both of them bade farewell to the worldly pleasures and dedicated themselves to the divine worship and died in that state. (May Allah bless them all and all of us.)

- Excerpt from "The Spectacle of Death including Glimpses of Life Beyond the Grave." by Khwaja Muhammad Islam.

-Contributed and edited by Zain Elias.

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