I met Uwais Al-Qarni: I ignored Him in The Beginning of Our Meeting, But Carried His Shoes at The End
Our beloved brother Shaykh ibn ‘Abd Al-Ghani narrates the following story in the Arabic forum. He [May Allah Preserve him] writes:
“The story of Uwais Al-Qarni was mentioned in Sahih Muslim as well as in other books. Now even though he was from the Tabi’een and did not see the Messenger [Salah Allahu Alaihi wa salam], the Messenger [Salah Allahu Alaihi wa salam] had advised ‘Umar ibn Al-Khatab [Radiya Allahu ‘Anhu] that if he meets [Uwais] then he, ‘Umar, should ask [Uwais] to ask Allah to forgive him and to make supplication for him. Thus ‘Umar [May Allah be pleased with him], during his Caliphate, used to ask all the delegates coming from Yemen: ‘Is Uwais among you?’, until finally during one of the years he met him. He found him a man not among the nobles of his people; nobody cares much for him, even those accompanying him, sidelined. So ‘Umar told him about the advice Prophet Muhammad gave him and asked Uwais to ask Allah the Exalted to forgive him. When ‘Umar discovered that Uwais was headed to Al-Kuffa he offered to write a letter to his assistant over there, so that he treats him with hospitality. However, Uwais refused and requested that ‘Umar doesn’t do that. He explained his request that he would love to live as an unknown among the people (the story is summarized and mentioned from memory).
Now, I do not claim that I met that Noble Tabi’ee himself; rather I met a man from his school.A man following in the same footsteps of Uwais, and here is my story with him.
During one of the Fridays of Ramadan, I left my house to give the Friday Khutbah in one of the Masjids of Al-Jam’iyah Al-Shar’eyah in Cairo. While riding my car my clear whiteThawb (dress worn by men in Arab countries) got stained with a black spot. That really upset me. I asked myself, ‘How could I stand in front of the people giving the Khutbahwhen this spot had stained my elegant dress?’ I left the car and headed towards the Masjid. During my walk I passed by a store that had a big mirror at its entrance. I stood in front of it fixing my clothes and making sure my head covering is placed properly. I then continued to the Masjid.
I reached the Masjid, but the issue of the stain was still bothering me. The entrance of the Masjid had a few beggars standing there. They usually stand there during this blessed month, each of them with a story that he uses to gain the sympathy of the people going to pray. I didn’t give them much attention and entered the Masjid. I climbed the Minbar quickly, hoping that no one would get a chance to see the black spot that stained my dress in the car.
I delivered the Khutbah, and then we prayed. After prayers, I leaned my back at a pillar that was next to the Qiblah, and I stretched my legs to relax.
Now Egyptians usually go and shake the hands of the Imam after the prayers making supplications for him. I started shaking their hands while being seated in the same manner, and replied to their supplications by nodding my head up and down. I was really exhausted at this time because of the hot weather and the fasting.
At that point, I noticed a blind man crossing the lines with extreme difficulty, asking to reach the Shaykh (referring to me). Nobody was paying attention to his request, rather some of them were waving their hands in an annoyed manner since the blind man used to [unintentionally] come in contact with them while crossing the lines. The caretaker of the Masjid took his hand and brought him to me. I looked at him, and saw that his clothe were worn-out. He had the appearance of a person that if he greets others they would not reply back to him, and if he speaks no one would care about what he said. My first impression was that he was one of the beggars I saw at the entrance of theMasjid.
The man reached where I was seated; he greeted me and I replied back to him while still being seated in the same manner I described earlier, relaxing and stretching my legs.
I waited for him to start by telling me how miserable his life is, like beggars usually do, but he didn’t.
Rather he started by praising the topic of my Khutbah!! I though to myself: ‘A new method of begging! Start by showing that you understood what was mentioned in theKhutbah so that my heart would soften?!’.
Then he said: “But I have some remarks about your Khutbah, so I hope you do not mind listening to them”.
I said in amazement, while still sitting in the same manner: “Remarks on my Khutbah!! and you are the one that will point them out?!”
He replied: “Yes”.
I said: “In what aspects of the Khutbah?”
He said: “In the Language, Hadith, and Tafseer”.
After that I honestly, stared at his face in astonishment, and said: “And to what extend is your knowledge in these sciences?”
He introduced himself to me, he was a graduate of Dar Al-‘Uloom and specialized in Islamic Sharee’ah. He had completed several papers/studies on Tafseer, and he studied along side several known scholars.
I looked at the people around me in the Masjid and they nodded their heads, affirming what the man was saying.
At that point I sat straight, and crossed my legs, and said to the man: “And what are these remarks you had, my dear respected sir”.
He said: “As for the language, you have used some words of the ‘Amiyah (slang) and that ruins the nobility and sublimity of the Khutbah” (he kept speaking to me about the importance of the Khatib using the proper language, with words that increased my love to our beautiful language).
“As for the Hadith, you quoted some traditions and mentioned the source of some, but didn’t do that for the rest. Also how can you quote a tradition and refer it to Abu Dawud, while it is in Bukhari don’t you know that this is something that relegates the status of the speaker”. (Then he kept speaking to me about the methods and manners of the scholars of hadith, which increased my love for the Science of Hadith).
“As for the Tafseer, you mentioned some statements of those who interpret the Quran by their opinion, so beware when speaking about the Book of Allah and do not be like a night-time woodcutter (lumberjack)”. (Then he kept speaking to me about the different methodologies used by the people of Tafseer, which increased my love to the science of Tafseer).
By that time, people had dispersed from around us.
As he was about to stand, I stood [quickly] and took his hand. I then rushed and got him his shoes, and assisted him in putting it on. He kept asking me not to. I took by his hand to take him to his home, but he swore to me not to.
At that point, I saw that we were behind a wall where no one can see us, so I took out a sum of money from my pocket, and I politely requested that he accepts it from me. Here, he got mad and raised his voice a little scolding me roughly. I apologized to him, and he accepted my apology, and said: “You might have felt sorry for me, when you saw the way I am dressed”. I said: “Yes, and I hope you can forgive me for not thinking highly of you the first time I saw you”, so he forgave me.
I told him: “Please, comfort me, how do you live and with whom?” He said: “I will answer you briefly. I have a small income, but Allah has blessed it with His Grace, and it suffices me from the disgrace of asking [others]”. I asked: “With whom do you live?” He replied: “By myself, my children and wife have already beaten me to the Hereafter” and then he said: “I want nothing from this Dunia, and my relationship with it is not that good. All I need is a dress to cover my body and a meal that would silence my hunger, and apart from that I do not need anything”.
So I fell on his hand to kiss it, and I shook his hand and walked away for a few steps. Then I looked back at where he was heading. I saw that the people are giving him no notice as he held his stick, which he used to feel the road in front of him.
As for me, I walked thinking about myself, and how upset I was when my clean white dress got stained. As I walked, cars would slow down so that I can cross [the street], and people passing would come by to shake my hands and ask me for supplications.
They were all deceived by my looks and appearance.
I remembered the statement of Prophet Muhammad [Salah Allah ‘Alaihi wa Salam], when he was between his companions and a man passed by who had the appearance of a wealthy man. So he [Salah Allah ‘Alaihi wa Salam] asked: “What do you say about that [man]?” They said: “O Prophet of Allah, he is the kind of person that when he speaks we would listen, and if he asks for our daughter’s hand in marriage we won’t oppose, and if he intercedes for someone we would accept his intercession”.
Then a man who appeared poor and needy passed by, so he [Salah Allah ‘Alaihi wa Salam] asked: “And what do you say about that man?” They said: “He is the sort of person, that if he speaks we won’t listen to what he has to say, and if he requests our daughter’s hand in marriage we would oppose his request, and if he intercedes for someone we would not accept his intercession”.
Then he [Salah Allah ‘Alaihi wa Salam] said:“That [poor] man is better (worth more) than all the earth filled with that other man”, Aw Kama Qaal Salah Allah ‘Alaihi wa Salam".