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Ramadan 2010 (Pearls of Light)


Character of the Great Imam (Hazrat Imam e Azam Abu Hanifah (R.A))

This is a story relating to the latter period of Imam Abu Hanifah’s (R.A) life, where due to old age Imam Saab found it extremely difficult to walk.

Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A)’s house was situated on high ground, with a fair number of steps to climb to reach the entrance. One particular afternoon Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A) had just managed to climb up the steps and entered his house. He (R.A) had just sat down with the intention of lying down to rest, when somebody called out to him from the bottom of the steps:

“I wish to ask you a question, please come down”. Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A) came down and asked, “What is the question that you wish to ask?” The person replied, “Oh! Just as you had reached the last two or three steps I forgot!”

Imam Abu Hanifah (R.A) said, it is of no consequence. “When you remember, you may ask”, and Imam Saab went back up the stairs. Just as Imam Saab was about to lie down to rest, this person called out again, “I've remembered! Come down”

This time, too, it was the same story: The person said, “I had remembered, but just as you reached the last step, I forgot!”. In this way he made Imam Saab climb up and down six or seven times! Then finally, when Imam Saab had climbed down and enquired, “What is the question?” this person replied, “Yes! Yes! Now I remember! I want to know what is the taste of faeces?”

Imam Saab responded very calmly, “It depends. What type of faeces are you enquiring about, the taste of fresh faeces, or the taste of stale faeces?”

The person said, “Well… Both!” Imam Saab answered, “The taste of fresh faeces is sweet, whereas the taste of stale faeces is bitter.” The person said, “What...., did you taste each of them?”

Imam Saab replied, “There is no necessity for one to taste each in order to determine these qualities. There are some signs and indications which will equally lead us to this conclusion. I have noticed that flies tend to settle on freshly passed faeces, flies are attracted by sweetness. So, one can conclude that freshly passed faeces taste sweet. Flies do not settle on stale faeces, bitterness repels flies. So, again, one can conclude that stale faeces are bitter!”

The person said, “What you have stated is absolutely correct!” Imam Saab, in turn, asked him, “Why do you say so?” The person explained, “I knew the answers beforehand!” He explained further, “We were a few people sitting together, having a discussion, and the question came up: In this present age, who is that person who possess and acts upon his knowledge? And who would undergo personal inconvenience for the sake of others? It was our unanimous opinion that it was you”.

I came specifically to put you to the test, so that I could see for myself whether our unanimous opinion was correct or not! I confirm it was correct.

Often we acquire knowledge but fail to implement the teachings. As the Great Imam has shown, we should show patience at all times and practice what we preach.