A True Story of Generosity, Honor, and Forgiveness

Related Shayba Al-Dimashqi: “During the reign of Sulayman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik (an Umayyad Caliph), there lived a man from the tribe of Bani Asad whose name was Khuzayma Ibn Bishr. Khuzayma was rich and was well-known for his honor, generosity, and help of the needy. He continued to be so generous that one day he himself became needy. As a result, Khuzayma was obliged to seek the aid of his brothers whom he used to help out and do favors. His brothers helped him for some time, but eventually they grew weary of him. When he noticed their change in attitude, Khuzayma said to his wife: ‘O cousin, I see a change in my brothers, and I have decided to stay in my house until I die.’ He then locked his door upon himself, and lived on what he had until it was depleted, and he was bewildered what to do.

Ikrima Al-Fayyad was the ruler of the island, and while he was sitting in his ruling place surrounded by a group of the peers of the city, Khuzayma was mentioned. So Ikrima asked: ‘In what condition is he?’ They replied: ‘He is in the worst of conditions and has locked himself in his house.’ Ikrima refrained from speaking any further on the topic.

When it was nighttime, Ikrima took four thousand Dinars and placed them in a single money pouch. He then went out secretly, disguised, until he stopped at Khuzayma’s door.  He knocked and Khuzayma came out.  Ikrima said to him: ‘Use this to improve your conditions.’  Khuzayma took the pouch and found it heavy, so he caught the reins of his night visitor’s mount and asked: ‘Who are you, may I be sacrificed for you?’  Ikrima said: ‘I did not come out disguised at this time to be recognized!’  Khuzayma said: ‘I will not accept it until you tell who you are.’  Ikrima said: ‘I am Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable).’  He then left.  Khuzayma went inside his house in disbelief, feeling the pouch and the money inside.

Ikrima returned to his house and found that his wife had sensed his absence and had become suspicious. She slapped her cheeks, and when he saw her like that, he asked: ‘What is wrong with you, O cousin?’ She replied: ‘Your mistreatment of your cousin. The ruler of the island does not go out at night secretly without his servants except to go to a wife or a mistress!’ He said: ‘Allah knows that I went out for neither.’ She said: ‘Then tell me why you went out.’ He replied: ‘O woman, I did not go out at the time except that I wanted nobody to know about me.’ She said: ‘You must tell me.’ He said: ‘Then keep it a secret.’ She replied: ‘I will.’ So Ikrima told her the whole story and she said: ‘My heart is at rest now.’

In the morning, Khuzayma paid out his debts and improved his condition. He then set out to visit the Caliph Sulayman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. When Khuzayma arrived there, he asked permission to enter. The Caliph Sulayman gave him permission, for he had heard of his honor and generosity. Sulayman asked him about his condition and the reason for his delayed visit. Khuzayma told him about the story of the night visitor, so Sulayman asked: ‘Did you know recognize him?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘No, by Allah, because he was disguised. I only heard him saying his name was Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable).’ Sulayman was eager to know his real name and said: ‘If we come to know him, we will help him for his generosity.’ He then said: ‘Get me a scepter (ruling spear).’ And he appointed Khuzayma as a ruler for the island in place of Ikrima Al-Fayyad. Sulayman gave Khuzayma many gifts and bade him to go back to the island.

Khuzayma went back to the island. When he got close, Ikrima and the peers of the city came out to receive him, and the men all returned together into the city. Khuzayma took lodgings at the ruling house and ordered that Ikrima be questioned and called to account.  Ikrima was accounted for and was found to owe a significant sum of money.  Khuzayma asked him for the amount, and Ikrima replied: ‘I have no access to such an amount.’  So Khuzayma had Ikrima imprisoned.  Khuzayma later called him to pay and Ikrima replied: ‘I am not among those who protect their money at the expense of their honor, so do whatever you wish.’  Khuzayma had him chained in iron and constrained him. Ikrima stayed like that for one month, and the iron chains wore him out and caused him harm.

Ikrima’s cousin–his wife–heard about the trouble, so she called a wise servant girl of hers and said: ‘Go at this hour to the door of this ruler and say: ‘I have advice that I will say only to the ruler himself.’ And when you go inside, ask him secretly: Was this your reward to Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable), that you harm him, imprison him, and put him in chains!’ The servant girl followed through with this procedure.

When Khuzayma heard her words, he said: ‘My shame! My opponent is Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable)?’ She responded in the affirmative. Khuzayma immediately called for his mount to be saddled, rode to the peers of the city, gathered them and then took them all to the door of the prison. Khuzayma opened the prison door and saw Ikrima Al-Fayyad at the bottom of the cell, so different from his normally honorable look and worn out. When Ikrima saw Khuzayma and the peers, he felt ashamed and bent his head. Khuzayma approached him and bent down, kissing his head. Ikrima raised his head and asked: ‘What is the reason for this?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘Your honorable deeds and my ill-reward.’ Ikrima said: ‘May Allah forgive us and you.’ Khuzayma then ordered Ikrima’s chains to be removed and placed around his own feet. So Ikrima asked: ‘Why do you want to do that?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘I want to experience the same harm that you experienced.’ Ikrima said: ‘I swear by Allah on you not to do so.’

They left together until they reached Khuzayma’s house, so Ikrima bade him farewell and wanted to leave, but Khuzayma did not let him. Ikrima asked: ‘And what do you want?’ Khuzayma replied: ‘I want to change the condition in which I see you.’ He then had the washing quarters emptied and they went inside. Khuzayma then himself served Ikrima. He asked him to travel together to see the leader of the believers (Caliph Sulayman) and he agreed.

They set out together until they reached the Caliph Sulayman Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. Sulayman was worried by the fact that Khuzyama was visiting so soon, and without warning. He permitted Khuzayma to enter. When he did, Sulayman asked before any greeting: ‘What is the purpose of your visit, O Khuzayma?’ He replied: ‘Something good, O leader of the believers. I have found Jabir ‘Atharatil-Kiram (the mender of the slips of the honorable), and wanted to make you happy since I know your eagerness to see him.’ Sulayman asked: ‘And who is he?’ He replied: ‘Ikrima Al-Fayyad.’ So Sulayman gave Ikrima permission to enter. Ikrima entered, and said salam to him. Sulayman had him sit close and said: ‘Your good deed to him was a trial for you.’ Sulayman then fulfilled his needs, and gave him ten thousand Dinars. He asked for a scepter (ruling spear) and appointed Ikrima as the ruler of the island, and of Armenia, and of Azerbaijan. Sulayman then said to him: ‘Khuzayma’s rule is in your hand; if you wish you can let him stay, and if you wish you can discharge him.’ Ikrima said: ‘I would rather let him go back to his rule, O leader of the believers.’ They then left together, and they stayed as rulers for Sulayman during his reign.”

Related by Ibn Hijja Al-Hamawi in his book Thamarat al-Awraq.

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