Salaam and Greetings of Peace:
Abd Allah and the Cobbler
Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 797 AD) was living in Mecca. One year, having completed the rites of the pilgrimage, he fell asleep and had a dream wherein he saw two angels descend from heaven.
“How many have come this year?” one asked the other.
“Six hundred thousand,” the other replied.
“How many have had their pilgrimage accepted?”
This report filled Abd Allah with trembling. “What?” I cried. “All these people have come from the distant ends of the earth, with great pain and weariness from every deep ravine, traversing wide deserts, and all their labor is in vain?”
“There is a cobbler in Damascus call Ali ibn Mowaffaq,” said the first angel. “He has not come on the pilgrimage, but his pilgrimage is accepted and all his sins have been forgiven.”
When I heard this, I awoke and resolved to go to Damascus and visit this person. So I went to Damascus and found where he lived. I shouted and a man came out. “What is your name and what work do you do?” I asked. “I am Ali ibn Mowaffaq, a cobbler by trade. What is your name?”
I told him it was Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak. He uttered a cry and fell into a faint. When he recovered, I begged him to tell me his story. He said: “For thirty years now I have longed to make the pilgrimage. I had saved up three hundred and fifty dirhams from my cobbling. This year I resolved to go to Mecca, though my wife became pregnant. One day she smelled food being cooked next door, and begged me to fetch her a bit of it. I went and knocked on the neighbor’s door and explained the situation. My neighbor burst into tears. “My children have eaten nothing for three days,” she said. “Today I saw a donkey lying dead and cut off a piece and cooked it for them. It would not be lawful food for you.” My heart burned within me when I heard her tale. I took out the three hundred and fifty dirhams and gave them to her. ‘Spend these on your children,’ I said. ‘This is my pilgrimage.’
“The angel spoke truly in my dream,” Abd Allah declared, “and the Heavenly King was true in His judgement.”
- From Attar’s Memorial of the Saints