A Bite of the Apple

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The noble father of the venerable Abu Hanifah, the Supreme Imam and founder of our Islamic Law, was the venerable Thabit, may Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala have mercy on him. Once in his bachelor days, he was making his ritual ablution by a stream when he saw an apple bobbing towards him on the water. He picked up the apple and took a bite. As soon as his teeth had broken the skin, he said to himself: ‘What am I doing, biting something that does not belong to me without the owner’s permission?’ Then he started walking back up the stream hoping to find the tree the apple was from.

At length he came upon a tree overhanging the water and, seeing that it bore similar apples, he decided that the one that he had bitten must have come from it. He therefore called to a person working in the orchard: “Sir, three hours ago I found this apple downstream and I took a bite, intending to eat it. But then, as I could not bear the thought of eating something that did not belong to me, I walked all this way to return it to its rightful owner. I guess this apple must have come from your tree. Now let me give you something in exchange for it, or else pardon this trespass of mine.” Hearing this request, the owner of the orchard, whose name was Salih, decided to put the man to the test: “No,” he said, “Impossible! I shall not let you off…. How dare you bite my property without my permission?” Receiving the reply: “What must I do to earn your pardon?” the venerable Salih said: “I will pardon you after you work beside me in this orchard for three years.” By this means he intended to discover whether he was dealing with a pious hypocrite, a stupid Sufi wanting to appear devout, or with a perfect man who would not eat another’s property because he genuinely feared Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala

That was what he wanted to find out by making such a proposal, and the venerable Thabit responded without hesitation: “Yes, I shall work!” He was as good as his word, and worked out the three years. At the end of this time, the venerable Salih said to Thabit: “Even though you have completed the three years, I still have you accountable for that apple. There is only one way to settle that account: I have a daughter, whose name is ‘Abidatu-l’Azhar. She has neither sight nor hearing, and can move neither hand nor foot. If you will take this daughter of mine in marriage, all the apples in the orchard, and all the apple trees shall be yours. Where could I find a conscientious son-in-law like you? If I were to die, who would look after the poor girl in her condition? I could not entrust her to anyone but a person fed on lawful milk, such as you. You are religious, conscientious. Come, give me your reply and we can settle our account.” “I shall take her!” answered Thabit.

The wedding was arranged, with great festivities. When the marriage had been contracted, Thabit entered the bridal chamber. Awaiting him there, dressed in her bridal clothes, he found a ravishing beauty in perfect health. Out he rushed, crying to his father-in law: “This marriage is invalid. You told me that your daughter was blind, but the girl in there has eyes like a gazelle. You told me she was crippled, but she stands there like a cypress.” To this the venerable Salih replied: “I spoke to you metaphorically. When I called her blind, I meant blind to what is unlawful. When I called her deaf, I meant deaf to bad words and evil speech. When I said she could neither move hand or foot, I meant that she touched nothing unlawful and never went to places Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala disapproved of. She is your wife, your lawful spouse. She is a worthy partner for you.

The venerable Thabit married that virtuous lady, who became the mother of Abu Hanifah. While still a child the latter recited the Holy Qur’an in three days. When he came home happily to tell his mother: ‘I read ten parts in one day, and got through the entire Qur’an in three days,” the venerable ‘Abidatu-l’Azhar said: “ My son, if your father had not bitten the apple without permission, you would have finished in one day!” May the mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala be upon her….and Abu Hanifah Rahamatullah alaihi.

To read more tales of Abu Hanifah, go to one of my favorite blogs, the most excellent and spiritual ALMISKEENAH, from which this edited story was taken. Also be sure to read the latest wonderful Doors of Madinah post HERE.

Ya Haqq!

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15 Responses to A Bite of the Apple

  1. Suroor says:

    SubhanAllah! Amazing stories!

  2. almiskeenah says:

    Assalamu alaikum, dear brother Irving,
    May the best of rewards, from the Best Bestower of Rewards be a continuous shower upon you and yours. I was overcome by a “startle” :) while on my daily visit to see this link! JazakumuLlahu khairan.
    To add to the theme of this story….from one of our beloved, Junayd, may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with him ;
    “The eye that appreciated not the beauty of the Creator were better blind; the tongues that repeated not His name were better dumb; the ears that heard not of His exploits were better deaf; and the limbs that performed not His service were better dead.” (from Fariduddins Attar’s Tadhkara tul Aulia)
    May we all learn from such poignant stories.
    Wassalamu alaikum
    almiskeenah

  3. Maliha says:

    Salamaat,
    Thank you for sharing ya darvish. I think the grandpa was a tad mean to make him work three whole years for an apple :p But that’s jaded me talking, dont’ pay any mind.

  4. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Sisters:

    Thank you for the kind comments, and Almiskeenah, what a wonderful addition to the post :) Junayd’s words evoke the truth of the Sufi path, and illuminate the story of Abu Hanifah so well :) And Maliha, three years may seem long to work for just biting the skin of an apple, not even taking a real bite and eating any, but the perfection of his heart called him to make the matter right, and so any amount of time was worth it to him. And Allah rewards those who persevere in His way.

    Ya Haqq!

  5. gumnaam says:

    assalam alaikum Darvaish,

    I’ve read this story before, but I thought it was about the father of Shaykh Abdal Qadir Jilani, ra.,

  6. almiskeenah says:

    Assalamu alaikum,
    Dear gumnaam,
    I first heard the narration of this story of the noble father of Abu Hanifa, may Allah Ta’ala enlighten his grave, told to me by a Hanafi Fiqh Alimah in Pakistan and then later came across it in Irshad, The Wisdom of s Sufi Master, by Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi, beginning page 224. Book available here: http://www.fonsvitae.com/irshad.html
    Insha’Allah this helps.
    Wassalamu alaikum

  7. Irving says:

    Salaam Alaikum Dear Brothers and Sisters:

    Thank you Gumnaam for the question, and Almiskeenah for the answer. Such clarifications add immeasurably to the post :)

    Ya Haqq!

  8. Critic says:

    This story is not Abu Hanifah’s father and it has been plagarised. The story is about the father of another Muslim scholar.

  9. [...] To know why, read this very interesting story. [...]

  10. Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah
    I pray that you are in the best of health & imaan.
    This is a short message to notify you that this entry has been selected
    for publishing on I J T E M A; a
    venture to highlight the best of the Muslim blogosphere.
    To find out more about I J T E M A,
    and how you can further contribute, please click here.
    May Allah bless you for your noble efforts.
    Wa’salam

  11. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Critic:

    You may certainly be right, but I would also not doubt Almiskeenah, or Sheikh Muzzafer Ozak al-Jerrahi’s book The Wisdom of a Sufi Master.

    Perhaps the particulars to not really matter. In the end, the beauty of the tale and the truth of its lesson is what is important, and that is universal.

    May Allah bless us all with increased love and wisdom (which are really the same thing).

    Ya Haqq!

  12. musicalchef says:

    Wow, thanks for the beautiful story!

  13. Danya says:

    I read this story before but I just had to read it again. Subhanallah.

  14. [...] A Bite of the Apple Darvish | The story of an apple and a man called Thabit. If they would’ve never met maybe the world would’ve missed one of the greatest Fuqaha – Imam-e-Azam Abu Hanifa (Rahmatullah Alayhi). Confused?! Read on your own… [...]

  15. Marifah.net says:

    JazkaAllah for sharing

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