Story 17: The Needy And The Wealthy

As was his custom, the Prophet (S) was sitting in his place amongst his companions. They formed a circle around him (S) appearing as if the Prophet (S) was the bezel of a ring between them.

Suddenly, a Muslim, a poor man dressed in rags, entered through the door. According to Islamic tradition, regardless of a person’s status, anyone who enters an assembly should sit wherever he finds an empty place, not considering whether the place is suitable for his social status. Therefore, the man looked around, found a vacant place, and sat there.

Incidentally he sat next to a wealthy man. The rich man gathered the edges of his clothes and shifted onto another side away from him. The Holy Prophet (S) observed the behaviour of the wealthy man.

He (S) turned towards him and said, “Are you afraid that some of his poverty would pass on to you?”

“No, O Messenger of Allah.”

“Did you fear that some of your wealth might pass on to him?”

“No, O Messenger of Allah.”

“Perhaps, you feared that your garments would become dirty?”

“No, O Messenger of Allah.”

“Then why did you draw yourself aside and shift away from him?”

“I confess that I committed an error and made a mistake. Now, in order to compensate for my error and to expiate my sin, I am ready to grant half of my wealth to this Muslim brother towards whom I have shown disrespect.”

The man in rags replied, “But I am not ready to accept this offer.”

The companions asked, “Why?”

The man said, “I fear that I may also become arrogant and mistreat one of my Muslim brothers in the same way that this man did towards me today.”1

  • 1. Usul al-Kafi, v. 2, p. 260. (Chapter, Virtue of the Poor Muslims).