Story 29: At The Dinner Table Of The Caliph

Sharik ibn Abdullah al-Nakhai, a renowned Islamic jurisprudent of the second century Hijrah, was well known for his knowledge and piety. Mahdi ibn al-Mansur, the Abbasid Caliph, was anxious to entrust the seat of Chief Justice to him, but in order to distance himself from the forces of oppression, Sharik ibn Abdullah did not consent to accept this responsibility. The Caliph also wished to appoint him as a tutor for his sons so that he would teach them the science of Prophetic traditions. Sharik rejected this proposal too, content with his own freedom and needs.

One day the Caliph summoned him and said, “Today you have to accept one of these three proposals: the seat of Chief Justice, tutorship of my sons, or sitting down and having a meal with me at my dinner table.”

Sharik thought for a moment and said, “Now that I am being compelled, of these three proposals, the third option is obviously the easiest.”

The Caliph ordered the cook to prepare the most delicious food for Sharik. They made a sumptuous dish from bone marrow mixed with sugar and honey, and laid it at the table. Sharik, who had never tasted nor seen such food before in his life, ate it wholeheartedly till he was full.
The butler whispered in the Caliph’s ear, “I swear by Allah, this man will never see salvation.”

Soon after this event, they saw Sharik becoming both the tutor of the Caliph's sons and accepting the seat of Chief Justice. A pension was also allocated to him from the public treasury.

One day he was speaking to the official responsible for the disbursement of salaries. He said to Sharik, “You have not sold us any wheat, why do you plead for money?”

Sharik said in reply, “I sold you something more valuable than wheat. That is, I sold my faith.”1

  • 1. Murouj al-Zahab al-Mansur. v. 2. (Halat-e Mahdi al-Abbasi).