It was a wet and humid night. Taking advantage of the dark and the deserted roads, Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) left his house, without informing his relatives, and proceeded towards the shelter of Banu Sa’dah. By chance, Mua’la ibn Khanis, one of his close companions who was in charge of the Imam’s (‘a) family affairs, saw the Imam (‘a) leaving.
In order not to leave the Imam (‘a) alone in the dark, he thought to follow him quietly. Staying a few steps distance behind him, he followed the Imam (‘a) closely enough that he could see his figure in the dark.
He was following the Imam (‘a) very cautiously, when he suddenly noticed that something dropped from the Imam’s (‘a) shoulder and scattered on the ground. He heard the Imam (‘a) saying in a low voice, “O Allah, return it to me.”
Meanwhile, Mua’la came forward and greeted him.
Imam Al-Sadiq (‘a) recognized Mua’la by his voice and said, “Is it you Mua’la?”
“Yes, it’s me, Mua'la.”
After answering the Imam (‘a), he was curious to find out what had scattered on the ground. He saw a few loaves of bread. The Imam (‘a) asked him to gather the loaves of bread and give it to him. Mua’la slowly gathered the loaves of bread and handed them to the Imam (‘a). It was a heavy sack of bread which an individual could barely carry over his shoulder.
Mua’la said, “If you permit me, I will carry it for you.”
The Imam (‘a) said, “No, it is not necessary. For this work I am more obliged to carry it myself than you.”
The Imam (‘a) put the sack on his shoulder, and both of them headed towards the shelter of Banu Sa’dah. In the shelter, there were people who were poor and frail. They were all homeless. While they were all fast asleep, the Imam (‘a) laid the loaves of bread, one by one or two by two, under their garments and did not leave a single person without bread. Then he (‘a) returned home.
Mua’la said, “These people for whom you brought the bread, are they Shi'a? Do they believe in your leadership (Imamate)?”
The Imam replied, “No, they have no belief in the Imamate. If they had, I would have given them more credit.”1
- 1. Bihar ul-Anwar v. 11, p. 110. Wasa'il, v. 2, p. 49.