'Ali Ibn Abi Talib ('a) was missioned by the Holy Prophet (S) to go to the market and purchase a shirt for him (S). He ('a) went to the market and purchased a shirt for twelve dirhams.
The Holy Prophet (S) asked: "How much did you pay for it?"
"I do not like it so much! I would like to have a cheaper one. If the seller is ready to take it back, please return it?"
"I don't know, O Messenger of Allah!"
"Go and see whether he agrees to take it back or not?"
'Ali ('a) took the shirt with him, returned to the market and asked the seller: "The Holy Prophet (S) wants a shirt of a cheaper price than this. Are you ready to pay back our money and take back your shirt?"
The seller accepted it. 'Ali ('a) took the money and came to the Holy Prophet (S). Then they both went towards the market.
On the way the Prophet’s (S) saw a slave-girl who was crying, "Why are you crying!?"
"My master gave me four dirhams and sent me to the market for shopping; I don't know how the money got lost. At present, I am scared to go back home."
The Holy Prophet (S) gave her four dirhams from those twelve dirhams and said: 'Buy what you want and go back home!"
Then he (S) went towards the market, purchased a shirt for four dirhams and put it on.
On his return, he (S) saw a naked man, immediately he took off his shirt and gave it to him.
He (S), returned to the market, purchased another shirt for four dirhams, put it on and took the way towards his house. On the way, he (S) saw the same slave-girl sitting, puzzled, embarrassed and perplexed.
He (S) asked: "Why did you not go back home?"
"O Messenger of Allah! It is too late; I am afraid they might beat me, for l have slightly delayed."
"Let's go together. Show me the way of your house! I will intercede for you with them so that they may not bother you."
The Holy Prophet (S) accompanied the slave-girl. As they reached the house, the girl said: "This is the house."
The Holy Prophet (S) said in a high voice from behind the door: "O people of the house, Salamun alaykum, peace be upon you,"
He (S) did not get any reply.
Thus he (S) said again, yet there was no reply.
For the third time, he (S) saluted, they replied: “As-salamu alaykum, O Messenger of Allah, wa rahmatullah wa barakatu.”
"Why did you not reply for the first time; didn't you hear my voice?"
"Of course, yes, we heard your voice the first time and came to know that it was you!"
“Then what was the reason for your delay?”
"O Messenger of Allah! We loved to hear your voice "salam" again and again. Your "Salam" is peace, blessing and grace for our house."
"This slave-girl of yours was delayed. I came here to ask you not to pester her."
"O Messenger of Allah! Because of your gracious visit, this slave-girl is free from now on."
The Holy Prophet (S) said: "Thanks to Almighty Allah, how blessed these twelve dirhams were which, became the dress of two naked persons and a slave-girl got emancipated."1
- 1. Bihar ul-Anwar, v. 6; Al-Khisal: 271/1, h. 13.