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Story 86: Teacher’s Reproof

One night Sayyid Jawad 'Amuli, the renowned jurisconsult and the author of the book "Miftahul Karamah", was busy eating dinner when he heard a knock at the door.

Running quickly towards the door, he came to understand that it was the servant of his teacher, Sayyid Mahdi Bahrul 'Ulum.

The servant said: "His honourable teacher summons you immediately. Sitting at the dining-table, he shall not touch the food till you go to him."

There was no time to delay; without finishing his food, Sayyid Jawad hurried up to Sayyid Bahrul 'Ulum's house.

As soon as he saw Sayyid Jawad, Sayyid Bahrul ‘Ulum protested loudly with an unprecedent anger and great sorrow: "Sayyid Jawad! Don't you fear Allah! Do you not feel ashamed before Allah!?"

Immersed in great perplexity, Sayyid Jawad wondered what had occurred and what event had taken place! For it was the first time he was reproached by his teacher in such a manner. The more he exerted his mind, the less he could find out the reason.

Helplessly he asked: "Your honourable teacher! Could you please explain what my fault was?"

The teacher said: "So and so person, your neighbour and his family, has not been able to attain rice and wheat since seven days; during this period of time, he passed his days by buying the dates in credit from grocery at the end of the lane.
Today, when he went to procure the dates, before having uttered a word the grocer said: “Your debts have already increased!” On hearing these words, he felt ashamed to demand again in credit and came back home empty-handed; tonight, he and his family have got nothing for dinner."

Sayyid Jawad said: "I swear by Allah, I was not in the picture. Had I known, I would have supplied his needs."

His teacher said: "That is why I am roaring with anger; after all, why did you not inquire about the situation of your neighbour? And why did they pass seven days in this state without your knowing of them? For if you knew about their needs and did not take any action, you would not be basically a Muslim, but a Jew.

Sayyid Jawad said: "Tell me what I should do at present?"

"My servant will carry this big tray full of food, and you will go with him to the man's house. The servant will place this try in front of the entrance door of that man and will come back; but you knock at the door and request him to have dinner with you tonight; also take this money and put it under their carpet or mat; apologize to him for having failed to do your duties, as a neighbour. Leave the tray there and come back. 1 will not eat my dinner and will be waiting for your return until you inform me of that pious man."

The servant held the big tray full of different types of delicious food and set out along with Sayyid Jawad. They arrived at the entrance door; the servant kept the tray and returned, and Sayyid Jawad entered the house after seeking permission.

The owner of the house, after listening to his apology and his request, began to eat. After taking a morsel of food he found it delicious, but he felt that the food was not cooked in Sayyid Jawad's house for Sayyid Jawad was an Arab.

Immediately he stopped eating and said: "This food is not cooked by an Arab, therefore it has not been brought from your house, so we will not touch it till you tell me where this food has come from."

The man's guess was absolutely right; the food was cooked in Bahrul 'Ulum's house, he and his family were Persian by origin, from Burujird. Sayyid Jawad insisted on his eating, but he refused and said: "If you don't say, I will not touch it."

Sayyid Jawad had no other alternative than to tell the whole story from the beginning to the end.

After hearing the incident, that man started eating the food. But amazingly, he said: "I have never exposed my secret to anyone, hiding it from my closest neighbours; I do not know how Sayyid came to know of it."1

"The gnostic on the way did not confide Divine secret to anyone"

"I am in bewilderment, whence the tavern keeper heard it?"

  • 1. Al-Kuna wa al-Alqab, Muhaddith al-Qummi, v. 2, p. 62.