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Story of a man in the time of Rasulullah (Sallallah Alayhi Wasallam)

Abdullah bin Abbaas (RA) relates, “In the time of Rasullullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), a certain man had a date palm tree growing in the courtyard of his house. A branch of the tree was hanging above the house of one of his neighbours who was a poor man. When the rich man climbed the tree to pick fruit and shook its branches, some of its dates fell into the poor man’s yard and his children picked them from the ground. At this, the rich man would climb down, go into his neighbour’s house and snatch the dates from the children. And if he saw a child chewing a date, he would thrust his fingers into his mouth and take out the date.

The poor man went to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and complained about his neighbour. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) heard the complaint and sent him away, but then called the owner of the date palm and said to him, “Are you willing to give me the date palm hanging over your neighbour’s house, in return for which I promise you a date palm tree in Jannah?”

The man said, “O Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), many people have desired to buy this tree. I also possess many other date palms; but I like its dates very much and, therefore, I have not sold it to anyone”, and thus excused himself from giving the tree away. (As he was the lawful owner, Rasulullah {sallallahu alayhi wasallam} did not insist on buying the tree from him against his will).

When the man went away, a Sahaabi, who had been listening to this conversation, came forward and said, “O Rasulullah {sallallahu alayhi wasallam}, do you also promise me a tree in Jannah if I buy that date palm from him and present it to you?” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) replied, “Certainly, I promise you the same.”

At this, the Sahaabi got up, went over to the owner of the tree and said to him, “I also own a plantation of date palms. Can you sell that tree of yours at any price?” The man said, “Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) promised me a tree in Jannah in return for this date palm, but I declined the offer. The fact is that I like this tree very much. I might sell it, but nobody would pay the price I demand for it.” The Sahaabi said, “How much do you demand?” and the man said, “I could give it in exchange for forty date palms.” The Sahaabi said, “This seems too much for a crooked tree, but are you sure that you would give this tree in exchange for forty date palms?” The man said, “Certainly, and if you confirm the bargain, adjure on oath.”

The Sahaabi swore that he was willing to buy that tree for forty date palms, but the man backed out of the agreement and refused to sell the tree. The Sahaabi said to him, “You cannot back out now, for I am on an oath to buy it.” The man said, “All right, but all forty trees should be growing in one and the same place.” The Sahaabi thought for a while and said, “Yes, all trees are growing in one and the same place.”

When the bargain was finally settled, the Sahaabi came to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and said, “I have bought the date palm tree and I present it to you.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) went to the poor man’s house and bestowed the tree upon him as a gift. It was after this incident that Surah Al-Layl was revealed. (Fazaail-e-Sadaqaat)


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