Neither Wealth nor Beauty, but piety

Piety: The following is an extract from the book “Anecdotes of the Pious Men”, by Murtaza Motahhari; 1993. The anecdote is entitled “Jowaibir and Zalfa”.

“How beautiful it would be if you could marry and establish a family, ending this forlorn and isolated life? You could fulfill your natural urges and also she could help in your temporal and spiritual needs and goals.”

“O Messenger of Allah, I have neither wealth nor beauty; nor do I have a noble descent or lineage. Who will marry me? And which woman likes to be the wife of a poor, short, black, and ugly man like me?”

“O Jowaibir! God has changed the individual’s worth through Islam. Many people were high-placed in pre-Islamic society and Islam brought them down. Many were despised non-entities and Islam bestowed them with honour and high rank, and brought them up. Islam abolished the unIslamic discrimination and pride of lineage. Now all people irrespective of their colour and origin are equal. Nobody has superiority over others but through piety and obedience to Allah. Among the Muslims, only that person would be higher than you whose virtues and deeds are better than you. Now do as I tell you,”

These words were exchanged one day between the Prophet and Jowaibir when the Prophet came to see the people of “Suffa”.

Jowaibir was a native of “Yamamah” where he came to know about the Prophet and the advent of Islam. He was poor, black and short, but at the same time, intelligent, truth-seeking and a man of determination. He came to Medina to look at Islam from near; in a short time, he embraced it. Since he had neither money, house nor any friends, he was temporarily accommodated along with other poor Muslims in the mosque by permission of the Prophet. When it was revealed to the Prophet that the mosque was not a place of habitation, it became necessary to shift them elsewhere. The Prophet selected a site outside the mosque and erected a shed for them. The place was named “Suffa” – all of them poor from places far away from Medina.

The Prophet came to visit them one day. Noticing Jowaibir among them, he decided to bring him out of his forlorn life. It was beyond the fancy of Jowaibir to own a house and have a wife in his condition. And that was why he replied to the Prophet as to how anyone could accept him in matrimony when the Prophet advised him to marry. But the Prophet removing his doubts, explained to him the changes brought about in the social outlook of the people by Islam.

After bringing Jowaibir out of his inferiority complex, he directed him to the house of Ziad ibne Lubaid to request his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Ziad was one of the wealthiest persons in Medina and commanded high respect among his tribes. When Jowaibir entered his house, he was surrounded by his relatives and some of his tribesmen. Jowaibir took a seat, paused for a moment and then raising his head, said, “I have brought a message from the Prophet. Do you like to hear it confidentially or openly?”

Ziad: “A Message from the Prophet is an honour to me, you better proclaim it openly.”
“The Prophet has sent me to request you for your daughter for myself.”
“Did he make this suggestion to you?”
“I don’t speak on my own accord. Everybody knows me, I am not a liar.”
“Strange! We don’t give our daughters to persons of unequal status or outside our tribe. You go back and I shall go to the Prophet and talk to him.”

Read next week as to the fate of this young man…

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