How much tolerance do we show for each other? If we do something good once in a while for our neighbor or relative, we mention that and brag about it a hundred times. And if we suffer harm, regardless if it was intentional or not, we would point out that mistake and the harm we suffered several times more.
This following example of one of our early scholars of Islam is worth contemplating about. His behavior and manners with his neighbor, who was not even a Muslim, is a wake-up call for Muslims in the 21st century on how far we have strayed from Islamic teachings.
Hasan Al-Basri (d. 728 CE) had a neighbor who was a Christian. This neighbor had a toilet on the roof of his apartment and it used to leak through a hole in the roof of Hasan Al-Basri’s apartment. Hasan placed a bucket beneath the hole to catch the urine that would leak through it and discard the contents at the end of each day. This continued for 20 years.
Then one day, Hasan fell ill and his Christian neighbor came to visit him. When he entered, the neighbor noticed the bucket of urine that was leaking through the hole in his ceiling and asked Hasan astoundingly: “How long have you been tolerating this harm from me?!" Hasan replied: "For 20 years." So the Christian neighbor took off his belt (which was the clothing of the Christians during that time) and accepted Islam. (Hilyah Al-Awliya)
Do we Muslims today tolerate a small inconvenience for a week from our relatives, let alone our neighbors? Even if we kept quiet, it would show up in our attitude and behavior. Hasan Al-Basri not only tolerated it for 20 years, but his behavior was so normal that the neighbor didn’t have any idea of the harm he was causing.
Such superior level of manners can be achieved when one does deeds only for the sake of Allah alone. This incident is an example of Ikhlas Insha Allah. For 20 years Hasan tolerated this secretly, without letting anyone know about it. Allah knows best about Hasan’s heart, but it appears he did this purely for Allah’s sake, hoping for His reward alone, so the fruit too was sweet – the man embraced Islam.
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