Queen Zubaiyda’s bargain Saiyed Zaigham Murtaza April 3, 2007
Religion is not about empty ritual but about faith. Nor can it be a compulsion on any one. But it’s curious how true devotion always seems to pay you back. One of my favourite stories about this concerns Bahlol of Baghdad, known as Bahlol Diwana, whom HT readers have encountered before in this column.
One day Bahlol was by the riverside making a sandcastle, like children do. Zubaiyda, wife of Caliph Haroon-al-Rashid happened to pass by. She was kind hearted enough to ask, "Bahlol! What are you doing?"
"Constructing a home for Paradise," replied Bahlol.
"Please would you sell this house to me?"
"Yes, I can, but for 100 dinars."
Since Zubaiyda wanted to help Bahlol in any way she could, she immediately paid him the amount.
Bahlol asked, "Don't you need a receipt?"
“Just write it up and send it to me later,” replied Zubaiyda.
When the Caliph came to know about it, he laughed at his wife. Meanwhile Bahlol distributed that money among the poor as he usually did.
That very night Zubaiyda had a dream. She saw a big garden, the like of which she had never seen before. In it was a splendid palace, rich with jewels and decorated sumptuously A river flowed by, its banks blooming with flowers. Zubaiyda was given a receipt, written in gold, and was told that this was the Garden that she had bought from Bahlol.
Zubaiyda woke up and told Haroon about it. Early in the morning, Haroon summoned Bahlol and asked to buy a house, too.
Bahlol laughed aloud. “Sorry, they are out of stock now. And even if I had one, I regret to say that I may not have given it to you, because Zubaiyda bought it without seeing (the reward). Whereas, you want to buy one now because you see gain in it.” Haroon felt ashamed but now it was too late.
It can be said that real rewards come through faith, not greed. God seems to best admire those services rendered without any motive but goodwill.