Islamic Date21 Ṣafar
English Date20 October
The Cobbler's Hajj
The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi]
Abdullah bin Mubarak (rahimuhullah) had a dream while he was sleeping near the Kaaba. He saw two angels descend from the sky, and start talking to each other. One of the angels asked the other, "Do you know how many people have come for Hajj this year?" The other angel replied, "Six hundred thousand have come for Hajj." Abdullah bin Mubarak had also gone for Hajj that year. The first angel asked, "How many people's Hajj has been accepted?" The second replied, "I wonder if anyone's Hajj has been accepted at all." Abdullah bin Mubarak was grieved to hear that. Then he heard the other angel speak, "There is a cobbler in Damascus. His name is Ali bin al-Mufiq. He could not come for Hajj, but Allah has accepted his intention of Hajj. Not only will he get the reward for Hajj, but because of him, all the Hajjis will be rewarded."
When Abdullah bin Mubarak woke up, he decided he would go to Damascus and meet that cobbler whose intention of Hajj carried such weight.
On reaching Damascus, Abdullah bin Mubarak inquired about the cobbler. The town’s people directed him to a house. When a man appeared from the house Abdullah bin Mubarak greeted him and asked his name and what he did for a living. Then the cobbler asked the stranger's name that had come looking for him. Abdullah bin Mubarak was a very well-known scholar. When he introduced himself, the cobbler was anxious to find out why he was seeking him out.
Abdullah bin Mubarak asked the cobbler to tell him if he had made any plans to go for Hajj. He replied, "For thirty years I have lived in the hope of performing the Hajj. This year I had saved enough to go for Hajj, but Allah did not will it, so I couldn't make my intention translate into action." Abdullah bin Mubarak further asked, "Why couldn’t you go for Hajj?" In order not to disclose the reason the cobbler again replied, "It was Allah's will".
When Abdullah bin Mubarak persisted the cobbler revealed, "Once I went to see my neighbor's house. His family was just sitting down for dinner. Although I was not hungry I thought my neighbor would invite me to sit down for dinner out of courtesy but I could see that my neighbor was grieved about something and wanted to avoid inviting me for dinner. After some hesitation the neighbor told me, ‘I am sorry I cannot invite you for food. We were without food for three days and I could not bear to see the pain of hunger of my children. I went out looking for food today and found a dead donkey. In my desperation I cut out some meat from the dead animal, and brought it home so that my wife could cook it. It is Halal (lawful) for us because of our extreme hunger, but I cannot offer it to you.’ On hearing this, my heart bled with tears. I got up and went home, collected the three thousand dinars I had saved for Hajj, and gave my neighbor the money. I too had to go hungry but that was to save money for Hajj, but I thought helping my neighbor during his difficult times was more important. I still desire to go for Hajj if Allah wills."
Abdullah bin Mubarak was greatly inspired by the cobbler's story and told the cobbler of his dream.
Allah (azza wa jall) is Merciful and shows mercy to those who do likewise to His creatures. This act of compassion on the part of the cobbler was so pleasing to Him that it not only earned him the reward of Hajj but was extended to all the people who came for Hajj.