The story of Habib the Persian

On the tenth day at the time of the midday prayer a thought entered his mind. “What can I take home tonight, and what am I to tell my Wife?” And he pondered this deeply. Straightway Almighty God sent a porter to the door of his house with an ass-load of flour, another with a skinned sheep, and another with oil, honey, herbs, and seasonings. The porters loaded up all this. A handsome young man accompanied them with a purse of three hundred silver dirhams. Coming to Habib’s house, he knocked on the door. “What do you want?” asked Habib’s wife, opening the door. “The Master has sent all this,” the handsome youth replied. “Tell Habib, ‘You increase your output, and we will increase your wages.”‘ So saying, he departed. At nightfall Habib proceeded homeward, ashamed and sorrowful. As he approached his house, the aroma of bread and cooking assailed his nostrils. His wife ran to greet him and wiped his face and was gentle with him as she had never been before. “Husband,” she cried, “the man you are working for is a very fine gentleman, generous and full of loving kindness. See what he sent by the hand of a handsome young man! And the young man said, ‘When Habib comes home, tell him, You increase your output, and we will increase your wages.’ Habib was amazed. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed. “I worked for ten days, and he did me all this kindness. If I work harder, who knows what he will do?” And he turned his face wholly away from worldly things and gave himself up to God’s service.

The miracles of Habib

One day an old woman came to Habib and, falling at his feet, wept bitterly. “I have a son who has been absent from me a long time. I can no longer endure to be parted from him. Say a prayer to God,” she begged Habib. “It may be that by the blessing of your prayer God will send him back to me.”

“Have you any money?” Habib asked her. “Yes, two dirhams,” she replied. “Bring them, and give them to the poor.” And Habib recited a prayer, then he said to the old woman, “Be gone. Your son has returned to you.”

The old woman had not yet reached the door of her house, when she beheld her son.

“Why, here is my son!” she shouted, and she brought him to Habib.

“What happened?” Habib enquired of him.

“I was in Kerman,” the son replied. “My teacher had sent me to look for some meat. I obtained the meat and was just returning to him, when the wind seized hold of me. I heard a voice saying,

” ‘Wind, carry him to his own home, by the blessing of Habib’s prayer and the two dirhams given in alms.’ ”

One year on the eighth day of Dhul-Hijja, Habib was seen in Basra and on the ninth day at Arafat.3

Once a famine was raging in Basra. Habib purchased many provisions on credit and gave them away as alms. He fastened his purse and placed it under his pillow. When the tradesmen came to demand payment, he would take out his purse and it was full of dirhams, which he gave away as loans.4

Habib had a house in Basra on the crossroads. He also had a fur coat which he wore summer and winter. Once, needing to perform the ritual washing, he arose and left his coat on the ground. Hasan of Basra, happening on the scene, perceived the coat flung in the road. “This ‘barbarian’ does not know its value,” he commented. “This fur coat ought not to be left here. It may get lost.” So he stood there watching over it. Presently Habib returned. “Imam of the Muslims,” he cried after saluting Hasan, “why are you standing here?”

“Do you not know,” Hasan replied, “that this coat ought not to be left here? It may get lost. Say, in whose charge did you leave it?”

“In His charge,” Habib answered, “who appointed you to watch over it.”

One day Hasan came to call on Habib. Habib placed two rounds of barley bread and a little salt before Hasan. Hasan began to eat. A beggar came to the door, and Habib gave the two rounds and the salt to him.

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