Smoke From the Chimney

Abu Unsure December 23, 2011 3

One of the righteous predecessors, Habib al Ajami, was a man given to much servitude and devotion to Allaah. He spent all his time in the ‘ibaadah of Allaah [swt]. One day his wife approached him, and she explained their state of complete destitution. She told him how hungry they were, how there was no food and nothing to cook in the house. Al-Ajami’s wife suggested that Habib go and rent his services to the people, and be paid so that they may live. Habib agreed.

The next day he set out early in the morning and went to the graveyard. He spent his whole day there, in complete devotion and worship of Allaah [swt]. When he returned home in the evening, his wife asked about the payment. He said, ‘Don’t worry, the one I am working for is so generous, and he will certainly pay me soon.’ The wife was pacified.

The next day Habib al Ajami did the same. He set off in the morning and spent his entire day in worship. Once more he returned home, and once more his wife enquired about the wages he’d received for his days work. He made some more excuses, once more talking of the virtue and vast generosity of the one he was working for.

Day three came; he set off the same and did the same. He returned home, and by now his excuses were wearing thin. He offered something feeble to his wife, and she replied, how generous can he be that he doesn’t even pay you for the day’s work that you do? Tell him that if he doesn’t pay you by tomorrow, you will no longer work for him. Habib agreed.

Day four – Habib al Ajami did what came to him naturally; he set out early and spent the day at the graveyard, engrossed in his worship of Allaah. Returning home in the evening, he was anxious and panicked about what he would tell his wife today. After all, his excuses had run out! Nearing home, he saw that there was smoke coming from the chimney. Habib became curious - the smoke indicated a lit fire. Why would fire be lit in a house where there’s no food, and thus, nothing to cook.

When Habib entered his home he was met by the warm embrace and good pleasure of his wife. She was beaming! She told him that a messenger had come while he was away at work, and had brought his payment. They’d been given two sacks of gold, a sack of money and a generous supply of food. She then explained that the messenger had also left a message:

“Tell Habib that We recognise his hard work. And tell him, that when We withhold, it is not because We are miserly. Rather it is so that we may test and then give you generously.”

On hearing this, Habib al Ajami wept and glorified Allaah [swt].

Rahimahullaah! MashaAllaah tabarakAllaah, may Allaah [swt] be pleased with him!

Please note: if you wish to forward/share this story with others, inshaAllaah you are free to do so. BUT you must let me know first, so that I can clarify important matters as were explained to us by our teacher. Please also note that this story was relayed to us by one of our sheikhs. Any errors, omissions or misunderstandings arising are a reflection of the inabilities of the one to whom the story was related [myself], not on those who conveyed the message. May Allaah [swt] exalt the people of knowledge. Aameen. Wallahu alam.

The note and article was contributed by Author ‘-’.


  1. Abdullah December 25, 2011 at 7:43 am Reply Tweet

    Can I ask about the graveyard bit…? 
    Why worship in a graveyard?

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  2. - December 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm Reply Tweet

    salaamu’alaikum wa rahmatullah

    sorry, can’t help you there - i have absolutely no idea! perhaps it was to remind himself of death and the afterlife, allahu alam.

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  3. - December 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm Reply Tweet

    bismillaahir rahmaanir raheem

    assalaamu’alaikum wa rahmatullah

    please find below the explanation to the story inshaAllah, as best as can be explained by my limited self:

    Points to note:
    Our Sheikh related this story to us, interestingly, as a side-point in explanation of adherence to the sunnah. Here are some of the points to take from this story inshaAllah:
    - The Sunnah of the Prophet [saw] is perfect and complete, and it is the example, the standard by which we are to live our lives. The Prophet [saw] was the sublime embodiment of how to live this worldly life, and we see from his seerah, he struck a balance between work and worship. This is THE standard by which the rank and file, the upright and the righteous should live.
    - It is necessary that a man provide for his family; this is part of his role, as ordained by Allah.
    - Habib al Ajami’s station was unique to him. As we mentioned, it is the duty of the man, and part of the sunnah, that the man works and provides for his family. If Allah chooses a slave as one that can be devoted to Hm and still have his worldly needs fulfilled, as was the case with Habib al Ajami and other righteous predecessors [see the hadeeth on tawakkul in the Compendium of Ibn Rajab for examples], then Alhamdulillah, this is a blessing that Allah [swt] bestows upon whom He wills, an opening He makes for His chosen slaves. However, this is NOT the precedent by which the average Muslim should live their life. These stories are an inspiration yes, but the example to follow is the best of examples, and that is of Prophet [saw].
    - By the same taken, however, we should acknowledge that Habib al Ajami’s actions were not a contradiction of the sunnah for him. His attachment was entirely to Allah, and Allah [swt] sufficed him.
    - So to reiterate, we adhere to the Sunnah of the Prophet [saw] in our actions and conduct, and if after much striving and ibaadah one day Allah [swt] makes us of the chosen elect, then Alhamdulillah. But to use inspiring stories such as this as the standard of living for a Muslim is wrong; the sunnah overrides everything, and the sunnah shows us how to live. Wallahu ‘alam.
    - As a final point, the Prophet [saw] never reached an evening except that he gave out all that he had in terms of worldly provision. He never kept anything with himself [saw]. In a similar vein, it is important to remember that when the men of Allah are given as Habib al Ajami was given, they do not consider themselves as rich and having hit a jackpot. A mercy and miracle such as this simply brings about a greater gratitude and attachment to Allah for them – they give all of what is given to them back out in His way. For they have sold themselves to Allah; material gains are not their pursuits.
    These are some of the points our teacher addressed, and as we mentioned, he related this story to explain to us that whilst we are inspired by the mercy Allah bestows on those who strive in His way, we do not take it as the means by which we live our lives. Our adherence and reference is always back to the Sunnah of the beloved Prophet [saw], the best of all creation.
    And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows best.

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