Shaikh Ebrahim bin Muhammad Al-Hilaali (rahimahullah) was a very learned and pious Syrian scholar who passed away in the year 1238 AH (1823 A.C.).

While Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) was studying in Egypt, there was once a period when had no money at all. During this time, two days had passed in which the Shaikh was unable to find anything to eat. He was so hungry and desperate that he left Al-Azhar and began to wander through the streets, hoping that Allah Ta‘ala would perhaps make some means for him to acquire food.

While wandering through the streets, he entered a certain alley and saw a double-story house with a huge door. When he saw the size of the house and the hugeness of the door, he realized that the owner of the house had to be a wealthy person and thus entered the home. On entering, he did not bump into anyone on the ground floor, and so went directly to the kitchen where he found a pantry packed with all types of delicious foods! When he saw the delicious food and smelt its aroma, he was so hungry that he almost began to eat it! However, his taqwa and the fear of Allah Ta‘ala did not allow him to eat the food because it did not belong to him. For almost a whole hour, he stood at the pantry, torn between his hunger to eat and the fear of Allah Ta‘ala, until eventually, he closed the pantry and left the house hungry.

Although Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) was unaware of it, the owner of the house had been in the upper story of the house. He had seen him enter and had been watching him all along! The owner, however, was confused by the behaviour of Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah). Why did he enter the kitchen and remain there for so long, yet leave without eating anything? Wanting to know the answer, he sent his servant to call Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah). When Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) came, he asked him to explain the reason.

Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) explained that it was extreme hunger that made him enter the home because he had not eaten for two days! However, it was the fear of Allah Ta‘ala that stopped him from eating because the food did not belong to him. When the man heard the story, he was impressed by the taqwa of Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) and the fact that he was a student of Deen. He immediately called for the principal of Al-Azhar as well as some of his friends. As soon as they arrived, he married his daughter to Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah). 

(I’laamun Nubalaa bi Taareekhi Halab Ash-Shahbaa vol. 7, pgs. 221 & 223)

Lessons:

1. No matter how exotic the car may be, a person will never put the ‘pedal to the metal’ unless it has a good braking system as well. Taqwa is the braking system that stops us from crashing into Jahannum. The next time we feel the urge to look at a girl, or watch a movie, or take something that doesn’t belong to us, let us immediately hit the brakes and avoid the disaster.

2. When looking for a husband or wife, what does a person look for? Beauty? Brains? Bank balance? Our Deen teaches us that piety and good character are the main qualities to look for in a spouse. If a spouse is blessed with piety and good character, they won’t make you miserable, abuse you and betray you. They will make you happy in this world and will assist you to reach Jannah.

3. Imagine that your best friend left his lunch at home and came to school. When you saw that he was starving, you went to him and happily shared your own lunch with him. Would he be appreciative? Obviously! In fact, if he was a decent person, he would perhaps show you his appreciation by giving you a small gift in return. Similarly, when we leave out something haraam to please Allah Ta‘ala, then He undoubtedly appreciates our effort and sacrifice. However, since Allah Ta‘ala is the Most Kind and Generous, He won’t give us some small chocolate in return. Instead, he will reward us in the Hereafter and also bless us in this world with something better than what we sacrificed. When Shaikh Ebrahim (rahimahullah) left the food that was not halaal for him, Allah Ta‘ala rewarded him with far more – he received the same food in a halaal manner, and also received a wife and home.