'Ali ibn al-Maymoon al-Abbassi was a governor and son
of the Caliph. He lived a life of opulence in a large castle. Anything he wanted
in this world was easy for him.
One day, looking down from a balcony in the castle, he
saw a man toiling in the fields. On succeeding days, 'Ali paid more and more
attention to the man and witnessed that he always worked straight through the
morning, after which, he would take a break, make ablution from a stream, and
pray two units of prayer. Only when the evening came would he quit his work and
go home to his family. To learn more about him, 'Ali invited him one day and
asked him many questions. He soon learned that the worker had a wife, two sisters,
and a mother that were all under his care, and it was for their sake that he
toiled so assiduously. He fasted everyday and when nightfall came, he would
break his fast from what he had reaped during the day. 'Ali asked, "And do
you have any cause to complain?
" He answered, "No, All praise is due to
Allah, Lord of all that exists."
So impressed was he by the simple laborer, that â€کAli quit the castle, resigned from his position, and
traveled abroad. He was found dead years later in the vicinity of Kharasan.
After leaving the castle, he worked as a carpenter, and he found happiness in
his new life, happiness that was foreign to him in his former one.
(While as for those who accept guidance, He increases
their guidance, and bestows on them their piety.) (Quran 47: I7)
This narrative reminds me of the story of the people
of the Cave. They were in a castle with the king, yet they felt constricted, confused,
and troubled. The life of opulence, for the most part, is one wherein disbelief
and extravagance reign. And so they departed. One of them said:
(Then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a
way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair [i.e. will
give you what you will need of provision, dwelling, etc.) (Qur'an 18: 16)