The Story of Abu Nasr As-Sayyad

Abu Nasr As-Sayyad was a very poor fisherman. One day he had no food for his wife and son so went to the masjid and started crying. The Imam knew his situation so took him to a river bank and told him to offer 2 units of prayer and throw the fishing net with the name of Allah. He caught a large fish and went to the market to sell it for a small loaf of bread. He left for home but on his way he met a destitute woman and her son. They were starving like his own wife and son, and they started looking at his loaf in hunger.

He thought of them and then his own family, and remembered that Allah would not forsake him. So he gave the small loaf of bread to the destitute woman and child. The child smiled and the woman started weeping in gratitude. He returned home distressed, but soon after he heard a knock on the door. Someone said “Is this the house of Abu Nasr As-Sayyad?” and he replied “Yes”. The man gave him some money that he had borrowed from his late father. He took the money, struck with astonishment and happiness.

After this, As-Sayyad became a merchant and was so rich with a large fortune that he was able to give a thousand dirhams in charity in one go! But he got conceited and started showing off. One night he went to sleep and saw in a dream that it was Judgement Day, and names were being called out to measure their good and bad deeds. His turn came and angels put his evil deeds against his good ones.

His evil deeds were as heavy as a mountain and his good deeds as light as a bundle of cotton, because even though he had given thousands in charity it was in vain because of showing off and lack of sincerity. So the angel asked “Is there anything left?” And there was only one thing left – the small loaf of bread he had given the poor woman. It was added to the good deeds which got heavier with more weight than the thousands of dirhams given after, but the evil deeds still outweighed them. So the angel asked again if there was anything left. There turned out to be still something left, which was the smile of the child. It was added and the good deeds became equal to the evil ones. Again the angel asked and the last thing left were the tears of the woman, which were as heavy as a sea of tears when added. This outweighed the evil deeds and he heard the angel saying that he was saved! He woke up that night and glorified Allah for that small loaf of bread.

Lessons:

  • Allah tests those who have even been given very little to see their trust in Him
  • Good deeds given with sincerity, no matter how simple, may be compensated with multiple rewards
  • Acts of charity or virtue done without sincerity will be done in vain
  • Allah may save someone based on a single event or circumstance in his/her life
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4 thoughts on “The Story of Abu Nasr As-Sayyad”

  1. Do you have any reference for that story? Because when I shared it with one of my friends I was asked for the reference?

    1. Subhan’Allah it was so long ago I typed up this story, and before I took referencing seriously. I honestly cannot fully remember. I believe it was from a talk by Amr Khaled on one of the 99 Names of Allah. If I come across it again I will let you know insha’Allah.

  2. Great story! I love these tales with a moral that are easily understood by children and adults alike. They encourage sincerity in charity and all good deeds, for that matter, while discouraging ostentation and braggadocio in doing those good deeds. Thanks for sharing!

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