Imam Qurtubi is regarded as one of the most pious and exemplary scholars of tafsir (exegesis of the Quran). He excelled in many fields and accomplished many feats in his native Spanish homeland. This story relates to his exemplary nature in balancing all aspects of his life.
The famous imam, may Allah have mercy on him, only had one pair of clothing to wear. Once, his wife was busy washing his clothes outside the house and their young baby started to cry. Imam Qurtubi quickly covered himself with one of his wife’s garments and picked up the baby to comfort it. He realised the baby was hungry, so he went outside and started kneading the dough to bake some bread.
While in this state, a woman came across his house, recognised him as the famous imam, and asked for his assistance to defend her in court. She insisted he must come immediately. So he left everything he was doing to accompany her to the court. When he arrived, he began speaking the truth to defend this woman, all the meantime in his wife’s garments, holding a baby in one hand, and dough in the other!
The judge, surprised by such action and having been distracted from the case, asked him “What is the condition of your state!?” Imam Qurtubi went on to describe the sequence of events that had occurred, and the judge turned around to the people and said “Have you ever seen such uprightness!”