Shuwail and Kiramah

During the time of the Prophet (saws) there was a Christian Arab princess  named Kiramah bint Abd al-Masih who was well known through poems and tales of her beauty. She lived in Hira, a Roman city which was the centre of the Christian Arabs. The Prophet (saws) predicted that the Muslims would conquer Hira and a Bedouin companion named Shuwail (ra) asked the Prophet (saws) if he could have Kiramah. The Prophet (saws) said “She will be yours.” This man was a Bedouin who lived a rough life and was uneducated and unlettered.

When the Muslims conquered Hira under Khalid bin Waleed (ra) during the time of Abu Bakr (ra), Shuwail approached Khalid and asked for Kiramah. Khalid was surprised that a Bedouin would be promised a princess, but he brought forward his witnesses and Kiramah was brought to him. The women of the household objected but Kiramah said she would handle it.

When she stood before him, he was left speechless that she was a wrinkled old woman! She called him a fool and said that those tales were told decades before when she was young. She said “Of what use is an old woman to you? Let me go!”

But Shuwail, despite being uneducated, knew that she was still of worth and he could earn a profit by making her pay for her freedom. She asked for the price and he said “I am not the son of the mother of Shuwail if I let you go for less than ten hundred dirhams (i.e. 1000 dirhams).” She mildly protested but then paid the fee and returned to her family.

Shuwail returned to his comrades full of pride saying that he had made her pay through her nose. He was met by laughter and they exclaimed “1000 dirhams! For Kiramah you could have gotten much much more!”

Shuwail replied “More than ten hundred dirhams?? I didn’t know there was anything more than ten hundred dirhams!”

Hearing this, Khalid bin Waleed laughed and said “Man intends one thing, but Allah intends another.”

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