A man from a respectable background came to Balkh in Iran, accompanied by his wife and daughters. Shortly after their arrival the man fell ill and later died, leaving his wife and daughters. Without his support they became poor and suffered. So fearing the mockery of enemies, she fled Balkh with her daughters to another town.
On the day she arrived the weather was very cold, so she left her daughters in a mosque and went out in search of food. She passed by two groups of people. One was gathered around a Muslim who was the Sheikh and the other group around a Zoroastrian (Majusi) who was the security officer of the city.
She first went to the Sheikh and described her situation saying, “I am a woman of a respectable family, with daughters whom I have left in the local mosque, I have come in search of food.” He asked her, “Bring me proof that you are from a respectable family.” She replied, “I am a stranger in this town and therefore do not know anyone to testify for me.” She departed from him broken hearted.
She then went to the Zoroastrian and explained her situation to him, telling him about her noble background and her orphaned daughters who were, waiting her return. She also mentioned to him how the Sheikh had treated her. The Zoroastrian stood up and sent some womenfolk to bring her daughters and took all of them to his house. There he showered them with honour and generosity. He fed them fine food and clothed them in rich garments.
That night the Sheikh saw in a dream the Day of Resurrection and the banners were unfurled around the Prophet (Peace be Upon him). Ahead of him, was a green palace made of emeralds, its balconies of pearls and rubies and domes of pearls and corals. He asked the Prophet (Peace be Upon him), “Messenger of Allah, for whom is this palace?” The Prophet (Peace be Upon him) replied, “For a Muslim.” The Sheikh replied, “I am a Muslim!” The Prophet (Peace be Upon him) said, “Prove to me that you are a Muslim?” At that, the Sheikh was dumbstruck. The Prophet (Peace be Upon him) then said, “You asked a woman to produce proof of her respectability, and therefore my question to you, is can you produce proof that you are a Muslim?” At this point the Sheikh felt remorse about his treatment towards the woman and her orphaned daughters.
In the morning, he immediately set out to find the woman. He learnt she was staying with the Zoroastrian and so called for him. When the Zoroastrian arrived, the Sheikh requested that he sends the woman and her daughters to him. The Zoroastrian replied, “Under no circumstance! I have received great blessings from her.” The Sheikh said “Take a thousand dinars from me and bring them to me.” He shouted, “Impossible! The one who showed you the palace in your dream has made it (the palace) for me. Are you surprised because I am not a Muslim? By Allah, I did not sleep last night, before I and my family accepted Islam at that noble woman’s hand, and I dreamt something similar to what you dreamt; the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon him) asked me, “Is that noble woman and her daughters with you?” I replied: “Yes, Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (Peace be Upon him) said, “This palace is for you and your family. Allah created you a believer in pre-eternity.”
At that the Sheikh remained sorrowful and grieved for the missed opportunity of earning a lofty position in Paradise, due to his neglect of the widowed woman and her daughters.
Allah’s Messenger (Peace be Upon him) has said, “The one who strives on behalf of the widow and the needy is like a warrior in the path of Allah”. (Bukhari and Muslim,)
May Allah guide us to what is right for indeed, He is Generous, the most Kind, the most Merciful!