On a certain journey, Imam Abu Haneefa (RA) ran out of drinking water. It was scorching hot. Just then he saw a Bedouin coming his way, a water sack dangling from his shoulder. When he came within earshot, he greeted him and asked him to sell him some water.
At first, the man refused but agreed for a steep price. Five dirhams! The Imam had no choice but to buy it.
Having quenched his thirst with part of the water, the Imam asked if he would like to partake of some sattoo (a powder made of parched barley).
To the amazement of the Bedouin the Imam even coated the sattoo with some olive oil, not realizing the effects of sattoo coated with olive oil. No sooner did he eat it than he felt thirsty. “Could you give me some water please?”asked the Bedouin.
“Yes,” said the Imam, “but five dirhams per cup. Do you want it?”
The man did not realize that sattoon coated with olive oil makes a person thirsty. He was compelled to part with five dirhams, just for one cup of water!
In this way, the learned Imam was not only left with sufficient water but also recovered his five dirhams.
More than recovering the money, it was a lesson he taught to the man not to charge exorbitant prices for a basic commodity just because someone is in a desperate situation. This also taught him not to be greedy and selfish.
Excerpted from Wit, Wisdom and Humour (Part 1) by Hazrat Moulana Ahmad Muhammad Hathurani (RA)