Skip to main content
A Moment for Reflection
Apr 1, 2004

The Generosity of ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib

(May God be pleased with him)

One day Ali ibn Abu Talib was working in the date orchard. After a long day’s work he loaded a sack of dates on his camel, and headed for home. The halter of the camel was in the hand of his slave. When they entered Madina they heard a poor man begging, raising his hands, “Help me for God’s sake.” Upon this Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, enquired of his slave, Kambar:

- What does this poor man want?

- He wants dates, Sir.

- Then give him some.

- But the dates are in the sack, sir.

- Then give him the whole sack.

- But the sack is on the camel, sir.

- Then give him the camel.

Kambar complied with this order. He later commented about this occasion, saying, “If I had said that the halter of the camel was in my hand, he wouldn’t have hesitated to give me to that poor man. I refrained from saying so, as I was afraid.”


Once there were two brothers. Both of them lived on a farm which they had inherited from their parents. One of them was married and the other was single. These two brothers worked on this farm all day. At the end of each day they shared their harvest.

One day the bachelor brother thought:

“To share the grain equally is not just or right. I am alone and I don’t have many needs.” On the strength of this idea he left a sack of grain at his older brother’s house; he did this secretly, without letting anyone else see.

At the same time, the older married brother was thinking to himself:

“To share the grain equal is not just. Furthermore I am married. I have a wife and children. My children can take care of me when I get older. But my younger brother has no one.”

Thus, the married brother took a sack of grain to his younger brother, again, secretly. Both brothers continued to do this for a long time. They did not understand what was actually happening because their cereal never diminished. Then one night both brothers were taking a sack of grain to the other, secretly. They ran into one another, and saw that the other had a sack of grain on his back. In the end they understood what had been happening for years.

They put down the sacks of grain and gave each other a hug. The greatest happiness in this life is to believe yourself loved by others.