Historical Tales and Anecdotes of the Time of the Early Khalifahs/How 'Urwah-ibn-Udzlnah gained a Livelihood


IT is said that ʾUrwah-ibn-Udzînah[1] presented himself before Hishâm-ibn-ʾAbd-el-Málik, complaining of poverty. Hishâm asked, "Was it not thou who saidst,

'Verily I have discovered (tho' extravagance is not one of my qualities)
That my subsistence will come of itself to me.
I strive for it, and the pursuit of it wearies me,
But I sit down, and without my pains it comes to me.'

And hast thou now come from el-Hijâz to Syria to seek a livelihood?"

He made answer, "O Commander of the Faithful! thou hast been exhorted and informed." Then he went out, and mounted his dromedary, and returned to el-Hijâz.

And when night came, Hishâm was resting on his bed, and he thought of ʾUrwah, and said, "He is one of the Kuraish, and he spoke wisely; he came to me, and I dismissed him disappointed." So as soon as daylight appeared, he sent him a thousand dinârs.

And the messenger knocked at the door of ʾUrwah's house in el-Medînah, and gave him the money. Then said ʾUrwah, "Salute the Commander of the Faithful from me, and say to him, 'What thinkest thou now of my words? I worked hard, but found barren soil. When I returned home unsuccessful, and sat down in my house, my livelihood came of itself to me in my dwelling.'"

  1. Abu-ʾAâmir ʾUrwah-ibn-Udzînah, a man eminent for his learning and piety, was a member of the tribe of Laith, and a celebrated poet and traditionist. He died A.H. 118 (A.D. 736).