The Lady Who Spoke Only Verses of the Qur’an

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

This incident was narrated by Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak (r.a.).  He was a man of great learning and he lived in the era of the Abbasids.  This incident reflects the love and attachment with the Noble Qur’an.  It also manifests the comprehensiveness of the Noble Qur’an.

An elderly Arab lady was sitting at the trunk of a tree, on the way to hajj.  Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak (r.a.) happened to pass that way.  He was also heading for Baytullah, for hajj, and to the sacred tomb of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.).  Seeing this lady very disturbed and in a state of distress, he spoke to her.  The discussion is recorded as follows.

Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak (r.a.) said, “as-Salaamu‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullah.

The lady replied:

“Peace! - a Word (of salutation) from a Lord Most Merciful!” (Surah YaSin:58)

She meant that the reply of salaam is from Allah, (s.w.t.), Himself.  She further said:

To such as Allah Rejects from His Guidance, there can be no guide; He will Leave them in their trespasses, wandering in distraction. (Surah al-A’araf:186)

Imam ‘Abdullah bin Mubarak (r.a.) asked, “Where are you coming from?”

The lady answered:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque ... (Surah al-Isra’:1)

She meant that she had come from Masjid al-Aqswa.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “How long are you in this place?”

The lady replied:

“… for three nights ...” (Surah Maryam:10)

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “What arrangements are made for your food?”

The lady said:

“Who gives me food and drink” (Surah ash-Shu’ara:79)

She meant that somehow or the other, her food was Provided to her by Allah (s.w.t.).

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “Is there any water for wudhu’?”

The lady said:

… and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands ... (Surah an-Nisa’:43)

She meant that she did tayammum because she could not find water.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) passed her some food.  “Here is some food.  Partake of it.”

… then complete your fast until the night appears ... (Surah al-Baqarah:187)

She indicated that she was fasting.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) said, “This is not the month of Ramadhan.”

The lady replied:

… And if anyone obeyeth his own impulse to Good ― be sure that Allah is He Who Recogniseth and Knoweth. (Surah al-Baqarah:158)

She was observing an optional fast even though she was a traveller.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) reminded her, “It is permitted to break the fast when in a journey.”

The lady replied:

… and it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. (Surah al-Baqarah:184)

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) said, “Speak like how I speak.”

The lady replied:

Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it). (Surah Qaf:18)

She meant that since every word of a person is observed and recorded, she is taking precaution by speaking only in the Words of the Holy Qur’an.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “Which clan do you belong to?”

The lady answered:

And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). (Surah al-Isra’:36)

She meant those things that he had no knowledge of, nor concerned him, he was wasting his time by enquiring about them.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) said, “Forgive me.  I have certainly made a mistake.”

The lady said:

… “This day let no reproach be (cast) on you: Allah will Forgive you…” (Surah Yusuf:92)

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “Would you like to travel on my camel and meet your caravan?”

The lady said:

… And whatever good ye do (be sure) Allah Knoweth it ... (Surah al-Baqarah:197)

She meant that if he would do this good deed towards her, Allah (s.w.t.) Would Recompense him for it.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) said, “Well, then you may mount it.”  Saying this he made the camel to sit down.

The lady said:

Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze... (Surah an-Nur:30)

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) understood and looked away.  While she was mounting, the camel jerked and her clothes got entangled in the saddle, and she proclaimed:

Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought ... (Surah ash-Shura’:30)

In other words, she was drawing Imam ‘Abdullah’s (r.a.) attention towards this mishap.  Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) understood and he tied the legs of the camel and he straightened the straps of the saddle.  She applauded him for his proficiency and capability by saying:

To Solomon, We Inspired the (right) understanding of the matter ... (Surah al-Anbiya’:79)

When the journey was about to begin, the lady recited the verses which are read when undertaking a journey.

“Glory to Him Who has subjected these to Our (use), for We could never have accomplished this (by ourselves).” (Surah az-Zukhruf:13)

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) held the bridle of the camel.  He began to hum the huddi, the Bedouin Arabic song for travelling, and he started walking very fast.

“And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice …” (Surah Luqman:19)

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) understood.  He began walking slower and he lowered his voice.  The lady said:

… read ye, therefore, of the Qur’an as much as may be easy for you ... (Surah al-Muzzammil:20)

She meant that instead of humming the huddi, he should rather recite the Holy Qur’an.  Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) began reciting the Qur’an.  The lady became very pleased and said:

… but none will grasp the message but men of understanding. (Surah al-Baqarah:269)

After reciting the Qur’an for a while, Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked the lady if she had a husband who was alive, “O Aunt, have you a husband?”

The lady said:

O ye who believe!  Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble ... (Surah al-Ma’idah:101)

She meant that no questions should be asked regarding this matter which indicated that her husband has most probably passed away.  Finally, they caught up with the caravan.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “Do you have any son or relative in this caravan who has connections with you?”

The lady replied:

Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world: but the things that endure ... (Surah al-Kahf:46)

She meant that her sons were with this caravan and they had provisions with them.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “What work are your sons doing for the caravan?”  Imam ‘Abdullah’s (r.a.) objective for asking was to make it easy for him to recognise them.

The lady said:

And marks and signposts; and by the stars (men) guide themselves. (Surah an-Nahl:16)

She meant that they were guides for the caravan.

Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) asked, “Can you tell me their names?”

The lady said:

… For Allah did Take Abraham for a friend. (Surah an-Nisa’:125)

… and to Moses Allah Spoke Direct. - (Surah an-Nisa’:164)

(To his son came the command), “O Yahya!  Take hold of the Book with might”: and We Gave him wisdom even as a youth. (Surah Maryam:12)

By reciting these verses, the lady informed him that her sons names were named Yahya, Ibrahim and Musa.  Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.) called out these names in the caravan and immediately three young men came forward.

The lady addressed her children:

… Now send ye then one of you with this money of yours to the town: let him find out which is the best food (to be had) and bring some to you, that (ye may satisfy hunger therewith ... (Surah al-Kahf:19)

In other words, she instructed them to feed Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.).  When the food was brought, she told Imam ‘Abdullah (r.a.):

“Eat ye and drink ye, with full satisfaction; because of the (good) that ye sent before you, in the days that are gone!” (Surah al-Haqqah:24)

And with this verse she recited another verse to convey her gratefulness to him for his good conduct and courtesy:

Is there any Reward for good other than good? (Surah ar-Rahman:60)

Their conversation terminated on this verse.  The lady’s son informed Imam ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak (r.a.) that his mother has been speaking in this manner for the last forty years.


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