Sultan Murad IV, 1623-1640, portrait in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, Turkey
Sultan Murad IV, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1623-1640, would often anonymously go into the midst of the people and see their state. One evening, he felt an uneasiness in himself and the urge to go out. He called for his head of security and out they went. They came to a busy vicinity, and found a man lying on the ground. The Sultan prodded him but he was dead and the people were going about their own business. Nobody seemed to care about the dead man lying on the ground.
The Sultan called upon the people. They didn’t recognize him and asked him what he wanted. He said, “Why is this man lying dead on the ground and why does no one seem to care?
Where is his family? “They replied, “He is so and so, the drunkard and fornicator!”
The Sultan said, “Is he not from the Ummah of Muhammad SAW? Now help me carry him to his house” The people carried the dead man with the Sultan to his house and once they reached, they all left. The Sultan and his assistant remained.
When the man’s wife saw his dead body, she began weeping. She said to his dead body, “Allah have mercy on you! O friend of Allah! I bear witness that you are from the pious ones.
“The Sultan was bewildered. He said, “How is he from the pious ones when the people say such and such things about him. So much so that no one even cared he was dead?”
She replied, “I was expecting that. My husband would go to the tavern every night and buy as much wine as he could. He would then bring it home and pour it all down the drain. He would then say, “I saved the Muslims a little today.” He would then go to a prostitute, give her some money and tell her to close her door till the morning. He would then return home for a second time and say, “Today I saved a young woman and the youth of the believers from vice.”
The people would see him buy wine and they would see him go to the prostitutes and they would consequently talk about him. One day I said to him, “When you die, there will be no one to bathe you, there will be no one to pray over you and there will be no one to bury you!”He laughed and replied, “Don’t fear, the Sultan of the believers, along with the pious ones shall pray over my body.”
The Sultan began crying. He said, “By Allah! He has said the truth, for I am Sultan Murad. Tomorrow we shall bathe him, pray over him and bury him.” And it so happened that the Sultan, the scholars, the pious people and the masses prayed over him.
We judge people by what we see and what we hear from others. Only if we were to see what was concealed in their hearts, a secret between them and their Lord.
“O you who believe, abstain from many of the suspicions. Some suspicions are sins. And do not be curious (to find out faults of others), and do not backbite one another. Does one of you like that he eats the flesh of his dead brother? You would abhor it. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is Most-Relenting, Very-Merciful.”