As a young boy, ‘Abbaas, one of the sons of Haaroon Rasheed liked to talk and listen to good religious people. He would visit graveyards frequently and learn lessons from the outcome of people. He cared nothing for the way he dressed.
Once, when his father was talking with his ministers and officers, the boy came up to them wearing only two pieces of cloth, one round his waist and the other on his head. The men looked at him. They did not like to see a prince dressed this way. They thought it was not right for a king’s son to dress in such a poor manner. “This boy is very bad, he upsets his father. He should dress properly so that the king may be proud of him when other kings come to see him”, they said. When the king asked his son to dress in rich clothes the boy did not answer but decided to show them a miracle, something he was able to do because of his intense love for Allah. He looked around and seeing a bird a long way off, he called it to his side. The bird flew onto the child’s hand. He then told the bird to fly away and it did so.
Having shown everyone what he was able to do because he loved Allah more than anything else, he turned to his father and told him that he wore shabby clothes because, if he loved Allah, such earthly things were not important and that he was sad because his father seemed to love the world more than Allah.
Soon, the boy knew it was time to leave his father’s court and serve Allah Alone. He took with him a copy of the glorious Qur’aan and a precious ring, which his mother gave him to make use of if he ever needed any money.
When the prince reached Basrah, he worked as a labourer for one day in the week and took only enough money to last him a week. At this time, Aboo ‘Amar Basri (a learned man and a mystic of repute) was looking for a builder to mend a wall which had fallen down. Suddenly, he saw a handsome youth busy reciting words from the glorious Qur’aan. He asked the boy if he would do the job. The boy said, “I will do the job but I want only a small sum of money to last a week and I must stop working at the times of Salaah”. Aboo ‘Amar agreed to this and the youth started to work. By the end of the day Aboo ‘Amar noticed that the boy had done the work of ten men. He paid him his wages (minimal, as requested by the boy). To his surprise, the boy did not come the next day. As he was so pleased with his work, Aboo ‘Amar set out to look for him but could not find him until the next week at the same time and in the same place that he had seen him before. The boy again asked for the same small sum of money and time off for Salaah, and carried on building the wall.
At the end of the day, Aboo ‘Amar gave the boy more money than he had asked for, but the boy would not take more than what would last him a week. Aboo ‘Amar waited until the next week for the youth to come for work. He did not come and was nowhere to be found. Aboo ‘Amar looked all over for him. He told his story in the following words: “I asked all and sundry. At last a man told me that the boy had been ill and lay unconscious in the forest. I paid a man to take me to him. When I reached the place, the boy was lying on the ground, resting his head on a stone. I spoke to him but he did not answer. I greeted him again and this time he opened his eyes. He recognised me at once. I lifted his head and put it in my lap. He raised his head and spoke some verses reminding everyone about death and warned against people who were greedy for worldly goods. He asked me to bathe him and bury him in one of his garments, to give the other piece of cloth and his wudhoo cup to the man who would dig his grave, to take the glorious Qur’aan and the ring to Haaroon Rasheed personally and to tell him, ‘These are your things. They belonged to your son. Make sure you do as Allah wishes.’ with that, the boy died. Only then did I realise that the boy was the prince. I buried him there as he had asked and took the ring to the King in Baghdad. I stood on a high mound near the palace and saw a troop of horsemen riding out from the palace. Nine more battalions followed. The king himself rode with the tenth troop. When I saw him, I shouted at the top of my voice. The king stopped and I showed him the things that his son had left. He recognised them and so I was able to tell him all I could about his son. Tears rolled down his cheeks as I spoke. He ordered one of his guards to look after me until he returned from his royal visit. When I saw the king again he was very sad indeed. He asked me how I came to know his son. He was very shocked to hear that his son, a prince, should wish to work as a labourer and for enough money to last him only a week. I said that I had not known that he was the king’s son, and a Sayyid, the descendant of the Prophet Muhammad salllahu’alayhiwasallam.
The king asked me if I had bathed his son with my own hands. I told him that I had and he took my hands and pressed them to his heart as he said some couplets, which showed his great sadness. He also visited the grave and recited more couplets, which told of the fact that death must come to everyone.”
Later, Aboo ‘Amar Basri dreamt of the departed soul of this boy which told him of his great joy in Paradise where he found happiness beyond the realms of human thought or knowledge.