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The Story of Two Fishermen

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“There were two fishermen: one Muslim and the other a disbeliever; both of them went fishing. The disbeliever started to throw his net while calling out to his gods with the hope of catching many fish, while the Muslim fisherman threw his net calling out to Allāh with the same hope. Eventually, the Muslims net was empty, and the disbelievers net was full of fish. This would go on until sunset. The Muslim fisherman ended up catching a fish with his hands, but the fish managed to free itself and jump back into the water. At the end of the day, the Muslim went home with no fish, while the disbeliever went home with his whole boat full of fish.

Upon seeing this, the angel of the Muslim felt sorrow and informed Allāh: “Your Muslim servant who calls out to you returned home with nothing, and your disbelieving servant returned with his boat full of fish.” Allāh instructed the angel to come, and he showed him the abode of the believer. The angel was amazed by what the Muslim will receive compared to what he has now. Allāh then showed him the abode of the disbeliever, and the angel was shocked by the punishment he will face in the hellfire.” (Kitab al-Zuhd Ibn Hanbal)

The Prophet ﷺ said “The world is a prison for the believer and paradise for the disbeliever.” (Bukhārī) The Muslim fisherman might feel hopeless about what he wants, but something greater is waiting for him in the hereafter. On the other hand, the disbeliever might think he has it all, but something worse is awaiting him after death. Similarly is the case today. The disbelievers have accumulated a great amount of the dunyā compared to the Muslims, to the extent that we might feel hopeless, but we have to remember that Allah has saved something greater for us in the hereafter. Something which is far greater than whatever is in this world.

An objection remains, what about some of those Muslims who have more than a disbeliever, wouldn’t that contradict the hadīth?

A universal principal we can keep in mind is: if a believer is experiencing adversity or prosperity, something greater than that is waiting for him in Jannah. On the other hand, if a disbeliever is experiencing adversity or prosperity, something worse will be awaiting him in the hereafter.

Ml Zubair Kahir
Al-Hikmah Institute

March 21, 2021

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