The Story of Little Zayd
Correcting a mistake
Adnan Ahmad Attari Madani
Today, little Zayd played a lot with his friend Saleem at break time. After exhausting themselves, they sat on the bench next to swings in the playground. Little Zayd turned to Saleem and asked, ‘Saleem, will you answer a question?’ Saleem looked at him: ‘Ask away! If I know the answer, I will tell you.’
Little Zayd asked: ‘Do you know which Prophet عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام owned a staff that he would strike against the ground, making it to turn into a huge snake?’
Saleem thought for a little while and then answered: ‘My father told me this story, but I can’t remember who that Prophet عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was. Tell me please.’ ‘It was the Prophet of Allah Almighty, Sayyiduna Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام,’ said Little Zayd. As soon as Saleem heard the answer, he cried out: ‘Yes! I remember now! Father told me this! The evil king gathered many sorcerers to compete with the Prophet عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام. They threw ropes on the ground which transformed into snakes. That Prophet عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام then struck his staff on the ground and it transformed into an even bigger snake. The bigger snake devoured all the other snakes. Little Zayd, do you know the name of the evil king?’ Little Zayd paused for a moment to think and then replied: ‘His name was Fir’awn.’ Suddenly, the bell rang; breaktime was over and it was time to return to the classroom.
At home, Little Zayd had finished dinner. He sat next to his grandma and asked: ‘Grandma! Didn’t the Prophet Sayyiduna Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام have a staff that turned into a snake?
Grandma was surprised. ‘No! That isn’t right. Who told you this? It was the Prophet Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام,’ she said.
Little Zayd was stunned. ‘Oh no! That means I gave the wrong name to Saleem,’ he cried. Grandma was intrigued: ‘What wrong name did you give to Saleem,’ she asked. Little Zayd told his grandma the whole story: ‘Both of their names are so similar, aren’t they?’ Grandma reassured him: ‘It doesn’t matter. Tomorrow in school, tell Saleem the correct name.’ Little Zayd pondered and then said: ‘I can’t do that. What will he think of me?’
‘Little Zayd! That’s not very nice,’ Grandma explained. ‘Sharing what you know is good, but you should only share things that you know correctly. If you make a mistake, then it’s important to correct your mistake. Nowadays people share wrong information through their mobile phone or social media but they too should correct any mistakes they make.’
Little Zayd listened carefully to Grandma. ‘Grandma, you always say that anyone can make a mistake. I have just made a mistake. How can I correct my mistake when I know that Saleem will laugh at me’
Grandma thought for a little while as to how she could make little Zayd understand and then stated, ‘Do you know who Imam Hasan Bin Ziyad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه is?’ she gently asked him. Little Zayd thought he does know, so eagerly cried out: ‘I know! I know! He was the grandson of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم!’
‘No, that’s Sayyiduna Imam Hasan, the son of Sayyiduna ‘Ali رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهماُ,’ Grandma laughingly said. By now, Little Zayd was curious: ‘So who is Imam Hasan Bin Ziyad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه?’ Grandma smiled and said: ‘He was a student of Imam Abu Hanifah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه and a great scholar of Islam. Once, someone asked Imam Hasan Bin Ziyad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه a question. He رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه gave that person the answer but after the person had left, Imam Hasan Bin Ziyad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه realised that he made a mistake, but he couldn’t correct himself because he didn’t know who the questioner was or where he went! Imam Hasan Bin Ziyad رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه then hired a person to make a public announcement.’
‘What was the announcement?’ little Zayd asked in anticipation.
Grandma continued: ‘The person went around the market places, telling people that whoever asked Hasan bin Ziyad the question, that person should come back to get the correct answer. The person did this for many days until finally the questioner turned up. Hasan Bin Ziyad was delighted and told him the correct answer, (Al-Faqih wal-Mutafiqqih-lil-Khateeb, vol. 2, p. 424).
Now Little Zayd was smiling too. Grandma looked at him and said: ‘Did you see, little Zayd! If good Muslims ever give anyone wrong information, they accept their mistake and then give the correct information. Good people always try to please Allah Almighty without worrying too much about what people will say. Accepting your mistake does not make people think less of you. So, will you tell Saleem about your mistake tomorrow?’
Little Zayd immediately cried out: ‘Why till tomorrow! I will call him right away and tell him that it was Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم who had the staff, not Sayyiduna Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم.’
Grandma was delighted. She hugged little Zayd and told him: ‘I’m very proud of you.’