‘Ammar ibn Dinar narrates: A man was once walking on the seashore, when he heard a person exclaiming, “I should serve as an example for a person who intends committing an act of oppression.” When requested to explain what he meant by this statement, he replied, “I was once a policeman walking on this very shore, when I noticed a fisherman catching a fish. I requested him to give the fish to me, but he refused. I then asked him to sell it to me, but he still refused. I then struck him on the head and forcefully took it away from him.
As I walked away with the fish in my hand, it bit me on my thumb. The wound was small but gradually increased in size. I endeavoured to treat it, but my efforts were in vain. When my thumb had swollen considerably, I decided to consult a doctor. He said I had no choice but to amputate my thumb, as the wound would spread to my other limbs. My thumb was then amputated. Soon thereafter, I noticed that my palm had become infected. Again the doctor advised that my only choice was to amputate my hand. I consented, but my woes were not over. The wound then spread to my arm. When I saw this, I dashed out of my house in desperation, screaming like an animal. After wandering about for some time, I decided to rest beneath a large tree and fell asleep. In my dream, a person appeared to me and asked, “How many more of your limbs will be amputated? Rather, seek forgiveness from the person whom you had oppressed and you will be cured.”
When I awoke, I realised the truth of the message conveyed in the dream and knew that it was a warning from Allah to repent from my evil deed. I made my way to the seashore, in search of the fisherman. When I reached him, he was busy removing his fishing net from the water. It contained a large amount of fish. He did not recognise me and asked who I was.
I begged him to forgive me and explained, “I am the policeman who assaulted you and took your fish.” I showed him my hand and he immediately recited some words seeking refuge in Allah from His displeasure. He then forgave me. Immediately, the wound on my arm began to heal. I turned around to leave, but he said to me, “This is not justice in my opinion. I had cursed you for a single fish which would have made no difference to me, and my prayer was accepted.” He grasped my hand and led me to his home. When we had entered, he instructed his son to dig up a particular corner of the floor and removed a chest filled with gold coins. His son counted out ten thousand coins and the fisherman handed them to me, saying, “Take this and use it when you need to.” He then instructed his son to count out another ten thousand coins and handed them over to me saying, “Distribute these to your poor relatives and neighbours.”
As I was about to depart, I decided to ask him how he had cursed me on that fateful day.
He replied, “When you struck me on the head and snatched my fish, I looked up to the sky and called out: “O Allah, You created us both, but You made him strong and me weak. You allowed him to overpower me and due to my weakness I could not oppose him. You did not grant me the strength to prevent his oppression upon me. By the power with which You created him and made him strong and me weak, I beg You to make him an example for humanity.”