A Debate Between Goat Herders and Imam Madzhab
Syaiban ar-Ra’i was a name of a shalihin (pious man) who lived in the early centuries of the hijri. He was a goat herder who was exceptional and had great fame.
According to history, he was an ummy or could not read and write but was given karamah by Allah in the form of laduni. Not many people knew that he belonged to God’s lover class. Most people viewed him not more than was just an ordinary goat herder and had no privilege at all.
One day, Imam Shafi’i felt bored and wanted to have a serious discussion with someone. He knew where to go. He intended to meet Syaiban and asked this pious man to discuss about something. Seeing the Imam of Shafi’i would go, one of his students asked, “Where are you going to go, sir?”
“I will meet Syaiban,” Imam Shafi’i answered.
Hearing the answer of Imam Shafi’i, the student was astonished as why the teacher wanted to meet Syaiban. He knew, Syaiban was only a shepherd and a villager.
After traveling some distance, Imam Shafi’i finally arrived at the house of the goat herder.
After doing greetings and praying for one another, Imam Shafi’i then asked Syaiban, “O Shaykh, what is your thought about zakat of five camels?”
Hearing the question from Imam Syafi’i, Syaiban immediately asked back, “According to my school of thought or yours, Abu Abdillah?”
Shocked to hear the back question from Syaiban, Imam Shafi’i immediately replied, “Alright both of them.”
“Well, according to your school of thought, zakat of five camels is one goat, while according to mine, zakat of five camels is all the five.”
Hearing the answer, Imam Shafi’i could not help but immediately asked the reason why the five camels were all.
Syaiban then explained, “That all things are only in the possession of Allah, then the zakat of the camel, if God wills, I will give it all.”
In different stories, one time in an assembly Imam Ahmad and Imam Shafi’i sat close together and were seen with them Syaiban ar-Ra’i. Seeing the existence of Syaiban, Imam Ahmad wanted to remind the Shaykh about the lack of knowledge and he should have occupied himself to obtain knowledge from Syaiban. Hearing this, Shafi’i tried to stop Imam Ahmad from doing so.
However, Imam Ahmad ignored Imam Shafi’i and immediately met Syaiban ar-Ra’i. When he was in the presence of Shaykh, he said, “O Syaikh, what do you think of someone who forgets the five daily prayers both in the morning and evening, and that person did not know when he did it and which prayer he had forgotten then what he must do? “
Hearing the question, Syaiban replied, “O Ahmad, isn’t this a negligent heart shape f rom remembering God? So for that people should be obliged to discipline themselves so as not to fall back into the abyss of negligence and always remember the Lord. “
Hearing the answer Imam Ahmad then passed, then later Imam Shafi’i said, “Didn’t I say don’t argue with him?”
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