Once, there was a pious Muslim merchant who used to trade cattle. He would buy cows from Iraq or Iran and sell them in Syria. This trader was a righteous Muslim: pious, devout and pure hearted; he would pray at night, fast and give charity frequently.
On one of his trade journeys, as he was shepherding a herd of cows to sell them, it began to snow heavily. As a result, the road was blocked, the grass died, and all his cows perished, except for four. The poor trader took his four cows and wandered all over the place, until one evening he reached a small village on the road from Al-Mosul to Halab. He knocked on the door of one of the houses in this village. The owner of the house answered and the trader told him that he was a stranger who wanted to spend that night at his house until morning so he could continue his journey and go to another village.
The generous villager welcomed the trader warmly. He let him and his cows in the yard of his house, and offered the trader food and fed his cows. In fact, this villager was poor and penniless; all his cows had died and his lands were ruined due to the heavy rains and snow that had been falling for a very long time over their village. The villager was married and the father of one child, and the small family lived in their two-room house; one room for him and his wife and the other for their child.
The villager’s family gathered around the guest for a nightly chat from which the villager came to know that the trader was carrying a sum of money with him. After the villager and his wife had gone to bed, the guest went to sleep in the child’s room. The child slept on his bed in the right side of the room and the trader’s bed was on the left side.
The villager asked his guest if he needed anything else before going to bed and made sure that he was comfortable. The villager’s wife whispered in her husband’s ears, insinuating evil into his mind, “How long shall we remain poor? This guest is rich and we are in dire need of his money and cows; we may have food for a day, but would spend days without any food. What if a famine hit the village and we have neither food nor money? We have a golden opportunity tonight: this guest is rich, so let us steal his money and cows so as to maintain our lives and save our only child’s life.”
The villager exclaimed, “How could we do that to our guest? How can I steal his money and cows? Will he let me take his money and cows?” The wife answered wickedly, “Kill him and throw his body in a hole in the middle of the valley and no one would know about it.”
The villager hesitated, but the wife kept insisting and persuading him to enforce this evil plan; to convince him and end his hesitation she said, “This is essential to save us from certain death; indeed, in times of extreme necessity, even the forbidden becomes permissible.” Finally, the wife managed to convince her husband of this wicked Satanic scheme and he made up his mind to kill the trader and steal his money and cows.
After midnight, in the last third of the night when everything was quiet and darkness and silence had enveloped the whole village, the villager took his dagger, sharpened it, and headed towards the room where his guest and his son were sleeping. His wife accompanied him, encouraging him to put his evil plan into action. The villager tiptoed slowly, heading to the left side of the room where the guest was sleeping. He groped for his sleeping guest until he touched his neck in this black darkness; the villager unsheathed his dagger and cut the guest’s throat swiftly, just like he would slaughter a goat.
The villager went back to his wife, seeking her help to move the body and no sooner had they pulled the dead body out of the room, they realized that they had slaughtered their one and only son! The villager sobbed and his wife did the same on seeing their son’s dead body between their bloodstained hands; they both lost their consciousness. Hearing the noise, the sleeping guest woke up and so did the neighbors to find the villager’s son murdered (and the villager and his wife unconscious). The guest and the neighbors hastened to the unconscious villager and his wife, splashing cold water over their faces to wake them up. When they woke up, they burst into tears and asked the neighbors to call the police. The police arrived at the crime scene and arrested the killers.
What exactly had happened inside the bedroom where the guest and the villager’s son slept that night? In fact, the villager’s son went to the guest’s bed on the other side of the room after his parents had left the room and engaged in conversation with him; it was quite a long conversation, and the son fell asleep in the middle of it on the guest’s bed. The kind guest did not wish to wake up the child, so he slept in the child’s bed instead. When the villager came inside the room in the dark of the night, he was sure that his son was sleeping in his own bed in the other side of the room and the guest was in his bed. Therefore, he slaughtered the one who was sleeping in the guest’s bed, not knowing that he was slaughtering his own son with his very hands!
The villager wanted to kill the guest, but Allah The Exalted willed his son to be killed instead. The neighbors buried the villager’s son and his unfortunate parents went to prison for their crime.