Imam Sadiq (as) and the old man Ref: Namunah-e-Ma’arif, vol. 4, pg. 275; Wasaail al-Shia'h, vol. 2, pg. 57
Old man known for piety • Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) had heard that an old man had become famous for his piety. • The man considered himself to be very knowledgeable. • One day, the Imam saw him surrounded by a large crowd. A little later, the man came out of the crowd and distancing himself from them, proceeded alone, whereupon Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) began to follow him.
Old man steals • After a short time, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) observed that he had stopped near a bakery. • The man deceived the baker and managed to steal two loaves of bread from the bakery. • The man then continued on his path until he came upon a pomegranate seller. • He deceived the store owner and stole two pomegranates.
Old man helps the poor • The man then continued until he saw a poor sickly man on the road. • He gave the two loaves of bread and the two pomegranates to the sick man and proceeded to depart. • Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) came up to him and said, "I have witnessed something greatly astonishing from you", and then proceeded to narrate the acts, which he had witnessed.
The weighing of deeds • The man asked, “Are you Ja’far ibn Muhammad?” • Imam (as) replied, “Yes!” • The man continued, "It is really unfortunate that in spite of being of the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) You do not seem to know anything." • The man said, “It appears that you are ignorant about Quran”.
The weighing of deeds contd. • Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (as) asked, "What act of ignorance have you noticed from me?" • The man then recited, “'Whoever brings a good deed, he shall have ten like it, and whoever brings an evil deed shall be recompensed only with the like of it.” (Qur'an 6:160) • He continued, "When I stole the two loaves of bread, that counted as two evil deeds, and when I stole the pomegranates, that counted as two more evil deeds. That is a total of four evil deeds. When I gave the four items to the sick man, that counted as 40 good deeds. So, Allah has subtracted my four evil deeds from my forty good deeds, leaving me with 36 good deeds!"
The weighing of deeds contd. • Imam as-Sadiq said, “'May your mother lose you! It is you who are ignorant of the Book of Allah. Have you not heard that Allah said, • “Allah only accepts (deeds) from those who guard against evil.” (Quran 5:27) • When you stole the two loaves of bread, that counted as two evil deeds. And when you stole the two pomegranates, that counted as two evil deeds, also. And when you gave them to other than their owner without the permission of their owner, you have added four evil deeds to four evil deeds. • You have collected eight sins but not a single good deed!” • The man then began staring blankly at the Imam, so the Imam left him.
Moral of the story • Later, Imam Sadiq (as) said to his companions, "With such interpretations and justifications, not only do they mislead themselves, but others as well." • In this story, a man who believed himself to be knowledgeable and was even well-respected among the people, actually revealed his own ignorance and lack of sound intellect ('aql). • People use the word of Allah (swt) for their own purposes, ends and means. • We should be careful of people who try to justify evil acts in the light of the Holy Quran.