In every country around the world, mothers and grandmothers tell their children stories. Bangladesh is no exception. I remember each evening we children would surround our grandmother, and she would tell us tales. Sometimes she would tell animal stories; at other times, she would tell stories about boys and girls like us. These stories are told in every home in Bangladesh. So sit back now and enjoy the story of “The Glory of Prayer”:
“The Glory of Prayer”
Once there was a farmer’s son who would not work with his hands. He had gone to school, so he did not want to be a farmer any more. Instead, he would eat snacks at the neighborhood food stall and would visit friends all day long. Each day, his elderly mother and father would plead with him, “You must learn to work or what will we eat when we become older? You have no big brother to steer the rudder of our household; you must become responsible. Because of your laziness, we are restless with worries.”
So the farmer’s son thought, Yes, Amma and Abba are right. I’ve grown up now. I should do something, and he went out to search for work. But though he tried and walked to many places, he found no work. He returned home that night, tired and disappointed. After all, he thought as he trudged home, he had not learned farming work, and it was shameful to still be depending on his elderly parents. But what could he do?
Thinking thus, he suddenly had an idea. He could steal from the village leader! They had plenty of money at their house, and taking it he could quickly become an important person himself.
As you think, so you act. When night came, the farmer’s son picked up a sturdy stick and quietly sneaked over to the village leader’s home. As he squatted behind their wall, he could hear the leader’s wife speaking with him.
“How much longer will our daughter live in our home? She’s old enough; you must arrange her marriage. Find a suitable husband; go search one out.”
“I have been searching, and I’m exhausted with the effort,” the leader replied. “I’ve searched our whole region. Where there is a respected family, the son is no good. Where the son is decent, the family has a bad reputation. I have done it all, and now I will search no more. It is now Allah’s duty to find a husband for our daughter. I am done.”
The wife laughed, “So what’s the advantage of sitting quietly at home? But do what you feel is best.”
“Oh, I will,” the leader said. “I will make prayer the deciding factor. Starting tomorrow, I will watch for a young man who faithfully prays. Every day when I go to the mosque, I will note which young man comes first and prays longest. For three months, I’ll observe this habit. If a boy can earn my respect in this way, I would gladly give my daughter and all my possessions to him.
Outside the wall, the farmer’s son’s jaw had dropped open. His face glowed with new hope. Indeed, it would be foolish to lose this opportunity! He thought, For only three months, I could certainly be first at the mosque to pray and last to go home. I will become the leader’s son-in-law yet!
So very early the next morning, before anyone else arrived, the farmer’s son entered the mosque. He worshipped Allah and prayed until the last man had left. Day after day, five times each day, the farmer’s son was the first to pray and the last to return home. One month. Two months. Now the third month was almost over, and he continued trying. Now almost all day and night, he stayed at the mosque.
Seeing this young man’s behavior, the leader had become very happy. One day, he sent an invitation to the farmer’s son. At the appointed time, he appeared at the leader’s home. After a delicious meal and talking about this and that, the leader broached the actual purpose for his invitation.
“For many days now, it has been our desire to find a devoted, praying young man for our daughter. During these past three months, I have observed your coming and going at the mosque. There is no one so pious in our region. Please accept our daughter in marriage. I wish to place all my property and wealth in your hands. Food and clothing need be no concern for you.
The leader assumed that on hearing this, the farmer’s son would jump for joy, but the farmer’s son acted quite concerned, as though the sky had fallen.
The farmer’s son humbly said, “Look, I am a non-working boy. I am unworthy to be your son-in-law. I offer my endless thanks for your kind offer. Should I agree to your proposal, I would indeed be happy in this life. I am immersed in Allah’s grace, and I truly do not need any of this world’s wealth. However, I will search for a suitable husband for your daughter. Pray for me.”