Absolutely beautiful story.
Hadrat Maulana Yahya (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) was a renowned scholar from our past, highly respected for his knowledge and as a memorizer of the Holy Quran (hafiz). He was very pious and thousands would be attracted to his gatherings in order to learn from him. His son, Hadrat Muhammad Zakariya (May the mercy of Allah be upon him) also became a very well respected scholar of hadith and thousands of others trained under him. Hadrat Zakariya wrote a biography entitled Yaade Ayyam, in which he included some excerpts about his father.
A rich but pious man lived next to the Islamic seminary (madrassah) attended by Maulana Yahya, and would donate not only his wealth but also his time in the service of the madrasah. He was very devoted and was in search for a husband for his daughter. The daughter was beautiful beyond description and hence there was no shortage of proposals. However, the pious father wanted a righteous son-in-law and so approached Maulana Yahya’s father. When asked for his approval Maulana Yahya politely refused and so the lady was later married to one of her relatives.
Years passed and Maulana Yahya got married and Maulana Zakariya was born. They still had good relations with their wealthy neighbors and would often be invited to dinner parties at their house. Maulana Yahya would sit in the men’s section but Maulana Zakariya was only nine at the time so would run about all over the house. He would often see the lady of the house sitting and chewing paan that her husband would carefully prepare and hand to her.
At one such gathering the lady of the house sent a message to Maulana Yahya that she firmly intended to make Zakariya her son-in-law since she herself had been refused by Maulana Yahya. Zakariya refused when asked, but at the time this was jovially ignored because he was so young. However, upon reaching home Maulana Yahya asked his son why he had refused. Maulana Zakariya answered bluntly and honestly as would any child, “I don’t want to run after my wife all day preparing paan for her.” The son realized that the mother was so spoiled that the husband was catering submissively to her whims, and the daughter would naturally take after the mother.
Maulana Yahya remained quiet for a while and then said, “I had also refused her mother’s proposal but for an entirely different reason.” His son was surprised and asked what that was. Maulana Yahya replied, “When my father came to me with her proposal, I said to him that I could not marry in that household because I would not again be able to have the pleasure of sleeping on a hard floor.”
Father and son both refused marriage proposals from the same house, but the son’s reasoning had pride in it while the father’s response had reflected his deep humility. Arrogance leads away from Allah whereas humility leads one closer to Him u because He likes for His servants to lower themselves. Human beings are slaves to their nafs because of this arrogance, and this nafs can only be trained by submission to Allah and humility in front of Him and His creation