In life there will always be those people who are opportunists, or those who take advantage of any opportunity to get what they want no matter what the cost is. Opportunists are usually thought of in a negative, “out for yourself” perspective. In reality this depends on your intention, your acts, how you go about getting what you want, and at what costs. In Islam, being an opportunist is not seen as cut throat, but rather it is encouraged to compete as opportunists, and even considered a praiseworthy act. This is because an opportunist racing towards the pleasure of Allah and towards getting good deeds in this life will have success awaiting for them on Judgment Day and in the Afterlife. This goal is more important to reach “no matter what the cost in this world”. Here is the beautiful story of one opportunist who did not let go of his chance to get guaranteed pleasure in the Hereafter.
Abu Darda (may Allah have mercy on him) was one of those people who found an opportunity to win what is greater than the heavens and the earth. There was a companion of the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) who cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and therefore belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim, so the orphan boy went to the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) to complain. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) asked the companion, “Would you give him the palm tree and for you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam), missed the opportunity and went away angry.
But someone else saw the opportunity – Abu Darda (radi Allahu anhu). He went to the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) and asked, “Ya RasulAllah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?”
The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) replied, “Yes.”
Abu Darda (radi Allahu anhu) had chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?” (Abu Darda had a garden of 600 trees)
The companion answered, “Take it, for there is no good in a tree that was complained to the Prophet about.”
Immediately, Abu Darda (radi Allahu anhu) went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Darda. “We’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snatched the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”
When Abu Darda was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, RasulAllah (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Darda now have in Paradise?”
What did Abu Darda lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.
Subhan’Allah, how beautiful is this story, of one Sahabi who gave up everything he had, just to have one palm tree in Jannah. Allahu Akbar.