At length he came upon a tree overhanging the water and, seeing that it bore similar apples, he decided that the one that he had bitten must have come from it. He therefore called to a person working in the orchard: “Sir, three hours ago I found this apple downstream and I took a bite, intending to eat it. But then, as I could not bear the thought of eating something that did not belong to me, I walked all this way to return it to its rightful owner. I guess this apple must have come from your tree. Now let me give you something in exchange for it, or else pardon this trespass of mine.” Hearing this request, the owner of the orchard, whose name was Salih, decided to put the man to the test: “No,” he said, “Impossible! I shall not let you off…. How dare you bite my property without my permission?” Receiving the reply: “What must I do to earn your pardon?” the venerable Salih said: “I will pardon you after you work beside me in this orchard for three years.” By this means he intended to discover whether he was dealing with a pious hypocrite, a stupid Sufi wanting to appear devout, or with a perfect man who would not eat another’s property because he genuinely feared Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala
That was what he wanted to find out by making such a proposal, and the venerable Thabit responded without hesitation: “Yes, I shall work!” He was as good as his word, and worked out the three years. At the end of this time, the venerable Salih said to Thabit: “Even though you have completed the three years, I still have you accountable for that apple. There is only one way to settle that account: I have a daughter, whose name is ‘Abidatu-l’Azhar. She has neither sight nor hearing, and can move neither hand nor foot. If you will take this daughter of mine in marriage, all the apples in the orchard, and all the apple trees shall be yours. Where could I find a conscientious son-in-law like you? If I were to die, who would look after the poor girl in her condition? I could not entrust her to anyone but a person fed on lawful milk, such as you. You are religious, conscientious. Come, give me your reply and we can settle our account.” “I shall take her!” answered Thabit.
The wedding was arranged, with great festivities. When the marriage had been contracted, Thabit entered the bridal chamber. Awaiting him there, dressed in her bridal clothes, he found a ravishing beauty in perfect health. Out he rushed, crying to his father-in law: "This marriage is invalid. You told me that your daughter was blind, but the girl in there has eyes like a gazelle.
You told me she was crippled, but she stands there like a cypress." To this the venerable Salih replied: “I spoke to you metaphorically. When I called her blind, I meant blind to what is unlawful. When I called her deaf, I meant deaf to bad words and evil speech. When I said she could neither move hand or foot, I meant that she touched nothing unlawful and never went to places Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala disapproved of. She is your wife, your lawful spouse. She is a worthy partner for you.
The venerable Thabit married that virtuous lady, who became the mother of Abu Hanifah. While still a child the latter recited the Holy Qur’an in three days. When he came home happily to tell his mother: ‘I read ten parts in one day, and got through the entire Qur’an in three days,” the venerable ‘Abidatu-l’Azhar said: “ My son, if your father had not bitten the apple without permission, you would have finished in one day!” May the mercy of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala be upon her….and Abu Hanifah Rahamatullah alaihi.
From an old post of Almiskeenah, mashaa Allah.