The Reward of Bringing Water to Masjid al-Haram
Zubayda, the wife of the Abbasid caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, caused a river to be dug in Makkah which has been used by visitors of God’s sanctuary from that time until today. This action has a very righteous exterior. The resolve of Zubayda caused this river to flow to barren Makkah from the rocky land between Ťā’if and Makkah, and it has been close to twelve centuries that the hot, thirsty pilgrims have been making use of it.
From a worldly perspective, it is quite a great deed; but how about from the spiritual perspective? Do the Angels reckon as we do? Is their attention, like ours, drawn to the apparent magnitude of this act?
No, their reckoning is different. Using a Divine scale, they measure the other dimensions of the action. They take account of where Zubayda obtained the money for this act.
Zubayda was the wife of an oppressive and tyrannical Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid who had control of the public treasury of the Muslims and would do as he pleased. Zubayda had no money of her own, and she did not spend her own wealth in this charitable act; she spent the people’s money on the people.
The difference between her and other women in her position is that others would spend the public’s money on their personal desires, and she spent a portion of this money on a project for the public good. Now, what was Zubayda’s purpose in this action? Did she wish for her name to remain in history? Or did she truly have God’s pleasure in mind? Only God knows.
It is in this reckoning that it is said that someone saw Zubayda in a dream and asked her what God gave her for the river she caused to be made. She replied that God had given the entire reward of that action to the original owners of that money.