One of the companions of the Holy Prophet (s) found his financial conditions in a critical state and sat wondering how he could improve them. His wife suggested he visit the Holy Prophet (s) and seek his help. He decided it was the best option he had. Next day, he arrived at the mosque and sat down, waiting for a chance to speak to the Holy Prophet (s).
While mentally rehearsing what he should ask for, he suddenly heard the Holy Prophet (s) say, “I shall certainly help anyone who asks for my help, but he who refuses to ask any man for help is actually made self-sufficient by his Creator.” Hearing this, the man found he could not make any request for help, and returned home hoping to find a miraculous change of circumstances. Unfortunately, things were as he had left them.
Next day he gathered courage to speak up and appeal for help, but no sooner had he entered the mosque he heard the Holy Prophet (s) repeat what he had said the day before. Discouraged, he returned home to find the situation as dismal as ever. Depressed, he decided that, come what may, he would definitely place his plea the next day. This time, he went straight to a place close to the Holy Prophet (s) and sat down only to hear an exact repeat of the same advice.
He thought to himself, ‘This is not mere coincidence, it must be true, it must mean something for me,’ and, immediately, a strange sense of relief overcame him. He got up and walked away, deciding that he would never ask for human help. He wondered how he could use the physical and mental faculties he had been provided by his Creator to earn a living. The easiest would be to cut wood from the forest trees and sell it in the market. He went to his neighbour and asked him to lend him his axe.
Taking it, he reached the forest, cut a huge pile of wood, strapped it and went to the marketplace. He sold all the wood in good time and held enough money in his palm to feed and clothe his children. In a short while, he became self-sufficient, bought his own axe and enjoyed the fruit of his labour. He soon became a wealthy tradesman with slaves to assist him. However, he did not give up cutting wood himself. He had learnt the value of work.
One day the Holy Prophet (s) came to meet him and smiling, said, “Did I not tell you that I would definitely help anyone who asked for my help, but he who refuses to ask for human help finds self-sufficiency from his Creator?”