Bishir al-Hafi, who drank wine, spent his nights and days in impudence and prostitution. The Imam passed by Bishir's house in Baghdad. He heard the singers singing and the flutes were loudly being played. Meanwhile he saw a slave girl coming out of his house carrying some sweepings and throwing them in the street. He turned to the slave girl and asked her: "Slave girl, is the owner of this house free or servant?"
"He is free," she replied.
"You are right," retorted the, "if he was servant, he would fear his Lord."
The slave girl came into the house while Bishir was at the wine table, so he asked her: "What delayed you?" She gave him an account of what took place between her and the Imam. Accordingly, Bishir quickly went out to catch up with the Imam. He repented at his hands, apologized to him and wept.After that he educated himself and clung to Allah out of knowledge and faith to the extent that he surpassed the people of his time in piety and asceticism. Concerning him Ibraheem al-Harbi has said: "Baghdad did not graduate anyone more perfect in intellect and greater in preserving the tongue than Bishir b. al-Harith. He had an intellect in each of his hair."
Bishir turned away from the adornments of the life in this world and was satisfied with contentment concerning which he has said: " If contentment has nothing except enjoying the glory of sufficiency, that will be sufficient." And he began to recite:
Contentment has brought me a perfect glory, and there is no glory more glorious than contentment.
Take it as a capital for yourself and make it as a commodity after piety, and you win two states: You are in no need of the miserly and are happy in the gardens through patience for an hour.
Bishir complained of the people of his time and hated to mix with them; that is because of the paucity of the believers and the good, and because the wicked and the errant were many. For this reason he decided to refrain from associating with many people, to the extent that al-Ma'mun asked Ahmed b. Hanbel to ask Bishir to permit him to visit him, but he refused and did not respond to him. Among his poems on his complaining of the people of his time is the following:
The men whose deeds are hoped and who forbid all evil deeds have passed away.
And I have remained among the successors who adorn each other, that an ugly-conducted person man defend an ugly-conducted on.
He got ride of the world and devoted himself to Allah to the extent that he became among the leading knowers; all that was due to the instructions and preaching of the Imam to him. ( Al-Kuna wa al-Aqab, vol. 2, p. 150.)