A man of knowledge was longing for meeting with Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj), and he suffered agonies of not being granted the chance and for a long time he underwent severe austerity and pursued spiritual seeking.
It is well-known among the Tullab (Islamic seminary students) of Hawza in Najaf-e-Ashraf and the scholars of the holy shrine of Imam Ali (as) that every one who finds the honor to go the Masjid-e-Sahlah to perform the evening and night prayers every Tuesday uninterruptedly for forty nights, they will be graced with meeting Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj).
For a while, he struggled to this end but to no effect. Then he resorted to the occult sciences and numerical symbolism and started self-discipline and other ascetic and rigorous practices in seclusion, anxiously seeking to meet the Hidden Imam, Hazrat Baqiyatallah (aj) but all in vain. However, as a consequence of his nightly vigilance and lamenting and wailing at dawns, he had developed some kind of insight and intuition, and occasionally some illuminating flash would be graced on him. He would fall in ecstasy and rapture, often having certain visions and hearing some subtleties.
In one of these mystical states, he was told: "Your seeing and being granted an audience with Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) will not be possible, unless you make a trip to such and such a city". Quite difficult as it sounded at first, but for that sacred purpose, it appeared to be so convenient.
Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) in the Blacksmiths' Bazaar
After several days the above-mentioned man arrived in that city and yet even there he carried on his self-discipline and ascetic practices in seclusion that intended to last forty days long. On the thirty seventh day, he was told: "Right now Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) is in the blacksmiths' bazaar, in a shop belonging to an old locksmith; so, be quick to go now and seek his audience".
He stood up and as he had already seen in his ecstatic vision, rushed the way down to the old man's shop where he saw Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) sitting there and talking amiably with the locksmith. When he greeted, Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) responded and beckoned him to keep silent, and asked him to watch what happens next in the shop.
At this moment I saw a bent, fragile, old woman with a walking stick who showed us a lock with her shaking hand and said: "Will you, for God's sake, buy this lock from me for "three shahis"?. I need three shahis."
The old locksmith took a look at the lock and found it intact, and then said: "My sister! This lock costs "Two abbasis" because it's key will cost no more than "ten dinars"; so if you give me ten dinars, I will make a key to this lock and then its value will be ten shahis and not three."
The old woman answered: "No, I do not need that, I only need the money; if you buy this lock from me for three shahis, I will pray for you."
The old man said with utmost naivety: "My sister! You are a Muslim, and I too claim to be a Muslim. So why should I buy a Muslim's property for a low price and deny someone's right? The value of this lock is already eight shahis; if I want to benefit from it, I'll buy it for seven shahis, for it is unfair to make more that a shahi profit in a deal of only two abbasis. If you are sure you want to sell it, I'll buy it for seven shahis and not three, and I repeat again that the real price is two abbasis. Since I am a businessman I buy it for one shahi less.
The old woman perhaps would not believe what the man said. She was upset and complained that nobody had been willing to buy that price. She said she begged them to buy it for three shahis but no one agreed and here there is someone who is prepared to pay seven shahis. The old man paid seven shahis to the old woman and purchased it from her, though he could have got that lock for three shahis.
When the woman turned back to leave, Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) said to me:
My Dear! Did you watch the wonderful scene? You do likewise, become honest and truthful like that locksmith and then I will come to see you. You won't have to find me.
There is no need for ascetic seclusion and resorting to Jafr (numerical symbolism). Self-discipline and various travels will not be required; instead show good sincere action and be a proper, honest Muslim so that I can interact with you.
Of all people of this city, I picked out this old man, since this man is religious and knows Allah (SWT). And you observed the trial he went through: This old woman requested all in the bazaar, to fulfill her need and since they found her desperate and needy, they were all seeking to buy (her lock) cheap than the actual worth of it. Nobody bought it even for three shahis. This old man, however, bought it for its real price, real worth, i.e. seven shahis. Thus, every week I pay a visit to him and show kindness and amiability to him."
This is how equity in transactions is effective in self-building and attaining Allah's favor. You create equity in your transactions and Baqiyatallah, Hazrat Imam Mahdi (aj) of the time will come and visit you personally.
Equity in all tasks, especially in transactions is an important issue that has been highly stressed in Islam. Imam Ali (as) said: "Equity is the best of virtues." And he further said: "The greatest reward is one granted for equity."
Taken from Life and Times of the Famous Scholar Shaykh Rajab Ali Khayyat