One day several Muslim students, known as murid in Chechen, agreed to help weed Kunta-hadji’s maize field. They did not tell their spiritual teacher, Ustaz in Chechen, for they knew his temperament well. Instead they waited and when he went away they set off to the field, which lay along the edge of the forest.
This happened at the beginning of summer. Dewdrops hung on the grass and leaves sparkled in the rising sun. A chorus of birds could be heard, and crickets sang in the grass, as if in competition.
The murid sang their own songs while weeding. They worked quickly, soon clearing a wide strip of land. As if awakened, the shoots of maize seemed to stretch towards the sun, swaying in the gentle breeze. The murid were pleased. They rested awhile, then set to work again. But Kunta-hadji came to see what they were doing. They stopped work and greeted him.
“What are you doing? Who told you to weed in my field?” Kunta-hadji asked.
The murid answered, “Nobody. We came because we wanted to help you.”
“I can still do the weeding myself. If not, I would ask for your help. Now pick up your hoes and come here. All the maize in the part of the field you’ve weeded will belong to you. In autumn, come get it.” Kunta-hadji sounded displeased and upset. The murid obeyed without protest, but felt hurt because he refused their help.
He sat down in the shade and called them to gather round. “Don’t be angry. I made a vow in the name of Allah that I would use only what I gain by my own labour. Please forgive me if I caused you any hurt.”
The students’ eyes filled with tears. They replied, “How can we forgive you? Please forgive us for coming onto your field without your knowledge.”
“Allah forgives you, as I do! Now let’s spend some time together. We can try my maize bread, and talk things over.” Kunta-hadji opened his knapsack, produced folded napkins, and offered them maize-bread and cheese. The murid offered what they had as well.
Time passed in eating and chatting about what had happened until the hour of the noon-tide prayer. They performed the rite with great devotion. Before they left for home, one of the murid made a request of their Ustaz, “Instruct us, please. Give us counsel.”
Kunta-hadji answered, “I will speak of four things. Two you must forget, and the others you must constantly remember. Forget acts of kindness you can do for others. If you speak of them in public, Allah will give you no reward. Forget evil others do to you. By forgetting, you will forsake it, and it will forsake you. But never forget that we must die, and that we must appear before Allah.”