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One day, the Holy Prophet Muhammad [s] was travelling with some Companions [r]. After they had gone some way, they decided to stop and rest.

The Prophet [s] left his Companions [r] for a short time and while he was away, they amused themselves watching the birds flying in the sky. There were many different sorts of birds. Then, one of the Prophet’s [s] Companions [r] pointed upwards. “Look!” he said to the others. “There is a pretty bird. It looks like a mother bird because there are two young birds with her! The two young birds must be her fledglings!”

The bird was a sparrow and the two small birds were indeed her fledglings. The three birds flew round and round above the heads of the group of men. They watched them with pleasure because the birds were very beautiful. But the young fledglings were not so good at flying as their mother was. Gradually, as they flew above the heads of the men, they began to get lower and lower.

“Let us catch them!” one of the men cried. “It will be easy!

The others agreed with him, and after a while, the little fledglings came low enough for them to put up their hands and catch them. When the fledglings felt the hands close around them, they struggled and shrieked in fright. But the men were too strong for them and however hard they struggled, they could not escape.

At last, the little birds were exhausted and lay still. The Prophet’s [s] friends came to look at them, and stroke the birds’ feathers with their fingers.

They were very gentle with the birds, because the Prophet [s] had always told them that they must treat living creatures kindly and gently. They did not mean to harm the birds. They just wanted to have a close look at them.

But the mother bird, flying round and round high above their heads, did not know this. She thought the men meant to kill her babies, or at least keep them as captives. So, she cried and shrieked and kept on swooping down near the men, trying to make them let go of the two little birds.

The men waved their arms to keep her away, and before long, the mother bird was very distressed. She cried and shrieked more loudly than ever.

Suddenly, while all this was going on, the Prophet [s] returned. He saw the mother bird flying round and round and heard her crying. At once, he realized that she was very unhappy and when he saw his companions holding the little birds he knew what had caused her unhappiness.

“Who has caused trouble to this sparrow by taking away her young ones?” the Prophet [s] wanted to know. “The little birds must be released,” he told his friends. They had to be allowed to join their mother, who was frightened for their safety.

The Prophet’s [s] Companions obeyed him at once. They opened their hands. The little birds struggled for a while, and then spread their wings and flew upwards. They reached their mother high up in the sky, and together, the three birds flew away and out of sight.

It was a happy thing to see. The mother bird was no longer distressed and the fledglings were no longer frightened. Because the three birds were happy, the hearts of the Prophet’s [s] Companions were happy, too.

The Prophet [s] was content. He had been unhappy to see the mother bird in trouble. But now, all was well again.