Al-Najjâd used to fast every day of the year, and he would break his fast every night with a loaf of bread of which he left aside one mouthful. On the night of Jumu`a he would give away his loaf as charity, and eat the mouthfuls he had put aside.
One time I found myself in difficulty so I went to visit Ibrâhîm al-H.arbî. I told him of my condition and he said: "You should know that I too found myself in difficulty, until I only had small change left in my possession. My wife said to me: `Look among your books, see what you don't need, and sell it!' After I prayed `isha I sat in the lobby of my house (al-dihlîz) to write, whereupon someone knocked at the door. I asked who it was and he said: `Let me speak to you.' I opened the door. He said to me: `Put out the light,' so I put it out. He came into the lobby and put down a food-basket (karra). Then he said to me: `We have prepared food for the children, and we wanted you and your children to have your share of it. This is something else together with it,' and he placed something next to the basket, adding: `Use it as you wish.' I did not know who that man was. Then he left. I called my wife and told her to light the candles. She lit them and came to see. The basket was wrapped in an expensive scarf and contained fifty different kinds of food. Next to it was a purse containing a thousand dinars." I got up and took my leave of al-H.arbî, after which I went to Ah.mad [ibn H.anbal]'s grave to visit him. Then I went on my way. As I was walking on the side of the road, an old woman, one of our neighbors, met me and said: "O Ah.mad, why do you look so downcast?" I told her of my predicament. She said: "Do you know that your mother gave me three hundred dirhams before she died, and said to me: `Keep them, and if you see my son in difficulty or downcast one day, give them to him.' Come with me so I can give them to you." I went with her and she gave me the sum."
Main sources: Ibn Abi Ya`lâ, T.abaqât al-H.anâbila 2:7-8; al-Dhahabî, Siyar 12:137 #3132; Mîzân 1:101.
(*) Al-Munâwî cited similar narrations in Fayd. al-Qadîr: "If you race with each other towards good, walk barefoot, because Allâh multiplies the reward of those who walk barefoot over those who wear shoes." Al-Munâwî said: "Narrated from Ibn `Abbâs by al-T.abarânî in al-Awsat., al-Khat.îb in Târîkh Baghdâd, and al-H.âkim in his Târîkh Naysabûr. Its chain contains `Isâ ibn Nujayh who, al-Dhahabî said, forged narrations. Hence Ibn al-Jawzi included it among his Mawdû`ât (1:217). It is somewhat strengthened by al-T.abarânî's other report whereby `Whoever walks barefoot in Allâh's obedience, Allâh will not ask him to account for His orders on the Day of Judgment.' However, even the latter report was said to be a fabrication." Ibn al-Jawzî's verdict was confirmed by al-Suyût.î in al-La'âli' (1983 ed. 1:194), Ibn `Arrâq in Tanzîh al-Sharî`a (1:251), al-Ghumârî in al-Mughîr (p. 14) and al-Ah.dal in Zawâ'id Târîkh Baghdâd (8:199-200 #1745). Of note here is Shu`ba ibn al-H.ajjâj's saying: "Those who go in pursuit of the h.adîth on horse-back (`alâ al-dawâbb) cannot succeed." Narrated by Abû Nu`aym in the H.ilya (7:179 #10117).
Blessings and peace on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions.