A man came to Iyas Ibn Mu’awiyah, a Muslim judge famous for his wisdom, and the following conversation took place between them:
Man: What is the Islamic ruling regarding wine?
Judge: It is Haram (Forbidden).
Man: How about water?
Judge: It is Halal (Permissible).
Man: How about dates and grapes?
Judge: They are Halal.
Man: Why is it that all these ingredients are Halal, and yet when you combine them, they become Haram?
The judge looked at the man and said: If I hit you with this handful of dirt, do you think it would hurt you?
Man: It would not.
Judge: How about if I hit you with this handful of straw?
Man: It would not hurt me.
Judge: How about a handful of water?
Man: It surely would not hurt me.
Judge: How about if I mix them, and let them dry to become a brick, and then hit you with it, would it hurt you?
Man: It would hurt me and might even kill me!
Judge: The same reasoning applies to what you asked me!!
Iyas Ibn Muawiyah Al-Muzani was a tabi’i Qadi (judge) in the 2nd century AH who lived in Basra (modern day Iraq). He was renowned for possessing immense cleverness which became a favourite topic in Arabic folklore.