A man had returned from Hajj. He was relating his adventures to Imam Sadiq (as), and his companion. He was most impressed with one of his companions of Hajj, and was praising him. What a gracious man, we were so blessed to have him with us, he was busy praying and worshiping all the time. As we would stop somewhere, he would rush to a corner and start prayers.
Imam (as): "Then who was attending to his duties? Who was watering and feeding his animal (ride)?"
Man: "Of course, we had the honor of doing all that for him. He was busy in his sacred quest, and had nothing to do with such mundane things."
Imam(as): "Then indeed, you all are better than him."
A caravan of Muslims was headed towards Mecca. As it arrived in Madina, it rested a few days, and continued on towards Mecca.
On their way from Madina to Mecca, a man joined the group. This man noticed one of them who had the appearance of a guided person. He was eagerly busy in service of the passengers. The man recognized him. With much surprise, he asked the pilgrims if they knew this man who was at their service.
"No, we don't know him. He joined us in Madina. He is a decent and pious man. We haven't asked him for help. But he has been eager in helping us."
"Obviously you don't know him. For if you did, you would never have allowed a man like him to be at your service."
"Who is this person?"
"This is 'Ali ibn al-Hussein, Zain al-'Abideen."
The group stood with shame and apologized to the Imam (as). Then complaining to him, they said:
"Why did you treat us as such? We may have gone beyond our bounds in our ignorance, and would have committed a big sin in being disrespectful to you."
"I intentionally joined your group, for you didn't know me. When I join a group, where people know me, for the sake of the Prophet (pbuh&hf), they are very kind to me. They don't allow me to be of some service. Thus I was eager to join a group where I will be anonymous, so that I may have the honor of being of some service to my brethren." (1)
(1): Bihar, v.1 p.21
The caravan had been traveling for few hours now. Signs of fatigue were obvious on their faces. They arrived at a point and stopped. The Prophet (pbuh&hf) who was also in the caravan, stopped and camel, and landed. Prior to anything, they were in search of water to prepare for prayer.
The Prophet (pbuh&hf), also started searching for water. But soon, returned to his camel, without saying anything to anyone. The companions were surprised that the Prophet had ordered stopping here, and now perhaps he would like to move again? Eyes and ears were awaiting his order. But the surprise of the group increased as they saw him approach his camel, and tied its knees, and returned back in search of water.
Noises were raised from every corner: " O Prophet of Allah! Why didn't you order us to do this for you, and instead you put yourself in discomfort? We would have proudly done that service for you."
The Prophet (pbuh&hf) responded: "Never seek others' help in your affairs, don't lean on others, even if it is a small piece of Miswak (the wood used for brushing teeth)." (1)
(1): Kahl al Basar, Muhaddith Qhummi, p. 69.