Saadi Shirazi

(1814-1291 / Iran)

Ch 03 On The Excellence Of Contentment Story 23


I heard about a wealthy man who was as well known for his avarice as Hatim Tai for his liberality. Outwardly he displayed the appearance of wealth but inwardly his sordid nature was so dominant that he would not for his life give a morsel of bread to anyone or bestow a scrap upon the kitten of Abu Harirah or throw a bone to the dog of the companions of the cave. In short, no one had seen the door of his house open or his table-doth spread.

The dervish got nothing of his food except the smell.
The fowl picked up the crumbs after his bread-dinner.

I heard that he was sailing in the Mediterranean with the pride of Pharaoh in his head-according to the words of the most high, Until drowning overtook him-when all of a sudden a contrary wind befell the ship, as it is said:

What can thy heart do to thy distressed nature for the wind is not fair?
It is not at all times suitable for a ship.

He uplifted the hands of supplication and began to lament in vain but Allah the most high has commanded: When they sail in a ship they call upon Allah, sincerely exhibiting unto him their religion.

Of what use is the hand of supplication to a needy worshipper
Which is uplifted to God in the time of prayer but in the armpit
in the time of bounty?
Bestow comfort with gold and with silver
And thereby also profit thyself.
As this house of thine will remain,
Build it with a silver and a gold brick.

It is narrated that he had poor relations in Egypt who became rich by the remainder of his wealth, tearing up their old cloths and cutting new ones of silk and of Damiari. During the same week I also beheld one of them riding a fleet horse with a fairy-faced slave boy at his heels. I said:

‘Wah! If the dead man were to return
Among his kinsfolk and connections
The refunding of the inheritance would be more painful
To the heirs than the death of their relative.’

On account of the acquaintance which had formerly subsisted between us, I pulled his sleeve, and said:

‘Eat thou, O virtuous and good man,
What that mean fellow gathered and did not eat.’

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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