More Books by Islamic Miscellaneous

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Gulistan of Sa'di (Edwin Arnold tr)
Haddad - Oath of the Prophet
Lewis - Abjad Summary
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Edward Fitzgerald tr)
Teachings of Hafiz (G. L. Bell tr)
Yusuf Ali - the Martyrdom of Husein
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Islamic Miscellaneous : Gulistan of Sa'di (Edwin Arnold tr)
by Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa'di Shirazi (1258)
Translated by Sir Edwin Arnold (1899)

Laudation to the God of majesty and glory! Obedience to him is a

cause of approach and gratitude in increase of benefits. Every

inhalation of the breath prolongs life and every expiration of it

gladdens our nature; wherefore every breath confers two benefits and

for every benefit gratitude is due.
Whose hand and tongue is capable
To fulfil the obligations of thanks to him?

Words of the most high: Be thankful, O family of David, and but

few of my servants are thankful.
It is best to a worshipper for his transgressions
To offer apologies at the throne of God,
Although what is worthy of his dignity
No one is able to accomplish.

The showers of his boundless mercy have penetrated to every spot,

and the banquet of his unstinted liberality is spread out

everywhere. He tears not the veil of reputation of his worshippers

even for grievous sins, and does not withhold their daily allowance of

bread for great crimes.
O bountiful One, who from thy invisible treasury
Suppliest the Guebre and the Christian with food,
How could'st thou disappoint thy friends,
Whilst having regard for thy enemies?

He told the chamberlain of the morning breeze to spread out the

emerald carpet and, having commanded the nurse of vernal clouds to

cherish the daughters of plants in the cradle of the earth, the

trees donned the new year's robe and clothed their breast with the

garment of green foliage, whilst their offspring, the branches,

adorned their heads with blossoms at the approach of the season of the

roses. Also the juice of the cane became delicious honey by his power,

and the date a lofty tree by his care.
Cloud and wind, moon and sun move in the sky

That thou mayest gain bread, and not eat it unconcerned.

For thee all are revolving and obedient.

It is against the requirements of justice if thou obeyest not.

There is a tradition of the prince of created beings, the paragon of

existing things, the mercy to the inhabitants of the world, the purest

of mankind and the completion of the revolving ages, Muhammad the

elect, upon whom be blessing and peace:
Intercessor, obeyed, prophet, gracious,

Bountiful, majestic, affable, marked with the seal of God.

What danger is there to the wall of the faithful with thee for a


What fear of the waves of the sea has he whose pilot is Noah?

He attained exaltation by his perfection.
He disspelled darkness by his beauty.
Beauteous are all his qualities,
Benediction be on him and on his family.

The tradition is that whenever a sinful and distressed worshipper

stretches forth the hand of repentance with hopes of acceptance to the

court of heaven, God the most high does not notice him, whereon he

continues to implore mercy with supplications and tears and God the

most holy says: O my angels, verily I am ashamed of my servant and

he has no other lord besides myself. Accordingly I have fully pardoned

See the generosity and kindness of God.
The servant has committed sin and he is ashamed.

Those who attend permanently at the temple of his glory confess

the imperfection of their worship and say: We have not worshipped thee

according to the requirements of thy worship; and those who describe

the splendour of his beauty are rapt in amazement saying: We have

not known thee as thou oughtest to be known.
If someone asks me for his description,

What shall I despairing say of One who has no form?

The lovers have been slain by the beloved.
No voice can come from the slain.

One of the devout who had deeply plunged his head into the cowl of

meditation and had been immersed in the ocean of visions, was asked,

when he had come out of that state, by one of his companions who had

desired to cheer him up: 'What beautiful gift hast thou brought us

from the garden in which thou hast been?' He replied: 'I intended to

fill the skirts of my robe with roses, when I reached the rose-tree,

as presents for my friends but the perfume of the flowers

intoxicated me so much that I let, go the hold of my skirts.'

O bird of the morning, learn love from the moth

Because it burnt, lost its life, and found no voice.

These pretenders are ignorantly in search of Him,

Because he who obtained knowledge has not returned.

O thou who art above all imaginations, conjectures, opinions and


Above anything people have said or we have heard or read,

The assembly is finished and life has reached its term

And we have, as at first, remained powerless in describing thee.

may Allah perpetuate his reign

The good reputation of Sa'di which is current among the people,

the renown of his eloquence which has spread on the surface of the

earth, the products of his friendly pen which are consumed like sugar,

and the scraps of his literary compositions which are hawked about

like bills of exchange, cannot be ascribed to his virtue and

perfection, but the lord of the world, the axis of the revolving

circle of time, the vice-gerent of Solomon, protector of the followers

of the religion, His Majesty the Shahanshah Atabek Aa'zm Muzaffaruddin

Abu Bekr Ben Sa'd Ben Zanki-The shadow of Allah on earth! O Lord, be

pleased with him and with his kingdom-has looked upon Sa'di with a

favourable eye, has praised him greatly, and has shown him sincere

affection so that all men, gentle and simple, love him because the

people follow the religion of their king.
Because thou lookest upon my humble person,

My merits are more celebrated than those of the sun.

Although this slave may possess all faults,
Every fault pleasing the Sultan becomes a virtue.

A sweet-smelling piece of clay, one day in the bath,

Came from the hand of a beloved one to my hand.
I asked: 'Art thou musk or ambergris?
Because thy delicious odour intoxicates me.'
It replied: 'I was a despicable lump of day;
But for a while in the society of a rose.
The perfection of my companion took effect on me
And, if not, I am the same earth which I am.'

O Allah, favour the Musalmans with the prolongation of his life, and

with an augmentation of his reward for his good qualities and deeds;

exalt the dignities of his friends and governors; annihilate those who

are inimical to him and wish him ill; for the sake of what is recorded

in the verses of the Quran. O Allah, give security protect his son.

Verily the world is happy through him; may his happiness endure for


And may the Lord strengthen him and with the banners of victory.

Thus the branch will flourish of which he is the root

Because the beauty of the earth's plants depends on the virtue of

the seed.

May God, whose name be exalted and hallowed, keep in security and

peace the pure country of Shiraz until the time of the resurrection,

under the authority of righteous governors and by the exertions of

practical scholars.
Knowest thou not why I in foreign countries
Roamed about for a long time?

I went away from the distress of the Turks because I saw

The world entangled like the hair of negroes;
They were all human beings, but
Like wolves sharp-clawed, for shedding blood.
When I returned I saw the country at rest,
The tigers having abandoned the nature of tigers.
Within a man of good disposition like an angel,
Without an army like bellicose lions.
Thus it happened that first I beheld

The world full of confusion, anxiety and distress;

Then it became as it is in the days of the just Sultan

Atabek Abu Bekr Ben Sa'd Zanki.

The country of Pares dreads not the vicissitudes of time,

As long as one presides over it like thee, the shadow of God.

Today no one can point out on the surface of the earth,

A place like the threshold of thy door, the asylum of comfort.

On thee is incumbent the protection of the distressed and


Upon us and reward on God the creator of the world,

As long as the world and wind endure.

I was one night meditating on the time which had elapsed,

repenting of the life I had squandered and perforating the stony

mansion of my heart with adamantine tears. 1 I uttered the following

verses in conformity with the state of mind:
Every moment a breath of life is spent,
If I consider, not much of it remains.
O thou, whose fifty years have elapsed in sleep,

Wilt thou perhaps overtake them in these five days?

Shame on him who has gone and done no work.

The drum of departure was beaten but he has not made his load.

Sweet sleep on the morning of departure
Retains the pedestrian from the road.
Whoever had come had built a new edifice.
He departed and left the place to another

And that other one concocted the same futile schemes

And this edifice was not completed by anyone.
Cherish not an inconstant friend.
Such a traitor is not fit for amity.
As all the good and bad must surely die,
He is happy who carries off the ball of virtue.
Send provision for thy journey to thy tomb.
Nobody will bring it after thee; send it before.
Life is snow, the sun is melting hot.

Little remains, but the gentleman is slothful still.

O thou who hast gone empty handed to the bazar,
I fear thou wilt not bring a towel filled.

Who eats the corn he has sown while it is yet green,

Must at harvest time glean the ears of it.
Listen with all thy heart to the advice of Sa'di.
Such is the way; be a man and travel on.
The capital of man's life is his abdomen.
If it be gradually emptied there is no fear
But if it be so closed as not to open
The heart may well despair of life;
And if it be open so that it cannot be closed,
Go and wash thy hands of this world's life.
Four contending rebellious dispositions
Harmonize but five days with each other.
If one of these four becomes prevalent,
Sweet life must abandon the body
Wherefore an intelligent and perfect man
Sets not his heart upon this world's life.

After maturely considering these sentiments, I thought proper to sit

down in the mansion of retirement to fold up the skirts of

association, to wash my tablets of heedless sayings and no more to

indulge in senseless prattle:

To sit in a corner, like one with a cut tongue, deaf and dumb,

Is better than a man who has no command over his tongue.

I continued in this resolution till a friend, who had been my

companion in the camel-litter of misery and my comrade in the closet

of affection, entered at the door, according to his old custom with

playful gladness, and spread out the surface of desire; but I would

give him no reply nor lift up my head from the knees of worship. He

looked at me aggrieved and said:
'Now, while thou hast the power of utterance,
Speak, O brother, with grace and kindness

Because tomorrow, when the messenger of death arrives,

Thou wilt of necessity restrain thy tongue.'

One of my connections informed him how matters stood and told him

that I had firmly determined and was intent upon spending the rest

of my life in continual devotion and silence, advising him at the same

time, in case he should be able, to follow my example and to keep me

company. He replied: 'I swear by the great dignity of Allah and by our

old friendship that I shall not draw breath, nor budge one step,

unless he converses with me as formerly, and in his usual way; because

it is foolish to insult friends and easy to expiate an oath. It is

against propriety, and contrary to the opinions of wise men that the

Zulfiqar of A'li should remain in the scabbard and the tongue of Sa'di

in his palate.'

O intelligent man what is the tongue in the mouth?

It is the key to the treasure-door of a virtuous man.

When the door is closed how can one know
Whether he is a seller of jewels or a hawker?
Although intelligent men consider silence civil,

It is better for thee to speak at the proper time.

Two things betoken levity of intellect: to remain mute

When it is proper to speak and to talk when silence is


In short, I had not the firmness to restrain my tongue from speaking

to him, and did not consider it polite to turn away my face from his

conversation, he being a congenial friend and sincerely affectionate.

When thou fightest with anyone, consider

Whether thou wilt have to flee from him or he from thee.

I was under the necessity of speaking and then went out by way of

diversion in the vernal season, when the traces of severe cold had

disappeared and the time of the dominion of roses had arrived:

Green garments were upon the trees
Like holiday robes on contented persons.
On the first of the month Ardibihesht Jellali

The bulbuls were singing on the pulpits of branches.

Upon the roses pearls of dew had fallen,

Resembling perspiration on an angry sweetheart's cheek.

I happened to spend the night in a garden with one of my friends and

we found it to be a pleasant cheerful place with heart-ravishing

entangled trees; its ground seemed to be paved with small glass

beads whilst, from its vines, bunches like the Pleiads were suspended.

A garden the water of whose river was limpid
A grove the melody of whose birds was harmonious.
The former full of bright-coloured tulips,
The latter full of fruits of various kinds;
The wind had in the shade of its trees
Spread out a bed of all kinds of flowers.

The next morning when the intention of returning had prevailed

over the opinion of tarrying, I saw that my friend had in his skirt

collected roses, sweet basil, hyacinths and fragrant herbs with the

determination to carry them to town; whereon I said: 'Thou knowest

that the roses of the garden are perishable and the season passes

away', and philosophers have said: 'Whatever is not of long duration

is not to be cherished.' He asked: 'Then what is to be done?' I

replied: 'I may compose for the amusement of those who look and for

the instruction of those who are present a book of a Rose Garden, a

Gulistan, whose leaves cannot be touched by the tyranny of autumnal

blasts and the delight of whose spring the vicissitudes of time will

be unable to change into the inconstancy of autumn.

Of what use will be a dish of roses to thee?
Take a leaf from my rose-garden.
A flower endures but five or six days
But this rose-garden is always delightful.

After I had uttered these words he threw away the flowers from his

skirts, and attached himself to mine, saying: 'When a generous

fellow makes a promise he keeps it.'

On the same day I happened to write two chapters, namely on polite

society and the rules of conversation, in a style acceptable to

orators and instructive to letter-writers. In short, some roses of the

garden still remained when the book of the Rose-garden was finished

but it will in reality be completed only after approbation in the

court of the Shah, who is the refuge of the world, the shadow of

God, the ray of his grace, the treasury of the age, the asylum of

the Faith, strengthened by heaven, aided against enemies, the arm of

the victorious government, the lamp of the resplendent religion, the

beauty of mankind, the boast of Islam, Sa'd son of Atabek the great,

the majestic Shahanshah, owner of the necks of nations, lord of the

kings of Arabia and Persia, the sultan of the land and the sea, the

heir of the kingdom of Solomon, Muzaffaruddin Ibu Bekr, son of Sa'd

Zanki, may Allah the most high perpetuate the prosperity of them

both and direct their inclinations to every good thing.

Perused with a kind glance,
Adorned with approbation by the sovereign,

It will be a Chinese picture-gallery or design of the Arzank,

Hopes are entertained that he will not be wearied

By these contents because a Pose-garden is not a place of

The more so as its august preface is dedicated
To Sa'd Abu Bekr Sa'd the son of Zanki.


Again, the bride of imagination can for want of beauty not lift up

her head nor raise her eyes from the feet of bashfulness to appear

in the assembly of persons endowed with pulchritude, unless adorned

with the ornaments of approbation from the great Amir, who is learned,

just, aided by heaven, victorious, supporter of the throne of the

Sultanate and councillor in deliberations of the realm, refuge of

the poor, asylum of strangers, patron of learned men, lover of the

pious, glory of the dynasty of Pares, right hand of the kingdom, chief

of the nobles, boast of the monarchy and of the religion, succour of

Islam and of the Musalmans, buttress of kings and sultans, Abu Bekr,

son of Abu Nassar, may Allah prolong his life, augment his dignity,

enlighten his breast and increase his reward twofold, because he

enjoys the praise of all great men and is the embodiment of every

laudable quality.
Whoever reposes in the shadow of his favour,

His sin is transmuted to obedience and his foe into a friend.

Every attendant and follower has an appointed duty and if, in the

performance thereof, he gives way to remissness and indolence, he is

certainly called to account and becomes subject to reproaches,

except the tribe of dervishes, from whom thanks are due for the

benefits they receive from great men as well as praises and prayers,

all of which duties are more suitably performed in their absence

than in their presence, because in the latter they look like

ostentation and in the former they are free from ceremony.

The back of the bent sky became flat with joy,
When dame nature brought forth a child like thee.
It is an instance of wisdom if the Creator

Causes a servant to make the general welfare his special duty.

He has found eternal happiness who lived a good life,

Because, after his end, good repute will keep his name alive.

No matter whether virtuous men praise you or not
A lovely maid stands in no need of a tire woman.

My negligence and backwardness in diligent attendance at the royal

court resemble the case of Barzachumihr, whose merits the sages of

India were discussing but could at last not reproach him with anything

except slowness of speech because he delayed long and his hearers were

obliged to wait till he delivered himself of what he had to say.

When Barzachumihr heard of this he said: 'It is better for me to

consider what to speak than to repent of what I have spoken.'

A trained orator, old, aged,
First meditates and then speaks.
Do not speak without consideration.
Speak well and if slow what matters it?
Deliberate and then begin to talk.
Say thyself enough before others say enough.
By speech a man is better than a brute

But a beast is better unless thou speakest properly.

How then could I venture to appear in the sight of the grandees of

my lord, may his victory be glorious, who are an assembly of pious men

and the centre of profound scholars? If I were to be led in the ardour

of conversation to speak petulantly, I could produce only a trifling

stock-in-trade in the noble presence but glass beads are not worth a

barleycorn in the bazar of jewellers, a lamp does not shine in the

presence of the sun, and a minaret looks low at the foot of Mount

Who lifts up his neck with pretentions,
Foes hasten to him from every side.
Sa'di has fallen to be a hermit.
No one came to attack a fallen man.
First deliberation, then speech;
The foundation was laid first, then the wall.

I know bouquet-binding but not in the garden. I sell a sweetheart

but not in Canaan. Loqman the philosopher, being asked from whom he

had learnt wisdom, replied: 'From the blind, who do not take a step

before trying the place.' First move about, then stir out.

Try thy virility first, then marry.
Though a cock may be brave in war
He strikes his claws in vain on a brazen falcon.
A cat is a lion in catching mice
But a mouse in combat with a tiger.

But, trusting in the liberal sentiments of the great, who shut their

eyes to the faults of their inferiors and abstain from divulging the

crimes of humble men, we have in this book recorded, by way of

abridgment, some rare events, stories, poetry and accounts about

ancient kings, spending a portion of our precious life in the task.

This was the reason for composing the book Gulistan; and help is

from Allah.

This well-arranged composition will remain for years,

When every atom of our dust is dispersed.

The intention of this design was that it should survive

Because I perceive no stability in my existence,
Unless one day a pious man compassionately
Utters a prayer for the works of dervishes.

The author, having deliberated upon the arrangement of the book, and

the adornment of the chapters, deemed it suitable to curtail the

diction of this beautiful garden and luxuriant grove and to make it

resemble paradise, which also has eight entrances. The abridgment

was made to avoid tediousness.
I The Manners of Kings
II On the Morals of Dervishes
III On the Excellence of Content
IV On the Advantages of Silence
V On Love and Youth
VI On Weakness and Old Age
VII On the Effects of Education
VIII On Rules for Conduct in Life
At a period when our time was pleasant
The Hejret was six hundred and fifty-six.
Our intention was advice and we gave it.
We recommended thee to God and departed.
Story 1

I heard a padshah giving orders to kill a prisoner. The helpless

fellow began to insult the king on that occasion of despair, with

the tongue he had, and to use foul expressions according to the

Who washes his hands of life
Says whatever he has in his heart.

When a man is in despair his tongue becomes long and he is like a

vanquished cat assailing a dog.
In time of need, when flight is no more possible,
The hand grasps the point of the sharp sword.

When the king asked what he was saying, a good-natured vezier

replied: 'My lord, he says: Those who bridle their anger and forgive

men; for Allah loveth the beneficent.'

The king, moved with pity, forbore taking his life but another

vezier, the antagonist of the former, said: 'Men of our rank ought

to speak nothing but the truth in the presence of padshahs. This

fellow has insulted the king and spoken unbecomingly.' The king, being

displeased with these words, said: 'That lie was more acceptable to me

than this truth thou hast uttered because the former proceeded from

a conciliatory disposition and the latter from malignity; and wise men

have said: "A falsehood resulting in conciliation is better than a

truth producing trouble."'
He whom the shah follows in what he says,

It is a pity if he speaks anything but what is good.

The following inscription was upon the portico of the hall of

O brother, the world remains with no one.
Bind the heart to the Creator, it is enough.
Rely not upon possessions and this world

Because it has cherished many like thee and slain them.

When the pure soul is about to depart,

What boots it if one dies on a throne or on the ground?

Story 2

One of the kings of Khorasan had a vision in a dream of Sultan

Mahmud, one hundred years after his death. His whole person appeared

to have been dissolved and turned to dust, except his eyes, which were

revolving in their orbits and looking about. All the sages were unable

to give an interpretation, except a dervish who made his salutation

and said: 'He is still looking amazed how his kingdom belongs to

Many famous men have been buried under ground

Of whose existence on earth not a trace has remained

And that old corpse which had been surrendered to the earth

Was so consumed by the soil that not a bone remains.

The glorious name of Nushirvan survives in good repute

Although much time elapsed since he passed away.

Do good, O man, and consider life as a good fortune,

The more so, as when a shout is raised, a man exists no more.

Story 3

I have heard that a royal prince of short stature and mean presence,

whose brothers were tall and good-looking, once saw his father

glancing on him with aversion and contempt but he had the shrewdness

and penetration to guess the meaning and said: 'O father, a puny

intelligent fellow is better than a tall ignorant man, neither is

everything bigger in stature higher in price. A sheep is nice to eat

and an elephant is carrion.'

The smallest mountain on earth is Jur; nevertheless

It is great with Allah in dignity and station.
Hast thou not heard that a lean scholar
One day said to a fat fool:
'Although an Arab horse may be weak

It is thus more worth than a stable full of asses.'

The father laughed at this sally, the pillars of the state

approved of it, but the brothers felt much aggrieved.

While a man says not a word
His fault and virtue are concealed.
Think not that every desert is empty.
Possibly it may contain a sleeping tiger.

I heard that on the said occasion the king was menaced by a powerful

enemy and that when the two armies were about to encounter each other,

the first who entered the battlefield was the little fellow who said:

'I am not he whose back thou wilt see on the day of battle

But he whom thou shalt behold in dust and blood.
Who himself fights, stakes his own life

In battle but he who flees, the blood of his army.'

After uttering these words he rushed among the troops of the

enemy, slew several warriors and, returning to his father, made humble

obeisance and said:
'O thou, to whom my person appeared contemptible,

Didst not believe in the impetuosity of my valour.

A horse with slender girth is of use
On the day of battle, not a fattened ox.'

It is related that the troops of the enemy were numerous, and that

the king's, being few, were about to flee, but that the puny youth

raised a shout, saying: 'O men, take care not to put on the garments

of women.' These words augmented the rage of the troopers so that they

made a unanimous attack and I heard that they gained the victory on

the said occasion. The king kissed the head and eyes of his son,

took him in his arms and daily augmented his affection till he

appointed him to succeed him on the throne. His brothers became

envious and placed poison in his food but were perceived by his sister

from her apartment, whereon she closed the window violently and the

youth, shrewdly guessing the significance of the act, restrained his

hands from touching the food, and said: 'It is impossible that men

of honour should die, and those who possess none should take their

No one goes under the shadow of an owl
Even if the homa should disappear from the world.

This state of affairs having been brought to the notice of the

father, he severely reproved the brothers and assigned to each of them

a different, but pleasant, district as a place of exile till the

confusion was quelled and the quarrel appeased; and it has been said

that ten dervishes may sleep under the same blanket but that one

country cannot hold two padshahs.
When a pious man eats half a loaf of bread
He bestows the other half upon dervishes.
If a padshah were to conquer the seven climates
He would still in the same way covet another.
Story 4

A band of Arab brigands having taken up their position on the top of

a mountain and closed the passage of caravans, the inhabitants of

the country were distressed by their stratagems and the troops of

the sultan foiled because the robbers, having obtained an inaccessible

spot on the summit of the mountain, thus had a refuge which they

made their habitation. The chiefs of that region held a consultation

about getting rid of the calamity because it would be impossible to

offer resistance to the robbers if they were allowed to remain.

A tree which has just taken root

May be moved from the place by the strength of a man

But, if thou leavest it thus for a long time,
Thou canst not uproot it with a windlass.

The source of a fountain may be stopped with a bodkin

But, when it is full, it cannot be crossed on an elephant.

The conclusion was arrived at to send one man as a spy and to wait

for the opportunity till the brigands departed to attack some people

and leave the place empty. Then several experienced men, who had

fought in battles, were despatched to keep themselves in ambush in a

hollow of the mountain. In the evening the brigands returned from

their excursion with their booty, divested themselves of their arms,

put away their plunder and the first enemy who attacked them was

sleep, till about a watch of the night had elapsed:

The disk of the sun went into darkness.
Jonah went into the mouth of the fish.

The warriors leapt forth from the ambush, tied the hands of every

one of the robbers to his shoulders and brought them in the morning to

the court of the king, who ordered all of them to be slain. There

happened to be a youth among them, the fruit of whose vigour was

just ripening and the verdure on the rose-garden of whose cheek had

begun to sprout. One of the veziers, having kissed the foot of the

king's throne and placed the face of intercession upon the ground,

said: 'This boy has not yet eaten any fruit from the garden of life

and has not yet enjoyed the pleasures of youth. I hope your majesty

will generously and kindly confer an obligation upon your slave by

sparing his life.' The king, being displeased with this request,


'He whose foundation is bad will not take instruction from the good,

To educate unworthy persons is like throwing nuts on a cupola.

'It is preferable to extirpate the race and offspring of these

people and better to dig up their roots and foundations, because it is

not the part of wise men to extinguish fire and to leave burning coals

or to kill a viper and leave its young ones.
If a cloud should rain the water of life
Never sip it from the branch of a willow-tree.
Associate not with a base fellow

Because thou canst not eat sugar from a mat-reed.'

The vezier heard these sentiments, approved of them nolens volens,

praised the opinion of the king and said: 'What my lord has uttered is

the very truth itself because if the boy had been brought up in the

company of those wicked men, he would have become one of themselves.

But your slave hopes that he will, in the society of pious men, profit

by education and will acquire the disposition of wise persons. Being

yet a child the rebellious and perverse temper of that band has not

yet taken hold of his nature and there is a tradition of the prophet

that every infant is born with an inclination for Islam but his

parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Majusi.'

The spouse of Lot became a friend of wicked persons.

His race of prophets became extinct.

The dog of the companions of the cave for some days

Associated with good people and became a man.

When the vezier had said these words and some of the king's

courtiers had added their intercession to his, the king no longer

desired to shed the blood of the youth and said: 'I grant the

request although I disapprove-of it.'

Knowest thou not what Zal said to the hero Rastam:

'An enemy cannot be held despicable or helpless.
I have seen many a water from a paltry spring

Becoming great and carrying off a camel with its load.'

In short, the vezier brought up the boy delicately, with every

comfort, and kept masters to educate him, till they had taught him

to address persons in elegant language as well as to reply and he

had acquired every accomplishment. One day the vezier hinted at his

talents in the presence of the king, asserting that the instructions

of wise men had taken effect upon the boy and had expelled his

previous ignorance from his nature. The king smiled at these words and

'At last a wolf's whelp will be a wolf
Although he may grow up with a man.'

After two years had elapsed a band of robbers in the locality joined

him, tied the knot of friendship and, when the opportunity presented

itself, he killed the vezier with his son, took away untold wealth and

succeeded to the position of his own father in the robber-cave where

he established himself. The king, informed of the event, took the

finger of amazement between his teeth and said:

'How can a man fabricate a good sword of bad iron?

O sage, who is nobody becomes not somebody by education.

The rain, in the beneficence of whose nature there is no flaw,

Will cause tulips to grow in a garden and weeds in bad soil.

Saline earth will not produce hyacinths.
Throw not away thy seeds or work thereon.

To do good to wicked persons is like Doing evil to good men.'

Story 5

I saw at the palace-gate of Oglimish the son of a military officer

who was endued with marvellous intellect, sagacity, perception and

shrewdness; also the signs of future greatness manifested themselves

on his forehead whilst yet a small boy.
From his head intelligence caused
The star of greatness to shine.

In short, he pleased the sultan because he had a beautiful

countenance and a perfect understanding; and philosophers have said:

'Power consists in accomplishments, not in wealth and greatness in

intellect, not in years.' His companions, being envious, made an

attempt upon his life and desired to kill him but their endeavours

remained fruitless.
What can a foe do when the friend is kind?

The king asked: 'What is the cause of their enmity to thee?' He

replied: 'Under the shadow of the monarchy of my lord I have satisfied

my contemporaries except the envious, who will not be contented but by

the decline of my prosperity, and may the monarchy and good fortune of

my lord be perpetual.'

I may so act as not to hurt the feelings of anyone

But what can I do to an envious man dissatisfied with himself?

Die, O envious man, for this is a malady,

Deliverance from which can be obtained only by death.

Unfortunate men sometimes ardently desire

The decline of prosperous men in wealth and dignity.

If in daytime, bat-eyed persons do not see

Is it the fault of the fountain of light, the sun?

Thou justly wishest that a thousand such eyes
Should be blind rather than the sun dark.
Story 6

It is narrated that one of the kings of Persia had stretched forth

his tyrannical hand to the possessions of his subjects and had begun

to oppress them so violently that in consequence of his fraudulent

extortions they dispersed in the world and chose exile on account of

the affliction entailed by his violence. When the population had

diminished, the prosperity of the country suffered, the treasury

remained empty and on every side enemies committed violence.

Who desires succour in the day of calamity,
Say to him: 'Be generous in times of prosperity.'

The slave with a ring in his ear, if not cherished will depart.

Be kind because then a stranger will become thy slave.

One day the Shahnamah was read in his assembly, the subject being

the ruin of the dominion of Zohak and the reign of Feridun. The vezier

asked the king how it came to pass that Feridun, who possessed neither

treasure nor land nor a retinue, established himself upon the

throne. He replied: 'As thou hast heard, the population

enthusiastically gathered around him and supported him so that he

attained royalty.' The vezier said: 'As the gathering around of the

population is the cause of royalty, then why dispersest thou the

population? Perhaps thou hast no desire for royalty?'

It is best to cherish the army as thy life
Because a sultan reigns by means of his troops.

The king asked: 'What is the reason for the gathering around of

the troops and the population?' He replied: 'A padshah must practise

justice that they may gather around him and clemency that they may

dwell in safety under the shadow of his government; but thou

possessest neither of these qualities.'
A tyrannic man cannot be a sultan
As a wolf cannot be a shepherd.
A padshah who establishes oppression
Destroys the basis of the wall of his own reign.

The king, displeased with the advice of his censorious vezier,

sent him to prison. Shortly afterwards the sons of the king's uncle

rose in rebellion, desirous of recovering the kingdom of their father.

The population, which had been reduced to the last extremity by the

king's oppression and scattered, now assembled around them and

supported them, till he lost control of the government and they took

possession of it.
A padshah who allows his subjects to be oppressed
Will in his day of calamity become a violent foe.

Be at peace with subjects and sit safe from attacks of foes

Because his subjects are the army of a just shahanshah.

Story 7

A padshah was in the same boat with a Persian slave who had never

before been at sea and experienced the inconvenience of a vessel. He

began to cry and to tremble to such a degree that he could not be

pacified by kindness, so that at last the king became displeased as

the matter could not be remedied. In that boat there happened to be

a philosopher, who said: 'With thy permission I shall quiet him.'

The padshah replied: 'It will be a great favour.' The philosopher

ordered the slave to be thrown into the water so that he swallowed

some of it, whereon be was caught and pulled by his hair to the

boat, to the stern of which he clung with both his hands. Then he

sat down in a corner and became quiet. This appeared strange to the

king who knew not what wisdom there was in the proceeding and asked

for it. The philosopher replied: 'Before he had tasted the calamity of

being drowned, he knew not the safety of the boat; thus also a man

does not appreciate the value of immunity from a misfortune until it

has befallen him.'
O thou full man, barley-bread pleases thee not.
She is my sweetheart who appears ugly to thee.
To the huris of paradise purgatory seems hell.

Ask the denizens of hell. To them purgatory is paradise.

There is a difference between him whose friend is in his arms

And him whose eyes of expectation are upon the door.

Story 8

Hormuzd, being asked what fault the veziers of his father had

committed that he imprisoned them, replied: 'I discovered no fault.

I saw that boundless awe of me had taken root in their hearts but that

they had no full confidence in my promises, wherefore I apprehended

that they, fearing calamities would befall them, might attempt my life

and I acted according to the maxim of sages who have said:

'Dread him who dreads thee, O sage,

Although thou couldst cope with a hundred like him.

Seest thou not when the cat becomes desperate

How he plucks out with his claws the eyes of a tiger?

The viper stings the shepherd's foot

Because it fears he will strike his head with a stone.'

Story 9

An Arab king was sick in his state of decrepitude so that all

hopes of life were cut off. A trooper entered the gate with the good

news that a certain fort had been conquered by the good luck of the

king, that the enemies had been captured and that the whole population

of the district had been reduced to obedience. The king heaved a

deep sigh and replied: 'This message is not for me but for my enemies,

namely the heirs of the kingdom.'
I spent my precious life in hopes, alas!
That every desire of my heart will be fulfilled.

My wishes were realized, but to what profit? Since

There is no hope that my past life will return.

The hand of fate has struck the drum of departure.

O my two eyes, bid farewell to the head.
O palm, forearm, and arm of my hand,
All take leave from each other.
Death, the foe of my desires, has fallen on me
For the last time, O friends. Pass near me.
My life has elapsed in ignorance.
I have done nothing, be on your guard.
Story 10

I was constantly engaged in prayer, at the head of the prophet

Yahia's tomb in the cathedral mosque of Damascus, when one of the Arab

kings, notorious for his injustice, happened to arrive on a pilgrimage

to it, who offered his supplications and asked for compliance with his


The dervish and the plutocrat are slaves on the floor of this


And those who are the wealthiest are the most needy.

Then he said to me: 'Dervishes being zealous and veracious in

their dealings, unite thy mind to mine, for I am apprehensive of a

powerful enemy.' I replied: 'Have mercy upon thy feeble subjects

that thou mayest not be injured by a strong foe.'
With a powerful arm and the strength of the wrist
To break the five fingers of a poor man is sin.
Let him be afraid who spares not the fallen

Because if he falls no one will take hold of his hand.

Whoever sows bad seed and expects good fruit

Has cudgelled his brains for nought and begotten vain imaginations.

Extract the cotton from thy ears and administer justice to thy


And if thou failest to do so, there is a day of retribution.

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time afflicts one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.

If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others

Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a man.

Story 11

A dervish, whose prayers met with answers, made his appearance,

and Hejaj Yusuf, calling him, said: 'Utter a good prayer for me',

whereon the dervish exclaimed: 'O God, take his life.' He replied:

'For God's sake, what prayer is this?' The dervish rejoined: 'It is

a good prayer for thee and for all Musalmans.'
O tyrant, who oppressest thy subjects,
How long wilt thou persevere in this?
Of what use is authority to thee?
To die is better for thee than to oppress men.
Story 12

An unjust king asked a devotee what kind of worship is best? He

replied: 'For thee the best is to sleep one half of the day so as

not to injure the people for a while.'
I saw a tyrant sleeping half the day.

I said: 'This confusion, if sleep removes it, so much the better;

But he whose sleep is better than his wakefulness
Is better dead than leading such a bad life.'
Story 13

I heard a king, who had changed might into day by pleasures,

saying in his drunkenness:

'We have in the world no moment more delightful than this,

Because I care neither for good nor for bad nor for anyone.'

A naked dervish, who was sleeping outside in the cold, then said:

'O thou like whom in happiness there is no one in the world,

I take it if thou carest not, we also do not care.'

The king, being pleased with these words of unconcern, held out a

bag of a thousand dinars from the window and said: 'Dervish, spread

out thy skirt.' He replied: 'Whence can I, who have no robe, bring a

skirt?' The padshah took pity on his helpless condition, added a

robe to his gift and sent it out to him but the dervish squandered the

money in a short time and returned.
Property cannot abide in the hands of the free,

Neither patience in the heart of a lover nor water in a sieve.

The case of the dervish having been brought to the notice of the

king when he was not in good humour, he became angry and turned his

face away. Therefore it has been said that intelligent and experienced

men ought to be on their guard against the violence and despotism of

kings because their thoughts are generally occupied with important

affairs of state so that they cannot bear to be importuned by the

crowd of vulgar persons.

He will be excluded from the beneficence of the padshah

Who cannot watch for the proper opportunity.

Before thou seest the occasion for speaking at hand

Destroy not thy power by heedless talk.

The king said: 'Drive away this impudent and prodigal mendicant

who has in so short a time thrown away so much money. He does not know

that the Beit-ulmal is intended to offer a morsel to the needy and not

to feed the brothers of devils.'
The fool who burns by day a camphor-light
Will soon not have an oil-lamp for the night.

One of councillor-veziers said: 'My lord, it would seem proper to

grant to such persons a sufficient allowance to be drawn from time

to time so that they may not squander it. But anger and repulsion,

as manifested by thee, are unworthy of a generous disposition as

also to encourage a man by kindness and then again to distress him

by disappointing his expectation.'
The door ought not to be opened to applicants so
That, when it is ajar, it may not be shut again.
Nobody sees the thirsty pilgrims to Hejaz
Crowding at the bank of briny water.
Wherever a sweet spring happens to be
Men, birds and insects flock around it.
Story 14

One of the ancient kings neglected the government of his realm and

kept the army in distress. Accordingly the whole of it ran away when a

powerful enemy appeared.
If he refrains from giving treasure to the troops

They refrain from putting their hands to the sword.

What bravery will they display in battle array

When their hands are empty and affairs deplorable?

I was on terms of friendship with one of those who had acted

treacherously and reproached him, telling him that it was base,

ungrateful, despicable and undutiful to abandon an old master when his

affairs have changed a little and to disregard the obligations

incurred for benefits received during many years. He replied: 'If I

inform thee, perhaps thou wilt excuse me for my horse had no barley

and my saddle-cloth was pawned. A sultan who grudges money to his

troops, they cannot bravely risk their lives for him.'

Give gold to the soldier that he may serve thee.
If thou witholdest gold, he will serve elsewhere.

When a warrior is full, he will be brave infight but if his belly be

empty, he will be brave in flight.
Story 15

A vezier, who had been removed from his post, entered the circle

of dervishes and the blessing of their society took such effect upon

him that he became contented in his mind. When the king was again

favourably disposed towards him and ordered him to resume his

office, he refused and said: 'Retirement is better than occupation.'

Those who have sat down in the corner of safety
Have bound the teeth of dogs and tongues of men.
They tore the paper up and broke the pen

And are saved from the hands and tongues of slanderers.

The king said: 'Verily we stand in need of a man of sufficient

intelligence who is able to carry on the administration of the

government.' He replied: 'It is a sign of sufficient intelligence

not to engage in such matters.'
The homa excels all other birds in nobility

Because it feeds on bones and injures no living thing.

A donkey, having been asked for what salary he had elected to attend

upon the lion, replied: 'That I may consume the remnants of his prey

and live in safety from my enemies by taking refuge under his

bravery.' Being again asked that, as he had entered into the shadow of

the lion's protection and gratefully acknowledged his beneficence, why

he had not joined the circle of intimacy so as to be accounted one

of his favourite servants, he replied: 'I am in the same way also

not safe of his bravery.'
Should a Guebre kindle fire a hundred years
If he falls one moment into it he will be burnt.

It may happen that a companion of his majesty the sultan receives

gold and it is possible that he loses his head. Philosophers have said

that it is necessary to be on guard of the fickle temper of padshahs

because sometimes they are displeased with politeness and at others

they bestow robes of honour for rudeness. It is also said that much

jocularity is an accomplishment in courtiers but a fault in sages.

Abide thou by thy dignity and gravity.
Leave sport and jocularity to courtiers.
Story 16

One of my friends complained of the unpropitious times, telling me

that he had a slender income, a large family, without strength to bear

the load of poverty and had often entertained the idea to emigrate

to another country so that no matter how he made a living no one might

become aware of his good or ill luck.

Many a man slept hungry and no one knew who he was.

Many a man was at the point of death and no one wept for him.

He was also apprehensive of the malevolence of enemies who would

laugh behind his back and would attribute the struggle he underwent

for the benefit of his family to his want of manly independence and

that they will say:
'Behold that dishonourable fellow who will never
See the face of prosperity,
Will choose bodily comfort for himself,
Abandoning his wife and children to misery.'

He also told me that as I knew he possessed some knowledge of

arithmetic, I might, through my influence, get him appointed to a post

which would become the means of putting his mind at ease and place him

under obligations to me, which he could not requite by gratitude

during the rest of his life. I replied: 'Dear friend! Employment by

a padshah consists of two parts, namely, the hope for bread and the

danger of life, but it is against the opinion of intelligent men to

incur this danger for that hope.'
No one comes to the house of a dervish
To levy a tax on land and garden.
Either consent to bear thy anxiety or grief
Or carry thy beloved children to the crows.

He replied: 'Thou hast not uttered these words in conformity with my

case nor answered my question. Hast thou not heard the saying?

"Whoever commits treachery let his hand tremble at the account."'

Straightness is the means of acceptance with God.
I saw no one lost on the straight road.

Sages have said: 'Four persons are for life in dread of four

persons: a robber of the sultan, a thief of the watchman, an adulterer

of an informer, and a harlot of the muhtasib. But what has he to

fear whose account of the conscience is clear?'

Be not extravagant when in office, if thou desirest

On thy removal to see thy foes embarrassed for imputations against

Be thou pure, O brother, and in fear of no one.

Washermen beat only impure garments against stones.

I said: 'The story of that fox resembles thy case, who was by some

persons seen fleeing with much trouble and asked for the cause of

his fear replied: 'I have heard that camels are being forced into

the service.' They said: 'O fool, what connection hast thou with a

camel and what resemblance does the latter bear to thee?' The fox

rejoined: 'Hush. If the envious malevolently say that I am a camel and

I am caught, who will care to release me or investigate my case?

Till the antidote is brought from Eraq the snake-bitten person

dies.' Thou art a very excellent and honest man but enemies sit in

ambush and competitors in every corner. If they describe thy character

in a contrary manner, thou wouldst be called upon to give explanations

to the padshah and incur reproof. Who would on that occasion venture

to say anything? Accordingly I am of opinion that thou shouldst retire

to the domain of contentment and abandon aspirations to dominion. Wise

men have said:
'In the sea there are countless gains,

But if thou desirest safety, it will be on the shore.'

My friend, having heard these words, became angry, made a wry face

and began to reproach me, saying: 'What sufficiency of wisdom and

maturity of intellect is this? The saying of philosophers has come

true, that friends are useful in prison because at table all enemies

appear as friends.'

Account him not a friend who knocks at the door of prosperity,

Boasts of amity and calls himself thy adopted brother.

I consider him a friend who takes a friend's hand
When he is in a distressed state and in poverty.

Seeing that he had thus changed and ascribed my advice to an

interested motive, I paid a visit to the President of the State

Council and, trusting in my old acquaintance with him, explained the

case of my friend whom he then appointed to a small post. In a short

time my friend's affable behaviour and good management elicited

approbation so that he was promoted to a higher office. In this manner

the star of his good luck ascended till he reached the zenith of his

aspirations, became a courtier of his majesty the sultan, generally

esteemed and trusted. I was delighted with his safe position and said:

'Be not apprehensive of tangled affairs and keep not a broken heart

Because the spring of life is in darkness.'
Do not grieve, O brother in misery,
Because the Ill-merciful has hidden favours.

Sit not morose on account of the turns of time; for patience,

Although bitter, nevertheless possesses a sweet fruit.

At that time I happened to go with a company of friends on a journey

to Mekkah and on my return he met me at a distance of two stages. I

perceived his outward appearance to be distressed, his costume being

that of dervishes. I asked: 'What is the matter?' He replied: 'As thou

hast predicted, some persons envied me and brought against me an

accusation of treason. The king ordered no inquiry on its truthfulness

and my old well-wishers with my kind friends who failed to speak the

word of truth forgot our old intimacy.

'Seest thou not in front of the possessor of dignity

They place the hands on their heads, praising him;

But, if fortune's turn causes his fall,
All desire to Place their foot on his head.

'In short, I was till this week undergoing various persecutions,

when the news of the pilgrims' approach from Mekkah arrived, whereon I

was released from my heavy bonds and my hereditary property

confiscated.' I replied: 'Thou hast not paid attention to my remarks

when I said that the service of padshahs is like a sea voyage,

profitable and dangerous, so that thou wilt either gain a treasure

or perish in the waves.'

The khajah either takes gold with both hands to the shore

Or the waves throw him one day dead upon the shore.

Not thinking it suitable to scratch the wound of the dervish more

than I had already done and so sprinkle salt thereon, I contented

myself with reciting the following two distichs:

Knewest thou not that thou wilt see thy feet in bonds

If the advice of people cannot penetrate into thy ear?

Again, if thou canst not bear the pain of the sting

Put not thy finger into the hole of a scorpion.
Story 17

Several men were in my company whose external appearance displayed

the adornment of piety. A great man who had conceived a very good

opinion of these persons had assigned them a fixed allowance but,

after one of them had done something unbecoming the profession of

dervishes, his opinion changed and they fell into disgrace. I

desired in some way to save the allowance of my friends and intended

to wait upon the great man but the doorkeeper would not allow me to

enter and was rude. I pardoned him, because it has been said:

The door of an amir, vezier or sultan
Is not to be approached without an introduction.
When a dog or a doorkeeper sees a stranger

The former takes hold of his skirt, the latter of his collar.

When those who could at any time approach the presence of the said

great man became aware of my case, they took me in with compliments

and desired to assign me a high seat but I humbly took a lower one and

'Allow me who am the smallest slave
To sit in the line of slaves.'

He said: 'Allah, Allah, what need is there for such words?'

If thou sittest on my head and eyes
I shall be polite, for thou art polite.

In short, I took a seat and we conversed on a variety of topics till

the affair of the error of my companions turned up and I said:

'What crime has my lord seen, who was bountiful,
To make the slave despicable in his sight?
To God that magnanimity and bounty is surrendered

Which beholds the crime but nevertheless bestows the bread.'

The governor, being pleased with these words, ordered the support of

my friends to be attended to as before and the arrears to be made

good. I expressed my gratitude, kissed the ground of obedience,

apologized for my boldness, and said:

'Since the Ka'bah has become the Qiblah of wants from distant lands

The people go to visit it from many farsangs.

Thou must suffer the importunity of such as we are

Because no one throws stones on a tree without fruit.'

Story 18

A royal prince, having inherited abundant treasures from his father,

opened the hand of liberality and satisfied his impulse of

generosity by lavishing without stint benefits upon the army and the

A tray of lignum aloes will emit no odour.
Place it on fire, it will smell like ambergris.
If thou wishest to be accounted great, be liberal
Because grain will not grow unless it be sown.

One of his courtiers began heedlessly to admonish him, saying:

'Former kings have by their exertions accumulated this wealth and

deposited it for a useful purpose. Cease this movement because

calamities may arise in front and enemies in the rear. It is not

meet for thee to be helpless at a time of necessity.'

If thou distributest a treasure to the multitude
Each householder will receive a grain of rice.

Why takest thou not from each a barley-corn of silver

That thou mayest accumulate every day a treasure?

The royal prince turned away his face at these words and said:

'God the most high has made me the possessor of this country, to enjoy

and to bestow, not to guard and to retain.'

Qarun, who possessed forty treasure houses, perished.

Nushirvan has not died because he obtained a good reputation.

Story 19

It is related that, whilst some game was being roasted for Nushirvan

the just during a hunting party, no salt could be found. Accordingly a

boy was sent to an adjoining village to bring some. Nushirvan said:

'Pay for the salt lest it should become a custom and the village be

ruined.' Having been asked what harm could arise from such a

trifling demand, Nushirvan replied: 'The foundation of oppression

was small in the world but whoever came augmented it so that it

reached its present magnitude.'

If the king eats one apple from the garden of a subject

His slaves will pull him up the tree from the roots.

For five eggs which the sultan allows to be taken by force

The people belonging to his army will put a thousand

fowls on the spit.
A tyrant does not remain in the world
But the curse on him abides for ever.
Story 20

I heard that an oppressor ruined the habitations of the subjects

to fill the treasury of the sultan, unmindful of the maxim of

philosophers, who have said: 'Who offends God the most high to gain

the heart of a created being, God will use that very being to bring on

his destruction in the world.'
Fire burning with wild rue will not
Cause a smoke like that of afflicted hearts.

The prince of all animals is the lion and the meanest of beasts

the ass. Nevertheless sages agree that an ass who carries loads is

better than a lion who destroys men.
The poor donkey though void of discernment

Is nevertheless esteemed when he carries a burden.

Oxen and asses who carry loads
Are superior to men oppressing mankind.

When the king had obtained information of some of the oppressor's

misdeeds and bad conduct, he had him put on the rack and slain by

various tortures.

Thou wilt not obtain the approbation of the sultan

Unless thou seekest the goodwill of his subjects.

If thou desirest God to condone thy transgressions,

Do good to the people whom God has created.
One of the oppressed who passed near him said:

'Not everyone who possesses strength of arm and office

In the sultanate may with impunity plunder the people.

A hard bone may be made to pass down the throat

But it will tear the belly when it sticks in the navel.'

Story 21

It is narrated that an oppressor of the people, a soldier, hit the

head of a pious man with a stone and that the dervish, having no means

of taking vengeance, preserved the stone till the time arrived when

the king became angry with that soldier, and imprisoned him in a well.

Then the dervish made his appearance and dropped the stone upon his

head. He asked: 'Who art thou, and why hast thou hit my head with this

stone?' The man replied: 'I am the same person whom thou hast struck

on the head with this stone on such and such a day.' The soldier

continued: 'Where hast thou been all this time?' The dervish

replied: 'I was afraid of thy dignity but now when I beheld thee in

the well I made use of the opportunity.'
When thou seest an unworthy man in good luck
Intelligent men have chosen submission.
If thou hast not a tearing sharp nail
It will be better not to contend with the wicked.

Who grasps with his fist one who has an arm of steel

Injures only his own powerless wrist.
Wait till inconstant fortune ties his hand.
Then, to please thy friends, pick out his brains.
Story 22

A king was subject to a terrible disease, the mention of which is

not sanctioned by custom. The tribe of Yunani physicians agreed that

this pain cannot be allayed except by means of the bile of a person

endued with certain qualities. Orders having been issued to search for

an individual of this kind, the son of a landholder was discovered

to possess the qualities mentioned by the doctors. The king summoned

the father and mother of the boy whose consent he obtained by giving

them immense wealth. The qazi issued a judicial decree that it is

permissible to shed the blood of one subject for the safety of the

king and the executioner was ready to slay the boy who then looked

heavenwards and smiled. The king asked: 'What occasion for laughter is

there in such a position?' The youth replied: 'A son looks to the

affection of his father and mother to bring his case before the qazi

and to ask justice from the padshah. In the present instance, however,

the father and mother have for the trash of this world surrendered

my blood, the qazi has issued a decree to kill me, the sultan thinks

he will recover his health only through my destruction and I see no

other refuge besides God the most high.'
To whom shall I complain against thy hand
If I am to seek justice also from thy hand?

The sultan became troubled at these words, tears rushed to his

eyes and he said: 'It is better for me to perish than to shed innocent

blood.' He kissed the head and eyes of the youth, presented him with

boundless wealth and it is said that the king also recovered his

health during that week.
I also remember the distich recited
By the elephant-driver on the bank of the Nile:

'If thou knewest the state of the ant under thy foot

It is like thy own condition under the foot of an elephant.'

Story 23

One of the servants of Umrulais had fled but some men, having been

sent in pursuit, brought him back. The vezier who bore a grudge

towards him desired him to be killed that the other servants may not

imitate his example. He placed his head on the ground before

Umrulais and said:

'Whatever befalls my head is lawful with thy approbation.

What plea can the slave advance? The sentence is the master's.'

'But, having been nourished by the bounty of this dynasty, I am loth

that on the day of resurrection thou shouldst be punished for having

shed my blood; but, if thou desirest to kill me, do so according to

the provisions of the law.' He asked: 'How am I to interpret it?'

The slave continued: 'Allow me to kill the vezier and then take my

life in retaliation so that I may be killed justly.' The king smiled

and asked the vezier what he thought of the matter. He replied: 'My

lord, give freedom to this bastard as an oblation to the tomb of thy

father for fear he would bring trouble on me likewise. It is my

fault for not having taken account of the maxim of philosophers who

have said:
When thou fightest with a thrower of clods
Thou ignorantly breakest thy own head.
When thou shootest an arrow at the face of a foe

Be on thy guard for thou art sitting as a target for him.'

Story 24

King Zuzan had a khajah of noble sentiments and of good aspect who

served his companions when they were present and spoke well of them

when they were absent. He happened to do something whereby he incurred

the displeasure of the king who inflicted a fine on him and also

otherwise punished him. The officials of the king, mindful of the

benefits they had formerly received from him and being by them pledged

to gratitude, treated him kindly whilst in their custody and allowed

no one to insult him.
If thou desirest peace from the foe, whenever he

Finds fault behind thy back praise him to his face.

A vicious fellow's mouth must utter words.

If thou desirest not bitter words, sweeten his mouth.

He was absolved of some accusations brought by the king against

him but retained in prison for some. Another king in those regions

secretly dispatched a message to him, to the purport that the

sovereigns of that country, not knowing his excellent qualities, had

dishonoured him, but that if his precious mind (may Allah prosper

the end of his affairs) were to look in this direction, the utmost

efforts would be made to please him, because the nobles of this

realm would consider it an honour to see him and are waiting for a

reply to this letter. The khajah, who had received this information,

being apprehensive of danger, forthwith wrote a brief and suitable

answer on the back of the sheet of paper and sent it back. One,

however, of the king's courtiers, who noticed what had taken place,

reported to him that the imprisoned khajah was in correspondence

with the princes of the adjacent country. The king became angry and

desired this affair to be investigated. The courier was overtaken

and deprived of the letter, the contents of which were found on

perusal to be as follows: 'The good opinion of high personages is more

than their servant's merit deserves, who is unable to comply with

the honour of reception which they have offered him, because having

been nourished by the bounty of this dynasty, he cannot become

unthankful towards his benefactor in consequence of a slight change of

sentiments of the latter, since it is said:
He who bestows every moment favours upon thee

Is to be pardoned by thee if once in his life he injures thee.'

The king approved of his gratitude, bestowed upon him a robe of

honour, gave him presents and asked his pardon, saying: 'I committed a

mistake.' He replied: 'My lord, it was the decree of God the most high

that a misfortune should befall this servant but it was best that it

should come from thy hands which had formerly bestowed favours upon

him and placed him under obligations.'
If people injure thee grieve not

Because neither rest nor grief come from the people.

Be aware that the contrasts of friend and foe are from God

Because the hearts of both are in his keeping.
Although the arrow is shot from the bow
Wise men look at the archer.
Story 25

One of the Arab kings ordered his officials to double the

allowance of a certain attendant because he was always at the palace

expecting orders while the other servants were engaged in amusements

and sports, neglecting their duties. A pious man who heard this

remarked that high degrees at the court of heaven are similarly

bestowed upon servants:
If a man comes two mornings to serve the shah

He will on the third certainly look benevolently on him.

Sincere worshippers entertain the hope

That they will not be disappointed at the threshold of God.

Superiority consists in attending to commands.
The neglect of commands leads to exclusion.
Who possesses the criterion of righteousness
Places the head upon the threshold.
Story 26

It is narrated that a tyrant who purchased wood from dervishes

forcibly gave it away to rich -people gratuitously. A pious man

passing near said:
'Thou art a snake, stingest whom thou beholdest,
Or an owl; wherever thou sittest thou destroyest.
Although thy oppression may pass among us

It cannot pass with the Lord who knows all secrets.

Oppress not the denizens of the earth
That their supplications may not pass to heaven.'

The tyrant, being displeased with these words, got angry and took no

notice of him until one night, when fire from the kitchen fell into

the store of his wood and burnt all he possessed-transferring him from

his soft bed to a hot mound of ashes-the same pious man happened again

to pass and to hear him saying to his friends: 'I do not know whence

this fire has fallen into my house.' replied: 'From the smoke of the

hearts of dervishes.'
Beware of the smoke of internal wounds
Because at last an internal wound will break out.
Forbear to uproot one heart as long as thou canst
Because one sigh may uproot a world.

Upon the diadem of Kaikhosru the following piece was inscribed:

For how many years and long lives
Will the people walk over my head on the ground?
As from hand to hand the kingdom came to us
So it will also go to other hands.
Story 27

A man had attained great excellence in the art of wrestling, who

knew three hundred and sixty exquisite tricks and daily exhibited

something new. He had a particular affection for the beauty of one

of his pupils whom he taught three hundred and fifty-nine tricks,

refraining to impart to him only one. At last the youth had attained

such power and skill that no one was able to contend with him and he

went so far as to say to the sultan: 'I allow superiority to my

teacher on account of his age and from gratitude for his instruction

but my strength is not less than his and my skill equal.' The king,

who was not pleased with this want of good manners, ordered them to

wrestle with each other and a spacious locality having been fixed

upon, the pillars of state and courtiers of his majesty made their

appearance. The youth made an onslaught like a mad elephant with an

impulse which might have uprooted a mountain of brass from its place

but the master, who knew that he was in strength superior to

himself, attacked him with the rare trick he had reserved to himself

and which the youth was unable to elude; whereon the master, lifting

him up with his hands from the ground, raised him above his head and

then threw him down. Shouts were raised by the spectators and the king

ordered a robe of honour with other presents to be given to the

teacher but reproached and blamed the youth for having attempted to

cope with his instructor and succumbed. He replied: 'My lord, he has

not vanquished me by his strength but there was a slender part in

the art of wrestling which he had withheld from me and had today

thereby got the upper hand of me.' The master said: 'I had reserved it

for such an occasion because wise men have said: "Do not give so

much strength to thy friend that, if he becomes thy foe, he may injure

thee." Hast thou not heard what the man said who suffered

molestation from one whom he had educated?

Either fidelity itself does not exist in this world

Or nobody practices it in our time.
No one had learnt archery from me
Without at last making a target of me.'
Story 28

A solitary dervish was sitting in a corner of the desert when a

padshah happened to pass by but, ease having made him independent,

he took no notice. The sultan, in conformity with his royal dignity,

became angry and said: 'This tribe of rag-wearers resembles beasts.'

The vezier said: 'The padshah of the surface of the earth has passed

near thee. Why hast thou not paid homage and shown good manners?' He

replied: 'Tell the king to look for homage from a man who expects

benefits from him and also that kings exist for protecting subjects

and subjects not for obeying kings.'
The padshah is the guardian of the dervish
Although wealth is in the glory of his reign.
The sheep is not for the shepherd
But the shepherd for the service of it.
Today thou beholdest one man prosperous
And another whose heart is wounded by struggling.
Wait a few days till the earth consumes
The brain in the head of the visionary.
Distinction between king and slave has ceased
When the decree of fate overtakes them.
If a man were to open the tombs of the dead
He would not distinguish a rich from a poor man.

The king, who was pleased with the sentiments of the dervish,

asked him to make a request but he answered that the only one he had

to make was to be left alone. The king then asked for advice and the

dervish said:
'Understand now while wealth is in thy hand
That fortune and kingdom will leave thy hand.'
Story 29

A vezier paid a visit to Zulnun Misri and asked for his favour,

saying: 'I am day and night engaged in the service of the sultan and

hoping to be rewarded but nevertheless dread to be punished by him.'

Zulnun wept and said: 'Had I feared God, the great and glorious, as

thou fearest the sultan, I would be one of the number of the

If there were no hope of rest and trouble
The foot of the dervish would be upon the sphere
And if the vezier feared God
Like the king he would be king.
Story 30

A padshah having issued orders to kill an innocent man, the latter

said: 'O king, seek not thine own injury on account of the anger

thou bearest towards me.' He asked: 'How?' The man replied: 'This

punishment will abide with me one moment but the sin of it for ever

with thee.'

The period of life has passed away like the desert wind.

Bitter and sweet, ugliness and beauty have passed away.

The tyrant fanded he had done injury to us.
It remained on his neck and passed away from us.

This admonition having taken effect, the king spared his blood.

Story 31

The veziers of Nushirvan happened to discuss an important affair

of state, each giving his opinion according to his knowledge. The king

likewise gave his opinion and Barzachumihr concurred with it.

Afterwards the veziers secretly asked him: 'What superiority hast thou

discovered in the opinion of the king above so many other

reflections of wise men?' The philosopher replied: 'Since the

termination of the affair is unknown and it depends upon the will of

God whether the opinion of the others will turn out right or wrong, it

was better to agree with the opinion of the king so that, if it should

turn out to have been wrong, we may, on account of having followed it,

remain free from blame.'
To proffer an opinion contrary to the king's
Means to wash the hands in one's own blood.
Should he in plain day say it is night,

It is meet to shout: 'Lo, the moon and the pleiads!'

Story 32

An impostor arranged his hair in a peculiar fashion, pretended to be

a descendant of A'li and entered the town with a caravan from the

Hejaz, saying that he had just arrived from a pilgrimage. He also

presented an elegy to the king, alleging that he had himself

composed it. One of the king's courtiers, who had that year returned

from a journey, said: 'I have seen him at Bosrah on the Azhah

festival, then how can he be a Haji?' Another said: 'His father was

a Christian at Melitah. How can he be a descendant of A'li? And his

poetry has been found in the Divan of Anvari.' The king ordered him to

be beaten and expelled the country for his great mendacity. The man

said: 'O lord of the surface of the earth, I shall say something

more and, if it is not true, I shall deserve any punishment which thou

mayest decree.' He asked: 'What is it?'
When a stranger brings before thee buttermilk

Two measures of it will be water and a spoonful sour milk.

If thou hast heard heedless talk from thy slave, be not offended.

A man who has seen the world utters much falsehood.

The king laughed, told him that all his life he had not uttered more

true words than these and ordered the present which the fellow hoped

for to be got ready.
Story 33

One of the veziers of a king treated his subordinates with

kindness and sought the goodwill of his colleagues. Once he happened

to be called to account by the king for something he had done

whereon his colleagues endeavoured to effect his liberation. Those who

guarded him treated him leniently and the great men expatiated upon

his good character to the padshah till he renounced all further

inquiry. A pious man who took cognizance of this affair said:

'In order to gain the hearts of friends
Sell even the garden of thy father.
In order to boil the pot of well-wishers
Burn even all the furniture of the house.
Do good even to a malevolent fellow.
Tie up the mouth of the dog with a sop.'
Story 34

One of the sons of Harun-ur-Rashid went to his father and angrily

informed him that the son of an official had used insulting

expressions towards him whereon Harun asked his courtiers what

requital he deserved. One of them proposed capital punishment, another

the amputation of the tongue whilst a third recommended fine and

imprisonment. Then Harun said: 'Oh my son, it would be generous to

pardon him but, if thou art unable to do so, use likewise insulting

expressions concerning his mother; not however to such a degree as

to exceed the bounds of vengeance because in that case the wrong

will be on thy side.'
He is not reputed a man by the wise
Who contends with a furious elephant
But he is a man in reality
Who when angry speaks not idle words.
An ill-humoured fellow insulted a man
Who patiently bore it saying: 'O hopeful youth,
I am worse than thou speakest of me
For I am more conscious of my faults than thou.'
Story 35

I was sitting in a vessel with a company of great men when a boat

which contained two brothers happened to sink near us. One of the

great men promised a hundred dinars to a sailor if he could save

them both. Whilst however the sailor was pulling out one, the other

perished. I said: 'He had no longer to live and therefore delay took

place in rescuing him.' The sailor smiled and replied: 'What thou hast

said is certain. Moreover, I preferred to save this one because,

when I once-happened to lag behind in the desert, he seated me on

his camel, whereas I had received a whipping by the hands of the

other. When I was a boy I recited: He, who doth right, doth it to

his own soul and he, who doth evil, doth it against the same.'

As long as thou canst, scratch the interior of no one

Because there are thorns on this road.
Be helpful in the affairs of a dervish
Because thou also hast affairs.
Story 36

There were two brothers: one of them in the service of the sultan

and the other gaining his livelihood by the effort of his arm. The

wealthy man once asked his destitute brother why he did not serve

the sultan in order to be delivered from the hardship of labouring. He

replied: 'Why labourest thou not to be delivered from the baseness

of service because philosophers have said that it is better to eat

barley bread and to sit than to gird oneself with a golden belt and to

stand in service?'
To leaven mortar of quicklime with the hand

Is better than to hold them on the breast before the amir.

My precious life was spent in considering
What I am to eat in summer and wear in winter.
O ignoble belly, be satisfied with one bread
Rather than to bend the back in service.
Story 37

Someone had brought information to Nushirvan the just that an

enemy of his had been removed from this world by God the most high. He

asked: 'Hast thou heard anything about his intending to spare me?'

There is no occasion for our rejoicing at a foe's death

Because our own life will also not last for ever.
Story 38

A company of philosophers were discussing a subject in the palace of

Kesra and Barzachumihr, having remained silent, they asked him why

he took no share in the debate. He replied: 'Veziers are like

physicians and the latter give medicine to the sick only but, as I

perceive that your opinions are in conformity with propriety, I have

nothing to say about them.'
When an affair succeeds without my idle talk
It is not meet for me to speak thereon.
But if I see a blind man near a well
It is a crime for me to remain silent.
Story 39

Harun-ur-Rashid said when the country of Egypt was surrendered to

him: 'In contrast to the rebel who had in his arrogance of being

sovereign of Egypt pretended to be God, I shall bestow this country

upon the meanest of my slaves.' He had a stupid negro, Khosaib by

name, whom he made governor of Egypt but his intellect and

discrimination were so limited that when the tribe of Egyptian

agriculturists complained and stated that they had sown cotton along

the banks of the Nile and that an untimely rain had destroyed it he

replied: 'You ought to have sown wool.' A pious man heard this, and

'If livelihood were increased by knowledge
None would be more needy than the ignorant.
Nevertheless the ignorant receive a livelihood
At which the learned stand aghast.
The luck of wealth consists not in skill
But only in the aid of heaven.
It happens in the world that many
Silly men are honoured and sages despised.
If an alchemist has died in grief and misery,
A fool discovered a treasure amidst ruins.'
Story 40

A Chinese slave-girl having been brought to a king, he desired to

have connection with her whilst in a state of intoxication but, as she

repelled him, he became angry and presented her to one of his

negro-slaves whose upper lip was higher than his nostrils whilst the

lower one hung down to his neck. His stature was such that the demon

Sakhrah would have been put to flight and a fountain of pitch

emitted stench from his armpits.

Thou wouldst say that, till the resurrection, ugliness

Is his stamp as that of Joseph was beauty.
His person was of so wretched an aspect
That his ugliness surpassed all description
And from his armpits we take refuge with Allah,
They were like a corpse in the month of Merdad.

At that time the desire of the negro was libidinous, his lust

overcame him, his love leapt up and he took off the seal of her

virginity. In the morning the king sought the girl but could not

find her and, having obtained information of what had taken place,

he became angry, ordered the negro and the girl to be firmly tied

together by their hands and feet and to be thrown from the lofty

building into a ditch. One of the veziers, placing the face of

intercession upon the ground, pleaded that there was no guilt in the

negro since all the servants of his majesty usually receive presents

and benefits as he had received the girl. The king rejoined: 'What

would it have mattered if he had for one night delayed his enjoyment?'

He said: 'My lord, hast thou not heard that it was said:

When a man with a burning thirst reaches a limpid spring,

Think not that he will care for a mad elephant.

When a hungry infidel is in an empty house at table

Reason will not believe that he cares for the Ramazan.'

The king, being pleased with this sally, exclaimed: 'I make thee a

present of the negro. What am I to do with the girl?' He replied:

'Give the girl to the negro because that half is also due to a dog

of which he has consumed the other half.'
The thirsty heart does not wish for limpid water
Half of which was consumed by a fetid mouth.
How can the king's hand again touch
An orange after it has fallen into dung?
Story 41

Iskandur Rumi, having been asked how he had conquered the east and

the west, considering that the treasures, territories, reigns and

armies of former kings exceeded his own and they had not gained such a

victory, replied: 'Whatever country I conquered by the aid of God

the most high, I abstained from distressing its population and spoke

nothing but good of the king.'
The intelligent will not call him great
Who speaks ill of the great.
All this is nothing as it passes away:

Throne and luck, command and prohibition, taking and giving.

Injure not the name of those who have passed away
In order that thy own name may subsist.
Story 1

One of the great devotees having been asked about his opinion

concerning a hermit whom others had censured in their conversation, he

replied: 'I do not see any external blemishes on him and do not know

of internal ones.'
Whomsoever thou seest in a religious habit
Consider him to be a religious and good man
And, if thou knowest not his internal condition,
What business has the muhtasib inside the house?
Story 2

I saw a dervish who placed his head upon the threshold of the

Ka'Bahá groaned, and said: 'O forgiving, 0 merciful one, thou

knowest what an unrighteous, ignorant man can offer to thee.'

I have craved pardon for the deficiency of my service

Because I can implore no reward for my obedience.
Sinners repent of their transgressions.

Arifs ask forgiveness for their imperfect worship.

Devotees desire a reward for their obedience and merchants the price

of their wares but I, who am a worshipper, have brought hope and not

obedience. I have come to beg and not to trade. Deal with me as thou

deemest fit.
Whether thou killest me or forgivest my crime,
my face and head are on thy threshold.

A slave has nothing to command; whatever thou commandest I obey.

I saw a mendicant at the door of the Ka'bah
Who said this and wept abundantly:
'I ask not for the acceptance of my service
But for drawing the pen of pardon over my sins.'
Story 3

I saw A'bd-u-Qader Gaillani in the sanctuary of the Ka'bah with

his face on the pebbles and saying: 'O lord, pardon my sins and, if

I deserve punishment, cause me to arise blind on the day of

resurrection that I may not be ashamed in the sight of the righteous.'

With my face on the earth of helplessness

I say Every morning as soon as I become conscious:

O thou whom I shall never forget
Wilt thou at all remember thy slave?
Story 4

A thief paid a visit to the house of a pious man but, although he

sought a great deal, found nothing and was much grieved. The pious

man, who knew this, threw the blanket upon which he had been

sleeping into the way of the thief that he might not go away

I heard that men of the way of God
Have not distressed the hearts of enemies.
How canst thou attain that dignity
Who quarrelest and wagest war against friends?

The friendship of pure men, whether in thy presence or absence, is

not such as Will find fault behind thy back and is ready to die for

thee before thy face.
In thy presence gentle like a lamb,
In thy absence like a man-devouring wolf.

Who brings the faults of another to thee and enumerates them

Will undoubtedly carry thy faults to others.
Story 5

Several travellers were on a journey together and equally sharing

each other's troubles and comforts. I desired to accompany them but

they would not agree. Then I said: 'It is foreign to the manners of

great men to turn away the face from the company of the poor and so

deprive themselves of the advantage they might derive therefrom

because I for one consider myself sufficiently strong and energetic to

be of service to men and not an encumbrance. Although I am not

riding on a beast, I shall aid you in carrying blankets.' One of

them said: 'Do not be grieved at the words thou hast heard because

some days ago a thief in the guise of a dervish arrived and joined our

How can people know who is in the dress?
The writer is aware what the book contains.

As the state of dervishes is safe, they entertained no suspicion

about him and received him as a friend.
The outward state of Arifs is the patched dress.

It suffices as a display to the face of the people.

Strive by thy acts to be good and wear anything thou listest.

Place a crown on thy head and a flag on thy back.

The abandoning of the world, of lust, and of desire

Is sanctity, not the abandonment of the robe only.

It is necessary to show manhood in the fight.

Of what profit are weapons of war to an hermaphrodite?

We travelled one day till the night set in during which we slept

near a fort and the graceless thief, taking up the water-pot of a

companion, pretending to go for an ablution, departed for plunder.

A pretended saint who wears the dervish garb

Has made of the Ka'bah's robes the covering of an ass.

After disappearing from the sight of the dervishes, he went to a

tower from which he stole a casket and, when the day dawned, the

dark-hearted wretch had already progressed a considerable distance. In

the morning the guiltless sleeping companions were all taken to the

fort and thrown into prison. From that date we renounced companionship

and took the road of solitude, according to the maxim: Safety is in

When one of a tribe has done a foolish thing
No honour is left either to the low or the high.
Seest thou not how one ox of the pasturage
Defiles all oxen of the village?

I replied: 'Thanks be to the God of majesty and glory, I have not

been excluded from the advantages enjoyed by dervishes, although I

have separated myself from their society. I have profited by what thou

hast narrated to me and this admonition will be of use through life to

persons like me.'
For one rude fellow in the assembly
The heart of intelligent men is much grieved.
If a tank be filled with rose-water
A dog falling into it pollutes the whole.
Story 6

A hermit, being the guest of a padshah, ate less than he wished when

sitting at dinner and when he rose for prayers he prolonged them

more than was his wont in order to enhance the opinion entertained

by the padshah of his piety.

O Arab of the desert, I fear thou wilt not reach the Ka'bah

Because the road on which thou travellest leads to Turkestan.

When he returned to his own house, he desired the table to be laid

out for eating. He had an intelligent son who said: 'Father, hast thou

not eaten anything at the repast of the sultan?' He replied: 'I have

not eaten anything to serve a purpose.' The boy said: 'Then likewise

say thy prayers again as thou hast not done anything to serve that


O thou who showest virtues on the palms of the hand

But concealest thy errors under the armpit
What wilt thou purchase, O vain-glorious fool,
On the day of distress with counterfeit silver?
Story 7

I remember, being in my childhood pious, rising in the night,

addicted to devotion and abstinence. One night I was sitting with my

father, remaining awake and holding the beloved Quran in my lap,

whilst the people around us were asleep. I said: 'Not one of these

persons lifts up his head or makes a genuflection. They are as fast

asleep as if they were dead.' He replied: 'Darling of thy father,

would that thou wert also asleep rather than disparaging people.'

The pretender sees no one but himself
Because he has the veil of conceit in front.
If he were endowed with a God-discerning eye
He would see that no one is weaker than himself.
Story 8

A great man was praised in an assembly and, his good qualities being

extolled, he raised his head and said: 'I am such as I know myself

to be.'

O thou who reckonest my virtues, refrainest from giving me pain,

These are my open, and thou knowest not my hidden, qualities.

My person is, to the eyes of the world, of good aspect

But my internal wickedness makes me droop my head with shame.

The peacock is for his beauteous colours by the people

Praised whilst he is ashamed of his ugly feet.
Story 9

One of the devotees of Mount Lebanon, whose piety was famed in the

Arab country and his miracles well known, entered the cathedral mosque

of Damascus and was performing his purificatory ablution on the edge

of a tank when his feet slipped and he fell into the reservoir but

saved himself with great trouble. After the congregation had

finished their prayers, one of his companions said: 'I have a

difficulty.' He asked: 'What is it?' He continued: 'I remember that

the sheikh walked on the surface of the African sea without his feet

getting wetted and today he nearly perished in this paltry water which

is not deeper than a man's stature. What reason is there in this?' The

sheikh drooped his head into the bosom of meditation and said after

a long pause: 'Hast thou not heard that the prince of the world,

Muhammad the chosen, upon whom be the benediction of Allah and

peace, has said: I have time with Allah during which no cherubim nor

inspired prophet is equal to me?' But he did not say that such was

always the case. The time alluded to was when Gabriel or Michael

inspired him whilst on other occasions he was satisfied with the

society of Hafsah and Zainab. The visions of the righteous one are

between brilliancy and obscurity.
Thou showest thy countenance and then hidest it
Enhancing thy value and augmenting our desire.
I behold whom I love without an intervention.
Then a trance befalls me; I lose the road;

It kindles fire, then quenches it with a sprinkling shower.

Wherefore thou seest me burning and drowning.
Story 10
One asked the man who had lost his son:
'O noble and intelligent old man!

As thou hast smelt the odour of his garment from Egypt

Why hast thou not seen him in the well of Canaan?'

He replied:
'My state is that of leaping lightning.
One moment it appears and at another vanishes.
I am sometimes sitting in high heaven.
Sometimes I cannot see the back of my foot.
Were a dervish always to remain in that state
He would not care for the two worlds.'
Story 11

I spoke in the cathedral mosque of Damascus a few words by way of

a sermon but to a congregation whose hearts were withered and dead,

not having travelled from the road of the world of form, the physical,

to the world of meaning, the moral world. I perceived that my words

took no effect and that burning fire does not kindle moist wood. I was

sorry for instructing brutes and holding forth a mirror in a

locality of blind people. I had, however, opened the door of meaning

and was giving a long explanation of the verse We are nearer unto

Him than the jugular vein till I said:
'The Friend is nearer to me than my self,
But it is more strange that I am far from him.
What am I to do? To whom can it be said that he
Is in my arms, but I am exiled from him.'

I had intoxicated myself with the wine of these sentiments,

holding the remnant of the cup of the sermon in my hand when a

traveller happened to pass near the edge of the assembly, and the last

turn of the circulating cup made such an impression upon him that he

shouted and the others joined him who began to roar, whilst the raw

portion of the congregation became turbulent. Whereon I said:

'Praise be to Allah! Those who are far away but intelligent are in the

presence of Allah, and those who are near but blind are distant.'

When the hearer understands not the meaning of words

Do not look for the effect of the orator's force
But raise an extensive field of desire

That the eloquent man may strike the ball of effect.

Story 12

One night I had in the desert of Mekkah become so weak from want

of sleep that I was unable to walk and, laying myself down, told the

camel driver to let me alone.
How far can the foot of a wretched pedestrian go
When a dromedary gets distressed by its load?
Whilst the body of a fat man becomes lean
A weak man will be dead of exhaustion.

He replied: 'O brother, the sanctuary is in front of us and brigands

in the rear. If thou goest thou wilt prosper. If thou sleepest thou

wilt die.'

It is pleasant to sleep under an acacia on the desert road

But alas! thou must bid farewell to life on the night of departure.

Story 13

I saw a holy man on the seashore who had been wounded by a tiger. No

medicine could relieve his pain; he suffered much but he

nevertheless constantly thanked God the most high, saying: 'Praise

be to Allah that I have fallen into a calamity and not into sin.'

If that beloved Friend decrees me to be slain

I shall not say that moment that I grieve for life

Or say: What fault has thy slave committed?
My grief will be for having offended thee.
Story 14

A dervish who had fallen into want stole a blanket from the house of

a friend. The judge ordered his hand to be amputated but the owner

of the blanket interceded, saying that he had condoned the fault.

The judge rejoined: 'Thy intercession cannot persuade me to neglect

the provision of the law.' The man continued: 'Thou hast spoken the

truth but amputation is not applicable to a person who steals some

property dedicated to pious uses. More over a beggar possesses nothing

and whatever belongs to a dervish is dedicated to the use of the

needy.' Thereon the judge released the culprit, saying: 'The world

must indeed have become too narrow for thee that thou hast committed

no theft except from the house of such a friend.' He replied: 'Hast

thou not heard the saying: Sweep out the house of friends and do not

knock at the door of foes.'
If thou sinkest in a calamity be not helpless.

Strip thy foes of their skins and thy friends of their fur-coats.

Story 15

A padshah, meeting a holy man, asked him whether he did not

sometimes remember him for the purpose of getting presents. He

replied: 'Yes, I do, whenever I forget God.'
Whom He drives from his door, runs everywhere.
Whom He calls, runs to no one's door.
Story 16

A pious man saw in a dream a padshah in paradise and a devotee in

hell whereon he asked for the reason of the former's exaltation and

the latter's degradation, saying that he had imagined the contrary

ought to be the case. He received the following answer: 'The padshah

had, for the love he bore to dervishes, been rewarded with paradise

and the devotee had, for associating with padshahs, been punished in


Of what use is thy frock, rosary and patched dress?

Keep thyself free from despicable practices.
Then thou wilt have no need of a cap of leaves.

Have the qualities of a dervish and wear a Tatar cap.

Story 17

A bareheaded and barefooted pedestrian who had arrived from Kufah

with the Hejaz-caravan of pilgrims joined us, strutted about and


'I am neither riding a camel nor under a load like a camel.

I am neither a lord of subjects nor the slave of a potentate.

Grief for the present, or distress for the past, does not

trouble me.

I draw my breath in comfort and thus spend my life.'

A camel-rider shouted to him: 'O dervish, where art thou going?

Return, for thou wilt expire from hardships.' He paid no attention but

entered the desert and marched. When we reached the station at the

palm-grove of Mahmud, the rich man was on the point of death and the

dervish, approaching his pillow, said: 'We have not expired from

hardship but thou hast died on a dromedary.'
A man wept all night near the head of a patient.

When the day dawned he died and the patient revived.

Many a fleet charger had fallen dead
While a lame ass reached the station alive.
Often healthy persons were in the soil
Buried and the wounded did not die.
Story 18

A hermit, having been invited by a padshah, concluded that if he

were to take some medicine to make himself weak he might perhaps

enhance the opinion of the padshah regarding his merits. But it is

related that the medicine was lethal so that when he partook of it

he died.
Who appeared to thee all marrow like a pistachio
Was but skin upon skin like an onion.
Devotees with their face towards the world
Say their prayers with their back to the Qiblah.
When a worshipper calls upon his God,
He must know no one besides God.
Story 19

A caravan having been plundered in the Yunan country and deprived of

boundless wealth, the merchants wept and lamented, beseeching God

and the prophet to intercede for them with the robbers, but

When a dark-minded robber is victorious
What cares he for the weeping of the caravan?

Loqman the philosopher being among the people of the caravan, one of

them asked him to speak a few words of wisdom and advice to the

robbers so that they might perhaps return some of the property they

had plundered because the loss of so much wealth would be

lamentable. Loqman replied: 'It would be lamentable to utter one

word of wisdom to them.'
The rust which has eaten into iron
Cannot be removed by polishing.
Of what use is preaching to a black heart?
An iron nail cannot be driven into a rock.
Help the distressed in the day of prosperity

Because comforting the poor averts evil from thyself.

When a mendicant implores thee for a thing,

Give it or else an oppressor may take it by force.

Story 20

Despite the abundant admonitions of the most illustrious Sheikh

Abulfaraj Ben Juzi to shun musical entertainments and to prefer

solitude and retirement, the budding of my youth overcame me, my

sensual desires were excited so that, unable to resist them, I

walked some steps contrary to the opinion of my tutor, enjoying myself

in musical amusements and convivial meetings. When the advice of my

sheikh occurred to my mind, I said:

'If the qazi were sitting with us, he would clap his hands.

If the muhtasib were bibbing wine, he would excuse a drunkard.'

Thus I lived till I paid one night a visit to an assembly of

people in which I saw a musician.

Thou wouldst have said he is tearing up the vital artery

with his fiddle-bow.

His voice was more unpleasant than the wailing of one who

lost his father.

The audience now stopped their ears with their fingers, and now

put them on their lips to silence him. We became ecstatic by the

sounds of pleasing songs but thou art such a singer that when thou art

silent we are pleased.
No one feels pleased by thy performance

Except at the time of departure when thou pleasest.

When that harper began to sing
I said to the host: 'For God's sake
Put mercury in my ear that I may not hear
Or open the door that I may go away.'

In short, I tried to please my friends and succeeded after a

considerable struggle in spending the whole night there.

The muezzin shouted the call to prayers out of time,

Not knowing how much of the night had elapsed.
Ask the length of the night from my eyelids
For sleep did not enter my eyes one moment.

In the morning I took my turban from my head, with one dinar from my

belt by way of gratification, and placed them before the musician whom

I embraced and thanked. My friends who saw that my appreciation of his

merits was unusual attributed it to the levity of my intellect and

laughed secretly. One of them, however, lengthened out his tongue of

objection and began to reproach me, saying that I had committed an act

repugnant to intelligent men by bestowing a portion of my professional

dress upon a musician who had all his life not a dirhem laid upon

the palm of his hand nor filings of silver or of gold placed on his

A musician! Far be he from this happy abode.
No one ever saw him twice in the same place.
As soon as the shout rose from his mouth

The hair on the bodies of the people stood on end.

The fowls of the house, terrified by him, flew away

Whilst he distracted our senses and tore his throat.

I said: 'It will be proper to shorten the tongue of objection

because his talent has become evident to me.' He then asked me to

explain the quality of it in order to inform the company so that all

might apologize for the jokes they had cracked about me. I replied:

'Although my sheikh had often told me to abandon musical

entertainments and had given me abundant advice, I did not mind it.

This night my propitious horoscope and my august luck have guided me

to this place where I have, on hearing the performance of this

musician, repented and vowed never again to attend at singing and

convivial parties.'

A pleasant voice, from a sweet palate, mouth and lips,

Whether employed in singing or not, enchants the heart

But the melodies of lovers of Isfahan or of the Hejaz

From the windpipe of a bad singer are not nice.
Story 21

Loqman, being asked from whom he had learnt civility, replied: 'From

those who had no civility because what appeared to me unbecoming in

them I refrained from doing.'
Not a word is said even in sport
Without an intelligent man taking advice thereby.

But if a hundred chapters of wisdom are read to a fool

All strike his ear merely as sport.
Story 22

It is related that a hermit consumed during one night ten mann of

food and perused the whole Quran till morning. A pious fellow who

had heard of this said: 'It would have been more excellent if he had

eaten half a loaf and slept till the morning.'
Keep thy interior empty of food

That thou mayest behold therein the light of marifet.

Thou art empty of wisdom for the reason
That thou art replete with food up to the nose.
Story 23

A man had by his sins forfeited the divine favour but the lamp of

grace nevertheless so shone upon his path that it guided him into

the circle of religious men and, by the blessing of his association

with dervishes, as well as by the example of their righteousness,

the depravities of his character were transmuted into virtues and he

refrained from lust and passion. But the tongues of the malevolent

were lengthened with reference to his character, alleging that it

was the same as it had ever been and that his abstinence and piety

were spurious.

By apology and penitence one may be saved from the wrath of God

But cannot be saved from the tongues of men.

He could no longer bear the reviling tongues and complained to the

pir of the Tariqat. The sheikh wept and said: 'How wilt thou be able

to be sufficiently grateful for this divine favour that thou art

better than the people imagine?'

How long wilt thou say: 'The malevolent and envious

Are searching out the defects of my humble self.
Sometimes they arise to shed my blood.
Sometimes they sit down to curse me.'
To be good and to be in spoken of by the people

Is better than to be bad and considered good by them.

Look at me whom the good opinion of our contemporaries deems to be

perfect whereas I am imperfection itself.
If I were doing what I speak
I would be of good conduct and a devotee.
Verily I am veiled from the eyes of my neighbours
But Allah knows my secret and my overt concerns.
The door is locked to the access of people
That they may not spread out my faults.
What profiteth a closed door? The Omniscient
Knows what I conceal or reveal.
Story 24

I complained to one of the sheikhs that a certain man had falsely

accused me of lasciviousness. He replied: 'Put him to shame by thy

good conduct.'
Be thou well behaved that a maligner
May not find occasion to speak of thy faults.
When the harp is in proper tune
How can the hand of the musician correct it?
Story 25

One of the sheikhs of Syria, being asked on the true state of the

Sufis, replied: 'In former times they were a tribe in the world,

apparently distressed, but in reality contented whereas today they are

people outwardly satisfied but inwardly discontented.'

If my heart roams away from thee every hour,
Thou wilt find no tranquillity in solitude

But if thou possessest property, dignity, fields and wares,

If thy heart be with God, thou wilt be a recluse.
Story 26

I remember having once walked all night with a caravan and then

slept on the edge of the desert. A distracted man who had

accompanied us on that journey raised a shout, ran towards the

desert and took not a moment's rest. When it was daylight, I asked him

what state of his that was. He replied: 'I saw bulbuls commencing to

lament on the trees, the partridges on the mountains, the frogs in the

water and the beasts in the desert so I bethought myself that it would

not be becoming for me to sleep in carelessness while they all were

praising God.'
Yesterday at dawn a bird lamented,

Depriving me of sense, patience, strength and consciousness.

One of my intimate friends who
Had perhaps heard my distressed voice
Said: 'I could not believe that thou
Wouldst be so dazed by a bird's cry.'
I replied: 'It is not becoming to humanity

That I should be silent when birds chant praises.'

Story 27

It once happened that on a journey to the Hejaz a company of young

and pious men, whose sentiments harmonized with mine, were my

fellow-travellers. They occasionally sung and recited spiritual verses

but we had with us also an a'bid, who entertained a bad opinion of the

behaviour of the dervishes and was ignorant of their sufferings.

When we reached the palm-grove of the Beni Hallal, a black boy of

the encampment, falling into a state of excitement, broke out in a

strain which brought down the birds from the sky. I saw, however,

the camel of the a'bid, which began to prance, throwing him and

running into the desert.

Knowest thou what that matutinal bulbul said to me?

What man art thou to be ignorant of love?

The Arabic verses threw a camel into ecstasy and joy.

If thou hast no taste thou art an ill-natured brute.

When a camel's head is turned by the frenzy of joy

And a man does not feel it, he must be an ass.
When the winds blow over the plain

The branches of the ban-tree bend, not hard rocks.

Whatever thou beholdest chants his praises.
He knows this who has the true perception.
Not only the bulbul on the rosebush sings praises
But every bramble is a tongue, extolling him.
Story 28

The life of a king was drawing to a close and he had no successor.

He ordered in his last testament that the next morning after his death

the first person entering the gate of the city be presented with the

royal crown and be entrusted with the government of the realm. It so

happened that the first person who entered was a mendicant who had all

his life subsisted on the morsels he collected and had sewn patch

after patch upon his clothes. The pillars of the state and grandees of

the court executed the injunction of the king and bestowed upon him

the government and the treasures; whereon the dervish reigned for a

while until some amirs of the monarchy withdrew their necks from his

obedience and kings from every side began to rise for hostilities

and to prepare their armies for war. At last his own troops and

subjects also rebelled and deprived him of a portion of his dominions.

This event afflicted the mind of the dervish until one of his old

friends, who had been his companion when he was yet himself a dervish,

returned from a journey and, seeing him in such an exalted position,

said: 'Thanks be to God the most high and glorious that thy rose has

thus come forth from the thorn and thy thorn was extracted from thy

foot. Thy high luck has aided thee and prosperity with fortune has

guided thee till thou hast attained this position. Verily hardship

is followed by comfort.'

A flower is sometimes blooming and sometimes withering.

A tree is at times nude and at times clothed.

He replied: 'Brother, condole with me because there is no occasion

for congratulation. When thou sawest me last, I was distressed for

bread and now a world of distress has overwhelmed me.'

If I have no wealth I grieve.
If I have some the love of it captivates me.
There is no greater calamity than worldly goods.
Both their possession and their want are griefs.
If thou wishest for power, covet nothing
Except contentment which is sufficient happiness.
If a rich man pours gold into thy lap
Care not a moment for thanking him.
Because often I heard great men say

The patience of a dervish is better than the gift of a rich man.

Story 29

A man had a friend, who held the office of devan to the padshah, but

whom he had not seen for a long time; and, a man having asked him

for the reason, he replied: 'I do not want to see him.' A dependent

however of the devan, who also happened to be present, queried:

'What fault has he committed that thou art unwilling to meet him?'

He replied: 'There is no fault in the matter but a friend who is a

devan may be seen when he is removed from office.'

Whilst in greatness and in the turmoil of busines
They do not like to be troubled by neighbours

But when they are depressed and removed from office

They will lay open their heart's grief to friends.

Story 30

Abu Harirah, may the approbation of Allah be upon him, was in the

habit of daily waiting upon the Mustafa, peace on him, who said:

'Abu Harira, visit me on alternate days that our love may increase.' A

man said to a devotee: 'Beautiful as the sun is, I never heard that

anybody took it for a friend or fell in love with it', and he replied:

'This is because it may be seen daily, except in winter when it is

veiled and beloved.'
There is no harm in visiting people
But not till they say: 'It is enough!'
If thou findest fault with thyself
Thou wilt not hear others reproaching thee.
Story 31

A man, being tormented story by a contrary wind in his belly and not

having the power to retain it, unwittingly allowed it to escape. He

said: 'Friends, I had no option in what I did, the fault of it is

not to be ascribed to me and peace has resulted to my internal

parts. Kindly excuse me.'
The belly is a prison of wind, O wise man.
No sage retains wind in captivity.
If wind twists thy belly let it out

Because wind in the belly is a burden to the heart.

Story 32

Having become tired of my friends in Damascus, I went into the

desert of Jerusalem and associated with animals till the time when I

became a prisoner of the Franks, who put me to work with infidels in

digging the earth of a moat in Tarapolis, when one of the chiefs of

Aleppo, with whom I had formerly been acquainted, recognized me and

said: 'What state is this?' I recited:
'I fled from men to mountain and desert
Wishing to attend upon no one but God.
Imagine what my state at present is
When I must be satisfied in a stable of wretches.
The feet in chains with friends
Is better than to be with strangers in a garden.'

He took pity on my state and ransomed me for ten dinars from the

captivity of the Franks, taking me to Aleppo where he had a daughter

and married me to her with a dowry of one hundred dinars. After some

time had elapsed, she turned out to be ill-humoured, quarrelsome,

disobedient, abusive in her tongue and embittering my life:

A bad wife in a good man's house
Is his hell in this world already.
Alas for a bad consort, alas!
Preserve us, O Lord from the punishment of fire.

Once she lengthened her tongue of reproach and said: 'Art thou not

the man whom my father purchased from the Franks for ten dinars?' I

replied: 'Yes, he bought me for ten dinars and sold me into thy

hands for one hundred dinars.'
I heard that a sheep had by a great man

Been rescued from the jaws and the power of a wolf.

In the evening he stroked her throat with a knife
Whereon the soul of the sheep complained thus:

Thou hast snatched me away from the claws of a wolf,

But at last I see thou art thyself a wolf.'
Story 33

A padshah asked a hermit: 'How spendest thou thy precious time?'

He replied: 'I am all night engaged in prayer, during the morning in

supplications and the rest of the day in restricting my expenses.'

Then the king ordered a sufficient allowance to be allotted to him

so as to relieve him of the cares of his family.
O thou who art encumbered with a family,
Think no more of ever enjoying freedom.
Cares for children, raiment and food
Restrain thee from the heavenly kingdom.
Every day I renew my determination
To wait upon God until the night.
In the night, while tying the knot of prayer,
I think what my children will eat on the morrow.
Story 34

A man, professing to be a hermit in the desert of Syria, attended

for years to his devotions and subsisted on the leaves of trees. A

padshah, who had gone in that direction by way of pilgrimage,

approached him and said: 'If thou thinkest proper, we shall prepare

a place for thee in the town where thou wilt enjoy leisure for thy

devotions and others may profit by thy spiritual advice as well as

imitate thy good works.' The hermit refused compliance but the pillars

of the State were of opinion that, in order to please the king, he

ought to spend a few days in town to ascertain the state of the place;

so that if he feared that the purity of his precious time might become

turbid by association with strangers, he would still have the option

to refuse compliance. It is related that the hermit entered the town

where a private garden-house of the king, which was a

heart-expanding and soul refreshing locality, had been prepared to

receive him.
Its red roses were like the cheeks of belles,
Its hyacinths like the ringlets of mistresses
Protected from the inclemency of mid-winter

Like sucklings who have not yet tasted the nurse's milk.

And branches with pomegranates upon them:
Fire suspended from the green-trees.

The king immediately sent him a beautiful slave-girl:

After beholding this hermit-deceiving crescent-moon

Of the form of an angel and the beauty of a peacock,

After seeing her it would be impossible
To an anchorite's nature to remain patient.

After her he sent likewise a slave-boy of wonderful beauty and

graceful placidity:
People around him are dying with thirst

And he, who looks like a cupbearer, gives no drink.

The sight cannot be satisfied by seeing him
Like the dropsical man near the Euphrates.

The hermit began to eat delicious food, to wear nice clothes, to

enjoy fruit and perfumed confectionery as well as to contemplate the

beauty of the slave-boy and girl in conformity with the maxim of

wise men, who have said that the curls of belles are fetters to the

feet of the intellect and a snare to a sagacious bird.

In thy service I lost my heart and religion with all my learning,

I am indeed the sagacious bird and thou the snare.

In short, the happiness of his former time of contentedness had come

to an end, as the saying is:
Any faqih, pir and murid
Or pure minded orator,
Descending into the base world,
Sticks in the honey like a fly.

Once the king desired to visit him but saw the hermit changed from

his former state, as he had become red, white and corpulent. When

the king entered, he beheld him reclining on a couch of gold brocade

whilst the boy and the fairy stood near his head with a fan of

peacocks' feathers. He expressed pleasure to behold the hermit in so

comfortable a position, conversed with him on many topics and said

at the conclusion of the visit: 'I am afraid of these two classes of

men in the world: scholars and hermits.' The vezier, who was a

philosopher and experienced in the affairs of the world, being

present, said: 'O king, the conditions of friendship require thee to

do good to both classes. Bestow gold upon scholars that they may

read more but give nothing to hermits that they may remain hermits.'

A hermit requires neither dirhems nor dinars.
If lie takes any, find another hermit.
Who has a good behaviour and a secret with God

Is an anchorite without the waqfbread or begged morsel.

With a handsome figure and heart-ravishing ear-tip

A girl is a belle without turquoise-ring or pendants.

A dervish of good behaviour and of happy disposition

Requires not the bread of the rebat nor the begged morsel.

A lady endowed with a beauteous form and chaste face

Requires no paint, adornment or turquoise-ring.
When I have and covet more
It will not be proper to call me an anchorite.
Story 35

In conformity with the above sentiments an affair of importance

emerged to a padshah, who thereon vowed that, if it terminated

according to his wishes, he would present devotees with a certain

sum of money. His wish having been fulfilled, it became necessary to

keep his promise. Accordingly he gave a purse of dirhems to one of his

confidential servants to distribute it among recluses. It is related

that the slave was intelligent and shrewd. He walked about all day and

returning at nightfall, kissed the dirhems and deposited them before

the king with the remark that he had not found any devotees. The

king rejoined: 'What nonsense is this? As far as I know there are four

hundred devotees in this town. He said: 'Lord of the world, who is a

devotee does not accept money and who accepts it is not a devotee.'

The king smiled and said to his courtiers: 'Despite of my wishing to

do good to this class of worshippers of God, this rogue bears them

emnity and thwarts my wish but truth is on his side.'

If a devotee has taken dirhems and dinars
Find another who is more a devotee than he.
Story 36

One of the ulemma of solid learning, having been asked for his

opinion about waqfbread, answered: 'If it be accepted to insure

tranquillity of mind from cares for food and to obtain leisure for

devotion, it is lawful but if it be taken for maintenance it is

Bread is taken for the corner of devotion

By pious men and not the corner of devotion for bread.

Story 37

A dervish arrived in a place, the owner of which was of a noble

disposition, and had surrounded himself with a company of

distinguished and eloquent men, each of whom uttered something elegant

or jocular, according to the fashion of wits. The dervish who had

travelled through the desert and was fatigued had eaten nothing. One

of the company asked him by way of encouragement likewise to say

something. The dervish replied: 'I do not possess distinction and

eloquence like you and have read nothing so you must be satisfied with

one distich of mine.' The company having agreed with pleasure he

'I am hungry and opposite to a table of food

Like a bachelor at the door of a bath of females.'

The company, having thus been apprised of his famished condition,

produced a table with bread but as he began to eat greedily the host

said: 'Friend, at any rate stop a while till my servants roast some

minced meat'; whereon the dervish lifted his head and recited:

'Do not order pounded meat for my table.
To a pounded man simple bread is pounded meat.'
Story 38

A murid said to his pir: 'What am I to do? I am troubled by the

people, many of whom pay me visits. By their coming and going they

encroach upon my precious time.' He replied: 'Lend something to

every one of them who is poor and ask something from every one who

is rich and they will come round thee no more.'

If a mendicant were the leader of the army of Islam,

The infidels would for fear of his importunity run as far as China.

Story 39

The son of a faqih said to his father: 'These heart-ravishing

words of moralists make no impression upon me because I do not see

that their actions are in conformity with their speeches.'

They teach people to abandon the world
But themselves accumulate silver and corn.
A scholar who only preaches and nothing more
Will not impress anyone when he speaks.
He is a scholar who commits no evil,
Not he who speaks to men but acts not himself.

Will you enjoin virtue to mankind and forget your own souls?

A scholar who follows his lusts and panders to his body

Is himself lost although he may show the way.

The father replied: 'My son, it is not proper merely on account of

this vain fancy to turn away the face from the instruction of

advisers, to travel on the road of vanity, to accuse the ullemma of

aberration, and whilst searching for an immaculate scholar, to

remain excluded from the benefits of knowledge, like a blind man who

one night fell into the mud and shouted: "O Musalmans, hold a lamp

on my path." Whereon a courtesan who heard him asked: "As thou canst

not see the lamp, what wilt thou see with the lamp?" In the same way

the preaching assembly is like the shop of a dealer in linen because

if thou bringest no money thou canst obtain no wares and if thou

bringest no inclination to the assembly thou wilt not get any

He said: 'Listen with thy soul's ear to a scholar

Although his actions may not be like his doctrines.'

In vain does the gainsayer ask:
'How can a sleeper awaken a sleeper?
A man must receive into his ears
The advice although it be written on a wall.'

A pious man came to the door of a college from a monastery.

He broke the covenant of the company of those of the Tariq.

I asked him what the difference between a scholar and a monk

amounts to?

He replied: 'The former saves his blanket from the waves

Whilst the latter strives to save the drowning man.'

Story 40

A man was sleeping dead-drunk on the highway and the bridle of

spontaneity had slipped from his hands. A hermit passed near him and

considered the disgraceful condition he was in. The youth raised his

head and recited: When they passed near something contemptible, they

passed it kindly. When thou beholdest a sinner be concealing and meek.

Turn not thy face from a sinner, O anchorite.
Look upon him with benignity.
If I am ignoble in my actions
Pass me by like a noble fellow.
Story 41

A company of vagabonds met a dervish, spoke insulting words to

him, struck him and otherwise molested him; whereon he complained to

his superior and explained the case. The pir replied: 'My son, the

patched frock of dervishes is the garment of resignation and who,

wearing it, cannot bear injuries is a pretender not entitled to the

A large river will not become turbid from stones.

The Arif who feels aggrieved is shallow water yet.

If he injures thee, bear it
Because pardon will purify thee from sin.

O brother, as the end is dust, be dust before thou art

turned into dust.
Story 42
Listen to this story how in Baghdad
A flag and a curtain fell into dispute.
Travel stained, dusty and fatigued, the flag
Said to the curtain by way of reproach:
'I and thou, we are both fellow servants,
Slaves of the sultan's palace.
Not a moment had I rest from service
In season and out of season I travelled about.
Thou hast suffered neither toil nor siege,
Not from the desert, wind, nor dust and dirt.
My step in the march is more advancing.
Then why is thy honour exceeding mine?
Thou art upon moon-faced servants
Or jessamine scented slave girls.
I have fallen into prentice hands.

I travel with foot in fetters and head fluttering.'

The curtain said: 'My head is on the threshold
Not like thine in the heavens.
Who carelessly lifts up his neck
Throws himself upon his neck.'
Story 43

A pious man saw an acrobat in great dudgeon, full of wrath and

foaming at the mouth. He asked: 'What is the matter with this fellow?'

A bystander said: 'Someone has insulted him.' He remarked: 'This

base wretch is able to lift a thousand mann of stones and has not

the power to bear one word.'
Abandon thy claim to strength and manliness.

Thou art weak-minded and base, whether thou be a man or woman.

If thou art able, make a sweet mouth.

It is not manliness to strike the fist on a mouth.

Although able to tear up an elephant's front
He is not a man who possessed no humanity.
A man's nature is of earth.
If he is not humble he is not a man.
Story 44

I asked a good man concerning the qualities of the brethren of

purity. He replied: 'The least of them is that they prefer to please

their friends rather than themselves; and philosophers have said

that a brother who is fettered by affairs relating to himself is

neither a brother nor a relative.'

If thy fellow traveller hastens, he is not thy fellow.

Tie not thy heart to one whose heart is not tied to thine.

When a kinsman possesses no virtue and piety

Then severing connection is better than love of kinship.

I remember that an opponent objected to the last two lines,

saying: 'God the most high and glorious has in his noble book

prohibited the severing of connection with relatives and has commanded

us to love them. What thou hast alleged is contrary to it.' I replied:

'Thou art mistaken because according to the Quran, Allah the most high

has said: If they both father and mother, strive to induce thee to

associate with me that concerning which thou hast no knowledge, obey

them not.
A thousand kinsmen who are strangers to God
Are the sacrifice for one stranger who knows him.
Story 45
A kind old man in Baghdad
Gave his daughter to a cobbler.
The cruel little man so bit her
That blood flowed from the daughter's lips.
Next morning the father saw her thus
And going to the bridegroom asked him:
'O mean wretch, what teeth are these?
Chewest thou thus her lips? They are not leather.
I do not say these words in jest,
Leave joking off and enjoy her seriously.
If ill humour becomes fixed in a nature
It will not leave it till the time of death.'
Story 46

A faqih had a very ugly daughter and when she attained puberty no

one was inclined to marry her in spite of her dowry and wealth.

Bad is the brocade and damask cloth
Which is upon an ugly bride.

At last it became necessary to marry her to a blind man and it is

related that on the said occasion a physician arrived from Serandip

who was able to restore sight to the blind. The faqih, being asked why

he had not put his son-in-law under treatment, replied: 'I fear that

if he is able to see he will divorce my daughter.'

It is better if the husband of an ugly woman is blind.

Story 47

A padshah was casting a glanced of contempt upon a company of

dervishes and one of them, understanding by his sagacity the meaning

of it, said: 'O king, in this world we are inferior to thee in dignity

but more happy in life. In death we are equal and in the

resurrection superior to thee.'
Though the master of a country may have enjoyment
And the dervish may be in need of bread
In that hour when both of them will die

They will take from the world not more than a shroud.

When thou takest thy departure from the realm

It will be better to be a mendicant than a padshah.

Externally the dervish shows a patched robe and a shaved head but in

reality his heart is living and his lust dead.

He does not sit at the door of pretence away from people

To fight against them if they oppose him
Because when a millstone rolls from a mountain

He is not an A'rif who gets out of the way of the stone.

The way of dervishes is praying, gratitude, service, obedience,

almsgiving, contentment, professing the unity of God, trust,

submission and patience. Whoever possesses these qualities is really a

dervish, although he may wear an elegant robe, whereas a prattler

who neglects his orisons, is luxurious, sensual, turns day into

night in the bondage of lust, and night into day in the sleep of

carelessness, eats whatever he gets, and speaks whatever comes upon

his tongue, is a profligate, although he may wear the habit of a

O thou whose interior is denuded of piety
But wearest outwardly the garb of hypocrisy
Do not display a curtain of seven colours.
Thou hast reed mats inside thy house.
Story 48
I saw bouquets of fresh roses
Tied upon a cupola of grass.
I asked: 'What is despicable grass
To sit also in the line of the roses?'
The grass wept and said: 'Hush!
Companionship does not obliterate nobility.
Although I have no beauty, colour and perfume,
Am I not after all the grass of his garden?
I am the slave of a bountiful lord,
Cherished from old by his liberality.
Whether I possess virtue or not
I hope for grace from the Lord
Although I possess no property
No capital to offer as obedience.
He knows the remedy for the slave
To whom no support remains.
It is customary that the owner gives a writ
Of emancipation to an old slave.
O God, who hast adorned the universe,
Be bountiful to thy old slave.'
Sa'di, take the road to the Ka'bah of submission.
O man of God, follow the way of God.
Unlucky is he who turns his head

Away from this door for he will find no other door.

Story 49

A sage having been asked whether liberality or bravery is better

replied: 'He who possesses liberality needs no bravery.'

It is written on the tomb of Behram Gur:
'A liberal hand is better than a strong arm.'
Hatim Tai has passed away but for ever

His high name will remain celebrated for beneficence.

Set aside the zekat from thy property because the exuberant vines

When pruned by the vintner will yield more grapes.

Story 1

A Maghrabi supplicant said in Aleppo in the row of linen-drapers:

'Lords of wealth, if you were just and we contented, the trade of

begging would vanish from the world.'
O contentment, make me rich
For besides thee no other wealth exists.
Loqman selected the corner of patience.
Who has no patience has no wisdom.
Story 2

Two sons of amirs were in Egypt, the one acquiring science, the

other accumulating wealth, till the former became the ullemma of the

period and the other the prince of Egypt; whereon the rich man

looked with contempt upon the faqih and said: 'I have reached the

sultanate whilst thou hast remained in poverty as before.' He replied:

'O brother, I am bound to be grateful to the most high Creator for

having obtained the inheritance of prophets whilst thou hast

attained the inheritance of Pharaoh and of Haman, namely the kingdom

of Egypt.'
I am that ant which is trodden under foot

Not that wasp, the pain of whose sting causes lament.

How shall I give due thanks for the blessing

That I do not possess the strength of injuring mankind?

Story 3

I heard that a dervish, burning in the fire of poverty and sewing

patch upon patch, said to comfort his mind:

'We are contented with dry bread and a patched robe

For it is easier to bear the load of one's own trouble

than that of thanks to others.'

Someone said to him: 'Why sittest thou? A certain man in this town

possesses a benevolent nature, is liberal to all, has girded his loins

to serve the pious and is ready to comfort every heart. If he

becomes aware of thy case, he will consider it an obligation to

comfort the mind of a worthy person.' He replied: 'Hush! It is

better to die of inanition than to plead for one's necessities

before any man.'

It is better to patch clothes and sit in the corner of patience

Than to write petitions for robes to gentlemen.
Verily it is equal to the punishment of hell

To go to paradise as a flunkey to one's neighbour.

Story 4

One of the kings of Persia had sent an able physician to wait upon

the Mustafa, the benediction of Allah and peace be on him; and he

remained for some years in the Arab country without anyone coming to

him to make a trial of his ability or desiring to be treated by him.

He went to the Prophet, salutation to him, and complained that

although he had been sent to treat the companions, none of them had up

to this time taken notice of him or required the services incumbent

upon him. The Apostle, salutation to him, replied: 'It is a law with

these people not to eat until appetite overpowers them and when some

of it yet remains they withdraw their hands from food.' The doctor

said: 'This is the cause of health', and kissing the earth of

service departed.
The sage begins to speak
Or points his fingers to the dish
When silence would be dangerous
Or abstinance would bring on death.
No doubt his wisdom is in speaking
And his eating bears the fruit of health.
Story 5

A man often made vows of repentance but broke them again till one of

the sheikhs said to him: 'I think thou art in the habit of eating a

great deal and that thy power of restraining appetite is more

slender than a hair, whilst an appetite such as thou nourishest

would rupture a chain and a day may come when it will tear thee up.'

A man brought up a wolf's whelp.
When it was brought up it tore him up.
Story 6

It is narrated in the life of Ardeshir Bábekan that he asked an Arab

physician how much food he must consume daily. He replied: 'The weight

of one hundred dirhems will be enough.' The king queried: 'What

strength will this quantity give me?' He replied: 'This quantity

will carry thee, and whatever is more than that, thou wilt be the

carrier of it.'
Eating is for living and praying.
Thou thinkest living is for eating.
Story 7

Two Khorasani dervishes travelled together. One of them, being weak,

broke his fast every second night whilst the other who was strong

consumed every day three meals. It happened that they were captured at

the gate of a town on suspicion of being spies; whereon each of them

was confined in a closet and the aperture of it walled up with mud

bricks. After two weeks it became known that they were guiltless.

Accordingly the doors were opened and the strong man was found to be

dead whilst the weak fellow had remained alive. The people were

astonished but a sage averred that the contrary would have been

astonishing because one of them having been voracious possessed no

strength to suffer hunger and perished whilst the other who was

abstemious merely persevered in his habit and remained safe.

When eating little has become the nature of a man
He takes it easy when a calamity befalls him
But when the body becomes strong in affluence
He will die when a hardship overtakes him.
Story 8

One of the philosophers forbade his son to eat much because

repletion keeps people ailing. The boy replied: 'O father, it is

hunger that kills. Hast thou not heard of the maxim of the ingenious

that it is better to die satiated than to bear hunger?' He rejoined:

'Be moderate. Eat and drink but not to excess.'
Eat not so much that it comes up to thy mouth

Nor so little that from weakness thy soul comes up.

Although maintenance of life depends upon food
Victuals bring on disease when eaten to excess.

If thou eatest rose-confectionery without appetite it injures thee

But eating dry bread after a long fast is like rose-preserve.

Story 9

A sick man having been asked what his heart desired replied: 'That

it may not desire anything.'
When the bowels are full and the belly pains
There is no use in all other things being right.
Story 10

A grain dealer to whom Sufis were owing some money asked them for it

every day in the town of Waset and used harsh language towards them.

The companions had become weary of his reproaches but had no other

remedy than to bear them; and one of them who was a pious man

remarked: 'It is more easy to pacify a hungry stomach with promises of

food than a grain dealer with promises of money.'

It is preferable to be without the bounty of a gentleman

Than to bear the insults of the gate-keepers.
It is better to die wishing for meat
Than to endure the expostulations of butchers.
Story 11

A brave warrior who had received a dreadful wound in the Tatar war

was informed that a certain merchant possessed a medicine which he

would probably not refuse to give if asked for; but it is related that

the said merchant was also well known for his avarice.

If instead of bread he had the sun in his table-cloth

No one could see daylight till the day of resurrection.

The warrior replied: 'If I ask for the medicine he will either

give it or refuse it and if he gives it maybe it will profit me, and

maybe not. At any rate the inconvenience of asking it from him is a

lethal poison.'

Whatever thou obtainest by entreaties from base men

Will profit thy body but injure thy soul.

And philosophers have said: 'If for instance the water of life

were to be exchanged for a good reputation, no wise man would purchase

it because it is preferable to die with honour than to live in


To eat coloquinth from the hand of a sweet-tempered man

Is better than confectionery from the hand of an ill-humoured

Story 12

One of the ullemma had many eaters to provide for and only a slender

income. This fact he communicated to a great man of whose character he

entertained a very favourable opinion but his expectations were

disappointed because the man made a wry face and averred that

according to his opinion applications from respectable persons for aid

are unbecoming.

With a face made sad by misfortune, to a dear friend

Do not go because thou wilt embitter his life also.

For the needful for which thou appliest, go with a fresh and

smiling face.

The man of joyful countenance will not be unsuccessful in his


It is related that the great man augmented his stipend a little

but considerably diminished his familiarity towards him and when he

perceived after some days that it was not as usual, he recited:

'Evil is the food which the time of degradation acquires.

The kettle is indeed placed but the dignity is lowered.'

He increased my bread but diminished my honour.
Poverty is better than the degradation of asking.
Story 13

A dervish wanted something and a man told him that a certain

individual possessed untold wealth who, if he were made aware of his

want, would not consider it proper to fail in supplying it

forthwith. The dervish answering that he had no acquaintance with him,

the man proposed to show him the house and when the dervish entered he

caught sight of a person with hanging lips and sitting morosely. He

returned immediately and being asked what he had done replied: 'I

excused him from making me a present when I saw his face.'

Carry not thy necessity to a sour-faced fellow
Because his ill-humour will crush thy hopes.

If thou confidest thy heart's grief, tell it to one

Whose face will comfort thee like ready cash.
Story 14

A year of dearth set in at Alexandria so that even a dervish lost

the reins of patience from his hands, the pearls of heaven were

withheld from the earth and the lamentations of mankind ascended to

the firmament.
There was no wild beast, fowl, fish or ant

Whose wailings prompted by distress had not reached the sky.

For a wonder the heart-smoke of the people did not condense

To form clouds and the torrents of their tears rain.

In such a year there was an hermaphrodite. I owe it to my friends

not to describe him because it would be an abandonment of good

manners, especially in the presence of great men. On the other hand,

it would likewise be improper and in the way of negligence not to

mention anything about him because certain people would impute it to

the ignorance of the narrator. Accordingly I shall briefly describe

him in the following two distichs because a little indicates much

and a handful is a sample of a donkey load.
If a Tatar slays that hermaphrodite
The Tatar must not be slain in return.
How long will he be like the bridge of Baghdad
With water flowing beneath and men on the back?

Such a man, a portion of whose eulogy thou hast now heard, possessed

in that year boundless wealth, bestowed silver and gold upon the needy

and laid out tables for travellers. A company of dervishes who were by

the presence of distress on the point of starvation were inclined to

accept of his hospitality and consulted me on the subject but I struck

my head back from assenting and replied:

A lion does not eat the half of which a dog consumed

Although he may die of hunger in his lair.

Though getting rich in wealth and property like Feridun

A worthless man is to be considered of no account.

Story 15

Hatim Tai, having been asked whether he had seen in the world anyone

of more exalted sentiments than himself, replied: 'Yes, one day I

slaughtered forty camels to entertain Arab amirs. I had occasion to go

out on some business into a corner of the desert, where I noticed a

gatherer of briars, who had accumulated a hillock of thistles, and I

asked him why he had not become a guest of Hatim since many people had

come round to his banquet but he replied:
"Who eats bread by the work of his own hand
Will not bear to be obliged to Hatim Tai."

Then I saw that his sentiments were more exalted than mine.'

Story 16

Moses, to whom be salutation, beheld a dervish who had on account of

his nudity concealed himself in the sand exclaiming: 'O Moses, utter a

supplication to God the most high to give me an allowance because I

am, on account of my distress, on the point of starvation.' Moses

accordingly prayed and departed but returning a few days afterwards he

saw that the dervish was a prisoner and surrounded by a crowd of

people. On asking for the reason he was informed that the dervish

had drunk wine, quarrelled, slain a man and was to be executed in

If the humble cat possessed wings
He would rob the world of every sparrow-egg.
It may happen that when a weak man obtains power
He arises and twists the hands of the weak.

And if Allah were to bestow abundance upon his servants, they

would certainly rebel upon earth.
What has made thee wade into danger, O fool,

Till thou hast perished. Would that the ant had not been able to


When a base fellow obtains dignity, silver and gold,

His head necessarily demands to be knocked.
Was not after all this maxim uttered by a sage?
'That ant is the best which possesses no wings.'

The heavenly father has plenty of honey but the son has

a hot disease.
He who does not make thee rich
Knows better what is good for thee than thyself.
Story 17

I noticed an Arab of the desert sitting in a company jewellers at

Bosrah and narrating stories to them. He said: 'I had once lost my

road in the desert and consumed all my provisions. I considered that I

must perish when I suddenly caught sight of a bag full of pearls and I

shall never forget the joy and ecstasy I felt on thinking they might

be parched grain nor the bitterness and despair when I discovered them

to be pearls.'
In a dry desert and among moving sand

It is the same to a thirsty man whether he has pearls or shells in

his mouth.

When a man has no provisions and his strength is exhausted

It matters not whether his girdle is adorned with pearls or

Story 18

An Arab suffering in the desert from extreme thirst recited:

'Would that before my death
I could one day enjoy my wish
That a river's waves might strike my knee
And I might fill my water-bag.'

In the same manner another traveller lost himself in an extensive

region having neither any strength nor food left but he possessed some

money and roamed about and the road leading him nowhere he perished

from exhaustion. Some people afterwards discovered his corpse with the

money in front of it and the following written on the ground:

If possessed of all the Ja'feri gold,
It will avail nothing to a hungry man.
To a poor man burnt in the desert

Boiled turnips are more valuable than pure silver.

Story 19

I never lamented about the vicissitudes of time or complained of the

turns of fortune except on the occasion when I was barefooted and

unable to procure slippers. But when I entered the great mosque of

Kufah with a sore heart and beheld a man without feet I offered thanks

to the bounty of God, consoled myself for my want of shoes and

'A roast fowl is to the sight of a satiated man

Less valuable than a blade of fresh grass on the table

And to him who has no means nor power
A burnt turnip is a roasted fowl.'
Story 20

A king with some of his courtiers had during a hunting party and

in the winter season strayed far from inhabited places but when the

night set in he perceived the house of a dehqan and said: 'We shall

spend the night there to avoid the injury of the cold.' One of the

veziers, however, objected alleging that it was unworthy of the high

dignity of a padshah to take refuge in the house of a dehqan and

that it would be best to pitch tents and to light fires on the spot.

The dehqan who had become aware of what was taking place prepared some

food he had ready in his house, offered it, kissed the ground of

service and said: 'The high dignity of the sultan would not have

been so much lowered, but the courtiers did not wish the dignity of

the dehqan to become high.' The king who was pleased with these

words moved for the night into the man's house and bestowed a dress of

honour upon him the next morning. When he accompanied the king a few

paces at the departure he was heard to say:
'Nothing was lost of the sultan's power and pomp
By accepting the hospitality of a dehqan,

But the corner of the dehqan's cap reached the sun

When a sultan such as thou overshadowed his head.'

Story 21

It is related that a sultan thus addressed a miserly beggar who

had accumulated great riches: 'It is evident that thou possessest

boundless wealth and we have an affair on hand in which thou canst aid

us by way of a loan. When the finances of the country are in a

flourishing condition it will be repaid.' The miser replied: 'It is

not befitting the power and dignity of a padshah to soil the hands

of his noble aspirations with the property of an individual like

myself who has collected it grain by grain.' The king replied: 'It

does not matter because the money will be spent upon infidels: The

wicked women should be joined to the wicked men."
If the water of a Christian's well is impure

What matters it if thou washest a dead Jew therein?

They said: 'The lime-mortar is not clean.'

We replied: 'We shall plug therewith the privy holes."

I heard that he refused to comply with the behest of the king, began

to argue and to look insolently; whereon the king ordered the sum in

question to be released from his grasp by force and with a reprimand.

If an affair cannot be accomplished with gentleness

He forsooth turns his head to impudence.
Who has no regard for himself
It is proper that no one should pay him any.
Story 22

I met a trader who possessed one hundred and fifty camel loads of

merchandise with forty slaves and servants. One evening in the oasis

of Kish he took me into his apartment and taking all night no rest

kept up an incoherent gabble, saying: 'I have such and such a

warehouse in Turkestan, such and such goods in Hindostan; this is

the title-deed of such and such an estate and in this affair such

and such a man is security.' He said: 'I intend to go to Alexandria

because it has a good climate', and correcting himself continued: 'No,

because the African sea is boisterous. O Sa'di, I have one journey

more to undertake and after performing it I shall during the rest of

my life sit in a corner and enjoy contentment.' I asked: 'What journey

is that?' He replied: 'I shall carry Persian brimstone to China

because I heard that it fetched a high price. I shall also carry

Chinese porcelain to Rum and Rumi brocade to India and Indian steel to

Aleppo, convey glass-ware of Aleppo to Yemen, striped cloth of Yemen

to Pares. After that I shall abandon trading and shall sit down in a

shop.' He had talked so much of this nonsenses that no more strength

remained in him so he said: 'O Sa'di, do thou also tell me something

of what thou hast seen and heard.' I recited:
'Thou mayest have heard that in the plain of Ghur
Once a leader fell down from his beast of burden,
Saying: "The narrow eye of a wealthy man
Will be filled either by content or by the earth
of the tomb."'
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.'
Story 24

A weak fisherman caught a strong fish in his net and not being

able to retain it the fish overcame him and pulled the net from his

A boy went to bring water from the torrent.
The torrent came and took the boy away.
The net brought every time a fish.
This time the fish went and carried off the net.

The other fishermen were sorry and blamed him for not being able

to retain such a fish which had fallen into his net. He replied: 'O

brothers, what can be done? My day was not lucky but the fish had

yet one remaining. 'Moral: A fisherman cannot catch a fish in the

Tigris without a day of luck and a fish cannot die on dry ground

without the decree of fate.
Story 25

A man whose hands and feet had been amputated killed a millipede and

a pious passer-by exclaimed: 'Praised be Allah! In spite of the

thousand feet he possessed he could not escape from a man without

hands and feet when his fate had overtaken him.'
When the life-taking foe comes in the rear
Fate ties the legs of a running man.
At the moment when the enemy has slowly arrived
It is useless to draw the Kayanian bow.
Story 26

I have seen a fat fool, dressed in a costly robe, with a turban of

Egyptian linen on his head, riding on an Arab horse. Someone said:

'Sa'di, what thinkest thou of this famous brocade upon this ignorant

animal?' I replied: 'It is like ugly characters scrawled with

Verily he is like an ass among men,
A calf, a body which is bleating.
This animal cannot be said to resemble a man

Except in his cloak, turban and outward adornment.

Examine all his property and belongings of his estate

Thou wilt find nothing lawful to take except his blood.

If a noble man becomes impoverished imagine not
That his high worth will also decrease.

But if into a silver threshold golden nails are driven

By a Jew, think not that he will thereby become noble.

Story 27

A thief said to a mendicant: 'Art thou not ashamed to stretch out

thy hand for a grain of silver to every sordid fellow?' He replied:

'To hold out the hand for a grain of silver

Is better than to get it cut off for one dane and a half.'

Story 28

It is related that an athlete had been reduced to the greatest

distress by adverse fortune. His throat being capacious and his

hands unable to fill it, he complained to his father and asked him for

permission to travel as he hoped to be hoped to be able to gain a

livelihood by the strength of his arm.
Excellence and skill are lost unless exhibited.
Lignum aloes is placed on fire and musk rubbed.

The father replied: 'My son, get rid of this vain idea and place the

feet of contentment under the skirt of safety because great men have

said that happiness does not consist in exertion and that the remedy

against want is in the moderation of desires.
No one can grasp the skirt of luck by force.
It is useless to put vasmah on a bald man's brow.

If thou hast two hundred accomplishments for each hair of thy head

They will be of no use if fortune is unpropitious.

What can an athlete do with adverse luck?

The arm of luck is better than the arm of strength.

The son rejoined: 'Father, the advantages of travel are many, such

as recreation of the mind entailing profit, seeing of wonderful and

hearing of strange things, recreation in cities, associating with

friends, acquisition of dignity, rank, property, the power of

discriminating among acquaintances and gaining experience of the

world, as the travellers in the Tariqat have said:

As long as thou walkest about the shop or the house

Thou wilt never become a man, 0 raw fellow.
Go and travel in the world
Before that day when thou goest from the world.'

The father replied: 'My son, the advantages of travel such as thou

hast enumerated them are countless but they regard especially five

classes of men: firstly, a merchant who possesses in consequence of

his wealth and power graceful male and female slaves and

quick-handed assistants, alights every day in another town and every

night in another place, has recreation every moment and sometimes

enjoys the delights of the world.'

A rich man is not a stranger in mountain, desert or solitude.

Wherever he goes he pitches a tent and makes a sleeping place;

Whilst he who is destitute of the goods of this world

Must be in his own country a stranger and unknown.

Secondly, a scholar, who is for the pleasantness of his speech,

the power of his eloquence and the fund of his instruction, waited

upon and honoured wherever he goes.
The presence of a learned man is like pure gold
Whose power and price is known wherever he goes.

An ignorant fellow of noble descent resembles Shahrua,

Which nobody accepts in a foreign country.

Thirdly, handsome fellows with whom the souls of pious men are

inclined to commingle because it has been said that a little beauty is

better than much wealth. An attractive face is also said to be a slave

to despondent hearts and the key to locked doors, wherefore the

society of such a person is everywhere known to be very acceptable:

A beautiful person meets with honour and respect everywhere

Although perhaps driven away in anger by father and mother.

I have seen a peacock feather in the leaves of the Quran.

I said: 'I see thy position is higher than thy deserts.'

It said: 'Hush, whoever is endowed with beauty,

Wherever he places his foot, hands are held out to receive it.'

When a boy is symmetrical and heart-robbing
It matters not if his father disowns him.
He is a jewel which must not remain in a shell.
A precious pearl everyone desires to buy.

Fourthly, one with a sweet voice, who retains, with a David-like

throat, water from flowing and birds from soaring. By means of this

talent he holds the hearts of people captive and religious men are

delighted to associate with him.
My audition is intent on the beautiful melody.
Who is that performing on the double chord?
How pleasant is the gentle and melancholy lay

To the ear of the boon companions who quaff the morning draught!

Better than a handsome face is a pleasant voice.

The former is joy to the senses, the latter food for the soul.

Fifthly, the artisan, who gains a sufficient livelihood by the

strength of his arm, so that his reputation is not lost in

struggling for bread; as wise men have said:
If he goes abroad from his own town

The patcher of clothes meets with no bardship or trouble

But if the government falls into ruin
The king of Nimruz will go to bed hungry.

The qualities which I have explained, 0 my son, are in a journey the

occasion of satisfaction to the mind, stimulants to a happy life but

he, who possesses none of them, goes with idle fancies into the

world and no one will ever hear anything about his name and fame.

He whom the turning world is to afflict
Will be guided by the times against his aim.
A pigeon destined not to see its nest again

Will be carried by fate towards the grain and net.

The son asked: 'O father, how can I act contrary to the

injunctions of the wise, who have said, that although food is

distributed by predestination the acquisition of it depends upon

exertion and that, although a calamity may be decreed by fate, it is

incumbent on men to show the gates by which it may enter?

'Although daily food may come unawares
It is reasonable to seek it out of doors
And though no one dies without the decree of fate
Thou must not rush into the jaws of a dragon.

'As I am at present able to cope with a mad elephant and to

wrestle with a furious lion, it is proper, O father, that I should

travel abroad because I have no longer the endurance to suffer misery.

'When a man has fallen from his place and station

Why should he eat more grief? All the horizons are his place.

At night every rich man goes to an inn.

The dervish has his inn where the night overtakes him.'

After saying this, he asked for the good wishes of his father,

took leave of him, departed and said to himself:

'A skilful man, when his luck does not favour him,

Goes to a place where people know not his name.'

He reached the banks of a water, the force of which was such that it

knocked stones against each other and its roaring was heard to a

farsang's distance.

A dreadful water, in which even aquatic birds were not safe,

The smallest wave would whirl off a millstone from its bank.

He beheld a crowd of people, every person sitting with a coin of

money at the crossing-place, intent on a passage. The youth's hands of

payment being tied, he opened the tongue of laudation and although

he supplicated the people greatly, they paid no attention and said:

'No violence can be done to anyone without money

But if thou hast money thou hast no need of force.'

An unkind boatman laughed at him and said:

'If thou hast no money thou canst not cross the river by force.

What boots the strength of ten men? Bring the money for one.'

The young man's heart was irritated by the insult of the boatman and

longed to take vengeance upon him. The boat had, however, started;

accordingly he shouted: 'If thou wilt be satisfied with the robe I

am wearing, I shall not grudge giving it to thee.' The boatman was

greedy and turned the vessel back.
Desire sews up the vision of a shrewd man.
Greediness brings fowl and fish into the snare.

As soon as the young man's hand could reach the beard and collar

of the boatman, he immediately knocked him down and a comrade of the

boatman, who came from the vessel to rescue him, experienced the

same rough treatment and turned back. The rest of the people then

thought proper to pacify the young man and to condone his passage

When thou seest a quarrel be forbearing
Because gentlemen will shut the door of strife.
Use kindness when thou seest contention.
A sharp sword cannot cut soft silk.
By a sweet tongue, grace, and kindliness,
Thou wilt be able to lead an elephant by a hair.

Then the people fell at his feet, craving pardon for what had

passed. They impressed some hypocritical kisses upon his head and

his eyes, received him into the boat and started, progressing till

they reached a pillar of Yunani workmanship, standing in the water.

The boatman said: 'The vessel is in danger. Let one of you, who is the

strongest, go to the pillar and take the cable of the boat that we may

save the vessel.' The young man, in the pride of bravery which he

had in his head, did not think of the offended foe and did not mind

the maxim of wise men who have said: 'If thou hast given offence to

one man and afterwards done him a hundred kindnesses, do not be

confident that he will not avenge himself for that one offence,

because although the head of a spear may come out, the memory of an

offence will remain in the heart.'
'How well,' said Yaktash to Khiltash,

'Hast thou scratched a foe? Do not think thou art safe.'

Be not unconcerned for thou wilt be afflicted
If by thy hand a heart has been afflicted.
Throw not a stone at the rampart of a fort
Because possibly a stone may come from the fort.

As soon as he had taken the rope of the boat on his arm, he

climbed to the top of the pillar, whereon the boatman snatched it from

his grasp and pushed the boat off. The helpless man was amazed and

spent two days in misery and distress. On the third, sleep took hold

of his collar and threw him into the water. After one night and day he

was cast on the bank, with some life still remaining in him. He

began to eat leaves of trees and to pull out roots of grass so that

when he had gained a little strength, he turned towards the desert and

walked till thirst began to torment him. He at last reached a well and

saw people drinking water for a pashizi but possessing none he asked

for a coin and showed his destitute condition. The people had,

however, no mercy with him, whereon he began to insult them but

likewise ineffectually. Then he knocked down several men but was at

last overpowered, struck and wounded:
A swarm of gnats will overpower an elephant
Despite of all his virility and bravery.
When the little ants combine together
They tear the skin of a furious lion.

As a matter of necessity he lagged in the rear of the caravan, which

reached in the evening a locality very dangerous on account of

thieves. The people of the caravan trembled in all their limbs but

he said: 'Fear nothing because I alone am able to cope with fifty

men and the other youths of the caravan will aid me.' These boastful

words comforted the heart of the caravan-people, who became glad of

his company and considered it incumbent upon themselves to supply

him with food and water. The fire of the young man's stomach having

blazed into flames and deprived his hands of the bridle of

endurance, hunger made him partake of some morsels of food and take

a few draughts of water, till the dev of his interior was set at

rest and he fell asleep. An experienced old fellow, who was in the

caravan, said: 'O ye people, I am more afraid of this guard of yours

than of the thieves because there is a story that a stranger had

accumulated some dirhems but could not sleep in the house for fear

of the Luris. Accordingly he invited one of his friends to dispel

the terrors of solitude by his company. He spent several nights with

him, till he became aware that he had money and took it, going on a

journey after spending it. When the people saw the stranger naked

and weeping the next morning, a man asked: "What is the matter?

Perhaps a thief has stolen those dirhems of mine?" He replied: "No, by

Allah. The guard has stolen them."'
I never sat secure from a serpent
Till I learnt what his custom was.
The wound from a foe's tooth is severe
Who appears to be a friend in the eyes of men.

'How do you know whether this man is not one of the band of

thieves and has followed us as a spy to inform his comrades on the

proper occasion? According to my opinion we ought to depart and let

him sleep.' The youths approved of the old man's advice and became

suspicious of the athlete, took up their baggage and departed, leaving

him asleep. He knew this when the sun shone upon his shoulders and

perceived that the caravan had started. He roamed about a great deal

without finding the way and thirsty as well as dismayed as he was,

he sat down on the ground, with his heart ready to perish, saying:

Who will speak to me after the yellow camels have departed?

A stranger has no companion except a stranger.
He uses harshness towards strangers
Who has not himself been exiled enough.

The poor man was speaking thus whilst the son of a king who happened

to be in a hunting party, strayed far from the troops, was standing

over his head, listening. He looked at the figure of the athlete,

saw that his outward appearance was respectable but his condition

miserable. He then asked him whence he had come and how he had

fallen into this place. The athlete briefly informed him of what had

taken place, whereon the royal prince, moved by pity, presented him

with a robe of honour and a large sum of money and sent a confidential

man to accompany him till he again reached his native town. His father

was glad to see him and expressed gratitude at his safety. In the

evening he narrated to his father what had befallen him with the boat,

mentioned the violence of the boatman, the harshness of the rustics

near the well and the treachery of the caravan people on the road. The

father replied: 'My son, have not I told thee at thy departure that

the brave hands of empty-handed persons are like the broken paw of a

How well has that empty-handed fighter said:

'A grain of gold is better than fifty mann of strength.'

The son replied: 'O father, thou wilt certainly not obtain a

treasure except by trouble, wilt not overcome thy foe unless thou

hazardest thy life and wilt not gather a harvest unless thou

scatterest seed. Perceivest thou not how much comfort I gained at

the cost of the small amount of trouble I underwent and what a

quantity of honey I have brought in return for the sting I have


Although not more can be acquired than fate has decreed

Negligence in striving to acquire is not commendable.

If a diver fears the crocodile's throat
He will never catch the pearl of great price.

The nether millstone is immovable, and therefore must bear a heavy


What will a fierce lion devour at the bottom of his den?

What food does a fallen hawk obtain?
If thou desirest to catch game at home
Thou must have hands and feet like a spider.

The father said to his son: 'On this occasion heaven has been

propitious to thee and good luck helpful so that a royal person has

met thee, has been bountiful to thee and has thereby healed thy broken

condition. Such coincidences occur seldom and rare events cannot be

reckoned upon.'
The hunter does not catch every time a jackal.
It may happen that some day a tiger devours him.

Thus it happened that one of the kings of Pares, who possessed a

ring with a costly beazle, once went out by way of diversion with some

intimate courtiers to the Masalla of Shiraz and ordered his ring to be

placed on the dome of Asad, promising to bestow the seal-ring upon any

person who could make an arrow pass through it. It happened that every

one of the four hundred archers in his service missed the ring, except

a little boy who was shooting arrows in sport at random and in every

direction from the flat roof of a monastery. The morning breeze caused

his arrow to pass through the ring, whereon he obtained not only the

ring but also a robe of honour and a present of money. It is related

that the boy burnt his bow and arrows and on being asked for the cause

replied: 'That the first splendour may be permanent.'

It sometimes happens that an enlightened sage
Is not successful in his plans.
Sometimes it happens that an ignorant child
By mistake hits the target with his arrow.
Story 29

I heard that a dervish, sitting in a cave, had closed the doors upon

the face of the world, so that no regard for kings and rich persons

remained in the eyes of his desire.
Who opens to himself a door for begging
Will till he dies remain a needy fellow.
Abandon greediness and be a king
Because a neck without desire is high.

One of the kings of that region sent him the information that,

trusting in the good manners of the respected dervish, he hoped he

would partake of bread and salt with him. The sheikh agreed because it

is according to the sonna to accept an invitation. The next day the

king paid him a visit, the a'bid. leapt up, embraced him, caressed him

and praised him. After the monarch's departure the sheikh was asked by

one of his companions why he had, against his custom, paid so many

attentions to the padshah, the like of which he had never seen before.

He replied: 'Hast thou not heard that one of the pious said:

"In whose company thou hast been sitting
To do him service thou must necessarily rise.
Possibly an ear may during a lifetime
Not hear the sound of drum, lute or fife.
The eye may be without the sight of a garden.
The brain may be without the rose or nasrin.
If no feather pillow be at hand
Sleep may be had with a stone under the head
And if there be no sweetheart to sleep with
The hand may be placed on one's own bosom,
But this disreputable twisting belly
Cannot bear to exist without anything."'
Story 1

I said to a friend that I have chosen rather to be silent than to

speak because on most occasions good and bad words are scattered

concurrently but enemies perceive only the latter. He replied: 'That

enemy is the greatest who does not see any good.'
The brother of enmity passes not near a good man
Except to consider him as a most wicked liar.

Virtue is to the eyes of enmity the greatest fault.

Sa'di is a rose but to the eye of enemies a thorn.

The world illumining sun and fountain of light
Look ugly to the eye of the mole.
Story 2

A merchant, having suffered loss of a thousand dinars, enjoined

his son not to reveal it to anyone. The boy said: 'It is thy order and

I shall not tell it but thou must inform me of the utility of this

proceeding and of the propriety of concealment.' He replied: 'For fear

the misfortune would be double; namely, the loss of the money and,

secondly, the joy of neighbours at our loss.'
Reveal not thy grief to enemies
Because they will say 'La haul' but rejoice.
Story 3

An intelligent youth possessed an abundant share of

accomplishments and discreet behaviour so that he was allowed to sit

in assemblies of learned men but he refrained from conversing with

them. His father once asked him why he did not likewise speak on

subjects he was acquainted with. He replied: 'I fear I may be asked

what I do not know and be put to shame.'
Hast thou heard how a Sufi drove
A few nails under his sandals
And an officer taking him by the sleeve
Said to him: 'Come and shoe my horse.'

For what thou hast not said no one will trouble thee

But when thou hast spoken bring the proof.
Story 4

A scholar of note had a controversy with an unbeliever but, being

unable to cope with him in argument, shook his head and retired.

Someone asked him how it came to pass that, with all his eloquence and

learning, he had been unable vanquish an irreligious man. He

replied: 'My learning is in the Quran, in tradition and in the sayings

of sheikhs, which he neither believes in nor listens to. Then of

what use is it to me to hear him blaspheming?'

To him of whom thou canst not rid thyself by the Quran and tradition

The best reply is if thou dost not reply anything.

Story 5

Galenus saw a fool hanging on with his hands to the collar of a

learned man and insulting him, whereon he said: 'If he were learned he

would not have come to this pass with an ignorant man.'

Two wise men do not contend and quarrel

Nor does a scholar fight with a contemptible fellow.

If an ignorant man in his rudeness speaks harshly
An intelligent man tenderly reconciles his heart.
Two pious men keep a hair between them untorn
And so does a mild with a headstrong man.
If however both sides are fools
If there be a chain they will snap it.
An ill-humoured man insulted someone.
He bore it and replied: 'O man of happy issue,
I am worse than thou canst say that I am

Because I know thou art not aware of my faults as I am.

Story 6

Subhan Vail is considered to have had no equal in rhetorics

because he had addressed an assembly during a year and had not

repeated the same word but, when the same meaning happened to occur,

he expressed it in another manner and this is one of the

accomplishments of courtiers and princes.
A word if heart-binding and sweet
Is worthy of belief and of approbation.
When thou hast once said it do not utter it again
Because sweets, once partaken of, suffice.
Story 7

I heard a philosopher say that no one has ever made a confession

of his own folly except he who begins speaking, whilst another has not

yet finished his talk.
Words have a head, O shrewd man, and a tail.
Do not insert thy words between words of others.

The possessor of deliberation, intelligence and shrewdness

Does not say a word till he sees silence.
Story 8

Several officials of Sultan Mahmud asked Hasan Muimandi one day what

the sultan had told him about a certain affair. He replied: 'You

must yourselves have heard it.' They rejoined: 'What he says to thee

he does not think proper to communicate to the like of us.' He

answered: 'Because he trusts that I shall not reveal it. Then why do

you ask me to do so?'

A knowing man will not utter every word which occurs to him.

It is not proper to endanger one's head for the king's secret.

Story 9

I was hesitating in the conclusion of a bargain for the purchase

of a house when a Jew said: 'Buy it for I am one of the landholders of

this ward. Ask me for a description of the house as it is and it has

no defect.' I replied: 'Except that thou art the neighbour of it.'

A house which has a neighbour like thee
Is worth ten dirhems of a deficient standard
But the hope must be entertained
That after thy death it will be worth a thousand.
Story 10

A poet went to an amir of robbers and recited a panegyric but he

ordered him to be divested of his robe. As the poor man was

departing naked in the world, he was attacked from behind by dogs,

whereon he intended to snatch up a stone but it was frozen to the

ground and, being unable to do so, he exclaimed: 'What whore-sons of

men are these? They have let loose the dogs and have tied down the

stones.' The amir of the robbers who heard these words from his room

laughed and said: 'O philosopher, ask something from me.' He

replied: 'I ask for my robe if thou wilt make me a present of it.'

We are satisfied of thy gift by departure.
A man was hoping for the gifts of people.
I hope no gift from thee. Do me no evil.

The robber chief took pity upon him, ordered his robe to be restored

to him and added to it a sheepskin jacket with some dirhems.

Story 11

An astrologer, having entered his own house, saw a stranger and,

getting angry, began to insult him, whereon both fell upon each

other and fought so that turmoil and confusion ensued. A pious man who

had the scene exclaimed:

'How knowest thou what is in the zenith of the sky

If thou art not aware who is in thy house?'
Story 12

A preacher imagined his miserable voice to be pleasing and raised

useless shouts, thou wouldst have said that the crow of separation had

become the tune of his song; and the verse- for the most detestable

of voices is surely the voice of asses- appears to have been applicable

to him. This distich also concerns him:
When the preacher Abu-l-Fares brays
At his voice Istakhar-Fares quakes.

On account of the position he occupied the inhabitants of the

locality submitted to the hardship and did not think proper to

molest him. In course of time, however, another preacher of that

region, who bore secret enmity towards him, arrived on a visit and

said to him: 'I have dreamt about thee, may it end well!' 'What hast

thou dreamt?' 'I dreamt that thy voice had become pleasant and that

the people were comfortable during thy sermons.' The preacher

meditated a while on these words and then said: 'Thou hast dreamt a

blessed dream because thou hast made me aware of my defect. It has

become known to me that I have a disagreeable voice and that the

people are displeased with my loud reading. Accordingly I have

determined henceforth not to address them except in a subdued voice':

I am displeased with the company of friends
To whom my bad qualities appear to be good.
They fancy my faults are virtues and perfection.
My thorns they believe to be rose and jessamine.
Say. Where is the bold and quick enemy
To make me aware of my defects?
He whose faults are not told him
Ignorantly thinks his defects are virtues.
Story 13

A man used to shout superfluous calls to prayers in the mosque of

Sinjar and in a voice which displeased all who heard it. The owner

of the mosque, who was a just and virtuous amir, not desirous to

give him pain, said: 'My good fellow, in this mosque there are old

muezzins' to each of whom I pay five dinars monthly but to thee I

shall give ten, if thou wilt go to another place.' The man agreed

and went away. Some time afterwards however, he returned to the amir

and said: 'My lord, thou hast injured me by turning me away for ten

dinars from this place because where I next went they offered me

twenty dinars to go to another locality but I refused.' The amir

smiled and said: 'By no means accept them because will give thee

even fifty dinars.'
No one can scrape the mud from gravel with an axe
As thy discordant shouting scrapes the heart.
Story 14

A fellow with a disagreeable voice happened to be reading the Quran,

when a pious man passed near, and asked him what his monthly salary

was. He replied: 'Nothing.' He further inquired: 'Then why takest thou

this trouble?' He replied: 'I am reading for God's sake.' He

replied: 'For God's sake do not read.'
If thou readest the Quran thus
Thou wilt deprive the religion of splendour.
Story 1

Hasan Maimundi was asked that, as the Sultan Mahmud possesses so

many beautiful slaves, each of whom is a marvel in the world, how it

happens that he manifests towards none of them so much inclination and

love as to Iyaz, although he is not more handsome than the others.

He replied: 'Whatever descends into the heart appears good to the

He whose murid' the sultan is
If he does everything bad, it will be good.
But he whom the padshah throws away
Will not be cared for by anyone in the household.
If anyone looks with an unfavourable eye
Even the figure of Joseph will indicate ugliness

And if he looks with the eye of desire on a demon,

He will appear an angel, a cherub in his sigh].
Story 2

It is said that a gentleman possessed a slave of exquisite beauty,

whom he regarded with love and affection. He nevertheless said to a

friend: 'Would that this slave of mine, with all the beauty and good

qualities he possesses, had not a long and uncivil tongue!' He

replied: 'Brother, do not expect service, after professing friendship;

because when relations between lover and beloved come in, the

relations between master and servant are superseded':

When a master with a fairy-faced slave
Begins to play and to laugh
What wonder if the latter coquets like the master
And the gentleman bears it like a slave?
A slave is to draw water and make bricks.
A pampered slave will strike with the fist.
Story 3

I saw a religious man, who had fallen in love with a fellow to

such a degree that he had neither strength to remain patient nor to

bear the talk of the people but would not relinquish his attachment,

despite of the reproaches he suffered and the grief he bore, saying:

I shall not let go my hold of thy skirt
Even if thou strike me with a sharp sword.
After thee I have no refuge nor asylum.
To thee alone I shall flee if I flee.

I once reproached him, asking him what had become of his exquisite

intellect so that it had been overcome by his base proclivity. He

meditated a while and then said:
'Wherever love has become sultan
Piety's arm has no strength left.
How can a helpless fellow live purely
Who has sunk up to his neck in impurity?'
Story 4

One had lost his heart and bidden farewell to his life because the

target which he aimed at was in a dangerous locality, portending

destruction and no chance promising a morsel easily coming to the

palate nor a bird falling into the trap.
When thy sweetheart's eye has no regard for gold
Mud and gold are of equal value to thee.

I once advised him to abandon his aspiration to a fancy impossible

of realization because many persons are enslaved by the same passion

like himself, the feet of their hearts being in chains. He lamented

and said:
'Tell my friends not to give me advice
Because my eyes are fixed on her wishes.
By the strength of fist and shoulders warriors
Slay enemies but sweethearts a friend.'

It is against the requirements of love to renounce affection to

our sweethearts for fear of losing our lives.
Thou who art a slave to thy selfishness
Art mendacious in the game of love.
If there be no way to reach the friend
Friendship demands to die in pursuit of it.
I rise as no other source is left to me
Though the foe may smite me with arrow and sword.

If chance serves me I shall take hold of her sleeve.

Or else I shall go and die on her threshold.

His friends, who considered his position, pitied his state, gave him

advice and at last confined him but all to no purpose.

Alas, that the physician should prescribe patience,

Whereas this greedy lust requires sugar.
Hast thou heard that the mistress secretly
Told him who had lost his heart:
'As long as thou possessest thy own dignity,
What will mine amount to in thy eyes?'

It is related that the royal prince who was the object of his

affection had been informed to the effect that a good-natured and

sweet-spoken youth was constantly attending on the plain, uttering

graceful words; and strange tales having been heard of him, it

appeared that his heart is inflamed and that he has a touch of

insanity in his head. The boy knew that his heart had become

attached to him and that he had raised this dust of calamity.

Accordingly he galloped towards him. When the youth perceived the

prince approaching him, he we and said:
'He who has slain me has come back again.

It seems his heart burns for him whom he has slain.'

Although he accosted the youth graciously, asking him whence he came

and what his occupation was, he was so plunged in the depths of the

ocean of love that he could not breathe:

If thou recitest the seven portions of the lesson by heart,

When thou art demented by love thou knowest not the A, B, C.

The prince said: 'Why speakest thou not to me? I also belong to

the circle of dervishes; nay I am even in their service.' In

consequence of the force of the friendly advances of his beloved, he

raised his head from the dashing waves of love and said:

'It is a marvel that with thy existence mine remains

That when thou speakest words to me remain.'

Saying these words he uttered a shout and surrendered his life.

It would not be strange if he had been slain at his tent door

But it would be strange that if alive he should escape safe.

Story 5

A schoolboy was so perfectly beautiful and sweet-voiced that the

teacher, in accordance with human nature, conceived such an

affection towards him that' he often recited the following verses:

I am not so little occupied with thee, O heavenly face,

That remembrance of myself occurs to my mind.
From thy sight I am unable to withdraw my eyes

Although when I am opposite I may see that an arrow comes.

Once the boy said to him: 'As thou strivest to direct my studies,

direct also my behaviour. If thou perceivest anything reprovable in my

conduct, although it may seem approvable to me, inform me thereof that

I may endeavour to change it.' He replied: 'O boy, make that request

to someone else because the eyes with which I look upon thee behold

nothing but virtues.'
The ill-wishing eye, be it torn out
Sees only defects in his virtue.

But if thou possessest one virtue and seventy faults

A friend sees nothing except that virtue.
Story 6

I remember that one night a dear friend of mine entered when I

jumped up in such a heedless way that the lamp was extinguished by

my sleeve. A vision appeared in the night and by its appearance the

darkness was illuminated.

I was amazed at my luck exclaiming whence this felicity?

He took a seat and began reproving me saying that when I beheld

him I extinguished the lamp. I said: 'I thought the sun had risen

and wits have said:
When an ugly person comes before the lamp
Arise to him and pull him into the assembly
But if it be a sugar-smiled, sweet-lipped one
Pull him by the sleeve and extinguish the lamp.'
Story 7

One who had for a considerable time not seen his friend asked him

where he had been and said he had been longing. He replied: 'To be

longing is better than to be satisfied.'
Thou hast come late, O intoxicated idol,
We shall not soon let go thy skirt from the hand.
He who sees his sweetheart at long intervals

Is after all better off than if he sees too much of her.

When thou comest with friends to visit me
Although thou comest in peace thou art attacking.

If my sweetheart associates one moment with strangers

It wants but little and I die of jealousy.

She said smiling: 'I am the lamp of the assembly, O Sa'di,

What is it to me if a moth kills itself?'
Story 8

I remember how in former times I and another friend kept company

with each other like two almond kernels in one skin. Suddenly a

separation took place but after a time, when my companion returned, he

commenced to blame me for not having sent him a messenger during it. I

replied: 'I thought it would be a pity that the eyes of a messenger

should be brightened by thy beauty and I deprived thereof.'

Tell my old friend not to give me advice with the tongue

Because even a sword will not compel me to repent.

I am jealous that anyone should see thee to satiety.

Again I say that no one will be satiated.
Story 9

I knew a learned man who had fallen in love with someone but his

secret having fallen from the veil of concealment into publicity, he

endured abundant persecution and displayed boundless patience. I

said once to him by way of consolation: 'I know thou entertainest no

worldly motive nor inclination for baseness. It is nevertheless

unbecoming the dignity of a scholar to expose himself to suspicions

and to bear the persecutions of mannerless persons.' He replied: 'O

friend, take off the hand of reproach from my skirt because I have

often meditated on the opinion which thou entertainest but have

found it easier to bear persecution for his sake than not to see

him; and philosophers have said that it is easier to accustom the

heart to strife, than to turn away the eye from seeing the beloved.

Who has his heart with a heart-ravisher
Has his beard in another's hand.
A gazelle with a halter on the neck
Is not able to walk of its own accord.
If he, without whom one cannot abide,
Becomes insolent it must be endured.
I one day told him to beware of his friend
But I often asked pardon for that day.
A friend does not abandon a friend.
I submit my heart to what he wills.
Whether he kindly calls me to himself
Or drives me away in anger he knows best.
Story 10

In the exuberance of youth, as it usually happens and as thou

knowest, I was on the closest terms of intimacy with a sweetheart

who had a melodious voice and a form beautiful like the moon just


He, the down of whose cheek drinks the water of immortality,

Whoever looks at his sugar lips eats sweetmeats.

I happened to notice something in his behaviour which was contrary

to nature and not approved of by me. Accordingly I gathered up my

skirt from him and, picking up the pieces of the chess-game of

friendship, recited:
'Go and do as thou listest.
Thou hast not our head; follow thine.'
I heard him saying when he went away:
'If the bat desires not union with the sun
The beauty of the sun will not decrease.'

Saying this, he departed and his distress took effect on me:

I lost the time of union and man is ignorant
Of the value of delightful life before adversity.
Return. Slay me. For to die in thy presence
Is more sweet than to live after thee.

Thanks be to the bounty of God, he returned some time afterwards but

his melodious voice had changed, his Joseph like beauty had faded,

on the apple of his skin dust had settled as upon a quince so that the

splendour of his beauty had departed. He wanted me to embrace him. I

complied and said:

'On the day when thou hadst a beauteous incipient beard

Thou drovest him, who desired the sight, from thy sight.

Today thou camest to make peace with him
But hast exhibited Fathah and Zammah.

His fresh spring is gone and he has become yellow.

Bring not the kettle because our fire is extinguished.

How long wilt thou strut about, showing arrogance,

Imagining felicity which has elapsed?
Go to him who will purchase thee.
Coquet with him who asks for thee.
They said: "Verdure in the garden is pleasing."
He knows it who utters these words.
Namely, heartfelt affection for that green line
Fascinates the hearts of lovers more and more.
Thy garden is a bed of leeks.
The more thou weedest it the more they grow.
Whether thou pluckest out thy beard or not
This happiness of youthful days must end.
Had I the power of life as thou of the beard
I would not let it end till resurrection-day.

I asked and said: What has befallen the beauty of thy face

That ants are crawling round the moon?

He replied, smiling: "I know not what is the matter

with my face.

Perhaps it wears black as mourning for my beauty."'

Story 11

I asked one of the people of Baghdad what he thought of beardless

youths. He replied: 'There is no good in them for when one of them

is yet delicate and wanted he is insolent; but when he becomes rough

and is not wanted he is affable.'
When a beardless youth is beautiful and sweet
His speech is bitter, his temper hasty.
When his beard grows and he attains puberty
He associates with men and seeks affection.
Story 12

One of the ullemma had been asked that, supposing one sits with a

moon-faced beauty in a private apartment, the doors being closed,

companions asleep, passion inflamed, and lust raging, as the Arab

says, the date is ripe and its guardian not forbidding, whether he

thought the power of abstinence would cause the man to remain in

safety. He replied: 'If he remains in safety from the moon-faced

one, he will not remain safe from evil speakers.'
If a man escapes from his own bad lust

He will not escape from the bad suspicions of accusers.

It is proper to sit down to one's own work
But it is impossible to bind the tongues of men.
Story 13

A parrot, having been imprisoned in a cage with a crow, was vexed by

the sight and said: 'What a loathsome aspect is this! What an odious

figure! What cursed object with rude habits! 0 crow of separation,

would that the distance of the east from the west were between us.'

Whoever beholds thee when he rises in the morning

The morn of a day of safety becomes evening to him.

An ill-omened one like thyself is fit to keep thee company

But where in the world is one like thee?

More strange still, the crow was similarly distressed by the

proximity of the parrot and, having become disgusted, was shouting 'La

haul', and lamenting the vicissitudes of time. He rubbed the claws

of sorrow against each other and said: 'What ill-luck is this? What

base destiny and chameleonlike times? It was befitting my dignity to

strut about on a garden-wall in the society of another crow.

'It is sufficient imprisonment for a devote
To be in the same stable with profligates.

'What sin have I committed that I have already in this life, as a

punishment for it, fallen into the bonds of this calamity in company

with such a conceited, uncongenial and heedless fool?'

No one will approach the foot of the wall
Upon which they paint thy portrait.
If thy place were in paradise
Others would select. hell.

I have added this parable to let thee know that no matter how much a

learned man may hate an ignorant man the latter hates him equally.

A hermit was among profligates
When one of them, a Balkhi beauty, said:
'If thou art tired of us sit not sour
For thou art thyself bitter in our midst.'

An assembly joined together like roses and tulips!

Thou art withered wood, growing in its midst,
Like a contrary wind and unpleasant frost,
Like snow inert, like ice bound fast.
Story 14

I had a companion with whom I had travelled for years and eaten

salt. Boundless intimacy subsisted between us till at last he suffered

my mind to be grieved for the sake of some paltry gain and our

friendship closed. Despite of an this, however, mutual attachment of

heart still subsisted between us because I heard him one day

reciting in an assembly the following two distichs of my composition:

When my sweetheart enters sweetly smiling
She adds more salt to my bleeding wound.

How would it be if the tip of her curls fell into my hand

Like the sleeve of the bountiful into the hands of dervishes?

Some friends bore witness not so much to the gracefulness of these

verses as to the beauty of my conduct which they approved; and among

the rest, the said friend likewise added his share of praise,

regretting the loss of our former companionship and confessing his

fault so that his affection became known. Accordingly I sent the

following distichs and made peace:

Was not there a covenant of friendship between us?

Thou hast been cruel and not loving.

I once tied my heart to thee, disregarding the world.

Not knowing thou wouldst turn back so soon.
If thou yet desirest conciliation, return
Because thou wilt be more beloved than before.
Story 15

The beautiful wife of a man died but her mother, a decrepit old hag,

remained in the house on account of the dowry. The man saw no means of

escaping from contact with her until a company of friends paid him a

visit of condolence and one of them asked him how he bore the loss

of his beloved. He replied: 'It is not as painful not to see my wife

as to see the mother of my wife.'

The rose has been destroyed and the thorn remained.

The treasure has been taken and the serpent left.

It is better that one's eye be fixed on a spear-head

Than that it should behold the face of an enemy.

It is incumbent to sever connection with a thousand friends

Rather than to behold a single foe.
Story 16

I remember having in the days of my youth passed through a street,

intending to see a moon-faced beauty. It was in Temuz, whose heat

dried up the saliva in the mouth and whose simum boiled the marrow

in my bones. My weak human nature being unable to endure the scorching

sun, I took refuge in the shadow of a wall, wishing someone might

relieve me from the summer heat and quench my fire with some water;

and lo, all of a sudden, from the darkness of the porch of a house a

light shone forth, namely a beauty, the grace of which the tongue of

eloquence is unable to describe. She came out like the rising dawn

after an obscure night or the water of immortality gushing from a dark

cavern, carrying in her hand a bowl of snow-water, into which sugar

had been poured and essence of roses mixed. I knew not whether she had

perfumed it with rose-water or whether a few drops from her rosy

face had fallen into it. In short, I took the beverage from her

beautiful hands, drank it and began to live again.

The thirst of my heart cannot be quenched

By sipping limpid water even if I drink oceans of it.

Blessed is the man of happy destiny whose eye
Alights every morning on such a countenance.
One drunk of wine awakens at midnight,

One drunk of the cupbearer on the morn of resurrection.

Story 17

In the year when Muhammad Khovarezm Shah concluded peace with the

king of Khata to suit his own purpose, I entered the cathedral

mosque of Kashgar and saw an extremely handsome, graceful boy as

described in the simile:

Thy master has taught thee to coquet and to ravish hearts,

Instructed thee to oppose, to dally, to blame and to be severe.

A person of such figure, temper, stature and gait

I have not seen; perhaps he learnt these tricks from a fairy.

He was holding in his hand the introduction to Zamaksharni's

Arabic syntax and reciting: Zaid struck Amru and was the injurer of

Amru. I said: 'Boy! Khovarezm and Khata have concluded peace, and

the quarrel between Zaid and Amru still subsists!' He smiled and asked

for my birthplace. I replied: 'The soil of Shiraz.' He continued:

'What rememberest thou of the compositions of Sa'di?' I recited:

'I am tired by a nahvi who makes a furious attack
Upon me, like Zaid in his opposition to Amru.
When Zaid submits he does not raise his head

And how can elevation subsist when submission is the regent?

He considered awhile and then said: 'Most of his poetry current in

this country is in the Persian language. If thou wilt recite some,

it will be more easily understood.' Then I said:
'When thy nature has enticed thee with syntax

It blotted out the form of intellect from our heart.

Alas, the hearts of lovers are captive in thy snare.

We are occupied with thee but thou with Amru and Zaid.'

The next morning, when I was about to depart, some people told him

that I was Sa'di, whereon he came running to me and politely expressed

his regret that I had not revealed my identity before so that he might

have girded his loins to serve me in token of the gratitude due to the

presence of a great man.

In spite of thy presence no voice came to say: I am he.

He also said: 'What would it be if thou wert to spend in this

country some days in repose that we might derive advantage by

serving thee?' I replied: 'I cannot on account of the following

adventure which occurred to me:
I beheld an illustrious man in a mountain region

Who had contentedly retired from the world into a cave.

Why, said I, comest thou not into the city
For once to relax the bonds of thy heart?
He replied: 'Fairy-faced maidens are there.
When clay is plentiful, elephants will stumble.'

This I said. Then we kissed each other's heads and faces and took

leave of each other.
What profits it to kiss a friend's face
And at the same time to take leave of him?

Thou wouldst say that he who parts from friends is an apple.

One half of his face is red and the other yellow.
If I die not of grief on the day of separation
Reckon me not faithful in friendship.
Story 18

A man in patched garments' accompanied us in a caravan to the

Hejaz and one of the Arab amirs presented him with a hundred dinars to

spend upon his family but robbers of the Kufatcha tribe suddenly

fell upon the caravan and robbed it clean of everything. The merchants

began to wail and to cry, uttering vain shouts and lamentations.

Whether thou implorest or complainest
The robber will not return the gold again.

The dervish alone had not lost his equanimity and showed no

change. I asked: 'Perhaps they have not taken thy money?' He

replied: 'Yes, they have but I was not so much accustomed to that

money that separation therefrom could grieve my heart':

The heart must not be tied to any thing or person

Because to take off the heart is a difficult affair.

I replied: 'What thou hast said resembles my case because, when I

was young, my intimacy with a young man and my friendship for him were

such that his beauty was the Qiblah of my eye and the chief joy of

my life union with him':
Perhaps an angel in heaven but no mortal
Can be on earth equal in beauty of form to him.

I swear by the amity, after which companionship is illicit,

No human sperm will ever become a man like him.

All of a sudden the foot of his life sank into the mire of

non-existence. The smoke of separation arose from his family. I kept

him company on his grave for many days and one of my compositions on

his loss is as follows:

Would that on the day when the thorn of fate entered thy foot

The hand of heaven had struck a sword on my head;

So that this day my eye could not see the world without thee.

Here I am on thy grave, would that it were over my head.

He who could take neither rest nor sleep
Before he had first scattered roses and narcissi.

The turns of heaven have strewn the roses of his face.

Thorns and brambles are growing on his tomb.

After separation from him I resolved and firmly determined to fold

up the carpet of pleasure during the rest of my life and to retire

from mixing in society:

Last night I strutted about like a peacock in the garden of union

But today, through separation from my friend, I twist my head like

a snake.

The profit of the sea would be good if there were no fear of waves.

The company of the rose would be sweet if there were no pain from

Story 19

A king of the Arabs, having been informed of the relations

subsisting between Laila and Mejnun, with an account of the latter's

insanity, to the effect that he had in spite of his great

accomplishments and eloquence, chosen to roam about in the desert

and to let go the reins of self-control from his hands; he ordered him

to be brought to his presence, and this having been done, he began

to reprove him and to ask him what defect he had discovered in the

nobility of the human soul that he adopted the habits of beasts and

abandoned the society of mankind. Mejnun replied:
'Many friends have blamed me for loving her.

Will they not see her one day and understand my excuse?'

Would that those who are reproving me
Could see thy face, O ravisher of hearts,
That instead of a lemon in thy presence
They might heedlessly cut their hands.

That the truth may bear witness to the assertion: This is he for

whose sake ye blamed me.

The king expressed a wish to see the beauty of Laila in order to

ascertain the cause of so much distress. Accordingly he ordered her to

be searched for. The encampments of various Arab families having

been visited, she was found, conveyed to the king and led into the

courtyard of the palace. The king looked at her outward form for

some time and she appeared despicable in his sight because the meanest

handmaids of his harem excelled her in beauty and attractions. Mejnun,

who shrewdly understood the thoughts of the king, said: 'It would have

been necessary to look from the window of Mejnun's eye at the beauty

of Laila when the mystery of her aspect would have been revealed to

If the record of the glade which entered my ears

Had been heard by the leaves of the glade they would

have lamented with me.

O company of friends, say to him who is unconcerned

'Would that thou knewest what is in a pining heart

Who are healthy have no pain from wounds.

I shall tell my grief to no one but a sympathizer.

It is useless to speak of bees to one
Who never in his life felt their sting.
As long as thy state is not like mine
My state will be but an idle tale to thee.
Story 20

It is related that the qazi of Hamdan, having conceived affection

towards a farrier-boy and the horseshoe of his heart being on fire, he

sought for some time to meet him, roaming about and seeking for

opportunities, according to the saying of chroniclers:

That straight tall cypress my eyes beheld
It robbed me of my heart and threw me down.

Those wanton eyes have taken my heart with a lasso.

If thou desirest to preserve thy heart shut thy eyes.

I was informed that the boy, who had heard something of the qazi's

passion, happening to meet him in a thoroughfare, manifested immense

wrath, assailed the qazi with disrespectful and insulting words,

snatched up a stone and left no injury untried. The qazi said to an

ullemma of repute who happened to be of the same opinion with him:

'Look at that sweetheart and his getting angry,
And that bitter knot of his sweet eyebrow.'
The Arab says: 'A slap from a lover is a raisin.
A blow from the hand on the mouth
Is sweeter than eating bread with one's own hand.

In the same way the boy's impudence might be indicating kindness

as padshahs utter hard words whilst they secretly wish for peace:

Grapes yet unripe are sour.
Wait two or three days, they will become sweet.

After saying these words he returned to his court of justice,

where some respectable men connected with him kissed the ground of

service and said: 'With thy permission we shall, doing obeisance,

speak some words to thee although they may be contrary to politeness

because illustrious men have said:
It is not permissible to argue on every topic.
To find fault with great men is wrong.

'But as in consequence of favours conferred by thy lordship in

former times upon thy servants it would be a kind of treachery to

withhold the opinion they entertain, they inform thee that the

proper way is not to yield to thy inclinations concerning this boy but

to fold up the carpet of lascivious desires because thy dignity as

qazi is high and must not be polluted by a base crime. The companion

thou hast seen is this, and our words thou hast heard are these:

One who has done many disreputable things
Cares nothing for the reputation of anyone.
Many a good name of fifty years
Was trodden under foot by one bad name."

The qazi approved of the unanimous advice of his friends and

appreciated their good opinion as well as their steadfast fidelity,

saying that the view taken by his beloved friends on the arrangement

of his case was perfectly right and their arguments admitting of no

contradiction. Nevertheless:
Although love ceases in consequence of reproval

I heard that just men sometimes concoct falsehoods.

Blame me as much as thou listest

Because blackness cannot be washed off from a negro.

Nothing can blot out my remembrance of thee.
I am a snake with broken head and cannot turn.

These words he said and sent some persons to make inquiries about

him, spending boundless money because it is said that whoever has gold

in his hand possesses strength of arm and he who has no worldly

goods has no friends in the whole world:
Whoever has seen gold droops his head,

Although he may be hard to bend like iron-backed scales.

In short, one night he obtained privacy but during that night the

police obtained information that the qazi is spending the whole of

it with wine in his hand and a sweetheart on his bosom, enjoying

himself, not sleeping, and singing:

Has this cock perhaps not crowed at the proper time this night

And have the lovers not had their fill of embrace, and kiss

Whilst alas for only a moment the eye of confusion is asleep?

Remain awake that life may not elapse in vain

Till thou hearest the morning call from the Friday-mosque

Or the noise of kettle-drums on Atabek's palace-gate.

Lips against lips like the cock's eye
Are not to part at the crowing of a silly cock.

Whilst the qazi was in this state one of his dependants entered

and said: 'Arise and run as far as thy feet will carry thee because

the envious have not only obtained a handle for vexation but have

spoken the truth. We may, whilst the fire of confusion is yet

burning low, perchance extinguish it with the water of stratagem but

when it blazes up high it may destroy a world.' The qazi, however,

'When the lion has his claws on the game
What boots it if a jackal makes his appearance?
Keep thy face on the face of the friend and leave

The foe to chew the back of his own hand in rage.'

The same night information was also brought to the king that in

his realm such a wickedness had been perpetrated and he was asked what

he thought of it. He replied: 'I know that he is one of the most

learned men, and I account him to be the paragon of our age. As it

is possible that enemies have devised a plot against him, I give no

credit to this accusation unless I obtain ocular evidence because

philosophers have said:
He who grasps the sword in haste

Will repenting carry the back of his hand to his teeth and bite it.'

I heard that at dawn the king with some of his courtiers arrived at

the pillow of the qazi, saw a lamp standing, the sweetheart sitting,

the wine spilled, the goblet broken and the qazi plunged in the

sleep of drunkenness, unaware of the realm of existence. The king

awakened him gently and said: 'Get up for the sun has risen.' The

qazi, who perceived the state of affairs, asked: 'From what

direction?' The sultan was astonished and replied: 'From the east as

usual.' The qazi exclaimed: 'Praise be to Allah! The door of

repentance is yet open because according to tradition the gate Of

repentance will not be locked against worshippers till the sun rises

in its setting place.'
These two things impelled me to sin:
My ill-luck and my imperfect understanding.
If thou givest me punishment I deserve it

And if thou forgivest pardon is better than revenge.

The king replied: 'As thou knowest that thou must suffer capital

punishment, it is of no use to repent. But their faith availed them

not after they had beholden our vengeance.
'What is the use to promise to forego thieving
When a lasso cannot be thrown up to the palace?
Say to the tall man: "Do not pluck the fruit",
For he who is short cannot reach the branch.

'For thee, who hast committed such wickedness, there is no way of

escape.' After the king had uttered these words, the men appointed for

the execution took hold of him, whereon he said: 'I have one word more

to speak in the service of the sultan.' The king, who heard him,

asked: 'What is it?' And he recited:

'Thou who shakest the sleeve of displeasure upon me

Expect not that I shall withdraw my hand from thy skirt.

If escape be impossible from this crime which I committed

I trust to the clemency which thou possessest.'

The king replied: 'Thou hast adduced this wonderful sally and hast

enounced a strange maxim but it is impossible according to reason

and contrary to usage that thy accomplishments and eloquence should

this day save thee from the punishment which I have decreed; and I

consider it proper to throw thee headlong from the castle that

others may take an example.' He continued: 'O lord of the world, I

have been nourished by the bounty of this dynasty, and this crime

was not committed only by me in the world. Throw another man

headlong that I may take the example.' The king burst out laughing,

pardoned his crime and said to his dependents who desired the qazi

to be slain:

'Everyone of you who are bearers of your own faults

Ought not to blame others for their defects.'
Story 21
A virtuous and beauteous youth
Was pledged to a chaste maiden.
I read that in the great sea
They fell into a vortex together.
When a sailor came to take his hand,
Lest he might die in that condition,
He said in anguish from the waves:
'Leave me. Take the hand of my love.'
Whilst saying this, he despaired of life.
In his agony he was heard to exclaim:
'Learn not the tale of love from the wretch
Who forgets his beloved in distress.'
Thus the lives of the lovers terminated.

Learn from what has occurred that thou mayest know

Because Sa'di is of the ways and means of love affairs

Well aware in the Arabian city of Baghdad.

Tie thy heart to the heart-charmer thou possessest

And shut thy eye to all the rest of the world.
If Mejnun and Laila were to come to life again

They might indite a tale of love on this occurrence.

Story 1

I was holding a disputation with a company of learned men in the

cathedral mosque of Damascus when a youth stepped among us, asking

whether anyone knew Persian, whereon most of them pointed to me. I

asked him what the matter was and he said that an old man, aged one

hundred and fifty years, was in the agony of death but saying

something in Persian which nobody could understand and that if I

were kindly to go and see him I might obtain the information whether

he was perhaps desirous of making his last will. When I approached his

pillow, he said:
'A while ago I said I shall take some rest
But alas, the way of my breath is choked.
Alas, that from the variegated banquet of life
We were eating a while and told it is enough.'

I interpreted these words in the Arabic language to the Damascenes

and they were astonished that despite of his long life he regretted

the termination of it so much. I asked him how he felt and he replied:

'What shall I say?'
Hast thou not seen what misery he feels,
The teeth of whose mouth are being extracted?
Consider what his state will be at the hour
When life, so precious to him, abandons his body.

I told him not to worry his imagination with the idea of death and

not to allow a hallucination to obtain dominion over his nature

because Ionian philosophers have said that although the constitution

may be good no reliance is to be placed on its permanence and although

a malady may be perilous it does not imply a full indication of death.

I asked: 'If thou art willing, I shall call a physician to treat

thee?' He lifted his eyes and said, smiling:
'The skilled doctor strikes his hands together
On beholding a rival prostrate like a potsherd.

A gentleman is engaged in adorning his hall with paintings

Whilst the very foundation of the house is ruined.

An aged man was lamenting in his last agony

Whilst his old spouse was rubbing him with sandal.

When the equilibrium of the constitution is destroyed

Neither incantations nor medicines are of any avail.'

Story 2

It is related that an old man, having married a girl, was sitting

with her privately in an apartment adorned with roses, fixing his eyes

and heart upon her. He did not sleep during long nights but spent them

in telling her jokes and witty stories, hoping to gain her affection

and to conquer her shyness. One night, however, he informed her that

luck had been friendly to her and the eye of fortune awake because she

had become the companion of an old man who is ripe, educated,

experienced in the world, of a quiet disposition, who had felt cold

and warm, had tried good and bad, who knows the diities of

companionship, is ready to fulfil the conditions of love, is

benevolent, kind, good-natured and sweet-tongued.
As far as I am able I shall hold thy heart
And if injured I shall not injure in return.
Though sugar may be thy food as of a parrot
I shall sacrifice sweet life to thy support.

Thou hast not fallen into the hands of a giddy youth, fun of

whims, headstrong, fickle minded, running about every moment in search

of another pleasure and entertaining another opinion, sleeping every

night in another place and taking every day another friend.

Young men are joyous and of handsome countenance
But inconstant in fidelity to anyone.
Expect not faithfulness from nightingales
Who sing every moment to another rose.

Contrary to aged men who spend their lives according to wisdom and

propriety; not according to the impulses of folly and youth.

Find one better than thyself and consider it fortunate

Because with one like thyself thou wilt be disappointed.

The old man said: 'I continued in this strain, thinking that I had

captivated her heart and that it had become my prey.' She drew,

however, a deep sigh from her grief-filled heart and said: 'All the

words thou hast uttered, weighed in the scales of my understanding,

are not equivalent to the maxim I once heard enounced in my tribe:

An arrow in the side of a young woman is better than an old man.'

When she perceived in the hands of her husband

Something pendant like the nether lip of a fasting man,

She said: 'This fellow has a corpse with him

But incantations are for sleepers not for corpses.'

A woman who arises without satisfaction from a man

Will raise many a quarrel and contention.
An old man who is unable to rise from his place,

Except by the aid of a stick, how can his own stick rise?

In short, there being no possibility of harmony, a separation at

last took place. When the time of the lady's uddat had terminated, she

was given in marriage to a young man who was violent, ill-humoured and

empty-handed. She suffered much from his bad temper and tyrannical

behaviour, and experienced the miseries of penury. She nevertheless

said: 'Praise be to Allah for having been delivered from that wretched

torment, and attained this permanent blessing.'
Despite of all this violence and hasty nature

I shall try to please thee because thou art beauteous.

To be with thee in hell burning is for me
Better than to be with the other in paradise.

The smell of an onion from the mouth of a pretty face

Is indeed better than a rose from an ugly hand.
A nice face and a gown of gold brocade,

Essence of roses, fragrant aloes, paint, perfume and lust:

All these are ornaments of women.

Take a man; and his testicles are a sufficient ornament.

Story 3

I was in Diarbekr, the guest of an old man, who possessed abundant

wealth and a beautiful son. One night he narrated to me that he had

all his life no other son but this boy, telling me that in the

locality people resorted to a certain tree in a valley to offer

petitions and that he had during many nights prayed at the foot of the

said tree, till the Almighty granted him this son. I overheard the boy

whispering to his companion: 'How good it would be if I knew where

that tree is that I might pray for my father to die.' Moral: The

gentleman is delighted that his son is intelligent and the boy

complains that his father is a dotard.
Years elapse without thy visiting
The tomb of thy father.
What good hast thou done to him
To expect the same from thy son?
Story 4

One day, in the pride of youth, I had travelled hard and arrived

perfectly exhausted in the evening at the foot of an acclivity. A weak

old man, who had likewise been following the caravan, came and asked

me why I was sleeping, this not being the place for it. I replied:

'How am I to travel, having lost the use of my feet?' He said: 'Hast

thou not heard that it is better to walk gently and to halt now and

then than to run and to become exhausted?'
O thou who desirest to reach the station
Take my advice and learn patience.
An Arab horse gallops twice in a race.
A camel ambles gently night and day.
Story 5

The active, graceful, smiling, sweet-tongued youth happened once

to be in the circle of our assembly. His heart had been entered by

no kind of grief and his lips were scarcely ever closed from laughter.

After some time had elapsed, I accidentally met him again and I

learned that he had married a wife and begotten children but I saw

that the root of merriment had been cut and the roses of his

countenance were withered. I asked him how he felt and what his

circumstances were. He replied: 'When I had obtained children I left

off childishness.'
Where is youth when age has changed my ringlets?
And the change of time is a sufficient monitor.
When thou art old abstain from puerility.
Leave play and jokes to youths.
Seek not a youth's hilarity in an old man

For the water gone from the brook returns no more.

When the harvest-time of a field arrives

It will no longer wave in the breeze like a young crop.

The period of youth has departed.
Alas, for those heart-enchanting times.
The force of the lion's claws is gone.
Now we are satisfied with cheese Eke a leopard.
An old hag had dyed her hair black.
I said to her: 'O little mother of ancient days,
Thou hast cunningly dyed thy hair but consider
That thy bent back will never be straight.'
Story 6

In the folly of youth I one day shouted at my mother who then sat

down with a grieved heart in a corner and said, weeping: 'Hast thou

forgotten thy infancy that thou art harsh towards me?'

How sweetly said the old woman to her son

When she saw him overthrow a tiger, and elephant-bodied:

'If thou hadst remembered the time of thy infancy
How helpless thou wast in my arms
Thou would'st this day not have been harsh

For thou art a lion-like man, and I an old woman.'

Story 7

The son of a wealthy but avaricious old man, having fallen sick, his

well-wishers advised him that it would be proper to get the whole

Quran recited or else to offer a sacrifice. He meditated a while and

then said: 'It is preferable to read the Quran because the flock is at

a distance.' A holy man, who had heard this, afterwards remarked:

'He selected the reading of the Quran because it is at the tip of

the tongue but the money at the bottom of the heart.'

It is useful to bend the neck in prayers
If they are to be accompanied by almsgiving.

For one dinar he would remain sticking in mud like an ass,

But if thou askest for Alhamdu he will recite it a hundred times.

Story 8

An old man, having been asked why he did not marry, replied that

he could not be happy with an aged woman, and on being told that as he

was a man of property, he might take a young one, he said: 'I being an

old man and unwilling to associate with an old woman, how could a

young one conceive friendship for me who am aged?'

Let not a man of seventy years make love.
Thou art confessedly blind, kiss her and sleep.
The lady wants strength, not gold.

One passage is preferable to her than ten mann of flesh.

Story 9

I have heard that in these days a decrepit aged man

Took the fancy in his old head to get a spouse.

He married a beauteous little girl, Jewel by name,

When he had concealed his casket of jewels from the eyes of men

A spectacle took place as is customary in weddings.

But in the first onslaught the organ of the sheikh fell asleep.

He spanned the bow but hit not the target; it being

impossible to sew

A tight coarse robe except with a needle of steel.

He complained to his friends and showed proofs

That his furniture had been utterly destroyed by her impudence.

Such fighting and contention arose between man and wife

That the affair came before the qazi; and Sa'di said:

'After all this reproach and villainy the fault is not the girl's.

Thou whose hand trembles, how canst thou bore a Jewel?'

Story 1

A vezier who had a stupid son gave him in charge of a scholar to

instruct him and if possible to make him intelligent. Having been some

time under instruction but ineffectually, the learned man sent one

to his father with the words: 'The boy is not becoming intelligent and

has made a fool of me.'
When a nature is originally receptive
Instruction will take effect thereon.
No kind of polishing will improve iron
Whose essence is originally bad.
Wash a dog in the seven oceans,
He will be only dirtier when he gets wet.
If the ass of Jesus be taken to Mekkah
He will on his return still be an ass.
Story 2

A sage, instructing boys, said to them: 'O darlings of your fathers,

learn a trade because property and riches of the world are not to be

relied upon; also silver and gold are an occasion of danger because

either a thief may steal them at once or the owner spend them

gradually; but a profession is a living fountain and permanent wealth;

and although a professional man may lose riches, it does not matter

because a profession is itself wealth and wherever he goes he will

enjoy respect and sit in high places, whereas he who has no trade will

glean crumbs and see hardships:
It is difficult to obey after losing dignity

And to bear violence from men after being caressed.

Once confusion arose in Damascus.
Everyone left his snug corner.
Learned sons of peasants
Became the veziers of padshahs.
Imbecile sons of the veziers
Went as mendicants to peasants.

If you wanted thy father's inheritance, acquire his knowledge

Because this property of his may be spent in ten days.

Story 3

An illustrious scholar, who was the tutor of a royal prince, had the

habit of striking him unceremoniously and treating him severely. The

boy, who could no longer bear this violence, went to his father to

complain and when he had taken off his coat, the father's heart was

moved with pity. Accordingly he called for the tutor and said: 'Thou

dost not permit thyself to indulge in so much cruelty towards the

children of my subjects as thou inflictest upon my son. What is the

reason?' He replied: 'It is incumbent upon all persons in general to

converse in a sedate manner and to behave in a laudable way but more

especially upon padshahs because whatever they say or do is

commented on by everybody, the utterances or acts of common people

being of no such consequence.

'If a hundred unworthy things are committed by a dervish

His companions do not know one in a hundred.
But if a padshah utters only one jest
It is borne from country to country.

'It is the duty of a royal prince's tutor to train up the sons of

his lord in refinement of morals-and Allah caused her to grow up as

a beautiful plant-more diligently than the sons of common people.'

He whom thou hast not punished when a child
Will not prosper when he becomes a man.

While a stick is green, thou canst bend it as thou listest.

When it is dry, fire alone can make it straight.

The king, being pleased with the appropriate discipline of the tutor

and with his explanatory reply, bestowed upon him a robe of honour

with other gifts and raised him to a higher position.

Story 4

I saw a schoolmaster in the Maghrib country, who was sour-faced,

of uncouth speech, ill-humoured, troublesome to the people, of a

beggarly nature and without self-restraint, so that the very sight

of him disgusted the Musalmans and when reading the Quran he

distressed the hearts of the people. A number of innocent boys and

little maidens suffered from the hand of his tyranny, venturing

neither to laugh nor to speak because he would slap the

silver-cheeks of some and put the crystal legs of others into the

stocks. In short, I heard that when his behaviour had attained some

notoriety, he was expelled from the school and another installed as

corrector, who happened to be a religious, meek, good and wise man. He

spoke only when necessary and found no occasion to deal harshly with

anyone so that the children lost the fear they had entertained for

their first master and, taking advantage of the angelic manners of the

second, they acted like demons towards each other and, trusting in his

gentleness, neglected their studies, spending most of their time in

play, and breaking on the heads of each other the tablets' of their

unfinished tasks.
If the schoolmaster happens to be lenient
The children will play leapfrog in the bazar.

Two weeks afterwards I happened to pass near that same mosque

where I again saw the first master whom the people had made glad by

reconciliation and had reinstalled in his post. I was displeased,

exclaimed 'La haul', and asked why they had again made Iblis the

teacher of angels. An old man, experienced in the world, who had heard

me, smiled and said: 'Hast thou not heard the maxim?

A padshah placed his son in a school,
Putting in his lap a silver tablet
With this inscription in golden letters:

The severity of a teacher is better than the love of a father.'

Story 5

The son of a pious man inherited great wealth left him by some

uncles, whereon he plunged into dissipation and profligacy, became a

spendthrift and, in short, left no heinous transgression unperpetrated

and no intoxicant untasted. I advised him and said: 'My son, income is

a flowing water and expense a turning mill; that is to say, only he

who has a fixed revenue is entitled to indulge in abundant expenses.

'If thou hast no income, spend but frugally
Because the sailors chant this song:
"If there be no rain in the mountains
The bed of the Tigris will be dry in one year."

'Follow wisdom and propriety, abandon play and sport because thy

wealth will be exhausted, whereon thou wilt fall into trouble and will

repent.' The youth was prevented by the delights of the flute and of

drink from accepting my admonition but found fault therewith, saying

that it is contrary to the opinion of intelligent men to embitter

present tranquillity by cares concerning the future:

Why should possessors of enjoyment and luck
Bear sorrow for fear of distress?
Go, be merry, my heart-rejoicing friend.
The pain of tomorrow must not be eaten today.

And how could I restrain myself, who am occupying the highest seat

of liberality, have bound the knot of generosity and the fame of whose

beneficence has become the topic of general conversation?

Who has become known for his liberality and generosity

Must not put a lock upon his dirhems.

When the name of a good fellow has spread in a locality

The door cannot be dosed against it.

When I perceived that he did not accept my advice and that my warm

breath was not taking effect upon his cold iron, I left off

admonishing him and turned away my face from his companionship, acting

according to the words of philosophers, who said: Impart to them

what thou hast and if they receive it not, it is not thy fault.

Although thou knowest thou wilt not be heard, say
Whatever thou knowest of good wishes and advice.

It may soon happen that thou wilt behold a silly fellow

With both his feet fallen into captivity,
Striking his hands together, and saying: 'Alas,
I have not listened to the advice of a scholar.'

After some time I saw the consequences of his dissolute

behaviour-which I apprehended-realized. When I beheld him sewing patch

upon patch and gathering crumb after crumb, my heart was moved with

pity for his destitute condition, in which I did not consider it

humane to scratch his internal wounds with reproaches or to sprinkle

salt upon them. Accordingly, I said to myself:
A foolish fellow in the height of intoxication
Cares not for the coming day of distress.
The tree which sheds its foliage in spring

Will certainly have no leaves remaining in winter.

Story 6

A padshah entrusted a tutor with the care of his son, saying:

'This is thy son. Educate him as if he were one of thy own

children.' He kept the prince for some years and strove to instruct

him but could effect nothing, whilst the sons of the tutor made the

greatest progress in accomplishments and eloquence. The king

reproved and threatened the learned man with punishment, telling him

that he had acted contrary to his promise and had been unfaithful.

He replied: 'O king, the instruction is the same but the natures are

Although both silver and gold come from stones
All stones do not contain silver and gold.
Canopus is shining upon the whole world

But produces in some places sack-leather and in others adim.

Story 7

I heard a pir-instructor say to his murid: 'The mind of man is so

much occupied with thoughts about maintenance that he would surpass

the position of angels if he were to devote as many of them to the

giver of maintenance.'
Yazed has not forgotten thee at the time
When thou wast sperm, buried, insensible.

He gave thee a soul, nature, intellect and perception,

Beauty, speech, opinion, meditation and acuteness.

He arranged five fingers on thy fist.
He fixed two arms to thy shoulders.

O thou whose aspirations are base, thinkest he will now

Forget to provide thee with a maintenance?
Story 8

I saw an Arab of the desert who said to his boy: 'O son, on the

day of resurrection thou wilt be asked what thou hast gained and not

from whom thou art descended, that is to say, thou wilt be asked

what thy merit is and not who thy father was.'
The covering of the Ka'bah which is kissed
Has not been ennobled by the silkworm.
It was some days in company with a venerable man
Wherefore it became respected like himself.
Story 9

It is narrated in the compositions of philosophers that scorpions

are not born in the same manner like other living beings but that they

devour the bowels of their mother and, after gnawing through the

belly, betake themselves to the desert. The skins which may be seen in

the nests of scorpions are the evidence of this. I narrated this story

to an illustrious man who then told me that his own heart bore witness

to the truth of it for the case could not be otherwise inasmuch as

they, having in their infancy dealt thus with their fathers and

mothers, they were beloved and respected in the same manner when

they grow old.
A father thus admonished his son:
O noble fellow, remember this advice.
'Whoever is not faithful to his origin
Will not become the companion of happiness.'

A scorpion, having been asked why he did not go out in winter,

replied: 'What honour do I enjoy in summer that I should come out also

in winter?'
Story 10

The wife of a dervish had become enceinte and when the time of her

confinement was at hand, the dervish who had no child during all his

life said: 'If God the most high and glorious presents me with a

son, I shall bestow everything I possess as alms upon dervishes,

except this patched garment of mine which I am wearing.' It happened

that the infant was a son. He rejoiced and gave a banquet to the

dervishes, as he had promised. Some years afterwards when I returned

from a journey to Syria, I passed near the locality of the dervish and

asked about his circumstances but was told that he had been put in

prison by the police. Asking for the cause, I was told that his son,

having become drunk, quarrelled and having shed the blood of a man,

had fled; whereon his father was instead of him loaded with a chain on

his neck and heavy fetters on his legs. I replied: 'He had himself

asked God the most high and glorious for this calamity.'

If pregnant women, O man of intellect,
Bring forth serpents at the time of birth,
It is better in the opinion of the wise
Than to give birth to a wicked progeny.
Story 11

When I was a child I asked an illustrious man about puberty. He

replied: 'It is recorded in books that it has three signs. First,

the age of fifteen years; secondly nocturnal pollutions; and

thirdly, sprouting of hair on the pudenda; but in reality there is

only one sign which is sufficient that thou shouldst seek the

approbation of the most high and glorious rather than to be in the

bondage of sensual pleasures; and whoever does not entertain this

disposition is by erudite men considered not to have attained

The form of man was attained by a drop of water
Which remained forty days in the womb.

If in forty years it has not attained sense and propriety

It can in reality not be called a man.
Virility consists in liberality and amiableness.
Think not that it is only in the material figure.

Virtue is necessary because the form may be painted

In halls with vermilion or verdigris.
If a man possesses not excellence and goodness

What is the difference between him and a picture on the wall?

It is no virtue to gain the whole world.
Gain the heart of one person if thou canst.
Story 12

One year discord had arisen in a caravan among the walking portion

and I also travelled on foot. To obtain justice we attacked each

other's heads and faces, giving full vent to pugnacity and contention.

I saw a man sitting in a camel litter and saying to his companion:

'How wonderful! A pawn of ivory travels across the chess-board and

becomes a farzin, and the footmen of the Haj travelled across the

whole desert only to become worse.'
Tell on my part to the man-biting Haji
Who tears the skins of people with torments:
Thou art not a Haji but a camel is one

Because, poor brute, it feeds on thorns and bears loads.

Story 13

An Indian who was learning how to throw naphtha was thus reproved by

a sage: 'This is not a play for thee whose house is made of reeds.'

Speak not unless thou knowest it is perfectly proper

And ask not what thou knowest will not elicit a good reply.

Story 14

A little man with a pain in his eyes went to a farrier to be treated

by him. The farrier applied to his eyes what he used to put in those

of quadrupeds so that the man became blind and lodged a complaint with

the judge who, however, refrained from punishing the farrier,

saying: 'Had this man not been an ass, he would not have gone to a

farrier.' The moral of this story is to let thee know that whoever

entrusts an inexperienced man with an important business and

afterwards repents is by intelligent persons held to suffer from

levity of intellect.
A shrewd and enlightened man will not give

Affairs of importance to a base fellow to transact.

A mat-maker although employed in weaving
Is not set to work in a silk-factory.
Story 15

An illustrious man had a worthy son who died. Being asked what he

desired to be written upon the sarcophagus of the tomb, he replied:

'The verses of the glorious book' are deserving of more honour than to

be written on such a spot, where they would be injured by the lapse of

time, would be walked upon by persons passing by and urinated upon

by dogs. If anything is necessarily to be written, let what follows

Wah! How-every time the plants in the garden
Sprouted-glad became my heart.
Pass by, O friend, that in the spring
Thou mayest see plants sprouting from my loam.'
Story 16

A pious man happened to pass near a rich fellow who had a slave

and was just chastising him after having tied his feet and hands. He

said: 'My son, God the most high and glorious has given a creature

like thyself into thy power and has bestowed upon thee superiority

over him. Give thanks to the Almighty and do not indulge in so much

violence towards the man because it is not meet that in the morn of

resurrection he should be better than thyself and put thee to shame.'

Be not much incensed against a slave.
Oppress him not, grieve not his heart.
Thou hast purchased him for ten dirhems
And hast not after all created him by thy power.

How long is this command, pride and power to last?

There is a Master more exalted than thou.
O thou owner of Arslan and of Aghosh,
Do not forget him who is thy commander.

There is a tradition that the prince of the world, upon whom be

the benediction of Allah and peace, has said: 'It will occasion the

greatest sorrow on the day of resurrection when a pious worshipper

is conveyed to paradise and a lord of profligacy to hell.'

Upon the slave subject to thy service
Vent not boundless anger but treat him gently

Because on the day of reckoning it will be a shame

To see the slave free and his owner in chains.
Story 17

One year I travelled from Balkh with Damascenes and the road being

full of danger on account of robbers, a young man accompanied us as an

escort. He was expert with the shield and the bow, handled every

weapon and so strong that ten men were not able to span his

bow-string. Moreover the athletes of the face of the earth could not

bend his back down to the ground. He was, however, rich, brought up in

the shade, without experience in the world, the drum-sounds of

warriors never having reached his ears nor the lightning of the swords

of horsemen dazzled his eyes.

He had not fallen prisoner into the hands of a foe.

No shower of arrows had rained around him.

I happened to be running together with this youth, who threw down by

the force of his arm every wall that came in his way, and pulled up by

the strength of his fist every big tree he saw, exclaiming,


Where is the elephant that he may see the shoulders of the heroes?

Where is the lion that he may see the fists of men?

On that occasion two Indians showed their heads from behind a

rock, desirous to attack us. One of them had a club in his hand whilst

the other showed a sling under his arm. I asked our youth what he

was waiting for.
Show what thou hast of bravery and strength

For here is the foe, coming on his own feet to the grave.

I saw the arrow and bow falling from the hands of the young man

and his bones trembling:

Not everyone who splits a hair with a cuirass-piercing arrow

Can, on the day of attack by warriors, extricate his feet.

We saw no other remedy but to abandon our baggage, arms and clothes,

whereby we saved our lives.
Employ an experienced man in important affairs

Who is able to ensnare a fierce lion with his lasso.

A youth, though he may have a strong arm and elephant-body,

His joints will snap asunder for fear in contact with a foe.

The issue of a battle is known by a tried man before the contest

Like the solution of a legal question to a learned man.

Story 18

I noticed the son of a rich man, sitting on the grave of his

father and quarreling with a dervish-boy, saying: 'The sarcophagus

of my father's tomb is of stone and its epitaph is elegant. The

pavement is of marble, tesselated with turquois-like bricks. But

what resembles thy father's grave? It consists of two contiguous

bricks with two handfuls of mud thrown over it.' The dervish-boy

listened to all this and then observed: 'By the time thy father is

able to shake off those heavy stones which cover him, mine will have

reached paradise.'
An ass with a light burden
No doubt walks easily.
A dervish who carries only the load of poverty

Will also arrive lightly burdened at the gate of death

Whilst he who lived in happiness, wealth and ease
Will undoubtedly on all these accounts die hard.

At all events, a prisoner who escapes from all his bonds

Is to be considered more happy than an amir taken prisoner.

Story 19

I asked an illustrious man for the reason of the tradition:

Account as an enemy the passion which is between thy two loins. He

replied: 'The reason is because whatever enemy thou propitiatest

becomes thy friend, whereas the more thou indulgest in a passion,

the more it will oppose thee.'
Man attains angelic nature by eating sparingly

But if he be voracious like beasts he falls like a stone.

He whose wishes thou fulfillest will obey thy command

Contrary to passion, which will command, when obeyed.

Story 20

Contention of Sa'di with a Disputant concerning Wealth and Poverty

I saw a man in the form but not with the character of a dervish,

sitting in an assembly, who had begun a quarrel; and, having opened

the record of complaints, reviled wealthy men, alleging at last that

the hand of power of dervishes to do good was tied and that the foot

of the intention of wealthy men to do good was broken.

The liberal have no money.
The wealthy have no liberality.

I, who had been cherished by the wealth of great men, considered

these words offensive and said: 'My good friend, the rich are the

income of the destitute and the hoarded store of recluses, the objects

of pilgrims, the refuge of travellers, the bearers of heavy loads

for the relief of others. They give repasts and partake of them to

feed their dependants and servants, the surplus of their

liberalities being extended to widows, aged persons, relatives and


The rich must spend for pious uses, vows and hospitality,

Tithes, offerings, manumissions, gifts and sacrifices.

How canst thou attain their power of doing good who art able

To perform only the prayer-flections and these with a hundred


If there be efficacy in the power to be liberal and in the ability

of performing religious duties, the rich can attain it better

because they possess money to give alms, their garments are pure,

their reputation is guarded, their hearts are at leisure. Inasmuch

as the power of obedience depends upon nice morsels and correct

worship upon elegant clothes, it is evident that hungry bowels have

but little strength, an empty hand can afford no liberality,

shackled feet cannot walk, and no good can come from a hungry belly.

He sleeps troubled in the night
Who has no support for the morrow.
The ant collects in summer a subsistence
For spending the winter in ease.

Freedom from care and destitution are not joined together and

comfort in poverty is an impossibility. A man who is rich is engaged

in his evening devotions whilst another who is poor is looking for his

evening meal. How can they resemble each other?
He who possesses means is engaged in worship.

Whose means are scattered, his heart is distracted.

The worship of those who are comfortable is more likely to meet with

acceptance, their minds being more attentive and not distracted or

scattered. Having a secure income, they may attend to devotion. The

Arab says: 'I take refuge with Allah against base poverty and

neighbours whom I do not love. There is also a tradition: Poverty is

blackness of face in both worlds.'

He retorted by asking me whether I had heard the Prophet's saying:

Poverty is my glory. I replied: 'Hush! The prince of the world alluded

to the poverty of warriors in the battlefield of acquiescence and of

submission to the arrow of destiny; not to those who don the patched

garb of righteousness but sell the doles of food given them as alms.'

O drum of high sound and nothing within,

What wilt thou do without means when the struggle comes?

Turn away the face of greed from people if thou art a man.

Trust not the rosary of one thousand beads in thy hand.

A dervish without divine knowledge rests not until his poverty,

culminates in unbelief; for poverty is almost infidelity, because a

nude person cannot be clothed without money nor a prisoner

liberated. How can the like of us attain their high position and how

does the bestowing resemble the receiving hand? Knowest thou not

that God the most high and glorious mentions in his revealed word

the Pleasures of paradise-They shall have a certain provision in

paradise-to inform thee that those who are occupied with cares for a

subsistence are excluded from the felicity of piety and that the realm

of leisure is under the ring of the certain provision.

The thirsty look in their sleep
On the whole world as a spring of water.

Wherever thou beholdest one who has experienced destitution and

tasted bitterness, throwing himself wickedly into fearful adventures

and not avoiding their consequences, he fears not the punishment of

Yazed and does not discriminate between what is licit or illicit.

The dog whose head is touched by a clod of earth
Leaps for joy, imagining it to be a bone.

And when two men take a corpse on their shoulders,

A greedy fellow supposes it to be a table with food.

But the possessor of wealth is regarded with a favourable eye by the

Almighty for the lawful acts he has done and preserved from the

unlawful acts he might commit. Although I have not fully explained

this matter nor adduced arguments, I rely on thy sense of justice to

tell me whether thou hast ever seen a mendicant with his hands tied up

to his shoulders or a poor fellow sitting in prison or a veil of

innocence rent or a guilty hand amputated, except in consequence of

poverty? Lion-hearted men were on account of their necessities

captured in mines which they had dug to rob houses and their heels

were perforated. It is also possible that a dervish, impelled by the

cravings of his lust and unable to restrain it, may commit sin because

the stomach and the sexual organs are twins, that is to say, they

are the two children of one belly and as long as one of these is

contented, the other will likewise be satisfied. I heard that a

dervish had been seen committing a wicked act with a youth, and

although he had been put to shame, he was also in danger of being

stoned. He said: 'O Musalmans, I have no power to marry a wife and

no patience to restrain myself. What am I to do? There is no

monasticism in Islam." Among the number of causes producing internal

tranquility and comfort in wealthy people, the fact may be reckoned

that they take every night a sweetheart in their arms and may every

day contemplate a youth whose brightness excels that of the shining

morn and causes the feet of walking cypresses to conceal themselves


Plunging the fist into the blood of beloved persons,

Dying the finger-tips with the colour of the jujube-fruit.

It is impossible that with his beauteous stature he should prowl

around prohibited things or entertain intentions of ruin to himself.

How could he who took as booty a Huri of paradise
Take any notice of the benes of Yaghma?
Who has before him fresh dates which he loves

Has no need to throw stones on clusters upon trees.

Mostly empty handed persons pollute the skirt of modesty by

transgression, and those who are hungry steal bread.

When a ferocious dog has found meat

He asks not whether it is of the camel of Saleh or the ass of


What a number of modest women have on account of poverty fallen into

complete profligacy, throwing away their precious reputation to the

wind of dishonour!
With hunger the power of abstinence cannot abide.

Poverty snatches the reins from the hands of piety.

Whilst I was uttering these words, the dervish lost the bridle of

patience from his hands, drew forth the sword of his tongue, caused

the steed of eloquence to caper in the plain of reproach and said:

'Thou hast been so profuse in this panegyric of wealthy men and hast

talked so much nonsense that they might be supposed to be the antidote

to poverty or the key to the storehouse of provisions; whereas they

are a handful of proud, arrogant, conceited and abominable fellows

intent upon accumulating property and money and so thirsting for

dignity and abundance, that they do not speak to poor people except

with insolence, and look upon them with contempt. They consider

scholars to be mendicants and insult poor men on account of the wealth

which they themselves possess and the glory of dignity which they

imagine is inherent in them. They sit in the highest places and

believe they are better than anyone else. They never show kindness

to anybody and are ignorant of the maxim of sages that he who is

inferior to others in piety but superior in riches is outwardly

powerful but in reality a destitute man.

If a wretch on account of his wealth is proud to a sage

Consider him to be the podex of an ass, though he may be a perfumed


I said: 'Do not think it allowable to insult them for they are

possessors of generosity.' He rejoined: 'Thou art mistaken. They are

slaves of money. Of what use is it that they are like bulky clouds and

rain not, like the fountain of light, the sun, and shine upon no

one? They are mounted on the steed of ability but do not use it;

they would not stir a step for God's sake nor spend one dirhem without

imposing obligation and insult. They accumulate property with

difficulty, guard it with meanness and abandon it with reluctance,

according to the saying of illustrious men that the silver of an

avaricious man will come up from the ground when he goes into the

One man gathers wealth with trouble and labour

And if another comes, he takes it without either.'

I retorted: 'Thou hast not become aware of the parsimony of

wealthy men except by reason of mendicancy or else, to him who has

laid aside covetousness, a liberal and an avaricious man would

appear to be the same. The touchstone knows what gold is and the

beggar knows him who is stingy.' He rejoined: 'I am speaking from

experience when I say that they station rude and insolent men at their

gates to keep off worthy persons, to place violent hands upon men of

piety and discretion, saying: "Nobody is here", and verily they have

spoken the truth.'

Of him who has no sense, intention, plan or opinion,

The gatekeeper has beautifully said: 'No one is in the house.'

I said this is excusable because they are teased out of their

lives by people expecting favours and driven to lamentation by

petitions of mendicants; it being according to common sense an

impossibility to satisfy beggars even if the sand of the desert were

to be transmuted into pearls.
The eye of greediness, the wealthy of the world
Can no more fill than dew can replenish a well.

Hatim Tai dwelt in the desert; had he been in a town he would have

been helpless against the assaults of beggars and they would have torn

to pieces his upper garments as it is recorded in the Tayibat:

Look not at me that others may not conceive hopes

Because there is no reward to be got from beggars.

He said: 'No. I take pity on their state.' I replied: 'No. Thou

enviest them their wealth.' We were thus contending with each other,

every pawn he put forward I endeavoured to repel, and every time he

announced check to my king, I covered him with my queen until he had

gambled away all his ready cash and had shot off all the arrows of his

quiver in arguing.

Have a care; do not throw away the shield when attacked by an orator

Who has nothing except borrowed eloquence to show,

Practise thou religion and marifet because a Suja-speaking orator

Displays weapons at the gate but no one is in the fort.

At last no arguments remained to him and, having been defeated, he

commenced to speak nonsense as is the custom of ignorant men who, when

they can no more address proofs against their opponent, shake the

chain of enmity like the idol-carver Azer who being unable to overcome

his son in argument began to quarrel with him saying if thou

forbearest not I will surely stone thee. The man insulted me. I

spoke harshly to him. He tore my collar and I caught hold of his

He falling upon me and I on him,
Crowds running after us and laughing,
The finger of astonishment of a world
On the teeth; from what was said and heard by us.

In short we carried our dispute to the qazi and agreed to abide by a

just decision of the judge of Musalmans, who would investigate the

affair and tell the difference between the rich and the poor. When the

qazi had seen our state and heard our logic, he plunged his head

into his collar and after meditating for a while spoke as follows:

'O thou, who hast lauded the wealthy and hast indulged in violent

language towards dervishes, thou art to know that wherever a rose

exists, there also thorns occur; that wine is followed by

intoxication, that a treasure is guarded by a serpent, and that

wherever royal pearls are found, men-devouring sharks must also be.

The sting of death is the sequel of the delights of life and a cunning

demon bars the enjoyment of paradise.

'What will the violence of a foe do if it cannot touch the seeker of

the Friend?

Treasure, serpent; rose, thorn; grief and pleasure are all linked


'Perceivest thou not that in a garden there are musk-willows as well

as withered sticks? And likewise in the crowd of the rich there are

grateful and impious men, as also in the circle of dervishes some

are forbearing and some are impatient.
'If every drop of dew were to become a pearl
The bazar would be full of them as of ass-shells.

'Those near to the presence of the most high and glorious are rich

men with the disposition of dervishes and dervishes with the

inclination of the rich. The greatest of rich men is he who

sympathizes with dervishes and the best of dervishes is he who looks

but little towards rich men. Who trusts in Allah, he will be his

sufficient support.'

After this the qazi turned the face of reproof from me to the

dervish and said: 'O thou who hast alleged that the wealthy are

engaged in wickedness and intoxicated with pleasure, some certainly

are of the kind thou hast described; of defective aspirations, and

ungrateful for benefits received. Sometimes they accumulate and put

by, eat and give not; if for instance the rain were to fail or a

deluge were to distress the world, they, trusting in their own

power, would not care for the misery of dervishes, would not fear

God and would say:
If another perishes for want of food
I have some; what cares a duck for the deluge?
The women riding on camels in their howdahs
Take no notice of him who sinks in the sana.
The base when they have saved their own blankets
Say: What boots it if all mankind perishes?

'There are people of the kind thou hast heard of, and other

persons who keep the table of beneficence spread out, the hand of

liberality open, seeking a good name and pardon from God. They are the

possessors of this world and of the next, like the slaves of His

Majesty Padshah of the world who is aided by devine grace,

conqueror, possessor of authority among nations, defender of the

frontiers of Islam, heir of the realm of Solomon, the most righteous

of the kings of the period, Muzaffar-ud-dunia wa uddin Atabek Abu Bekr

Ben Sa'd Ben Zanki, may Allah prolong his days and aid his banners.

'A father never shows the kindness to his son

Which the hand of thy liberality has bestowed on mankind.

God desired to vouchsafe a blessing to the world
And in his mercy made thee padshah of the world.'

When the qazi had thus far protracted his remarks and had caused the

horse of his eloquence to roam beyond the limits of our expectation,

we submitted to his judicial decision, condoned to each other what had

passed between us, took the path of reconciliation, placed our heads

on each other's feet by way of apology, kissed each other's head and

face, terminating the discussion with the following two distichs:

Complain not of the turning of the spheres, O dervish,

Because thou wilt be luckless if thou diest in this frame of mind.

O wealthy man, since thy heart and hand are successful

Eat and be liberal for thou hast conquered this world and the next.

Maxim 1

Property is for the comfort of life, not for the accumulation of

wealth. A sage, having been asked who is lucky and who is not,

replied: 'He is lucky who has eaten and sowed but he is unlucky who

has died and not enjoyed.'
Pray not for the nobody who has done nothing,
Who spent his life in accumulating property but
has not enjoyed it.

Moses, upon whom be peace, thus advised Quran: 'Do thou good as

Allah has done unto thee.' But he would not listen and thou hast heard

of his end:

Who has not accumulated good with dirhems and dinars

Has staked his end upon his dirhems and dinars.
If thou desirest to profit by riches of the world

Be liberal to mankind as God has been liberal to thee.

The Arab says: Be liberal without imposing obligations and verily

the profit will return to thee.
Wherever the tree of beneficence has taken root
Its tallness and branches pass beyond the sky.
If thou art desirous to eat the fruit thereof

Do not put a saw to its foot by imposing obligations.

Thank God that thou hast been divinely aided
And not excluded from his gifts and bounty.

Think not thou conferrest an obligation on the sultan by serving him

But be obliged to him for having kept thee in his service.

Maxim 2

Two men took useless trouble and strove without any profit, when one

of them accumulated property without enjoying it, and the other learnt

without practising what he had learnt.
However much science thou mayest acquire

Thou art ignorant when there is no practice in thee.

Neither deeply learned nor a scholar will be
A quadruped loaded with some books.

What information or knowledge does the silly beast posses

Whether it is carrying a load of wood or of books?

Maxim 3

Knowledge is for the cherishing of religion, not for amassing

Who sold abstinence, knowledge and piety
Filled a granary but burnt it clean away.
Maxim 4

A learned man who is not abstinent resembles a torchbearer who

guides others but does not guide himself.
Who has spent a profitless life
Bought nothing and threw away his gold.
Maxim 5

The country is adorned by intelligent and the religion by virtuous

men. Padshahs stand more in need of the advice of intelligent men than

intelligent men of the proximity of padshahs.
If thou wilt listen to advice, padshah,
There is none better in all books than this:
'Entrust a business to an intelligent man
Although it may not be his occupation.'
Maxim 6

Three things cannot subsist without three things: property without

trade, science without controversy and a country without punishment.

Speak sometimes in a friendly, conciliatory, manly way

Perhaps thou wilt ensnare a heart with the lasso.

Sometimes speak in anger; for a hundred jars of sugar

Will on occasion not have the effect of one dose of colocynth.

Maxim 7

To have mercy upon the bad is to injure the good; to pardon

tyrants is to do violence to dervishes.

If thou associatest and art friendly with a wretch

He will commit sin with thy wealth and make thee his partner.

Admonition 1

The amity of princes and the sweet voice of children are not to be

trusted, because the former is changed by fancy and the latter in

the course of one night.

Give not thy heart to a sweetheart of a thousand lovers,

And if thou givest it, thou givest that heart for separation.

Admonition 2

Confide not to a friend every secret thou possessest. How knowest

thou that he will not some time become thy foe? Inflict not every

injury thou canst upon an enemy because it is possible that one day he

may become thy friend.
Admonition 3

Reveal not thy secret to any man although he may be trustworthy,

because no one can keep thy secret better than thyself.

Silence is preferable than to tell thy mind
To anyone; saying what is to remain unsaid.
O simpleton, stop the source of the spring.

When it becomes full, the brook cannot be stopped.

Maxim 8

A weak foe, who professes submission and shows friendship, has no

other object than to become a strong enemy. It has been said that as

the friendship of friends is unreliable, what trust can be put in

the flattery of enemies?
Admonition 4

Who despises an insignificant enemy resembles him who is careless

about fire.
Extinguish it today, while it may be quenched,
Because when fire is high, it burns the world.
Allow not the bow to be spanned
By a foe because an arrow may pierce.
Admonition 5

Speak so between two enemies that thou mayest not be put to shame if

they become friends.
Between two men contention is like fire,

The ill-starred back-biter being the wood-carrier.

When both of them become friends again
He will among them be unhappy and ashamed.
To kindle fire between two men
Is not wise but is to burn oneself therein.
Converse in whispers with thy friends
Lest thy sanguinary foe may hear thee.
Take care of what thou sayest in front of a wall
Because an ear may be behind the wall.
Admonition 6

Whoever makes peace with the enemies of his friends greatly

injures his friends.
Wash thy hands, O wise man, from a friend
Who is sitting together with thy foes.
Admonition 7

When thou art uncertain in transacting an affair, select that

portion of it which will entail no danger to thee.

Speak not harshly to a man of gentle speech.

Seek not to fight with him who knocks at the door of peace.

Admonition 8

As long as an affair can be arranged with gold, it is not proper

to endanger life.
When the hand is foiled in every stratagem
It is licit to put the hand to the sword.
Admonition 9

Do not pity the weakness of a foe because when he gains strength

he will not spare thee.

Boast not of thy moustaches when thou seest thy foe is weak.

There is marrow in every bone, a man in every coat.

Maxim 9

Whoever slays a bad fellow saves mankind from a calamity and him

from the wrath of God.
Condonation is laudable but nevertheless

Apply no salve to the wound of an oppressor of the people.

He who had mercy upon a serpent

Knew not that it was an injury to the sons of Adam.

Maxim 10

It is a mistake to accept advice from an enemy but permissible to

hear it; and to act contrary to it is perfectly correct.

Be cautious of what a foe tells thee to do
Lest thou strike thy knee with the hand of pain.
If he points thy way to the right like an arrow
Deflect therefrom and take that to the left hand.
Admonition 10

Wrath beyond measure produces estrangement and untimely kindness

destroys authority. Be neither so harsh as to disgust the people

with thee nor so mild as to embolden them.
Severity and mildness together are best

Like a bleeder who is a surgeon and also applies a salve.

A wise man uses neither severity to excess
Nor mildness; for it lessens his authority.
He neither exalts himself too much
Nor exposes himself at once to contempt.
A youth said to his father: 'O wise man,

Give me for instruction one advice like an aged person.'

He said: 'Be kind but not to such a degree
That a sharp-toothed wolf may become audacious.'
Maxim 11
May that prince never govern a kingdom
Who is not an obedient slave to God.
Admonition 11

It is incumbent upon a padshah to give way to anger towards his

slaves only so far as to retain the confidence of his friends. The

fire of anger first burns him who has given cause for it and

afterwards the flame may or may not reach the foe.

It is not proper for sons of Adam born of earth

To inflate their heads with pride, violence and wind.

Thou who displayest so much heat and obstinacy
Must be, I think, not of earth but of fire.
I visited a hermit in the country of Bilqan

And requested him to purge me of ignorance by instruction.

He replied: 'Be patient like earth, O lawyer,
Or else, bury under the earth all thy learning.'
Maxim 12

An ill-humoured man is captive in the hands of a foe, from the grasp

of whose punishment he cannot be delivered wherever he may go.

If from the hand of calamity an ill-natured man escapes into the sky

The evil disposition of his own nature retains him in calamity.

Admonition 12

When thou perceivest that discord is in the army of the foe, be thou

at ease; but if they are united, be apprehensive of thy own distress.

Go and sit in repose with thy friends
When thou seest war among the enemies;
But if thou perceivest that they all agree
Span thy bow and carry stones upon the rampart.
Maxim 13

When all the artifices of an enemy have failed he shakes the chain

of friendship, and thereon performs acts of friendship which no

enemy is able to do.
Admonition 13

Strike the head of a serpent with the hand of a foe because one of

two advantages will result. If the enemy succeeds thou hast killed the

snake and if the latter, thou hast been delivered from a foe.


If thou art aware of news which will grieve a heart, remain silent

that others may convey it.
Nightingale, bring tidings of spring.
Leave bad news to the owl.

Give not information to a padshah of the treachery of anyone, unless

thou art sure he will accept it; else thou wilt only be preparing

thy own destruction.
Prepare to speak only when
Thy words are likely to have effect.
Speech is a perfection in the soul of man
But do not ruin thyself by speaking.
Maxim 14

Whoever gives advice to a self-willed man stands himself in need

of advice.
Admonition 14

Swallow not the deception of a foe. Purchase not conceit from a

panegyrist. The one has laid out a snare for provisions and the

other has opened the jaws of covetousness.
Maxim 15

A fool is pleased by flattery like the inflated heel of a corpse

that has the appearance of fatness.

Take care not to listen to the voice of a flatterer

Who expects cheaply to derive profit from thee.
If one day thou failest to satisfy his wishes
He enumerates two hundred faults of thine.
Maxim 16

Unless an orator's defects are mentioned by someone, his good points

will not be praised.
Be not proud of the beauty of thy speech,

Of the approbation of an ignoramus and of thy own opinion.

Maxim 17

Everyone thinks himself perfect in intellect and his child in

A Jew was debating with a Musalman
Till I shook with laughter at their dispute.
The Moslem said in anger: 'If this deed of mine
Is not correct, may God cause me to die a Jew.'
The Jew said: 'I swear by the Pentateuch

That if my oath is false, I shall die a Moslem like thee.'

Should from the surface of the earth wisdom disappear

Still no one will acknowledge his own ignorance.
Maxim 18

Ten men eat at a table but two dogs will contend for one piece of

carrion. A greedy person will stir be hungry with the whole world,

whilst a contented man will be satisfied with one bread. Wise men have

said that poverty with content is better than wealth and not

Narrow intestines may be filled with dry bread

But the wealth of the surface of the world will not fill a greedy


When the term of my father's life had come to an end

He gave me this one advice and passed away:
Lust is fire, abstain therefrom,
Make not the fire of hell sharp for thee.

In that fire the burning thou wilt not be able to bear,

Quench this fire with water today.
Admonition 15

Whoever does no good in the time of ability will see distress in the

time of inability.
No one is more unlucky than an oppressor of men

Because in the day of calamity no one is his friend.

Maxim 19

Life is in the keeping of a single breath and the world is an

existence between two annihilations. Those who sell the religion for

the world 'are asses', they sell Joseph but what do 'they buy'? Did

I not command you, O sons of Adam, that ye should not worship Satan?

On the word of a foe thou hast broken faith with a friend.

See from whom thou hast cut thyself off and to whom united.

Maxim 20

Satan cannot conquer the righteous and the sultan the poor.

Lend nothing to a prayerless man
Although his mouth may gasp from penury;
Because he who neglects the commands of God

Will also not care for what he may be indebted to thee.

Maxim 21
Whatever takes place quickly is not permanent.
I have heard that eastern loam is made
In forty days into a porcelain cup.
A hundred are daily made in Baghdad.
Hence thou seest also their price is vile.
A little fowl issues from the egg and seeks food

Whilst man's progeny has no knowledge, sense or discernment.

Nevertheless the former attains nothing when grown up

Whilst the latter surpasses all beings in dignity and excellence.

Glass is everywhere, and therefore of no account,

But a ruby difficult to get, and therefore precious.

Maxim 22

Affairs succeed by patience and a hasty man fails.

I saw with my eyes in the desert
That a slow man overtook a fast one.
A galloping horse, fleet like the wind, fell back

Whilst the camel-man continued slowly his progress.

Maxim 23

Nothing is better for an ignorant man than silence, and if he were

to consider it to be suitable, he would not be ignorant.

If thou possessest not the perfection of excellence

It is best to keep thy tongue within thy mouth.
Disgrace is brought on a man by his tongue.
A walnut, having no kernel, will be light.
A fool was trying to teach a donkey,
Spending all his time and efforts in the task.

A sage observed: 'O ignorant man, what sayest thou?

Fear blame from the censorious in this vain attempt.

A brute cannot learn speech from thee.
Learn thou silence from a brute.'
Who does not reflect what he is to answer
Will mostly speak improperly.
Come. Either arrange thy words like a wise man
Or remain sitting silent like a brute.
Admonition 16

Whenever a man disputes with one who is more learned than himself to

make people know of his learning, they will know that he is ignorant.

If one better than thyself begins to speak,

Although thou mayest know better, contradict him not.

Maxim 24

Whoever associates with bad people will see no good.

If an angel associates with a demon
He will learn from him fear, fraud and hypocrisy.
Of the wicked thou canst learn only wickedness.
A wolf will not take to sewing jackets.
Admonition 17

Reveal not the secret faults of men because thou wilt put them to

shame and wilt forfeit thy own confidence.
Maxim 25

Who acquires science and does not practise it, resembles him who

possesses an ox but does not use him to plough or to sow seed.

Maxim 26

From a body without a heart obedience does not arise and a husk

without a kernel is no stock in trade.

Not everyone who is brisk in dispute is correct in business.

Many a stature concealed by a sheet

If revealed appears to be the mother of one's mother.

Maxim 27

If every night were to be the night of Qadr, the night of Qadr would

be without Qadr.
If all stones were rubies of Badakhshan,

The price of rubies and of stones would be the same.

Maxim 28

Not everyone who is handsome in form possesses a good character; the

qualities are inside not upon the skin.

It is possible in one day to know from a man's qualities

What degree of science he has reached.
Be however not sure of his mind nor deceived.

A wicked spirit is not detected sometimes for years.

Caution 2
Who quarrels with great men sheds his own blood.
One who thinks that he is great
Is truly said to be squinting.
Thou wilt soon see thy forehead broken
If thou buttest it in play against a ram.
Maxim 29

To strike one's fist on a lion, and to grasp the sharp edge of a

sword with the hand, is not the part of an intelligent man.

Do not fight or try thy strength with a furious man.

Hide thy hands in thy arm-pits to avoid his finger-nails.

Caution 3

A weak man trying to show his prowess off against a strong one

only aids his foe to encompass his own destruction.

What strength has one brought up in the shade
To go against champions in a fight?
A man with weak arms in his folly throws
His fist upon a man with iron claws.
Maxim 30

Whoever does not listen to advice will have occasion to hear

If admonition enters not thy ear
Be silent when I blame thee.
Elegant saying 1

Men void of accomplishments cannot behold those who possess some,

without barking like the curs of the bazar on seeing a hunting dog,

but dare not come forward; that is to say, when a base fellow is

unable to vie with an accomplished man he sets about slandering him

according to his own wickedness.
The envious mean fellow will certainly slander,
Whose tongue of speech is dumb when face to face.
Maxim 31

If there were no craving of the stomach, no bird would enter the

snare of the fowler; nay, he would not even set the snare.

Maxim 32

Sages eat slow, devotees half satisfy their appetite, recluses

only eat to preserve life, youths until the dishes are removed, old

men till they begin to perspire, but qalandars till no room remains in

the bowels for drawing breath and no food on the table for anybody.

A slave to constipation spends two sleepless nights,

One night from repletion and another from distress.

Maxim 33

To consult women brings on ruin and to be liberal to rebellious

men crime.
To have mercy on sharp-toothed tigers
Is to be tyrannical towards sheep.
Admonition 18

Who has power over his foe and does not slay him is his own enemy.

With a stone in the hand and a snake on a stone
It is folly to consider and to delay.

Others, however, enounce a contrary opinion and say that it is

preferable to respite captives because the option of killing or not

killing remains; but if they be slain without delay, it is possible

that some advantage may be lost, the like of which cannot be again

It is quite easy to deprive a man of life.
When he is slain he cannot be resuscitaied again.

It is a condition of wisdom in the archer to be patient

Because when the arrow leaves the bow it returns no more.

Maxim 34

When a sage comes in contact with fools, he must not expect to be

honoured, and if an ignorant man overcomes a sage in an oratorical

contest, it is no wonder, because even a stone breaks a jewel.

What wonder is there that the song

Of a nightingale ceases when imprisoned with a crow

Or that a virtuous man under the tyranny of vagabonds

Feels affliction in his heart and is irate.
Although a base stone may break a golden vase,

The price of the stone is not enhanced nor of the gold lost.

Maxim 35

Be not astonished when a wise man ceases to speak in company of vile

persons, since the melody of a harp cannot overcome the noise of a

drum and the perfume of ambergris must succumb to the stench of rotten

A blatant ignoramus proudly lifted his neck

Because he had overcome a scholar by his impudence.

Knowest thou not that the Hejazi musical tune
Succumbs to the roar of the drum of war?
Maxim 36

Even after falling into mud a jewel retains its costliness, and

dust, although it may rise into the sky, is as contemptible as before.

Capacity without education is deplorable and education without

capacity is thrown away. Ashes are of high origin because the nature

of fire is superior, but as they have no value of their own, they

are similar to earth and the price of sugar arises not from. the

cane but from its own quality.
The land of Canaan having no natural excellence,

The birth of a prophet therein could not enhance its worth.

Display thy virtue if thou hast any, not thy origin.

The rose is the offspring of thorns and Abraham of Azer.

Maxim 37

Musk is known by its perfume and not by what the druggist says. A

scholar is silent like the perfumer's casket but displays

accomplishments, whilst an ignoramus is loud-voiced and

intrinsically empty like a war-drum.
A learned man among blockheads
(So says the parable of our friends)
Is like a sweetheart among the blind
Or a Quran among unbelievers.
Maxim 38

A friend whom people have been cherishing during a lifetime they

must not suddenly insult.
It takes a stone many a year to become a ruby.
Beware not to break it in a moment with a stone.
Maxim 39

Intellect may become captive to lust like a weak man in the hands of

an artful woman.
Bid farewell to pleasure in a house
Where the shouting of a woman is loud.
Maxim 40

A design without strength to execute it is fraud and deception and

application of strength without a design is ignorance and lunacy.

Discernment is necessary. Arrangement and intellect, then a realm;

For realm and wealth with an ignorant man are weapons against

Maxim 41

A liberal man who eats and bestows is better than a devote who fasts

and hoards.
Maxim 42

Who has renounced appetites for the sake of approbation by men has

fallen from licit into illicit appetites.
A devotee who sits in a corner not for God's sake
Is helpless. What can he see in a dark mirror?

Little by little becomes much and drop by drop will be a torrent;

that is to say, he who has no power gathers small stones that he may

at the proper opportunity annihilate the pride of his foe.

Drop upon drop collected will make a river.
Rivers upon rivers collected will make a sea.
Little and little together will become much.
The granary is but grain upon grain.
Maxim 43

A scholar is not meekly to overlook the folly of a common person

because thus both parties are injured; the dignity of the former being

lessened, and the ignorance of the latter confirmed.

Speak gracefully and kindly to a low fellow,
His pride and obstinacy will augment.
Maxim 44

Transgression by whomsoever committed is blamable but more so in

learned men, because learning is a weapon for combating Satan and,

when the possessor of a weapon is made prisoner, his shame will be

It is better to be an ignorant poor fellow
Then a learned man who is not abstemious;
Because the former loses the way by his blindness

While the latter falls into a well with both eyes open.

Maxim 45

Whose bread is not eaten by others while he is alive, he will not be

remembered when he is dead. A widow knows the delight of grapes and

not the lord of fruits. Joseph the just, salutation to him, never

ate to satiety in the Egyptian dearth for fear he might forget the

hungry people.
How can he who lives in comfort and abundance
Know what the state of the famished is?
He is aware of the condition of the poor
Who has himself fallen into a state of distress.
O thou who art riding a fleet horse, consider

That the poor thorn-carrying ass is in water and mud.

Ask not for fire from thy poor neighbour's house

Because what passes out of his window is the smoke of his heart.

Admonition 19

Ask not a dervish in poor circumstances, and in the distress of a

year of famine, how he feels, unless thou art ready to apply a salve

to his wound or to provide him with a maintenance.

When thou seest an ass, fallen in mud with his load,

Have mercy in thy heart and step not on his head.

But when thou hast gone and asked him how he fell,

Gird thy loins and take hold of his tail like a man.

Maxim 46

Two things are contrary to reason: to enjoy more than is decreed and

to die before the time appointed.

Fate will not change by a thousand laments and sighs,

By thanks or complaints, issuing from the mouth.
The angel appointed over the treasures of wind
Cares not if the lamp of a widow dies.
Admonition 20

O thou asker of food, sit for thou wilt eat; and 0 thou asked by

death, run not for thou wilt not save thy life.
Whether thou strivest for a maintenance or not

God the most high and glorious will send it to thee;

And if thou rushest into the jaw of a lion or tiger

They will not devour thee unless on the day decreed.

Maxim 47

What is not placed cannot be reached by the hand and whatever is

placed will be reached wherever it is.

Hast thou heard that Alexander went into the darkness

And after all his efforts could not taste the water of

Maxim 48

A rich profligate is a lump of earth gilded and a pious dervish is a

sweetheart besmeared with earth. The latter is the patched garment

of Moses and the former is the bejewelled beard of Pharaoh.

Nevertheless good men retain a cheerful countenance in adversity

whilst the rich droop their heads even in prosperity.

Who possesses wealth and dignity but therewith
Succours not those whose minds are distressed,
Inform him that no kind of wealth and dignity
He will enjoy in the mansion of the next world.
Maxim 49

An envious man is avaricious with the wealth of God and hates the

guiltless as foes.
I saw a crackbrained little man,
Reviling a possessor of dignity,
Who replied: 'O fellow, if thou art unlucky,
What guilt is there in lucky men?'
Forbear to wish evil to an envious man

Because the ill-starred fellow is an evil to himself.

What needest thou to show enmity to him
Who has such a foe on the nape of his neck?
Maxim 50

A disciple without intention is a lover without money; a traveller

without knowledge is a bird without wings; a scholar without

practice is a tree without fruit, and a devotee without science is a

house without a door. The Quran was revealed for the acquisition of

a good character, not for chanting written chapters. A pious

unlettered man is like one who travels on foot, whilst a negligent

scholar is like a sleeping rider. A sinner who lifts his hands in

supplication is better than a devotee who keeps them proudly on his

A good humoured and pleasant military officer
Is superior to a theologian who injures men.

One being asked what a learned man without practice resembled,

replied: 'A bee without honey.'
Say to the rude and unkind bee,

'At least forbear to sting, if thou givest no honey.'

Maxim 51

A man without virility is a woman and an avaricious devote is a

highway robber.
O thou, who hast put on a white robe for a show,

To be approved of men, whilst the book of thy acts is black.

The hand is to be restrained from the world,
No matter whether the sleeve be short or long.
Maxim 52

Regret will not leave the hearts of two persons and their feet of

contention will not emerge from the mire: a merchant with a wrecked

ship and a youth sitting with qalandars.

Dervishes will consider it licit to shed thy blood

If they can have no access to thy property.

Either associate not with a friend who dons the blue garb,

Or bid farewell to all thy property.
Either make no friends with elephant-keepers
Or build a house suitable for elephants.
Maxim 53

Although a sultan's garment of honour is dear yet one's own old robe

is more dear; and though the food of a great man may be delicious, the

broken crumbs of one's own sack are more delicious.

Vinegar by one's own labour and vegetables
Are better than bread received as alms, and veal.
Maxim 54

It is contrary to what is proper, and against the opinion of to

partake of medicine by guess and to go after a caravan without

seeing the road. The Imam Murshid Muhammad Ghazali, upon whom be the

mercy of Allah, having been asked in what manner he had attained

such a degree of knowledge, replied: 'By not being ashamed to ask

about things I did not know.'
The hope of recovery is according to reason,

That he should feel thy pulse who knows thy nature.

Ask what thou knowest not; for the trouble of asking

Will indicate to thee the way to the dignity of knowledge.

Admonition 21

Whatever thou perceivest will become known to thee in due course

of time. Make no haste in asking for it, else the awe of thy dignity

will be lessened.
When Loqman saw that in the hands of David
All iron became by miracle soft like wax,
He asked not: 'What art thou doing?' Because
He knew he would learn it without asking.
Maxim 55

One of the requirements for society is to attend to the affairs of

thy household and also at the house of God.
Tell thy tale according to thy hearer's temper,
If thou knowest him to be biased to thee.
Every wise man who sits with Mejnun
Speaks of nothing but the story of Laila's love.
Maxim 56

Anyone associating with bad people, although their nature may not

infect his own, is supposed to follow their ways to such a degree that

if he goes to a tavern to say his prayers, he will be supposed to do

so for drinking wine.

Thou hast branded thyself with the mark of ignorance,

When thou hast selected an ignoramus for thy companion.

I asked some scholars for a piece of advice.

They said: 'Connect thyself not with an ignorant man,

For if thou be learned, thou wilt be an ass in course of time

And if unlearned thou wilt become a greater fool.'

Maxim 57

The meekness of the camel is known to be such that if a child

takes hold of its bridle and goes a hundred farsakhs, it will not

refuse to follow, but if a dangerous portion occurs which may occasion

death and the child ignorantly desires to approach it, the camel tears

the bridle from his hand, refusing any longer to obey because

compliance in times of calamity is blamable. It is also said that by

complaisance an enemy will not become a friend but that his greed will

only be augmented.
To him who is kind to thee, be dust at his feet

But if he opposes thee fill his two eyes with dust.

Speak not kindly or gently to an ill-humoured fellow

Because a soft file cannot clean off inveterate rust.

Maxim 58

Who interrupts the conversation of others that they may know his

excellence, they will become acquainted only with the degree of his

An intelligent man will not give a reply
Unless he be asked a question.
Because though his words may be based on truth,
His claim to veracity may be deemed impossible.
Maxim 59

I had a wound under my robe and a sheikh asked me daily how, but not

where it is, and I learned that he refrained because it is not

admissible to mention every member; and wise men have also said that

whoever does not ponder his question will be grieved by the answer.

Until thou knowest thy words to be perfectly suitable

Thou must not open thy mouth in speech.

If thou speakest truth and remainest in captivity,

It is better than that thy mendacity deliver thee therefrom.

Maxim 60

Mendacity resembles a violent blow, the scar of which remains,

though the wound may be healed. Seest thou not how the brothers of

Joseph became noted for falsehood, and no trust in their veracity

remained, as Allah the most high has said: Nay but ye yourselves

have contrived the thing for your own sake.
One habitually speaking the truth
Is pardoned when he once makes a slip
But if he becomes noted for lying,

People do not believe him even when speaking truth.

Maxim 61

The noblest of beings is evidently man, and the meanest a dog, but

intelligent persons agree that a grateful dog is better than an

ungrateful man.
A dog never forgets a morsel received

Though thou throwest a stone at him a hundred times.

But if thou cherishest a base fellow a lifetime,
He will for a trifle suddenly fight with thee.
Maxim 62

Who panders to his passions will not cultivate accomplishments and

who possesses none is not suitable for a high position.

Have no mercy on a voracious ox
Who sleeps a great deal and eats much.
If thou wantest to have fatness like an ox,

Yield thy body to the tyranny of people like an ass.

Maxim 63

It is written in the Evangel: 'O son of Adam, if I give thee riches,

thou wilt turn away from me with mundane cares, and if I make thee

poor thou wilt sit down with a sad heart; then where wilt thou enjoy

the sweetness of adoring me, and when wilt thou hasten to serve me?'

Sometimes thou art made haughty, and careless by wealth,

Sometimes art in distress from exhaustion and penury.

If thy state be such in joy and in distress,

I know not when thou wilt turn to God from thyself.

Maxim 64

The will of the Inscrutable brings down one from the royal throne,

and protects the other in the belly of a fish.
Happy is the time of the man
Who spends it in adoring thee.
Maxim 65

When God draws the sword of wrath, prophets and saints draw in their

heads, but if he casts a look of grace, he converts wicked into

virtuous men.
If at the resurrection he addresses us in anger
What chance of pardon will even prophets have?
Say: 'Remove the veil from the face of mercy
Because sinners entertain hopes of pardon.'
Maxim 66

Whoever does not betake himself to the path of rectitude in

consequence of the castigations of this world will fall under

eternal punishment in the next. Allah the most high has said: And we

will cause them to taste the nearer punishment of this world besides

the more grievous punishment of the next.

Admonition is the address of superiors and then fetters.

If they give advice and thou listenest not, they put thee in

Maxim 67

Fortunate men are admonished by the adventures and similes of

those who have preceded them, before those who follow them can use the

event as a proverb, like thieves who shorten their hands, lest their

hands be cut off.
The bird does not go to the grain displayed
When it beholds another fowl in the trap.
Take advice by the misfortunes of others
That others may not take advice from thee.
Maxim 68

How can he hear whose organ of audition has been created dull, and

how can he avoid progressing upon whom the noose of happiness has been

To the friends of God a dark night
Shines like the brilliant day.
This felicity is not by strength of arm
Unless God the giver bestows it.

To whom shall I complain of thee? There is no other judge

And there is no other hand superior to thine.
Whom thou guidest -no one can lead astray.
Whom thou castest off no one can guide.
Maxim 69

The earth receives showers from heaven and gives to it only dust.

Every vessel exudes what it contains.
If my humour appears to thee unbecoming
Lose not thy own good humour.
Maxim 70

A mendicant with a good end is better than a padshah with a bad end.

The grief thou sufferest before the joy
Is better than the grief endured after joy.
Maxim 71

The Most High sees a fault and conceals it, and a neighbour sees

it not, but shouts.
Let us take refuge with Allah.
If people knew our faults

No one could have rest from interference by others.

Maxim 72

Gold is obtained from a mine by digging it, but from a miser by

digging the soul.
Vile men spend not, but preserve.

They say hope of spending is better than spending.

One day thou seest the wish of the foe fulfilled
The gold remaining and the vile man dead.
Maxim 73

Who has no mercy upon inferiors will suffer from the tyranny of

Not every arm which contains strength
Breaks the hand of the weak for showing bravery.
Injure not the heart of the helpless

For thou wilt succumb to the force of a strong man.

Maxim 74

When a wise man encounters obstacles, he leaps away and casts anchor

at the proper opportunity, for thus he will be in the former

instance safe on shore, and in the latter he will enjoy himself.

Maxim 75

The gambler requires three sixes and only three aces turn up.

The pasture is a thousand times more pleasant than the racecourse

But the steed has not the bridle at its option.
Story 1

A dervish prayed thus: 'O Lord, have mercy upon the wicked,

because thou hast already had mercy upon good men by creating them

to be good.'
Maxim 76

The first sovereign who laid stress on costume and wore rings on his

left hand was Jamshid; and being asked why he had adorned his left

whereas excellence resides in the right hand, he replied: 'The right

hand is fully ornamented by its own rectitude.'
Feridun ordered Chinese embroiderers
To write around the borders of his tent:
'Keep the wicked well, O intelligent man,

Because the good are in themselves great and fortunate.'

Story 2

A great man having been asked why he wore his seal-ring on his

left hand, whereas the right possesses so much excellence, replied:

'Knowest thou not that the meritorious are always neglected?'

He who has created joy and distress
Apportions either excellence or luck.
Maxim 77

He may freely warn who neither fears to lose his life nor hopes

for gold.
Pour either gold at the feet of a monotheist
Or place an Indian sabre to his head.
He entertains no hope nor fear from anyone
And this is a sufficient basis of monotheism.
Maxim 78

The padshah is to remove oppressors; the police, murderers; and

the qazi to hear complaints about thieves; but two enemies willing

to agree to what is right will not apply to him.

When thou seest that it must be given what is right

Pay it rather with grace than fighting and distressed.

If a man pays not his tax of his own accord
The officer's man will take it by force.
Maxim 79

The teeth of all men are blunted by sourness, but those of the

qazi by sweetness.
The qazi whom thou bribest with five cucumbers
Will prove that ten melon-fields are due to thee.
Maxim 80

What can an old prostitute do but vow to become chaste, and an

policeman not to commit oppression upon men?

A youth who sits in a corner is a hero in the path of God

Because an old man is unable to rise from his corner.

A youth must be strong minded to abstain from lust,

Because even the sexual tool of an old man, of sluggish desire,

rises not.
Maxim 81

A sage was asked: 'Of so many notable, high and fertile trees

which God the most high has created, not one is called free, except

the cypress, which bears no fruit. What is the reason of this?' He

replied: 'Every tree has its appropriate season of fruit, so that it

is sometimes flourishing therewith, and looks sometimes withered by

its absence; with the cypress, however, neither is the case, it

being fresh at all times, and this is the quality of those who are


Place not thy heart on what passes away; for the Tigris

Will flow after the Khalifs have passed away in Baghdad.

If thou art able, be liberal like the date tree,

And if thy hand cannot afford it, be liberal like the cypress.

Maxim 82

Two men died, bearing away their grief One had possessed wealth

and not enjoyed it, the other knowledge and not practised it.

No one sees an excellent but avaricious man
Without publishing his defect
But if a liberal man has a hundred faults
His generosity covers his imperfections.
Conclusion of the Book

The book of the Gulistan has been completed, and Allah had been

invoked for aid! By the grace of the Almighty, may his name be

honoured, throughout the work the custom of authors to insert verses

from ancient writers by way of loan, has not been followed.

To adorn oneself with one's own rag
Is better than to ask for the loan of a robe.

Most of the utterances of Sa'di being exhilarant and mixed with

pleasantry, shortsighted persons have on this account lengthened the

tongue of blame, alleging that it is not the part of intelligent men

to spend in vain the kernel of their brain, and to eat without

profit the smoke of the lamp; it is, however, not concealed from

enlightened men, who are able to discern the tendency of words, that

pearls of curative admonition are strung upon the thread of

explanation, and that the bitter medicine of advice is commingled with

the honey of wit, in order that the reader's mind should not be

fatigued, and thereby excluded from the benefit of acceptance; and

praise be to the Lord of both worlds.
We gave advice in its proper place
Spending a lifetime in the task.
If it should not touch anyone's ear of desire
The messenger told his tale; it is enough.

O thou who lookest into it, ask Allah to have mercy

On the author and to pardon the owner of it.

Ask for thyself whatever benefit thou mayest desire,

And after that pardon for the writer of it.

If I had on the day of resurrection an opportunity

Near the Compassionate one I should say: 'O Lord,
I am the sinner and thou the beneficent master,

For all the ill I have done I crave for thy bounty.'

Gratitude is due from me to God that this book is ended Before my

life has reached its termination. -THE END-


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