who turn the reins of their desires from unlawful things have
surpassed Rustam*31 and Sam*32 in valor.
None is so fearful of the
enemy as thou, slave of thine own passions.
The earthly body is a city,
containing both good and evil; thou art the King and Reason is
thy wise minister.
In this city, the headstrong
men pursue their trades of avarice and greed; Resignation and
Temperance are the citizens of fame and virtue; Lust and Wantonness
the thieves and pick-pockets.
When the king shows favor
to the wicked, how can the wise remain in peace?
The passions of evil, envy,
and hatred are inherent in thee as is the blood of thy veins.
If these thine enemies gained in strength they would turn their
heads from thy rule and counsel; no resist-ance do they offer
when they see the mailed fist of Reason.
Night-thieves and vagabonds
wander not in the places where the patrols guard.
The chief who punishes not
his enemy is bereft of power by the strength of the latter.
More on this point I will
not speak - a word suffices to him who puts into practice what
THE WISDOM OF SILENCE
DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE EXCELLENCE
Be silent, O thou who knowest
many things! For he that speaketh little will be free from reproach
on the Day of Judgment.
The man of many words is
deaf; no counsel does he heed like silence.
When thou desirest continually
to speak thou findest no sweetness in the speech of others.
Those who reflect upon right
and wrong are better than triflers with ready answers.
He that speaks little thou
dost never see ashamed; a grain of musk is better than a heap
Beware of the fool whose
volume of words is as that of ten men - a hundred arrows shot
and each one wide of the target. If thou art wise, shoot one,
and that one straight.
Utter not slander before
a wall - oft may it happen that behind are listening ears.
Enclose thy secrets within
the city walls of thy mind, and beware that none may find the
gates of thy city open.
A wise man sews up his mouth:
the candle is burned by means of its wick.
A STORY CONCERNING THE KEEPING
Takash, king of Persia,
imparted a secret to his slaves, adding, "Tell it not to
anyone." For a year they kept secret in their hearts; in
one day it became diffused throughout the world.
The king ordered the slaves
to be executed. One among them begged for mercy, saying: "Kill
not thy slaves, for the fault was thine. Thou didst not dam up
that secret when it was a spring: why seek to arrest its course
now that it has become a flood?
Entrust jewels to treasurers,
but be the keeper of thine own secrets. Thou hast the power until
the word be spoken; then, does it gain mastery over thee.
Speech is a demon confined
in the well of the mind; leave it not free on thy palate and
tongue. When the genii has escaped from the cage, no stratagem
will bring him back.
IDLE TALKERS - A COMPARISON
A STORY ILLUSTRATING THE FAT
SILENCE IS BEST FOR FOOLS
There was once in Egypt
a religious mendicant who never opened his mouth in speech. Wise
men assembled around him from far and near, like moths around
One night, he reflected:
"Merit is concealed beneath a silent tongue. If I remain
thus silent, how will men know that I am learned?"
Therefore he indulged in
speech, and his friends and enemies alike found him to be the
most ignorant man in Egypt. His followers dispersed and his glory
vanished. So he went on a journey and wrote on the wall of a
mosque: "Had I but seen myself in the mirror of understanding
I should not imprudently have torn the veil from off my mind.
Although deformed, I exposed my figure in the thought that I
A little-talker has a high
Silence is dignity, and
the concealer of blemishes.
Express not in haste the
thoughts of thy mind, for thou canst reveal them when thou wilt.
The beasts are silent, and
men are endowed with speech - idle-talkers are worse than the
A STORY ILLUSTRATING THE FOLLY
In the course of a dispute
someone uttered improper words and was, in consequence, seized
and nearly throttled.
"O thou conceited fellow!"
Said an experienced man, "If thy mouth had been closed like
a bud, thou wouldst not have seen thy skirt torn like a flower."
Dost thou not see that fire
is nothing but a flame, which at any moment can be quenched with
If a man possesses merit,
the merit speaks for itself, not the owner of the merit.
If thou hast not the purest
musk, claim not to possess it; if thou hast, it makes itself
known by its perfume.
DISCOURSE ON SLANDER
Speak no evil concerning
the good or the wicked, for thus thou wrongest the former and
makest an enemy of the latter.
Know that he who defames
another revealeth his own faults.
If thou speak evil of anyone,
thou art sinful, even though what thou sayest be true.
A STORY CONCERNING THE SAME
To one who stretched his
tongue in slander, a wise man said: "Speak not evil of any
one before me, so that I may not think ill of thee. Although
his dignity is lowered, thine own honor is not increased thereby."
SLANDER LEADS TO PERDITION
WHY THIEVING IS BETTER THAN
Someone said: "Thieving
is better than back-biting."
I replied: "That is
strange to me. What good seest thou in thieving that thou givest
it preference to slander?"
explained, "live by virtue of their strength and daring.
The slanderer sins and reaps nothing."
SA'DI AND HIS ENVIOUS CLASS-FRIEND
A fellow-student at Nizamiah
displayed malevolence towards me, and I informed my tutor, saying:
"Whenever I give more proper answers than he the envious
fellow becomes offended."
The professor replied: "The
envy of they friend is not agreeable to thee, but I know not
who told thee that back-biting was commendable. If he seeks perdition
through the path of envy, thou wilt join him by the path of slander."
A STORY OF SA'DI'S CHILDHOOD
When a child, unable to
distinguish between right and wrong, I once resolved to fast,
and a certain devout man thus taught me to perform my ablutions
and devotions: "First," he said, "repeat the name
of G-d, according to the law of the Prophet. Secondly, make a
vow. Thirdly, wash the palms of the hands. Then wash thy nose
and mouth three times and rub thy front teeth with thy forefinger,
for a toothbrush is forbidden when fasting. After that, throw
three handfuls of water upon thy face; then wash thy hands and
arms up to the elbows and repeat thy prayers by the telling of
beads and the recital of the attributes and praises of G-d. Lastly,
wipe again thy head and wash thy feet - thus end in the name
"No one," added
the old man, "knowing the form of ablution better than myself.
Dost thou not see that the elder of the village has become decrepit?"
Hearing these words, the
elder cried: "O impious wretch! Didst thou not say that
the use of a tooth-brush was unlawful in fasting? I suppose,
then, that slander is lawful? Before thou settest about a fast,
wash first thy mouth of improper words."
THE STORY OF A SUFI'S REBUKE
Some Sufis were sitting
together in private, when one of them opened his mouth in slander.
"Didst thou ever make
a crusade in Europe?" he was asked.
"Never have I met so
unfortunate a man," observed the questioner. "The infidel
remains safe from his enmity, yet a Moslem escapes not the violence
of his tongue."
CONCERNING ABSENT FRIENDS
In relation to an absent
friend, two things are unlawful. The first is to squander his
possession; the second, to speak evil of his name.
Look not for good words
from him who mentions the names of men with scorn, for behind
thy back he says those things which he said to thee of others.
He only is wise who concerns
himself with his own affairs and is I in indifferent to the world.
WHERE SLANDER IS LAWFUL
Three persons only is it
permissible to slander. The first is a tyrannical king who oppresses
his subjects; it is lawful to speak of his misdeeds so that people
may beware of him. The second is he who is shameless; deem it
not a sin to speak ill of such a one, for by his own actions
are his faults revealed. The third is he that gives false weight
and is a cheat; say what thou knowest of his evil ways.
TALE-BEARERS WORSE THAN BACK-BITERS
Someone said to a pious
man, "Knowest thou what such a one said concerning thee?"
replied, it is best not to know what an enemy said. Those who
carry the words of an enemy are assuredly worse than the enemy
himself. Only they convey the speech of an enemy to a friend
who are in agreement with the enemy. Thou art worse than an enemy,
for thou revealest what he said in private."
A tale-bearer makes an old
strife now; fly as far as thou art able from one who stirs up
a dormant quarrel.
To be tied by the feet in
a gloomy pit is better than to carry mischief from place to place.
A quarrel is like a fire
that the tale-bearer feeds with fuel.
ILL-FATE OF TALE-BEARERS
FERIDUN*33 AND HIS VIZIER
Feridun had a vizier who
was discerning and of enlightened mind.
Some one went to the king
one day and said, "The vizier is thy secret enemy. There
is not a person in the kingdom to whom he has not lent out gold
and silver on the condition that at thy death the loans shall
Regarding the vizier with
threatening mien, the king exclaimed, "Thou appearest before
me in the guise of a friend; why art thou my enemy at heart?"
The vizier kissed the ground
as he replied, "I desire, O renowned king, that all the
people should be thy well-wishers. Since at thy death they must
repay me, they will pray for thy long life from fear of me."
Approving of this explanation,
the king increased the dignities of the vizier, while no one
was more ill-fated and changed in fortune than the tale-bearer.
It is not compatible with
reason to kindle between two men the fire of strife and burn
oneself in the flames.
DISCOURSE CONCERNING WIVES
That poor man is a king
whose wife is obedient and chaste. Grieve not over the troubles
of the day when at night the dispeller of thy sorrows is by thy
He has obtained his heart's
desire whose beloved is of the same mind as himself.
If a woman be pure and of
kindly speech, regard neither her beauty nor her homeliness.
A woman of good nature is
more to be desired than one of beauty, for amiability conceals
a multitude of flaws. Beware the ill-tempered fairy. May heaven
grant protection from a bad woman!
Prison is preferable to
a house full of frowns; traveling is a joy to him whose house
contains a woman of ugly mind.
Close the door of happiness
upon that house whence the woman's voice comes louder than her
. . . To walk bare-footed
is better than to wear tight shoes; the hardships of a journey
are better than discord at home.
DISCOURSE ON THE TRAINING OF
If thou desire that thy
name should remain, train thy son in knowledge and wisdom, for
if he possesses not these thou diest obscure, with no one to
commemorate thy name.
Teach him a handicraft,
though thou be as rich as Korach. Place no hope in the power
that thou hast - riches may go from thee.
A bag of silver and gold
is emptied; the purse of an artisan remains filled.
Dost thou not know how Sa'di
attained to rank? He journeyed not over the plains, nor crossed
the seas. In his youth he served under the yoke of the learned:
G-d grant him distinction in after-life. It is not long before
he who served obtains command.
A boy who suffers not at
the hands of his teacher suffers at the hands of Time.
Make thy son good and independent,
so that he may not be beholden to any man.
Protect him from evil associates
and pity him not if he brings ruin and destruction upon himself,
for it is better that a vicious son should die before his father.
SA'DI REBUKED FOR HIS FAULT-FINDING
There was a certain young
preacher who was learned and intelligent, a man of sanctity and
a true worshipper. He was forcible in eloquence and correct in
grammar, but his articulation was so faulty that he could not
properly repeat the letters of the alphabet.
I said to a holy man, "The
youth has not got his front teeth!"
"Speak not thus,"
he replied. "Thou hast discerned his fault, but thine eyes
are closed to his many virtues. Thorns and roses grow together;
why regardest thou only the thorns? He who is of bad nature sees
nothing in the peacock but its ugly feet."
Expose not the faults of
others, for thereby art thou forgetful of thine own failings.
Whether I be good or evil,
keep thou silent, for I am the bearer of my own profit and loss,
and G-d is better acquainted with my character than thou.
I seek no reward from the
for my virtues so that I may not be afflicted by thee by reason
of my sins.
For every good act G-d will
bestow, not one, but ten rewards. If thou see one virtue in a
man, do thou pass over the ten faults that he hath.
Are not all things created
the product of the art of G-d? -black they are and white, handsome
and deformed. Not every eye and eyebrow that thou seest is good:
eat the kernel the nut and throw the husk away.
A famous hero; the Hercules of the Persians.
32. The grandfather of Rustam, and like him, a celebrated hero.
33. Feridun was the seventh king of Persia, his reign commencing
about 750 B.C. He was the boast of the Persians and a model of