Masnavi 0X

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STORY XIV. The Arab Carrier and the Scholar.
An Arab loaded his camel with two sacks, filling one with wheat and the second
with sand, in order to balance the first. As he was proceeding on his way he
met a certain tradition-monger, who questioned him about the contents of his
sacks. On learning that one contained nothing but sand, he pointed out that the
object might be attained much better by putting half the wheat in one sack and
half in the other. On hearing this, the Arab was so struck by his sagacity that
he conceived a great respect for him, and mounted him on his camel. Then he
said, "As you possess such great wisdom. I presume that you are a king or
a Vazir, or at least a very rich and powerful noble." The theologian,
replied, "On the contrary. I am a very poor man; all the riches my
learning has brought me are weariness and headaches, and I know not where to
look for a loaf of bread." The Arab said, "In that case get, off my
camel and go your way, and suffer me to go mine, for I see your learning brings
ill luck." The moral of the story is the worthlessness of mere human
knowledge, and its inferiority to the divine knowledge proceeding from
inspiration. This thesis is further illustrated by an account of the mighty
works which were done by the saint Ibrahim bin Adham, through the divine
knowledge that God had given him. Ibrahim was originally prince of Balkh, but
renounced his kingdom and became a saint. One day he was sitting by the shore
mending his cloak, when one of his former subjects passed by and marvelled to
see him engaged in such a, mean occupation. The saint at once, by inspired
knowledge, read his thoughts, and thus corrected his false impressions. He took
the needle with which he was mending, his cloak and cast it into the sea. Then
with a loud voice he cried out, "O needle rise again from the midst of the
sea and come back again into my hands." Without a moment's delay thousands
of fishes rose to the surface of the sea, each bearing in its mouth a golden
needle, and cried out, "O Shaikh, take these needles of God!" Ibrahim
then turned to the noble, saying, "Is not the kingdom of the heart better
than the contemptible earthly kingdom I formerly possessed? What you have just
seen is a very trifling sign of my spiritual power as it were, a mere leaf
plucked to show the beauty of a garden. You have now caught the scent of this
garden, and it ought to attract your soul to the garden itself, for you must
know that scents have great influence, e.g., the scent of Joseph's coat,
1 which restored Jacob's sight, and the scents which were loved by the
Prophet." 2