CONCERNING JUSTICE, COUNSEL,
ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNMENT
goodness of G-d surpasseth imagination; what service can the
tongue of praise perform?
Keep, O, G-d this king,
*5 Abu Bakr, beneath whose shadow is the protection of the people,
long established upon his throne, and make his heart to live
in obedience, to Thee. Render fruitful his tree of hope; prolong
his youth, and adorn his face with mercy.
O, King! Deck not thyself
in royal garments when thou comest to worship; make thy supplications
like a dervish, saying: "O, G-d! Powerful and strong Thou
art. I am no monarch, but a beggar in Thy court. Unless Thy helps
sustain me, what can issue from my hand? Succor me, and give
me the means of virtue, or else how can I benefit my people?"
If thou rule by day, pray
fervently by night. The great among thy servants wait upon thee
at thy door; thus shouldst thou serve, with thy head in worship
upon God's threshold.
NUSHIRAVAN'S *6 COUNSEL TO
Thus, when at the point
of death, did Nushiravan counsel his son Hormuz:
"Cherish the poor,
and seek not thine own comfort. The shepherd should not sleep
while the wolf is among the sheep. Protect the needy, for a king
wears his crown for the sake of his subjects. The people are
as the root and the king is as the tree; and the tree, O son,
gains strength from the root. He should not oppress the people
who have fear of injury to his kingdom. Seek not plenteousness
in that land where the people are afflicted by the king. Fear
them that are proud and them that fear not G-d."
A DISCOURSE CONCERNING TRAVELERS
The king who deals harshly
with merchants who come from afar closes the door of well-being
upon the whole of his subjects. When do the wise return to the
land of which they hear rumors of bad custom?
If thou desire a good name,
hold merchants and travelers in high esteem, for they carry thy
reputation through the world. Be cautious also lest, being enemies
in the guise of friends, they seek thy injury.
Advance the dignities of
old friends, for treachery comes not from them that are cherished.
When thy servant becomes
stricken in years, be not unmindful of the obligations towards
him. If old age binds his hand from service, the land of generosity
yet remains to thee.
A STORY ILLUSTRATING THE NEED
There once landed at a seaport
of Arabia a man who had widely traveled and was versed in many
sciences. He presented himself at the palace of the king, who
was so captivated by his wisdom and knowledge that he appointed
the traveler to the viziership.
With such skill did he perform
the duties of that office that he offended none, and brought
the kingdom completely beneath his sway. He closed the mouths
of slanderers, because nothing evil issued from his hand; and
the envious, who could detect no fault in him, bemoaned their
lack of opportunity to do him injury.
At the court, however, there
were two beautiful young slaves towards whom the vizier displayed
no small measure of affection. (If thou wouldst that thy ranks
endure, incline not thy heart towards the fair; and though thy
love be innocent, have care, for there is fear of loss.)
The former vizier, who had
been dismissed to make room for the newcomer, maliciously carried
the story to the king.
"I know not,"
he said, "who this new minister may be, but he lives not
chastely in this land. I have heard that he intrigues with two
of thy slaves - he is a perfidious man, and lustful. It is not
right that one such as he should bring ill-fame upon the court.
I am not so unmindful of the favors that I have received at thy
hands that I should see these things and remain silent."
Angered by what he heard,
the king stealthily watched the new vizier, and when later he
observed the latter glance towards one of the slaves, who returned
a covert smile, his suspicion of evil became at once confirmed.
Summoning the minister to
his side, he said: "I did not know thee to be shameless
and unworthy. Such a lofty station is not thy proper place, but
the fault is mine. If I cherish one who is of evil nature, assuredly
do I sanction disloyalty in my house.
"Since my skirt is free from guilt," the vizier replied,
"I fear not the malignity of the evil-wisher. I know not
who has accused me of what I have not done."
"This was told to me
by the old vizier," explained the king.
The vizier smiled and said,
"Whatever he said is no cause for wonder. What would the
envious man say when he saw me in his former place? Him I knew
to be my enemy that day when Khasrau *8 appointed him to a lower
rank than me. Never till Doomsday will he accept me as a friend
when in my promotion he sees his own decline. If thou wilts give
ear to thy slave I will narrate a story that is apropos.
"In a dream some one
saw the Prince of Evil, whose figure was as erect as a fir-tree
and whose face was as fair as the sun. Regarding him, the sleeper
said, "O splendid being! Mankind knows not of thy beauty.
Fearful of countenance do they imagine thee, and hideous have
they depicted thee on the walls of the public baths. The Prince
of Evil smiled, "Such is not my figure," he replied,
"but the pencil was in the hand of an enemy! The root of
their stock did I throw out of Paradise; now in malice do they
paint me ugly."
"In the same way,"
continued the vizier, "although my fame is good, the envious
speak ill of me. Those who are guiltless are brave in speech;
only he who gives false weight has fear of the inspector."
king exclaimed, his anger rising, "I heard this not only
from thine enemy. Have I not seen with my own eyes that among
the assemblage of this court thou regardest none, but those two
"That is true,"
the vizier said, "But I will explain this matter if thou
wilt listen. Dost thou not know that the beggar eyes the rich
with envy? Once, like those slaves, did I possess both grace
and beauty. Two rows of teeth were set behind my lips, erect
like a wall of ivory *8 bricks. One by one, like ancient bridges,
have they fallen - regard me now as here I stand! Why may I not
glance with envy at those slaves when they recall to me the past?"
When the wise man had pierced
this pearl of lustrous truth, the king exclaimed: "Better
than this it would be impossible to speak. Permissible it is
to look toward the fair is one who can thus excuse himself. Had
I not in wisdom acted with deliberation, I should have wronged
him through the speech of an enemy."
To carry the hand quickly
to the sword in anger is to carry the back of the hand to the
teeth in regret. Heed not the words of the envious; if thou actest
upon them, remorseful wilt thou be.
Admonishing the slandered
for his evil words, the king further increased the dignity of
the vizier, who directed the affairs of the State for many years
with justice and benevolence, and was long remembered for his
THE STORY OF THE KING WHOSE
COAT WAS COURSE
A certain just king habitually
wore a coat of coarse material. Some one said to him: "O,
happy king! Make for thyself a coat of Chinese brocade."
"That which I wear,"
the king replied, "affords both covering and comfort; anything
beyond that is luxury. I collect not tribute that I may adorn
my person and my throne. If, like a woman, I ornament my body,
how, like a man, can I repulse the enemy? The royal treasuries
are not for me alone - they are filled for the sake of the army,
not for the purchase of ornaments and jewelry."
THE STORY OF DARIUS AND THE
Darius, king of Persia,
became separated from his retinue while hunting. A herdsman came
running towards him, and the king assuming the man to be an enemy,
adjusted his bow. Thereupon the herdsman cried, "I am no
enemy. Seek not to kill me. I am he who tends the king's horses,
and in this meadow am thus engaged."
Becoming again composed,
the king smiled and said, "Heaven has befriended thee, otherwise
would I have drawn the bowstring to my ear."
"It showeth neither
wise administration nor good judgment," replied the herdsman,
"when the king knows not an enemy from a friend. Those who
are greatest should know those who are least. Many times hast
thou seen me in thy presence, and asked of me concerning the
horses and the grazing fields. Now that I come again before thee
thou takest me for an enemy. More skilled am I, O king, for I
can distinguish one horse out of a hundred thousand. Tend thou
thy people as I, with sense and judgment tend my horses."
Ruin brings sorrow to that
kingdom where the wisdom of the shepherd exceeds that of the
THE STORY OF ABDUL AZIZ AND
The story is told of Abdul
Aziz that he had a pearl of great beauty and value set in a ring.
Shortly after, a severe drought occurred, causing distress among
the people. Moved by compassion, the king ordered the pearl to
be sold and the money that it fetched to be given to the poor.
Someone chided him for doing
this, saying, "Never again will such a stone come into thy
Weeping, the king replied,
"Ugly is an ornament upon the person of a king when the
hearts of his people are distressed by want. Better for me is
a stoneless ring than a sorrowing people."
Happy is he who sets the
ease of others above his own. The virtuous desire not their own
pleasure at the expense of others. When the king sleeps neglectfully
upon his couch, I trow not that the beggar finds enviable repose.
THE STORY OF HOW TUKLA WAS
REBUKED BY A DEVOTEE
Tukla, king of Persia, once
visited a devotee and said, " Fruitless have been my years.
None, but the beggar carries riches from the world when earthly
dignitaries are passed. Hence, would I now sit in the corner
of devotion that I might usefully employ the few short days that
yet remain to me."
The devotee was angered
at these words.
"Enough!" He cried.
"Religion consists alone in the service of the people; it
finds no place in the prayer-beads, or prayer-rug, or tattered
garment. Be a king in sovereignty and a devotee in purity of
morals. Action, not words, is demanded by religion, for words
without action are void of substance."
A DISCOURSE CONCERNING RICHES
Say not that no dignity
excels that of sovereignty, for no kingdom is more free from
care than that of the dervish.
They are the most lightly
burdened reach the destination first.
The poor man is afflicted
by lack of bread; the king by the cares of his kingdom.
Though one may rule and
other may serve, though the one be exalted to the height of Saturn
and the other languish in prison, when death has claimed them
it will not be possible to distinguish between the two.
THE STORY OF QAZAL ARSALAN
AND THE FORT
Qazal Arsalan possessed
a fort, which raised its head to the height of Alwand. *11 Secure
from all was those within its walls, for its roads were a labyrinth,
like the curls of a bride.
From a learned traveler
Qazal once inquired, "Didst thou ever, in thy wanderings,
see a fort as strong as this?"
"Splendid it is,"
was the reply, "but methinks not it confers much strength.
Before thee, did not other kings possess I for a while, then
pass away? After thee, will not other kings assume control, and
eat the fruits of the tree of thy hope.?"
In the estimation of the
wise, the world is a false gem that passes each moment from one
hand to another.
A STORY OF DAMASCUS
Such famine was there once
in Damascus that lovers forgot their love. So miserly was the
sky towards the earth that the sown fields and the date-trees
moistened not their lips. Fountains dried up, and no water remained
but the tears of the orphans. If smoke issued from a chimney,
naught was it but the sighs of the widows. Like beggars, the
trees stood leafless, and the mountains lost their verdure. The
locusts devoured the gardens, and men devoured the locusts.
At that time came to me
a friend on whose bones skin alone remained. I was astonished,
since he was of lofty rank and rich. "O, friend!" Said
I, "What misfortune has befallen thee?"
"Where is thy sense?"
He answered. "Seest thou not that the severities of famine
have reached their limit? Rain comes not from the sky, neither
do the lamentations of the suffering reach to heaven."
"Thou at least,"
I urged, "hast naught to fear; poison kills only where there
is no antidote."
Regarding me with indignation,
as a learned man regards a fool, my friend replied, "Although
a man be safely on the shore, he stands not supine while his
friends are drowning. My face is not pale through want; the sorrows
of the poor have wounded my heart. Although, praise be to Allah,
I am free from wounds, I tremble when I see the wounds of others."
Bitter are the pleasures
of him who is in health when a sick man is at his side. When
the beggar has not eaten, poisonous and baneful is one's food.
THE STORY OF A BULLY
A bully fell down a well
and passed the night in wailing and lamenting. Some one threw
a stone down on to his head, and said, "didst thou ever
go to any one's assistance that thou shouldst today cry out for
help? Didst thou ever sow the seeds of virtue? Who would place
a salve upon thy wounds when the hearts of all cry out by reason
of thy tyrannies? Across our path thou didst dig a pit, into
which, perforce, hast thou now fallen."
If thou do evil expect not
goodness never does the withered grapevine bring forth fruit.
O, thou who soweth the seed
in autumn! I think not that thou wilst reap the corn at harvest
If thou nourish the thorn-tree
of the desert, think not that thou wilts ever eat its fruit.
Green dates come not from
the poisonous colocynth; when thou sowest seed, hope only for
the fruit of that very seed.
i.e. Abu Bakr.
6. Naushirivan the Just was the twentieth king of the fourth
dynasty of Persian, and contemporary with the Roman Emperor Justinian.
The Prophet Mohammed was born in his reign.
7. A title of the king of Persia. It was originally applied to
8. Literally "silver."
9. Darius Codamanus was the last king of Persia. He waged many
wars with Alexander the Great, who finally defeated him at Arbela.
The unfortunate king was afterwards killed by Bessus, the governor
of Bactriana, 331 B.C.
10. One of the kings of Persia. He was called Qazal because of
the redness of his hair. Arsalan means "a lion."
11. Name of a lofty mountain situated in Hamadan, northwest of