IV - ON THE ADVANTAGES OF SILENCE
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.
Sadi 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
If there be a chain they
will snap it.
An ill-humoured man insulted
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.
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
A word if heart-binding
Is worthy of belief and
When thou hast once said
it do not utter it again
Because sweets, once partaken
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
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.
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?
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
A house which has a neighbour
Is worth ten dirhems of
a deficient standard
But the hope must be entertained
That after thy death it
will be worth a thousand.
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
We are satisfied of thy
gift by departure.
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.
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:
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:
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
To make me aware of my defects?
He whose faults are not
Ignorantly thinks his defects
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.
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 Gods
sake. He replied: For Gods sake do not read.