One of Harun-al-Rashid’s children went up to his father in a passion, saying, “A certain officer’s son has abused me in my mother’s name.” Harun asked his ministers, “What ought to be such a person’s punishment?” One made a sign to have him put to death; another to have his tongue cut out; and a third, to have him fined and banished. Harun said: “O my child! it were generous to forgive him; but if you have not resolution to do that, do you abuse his mother in return, yet not to such a degree as to exceed the bounds of retaliation, for in that case the injury would be on our part, and the complaint on that of the antagonist.—In the opinion of the prudent he is no hero that can dare to combat a furious elephant; but that man is in truth a hero who, when provoked to anger, will not speak intemperately. A cross-grained fellow abused a certain person; he bore it patiently, and said, O well-disposed man! I am still more wicked than thou art calling me; for I know my defects better than thou canst know them.”
I was seated in a vessel, along with some persons of distinction, when a boat sunk astern of us and two brothers were drawn into the whirlpool. One of our gentlemen called to the pilot, saying, “Save those two drowning men and I will give you a hundred dinars.” The pilot went and rescued one of them, but the other perished. I observed, “That man’s time was come, therefore you were tardy in assisting him, and alert in saving this other.” The pilot smiled, and replied, “What you say is the essence of inevitable necessity; yet was my zeal more hearty in rescuing this one, because on an occasion when I was tired in the desert he set me on a camel; whereas, when a boy, I had received a horsewhipping from that other.”—God Almighty was all justice and equity: whoever labored unto good experienced good in himself; and he who toiled unto evil experienced evil.—So long as thou art able grate nobody’s heart, for in this path there must be thorns. Expedite the concerns of the poor and needy; for thy own concerns may need to be expedited.
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A person announced to Nushirowan the Just, saying, “I have heard that God, glorious and great, has removed from this world a certain man who was your enemy.” He said, “Have you had any intelligence that he has overlooked me? In the death of a rival I have no room for exultation, since my life also is not to last forever.”
At the court of Kisra, or Nushirowan, a cabinet council was debating some state affair. Abu-zarchamahr, who sat as president, was silent. They asked him, “Why do you not join us in this discussion?” He replied, “Such ministers of state are like physicians, and a physician will prescribe a medicine only to a sick man; accordingly, so long as I see that your opinions are judicious, it were ill-judged in me to obtrude a word.—While business can proceed without my interference, it does not behoove me to speak on the subject; but were I to see a blind man walking into a pit, I would be much to blame if I remained silent.”