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They asked Hatim Tayi: “Have you ever met, or heard of, a person of a more independent spirit than yourself?” He answered: “Yes, one day I had made a sacrifice of forty camels, and invited the chief of every Arab tribe to a feast. Then I repaired to the border of the desert, where I met a wood-cutter, who had tied up his fagot to carry it into the city. I said, Why do you not go to the feast of Hatim, where a crowd have assembled round his carpet? He replied:—’Whoever can eat the bread of his own industry will not lay himself under obligation to Hatim Tayi.’—And in him I met my superior in spirit and independence.”
The Prophet Moses, on whom be peace, saw a dervish who had buried his body, in his want of clothes to cover it, in the sand. He said: “O Moses, put up a prayer, that the Most High God would bestow a subsistence upon me, for I am perishing in distress.” The blessed Moses prayed accordingly, that God on high would succor him.
Some days afterwards, as he was returning from a conference with God on Mount Sinai, he met that dervish in the hands of justice, and a mob following him. He asked: “What has befallen this man?” They answered: “He had drunk wine and got into a quarrel, and having killed somebody, they are now going to exact retaliation.”—The God who set forth the seven climates of this world assigned to every creature its appropriate lot. Had that wretched cat been gifted with wings, she would not have left one sparrow’s egg on the earth. It might happen that were a weak man to get the ability, he would rise and domineer over his weak brethren.
The blessed Moses acknowledged the wisdom of the Creator of the universe, and, confessing his own presumption, repeated this verse of the Koran:—“Were God to spread abroad his stores of subsistence to servants, verily they would rebel all over the earth.” What happened, O vain man! that thou didst precipitate thyself into destruction? Would that the ant might not have the means of flying!—A mean person, when he has got rank and wealth, will bring a storm of blows upon his head. Was not this at last the adage of a philosopher, ’That ant is best disposed of that has no wings.’—The father is a man of much sweetness of disposition, but the son is full of heat and passions:—That Being, God, who would not make thee rich, must have known thy good better than thou couldst thyself know it.
I saw an Arab, who was standing amidst a circle of jewellers at Busrah, and saying: “On one occasion I had missed my way in the desert, and having no road-provision left, I had given myself up for lost, when all at once I found a bag of pearls. Never shall I forget that relish and delight, so long as I mistook them for parched wheat; nor that bitterness and disappointment, when I discovered that they were real pearls.” In the mouth of the thirsty traveller, amidst parched deserts and moving sands, pearl, or mother-of-pearl, were equally distasteful. To a man without provision, and knocked up in the desert, a piece of stone or of gold, in his scrip, is all one.