One of the sovereigns of those parts sent a message to him, stating: “So far I can rely on the generous disposition of his reverence, that he will one day favor me by partaking of my bread and salt, by becoming my guest.” The shaikh, or holy man, consented; for the acceptance of such an invitation accorded with the sunnat, or law and tradition of the prophet. Next day the king went to apologize for the trouble he had caused him. The abid rose from his place, took the king in his arms, showed him much kindness, and was full of his compliments. After he was gone, one of the shaikh’s companions asked him, saying: “Was not such condescending kindness as you this day showed the king contrary to what is usual; what does this mean?” He answered: “Have you not heard what they have said:—’It is proper to stand up and administer to him whom thou hast seated on thy carpet, or made thy guest.’”
He could so manage that, during his whole life, his ear should not indulge in the music of the tabor, cymbal, and pipe. He could restrain his eyes from enjoying the garden, and gratify his sense of smell without the rose or narcissus. Though he had not a pillow stuffed with down, he could compose himself to rest with a stone under his head; though he had no heart-solacer as the partner of his bed, he could hug himself to sleep with his arms across his breast. If he could not ride an ambling nag, he was content to take his walk on foot; only this grumbling and vile belly he could not keep under, without stuffing it with food.
On the Benefit of Being Silent
I spoke to one of my friends, saying: “A prudent restraint on my words is on that account advisable, because in conversation there on most occasions occur good and bad; and the eyes of rivals only note what is bad.” He replied: “O brother! that is our best rival who does not, or will not, see our good!—The malignant brotherhood pass not by the virtuous man without imputing to him what is infamous:—To the eye of enmity, virtue appears the ugliest blemish; it is a rose, O Sa’di! which to the eyes of our rivals seems a thorn. The world-illuminating brilliancy of the fountain of the sun, in like manner, appears dim to the eye of the purblind mole.”
A merchant happened to lose a thousand dinars. He said to his son: “It will be prudent not to mention this loss to anybody.” The son answered: “O father, it is your orders, and I shall not mention it; but communicate the benefit so far, as what the policy may be in keeping it a secret.” He said: “That I may not suffer two evils: one, the loss of my money; another, the reproach of my neighbor;—Impart not thy grievances to rivals, for they are glad at heart, while praying, God preserve us; or there is neither strength nor power, unless it be from God!”