“The holy Koran does not say otherwise, your highness, it inculcates that all who can, should do so, as the path will be rendered easier. Min Allah! God forbid! Has your highness ever had the time to go to Mecca, and is not your highness to go to heaven?”
“Very true, Mustapha, I never had time. In my youth I was busy shaving heads, after that, Wallah! I had enough to do, splitting them; and now am not I fully occupied in taking them off? Is it not so, Mustapha; are not these the words of truth?”
“Your highness is all wisdom. There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet; and when the latter said, that a visit to the holy shrine would be a passport to heaven, it was intended to employ those who were idle, not to embarrass true believers who work hard in the name of the Most High!”
“Min Allah! God forbid! the case is clear,” replied the pacha, “why, if every body were to go to Mecca, what then, Mustapha?”
“Your highness—it is the opinion of your slave, if such were to take place, that all the fools would have left the country.”
“Very true, Mustapha; but my mouth is parched up with the sand of that simoom—Sherbet I cannot drink, Rakee I must not, the Hakim has forbid it; what must it be then, Mustapha?”
“Hath the holy prophet forbidden wine to true believers in case of sickness; is not your highness sick; was the wine of Shiraz given by Allah to be thrown away? Allah Karim! God is most merciful; and the wine was sent that true believers might, in this world, have a foretaste of the pleasures awaiting them in the next.”
“Mustapha,” replied the pacha, taking his pipe out of his mouth, “by the beard of the holy prophet, your words are those of wisdom. Is a pacha to be fed on water-melons? Staffir Allah! do we believe the less, because we drink the wine? Slave, bring the pitcher. There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet.”
“The words of the prophet, your highness, are plain: he says, ’True believers drink no wine,’ which means, that his followers are not to go about the streets, drunken like the Giaours of Franguistan, who come here in their ships. Why is wine forbidden? because it makes men drunk. If then we are not drunk, we keep within the law. Why was the law made? Laws cannot be made for all; they must therefore be made for the control of the majority—Is it not so? Who are the majority? Why the poor. If laws were made for the rich and powerful, such laws would not suit the community at large. Mashallah! there are no laws for pachas, who have only to believe that there is one God and Mahomet is his prophet. Does your slave say well?”
“Excellently well, Mustapha,” replied the pacha, lifting the pitcher to his mouth for a minute, and then passing it to Mustapha.
“Allah Karim! God is most merciful! your slave must drink; is it not the pleasure of your highness? As the wine poured down the throat of your highness, pervades through your whole frame to the extremities, so does your slave participate in your bounty. Do I not sit in your sublime presence? Can the sun shine without throwing out heat; therefore if your highness drink, must not I drink? Allah Acbar! who shall presume not to follow the steps of the pacha?” So saying, Mustapha lifted up the pitcher, and, for a minute, it was glued to his lips.