Shaqiq of Balkh (Part-3)

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To read the previous part of this story, click here.

Shaqiq-e Balkhi before Harun al-Rashid
When Shaqiq set out on the Mecca pilgrimage and reached Baghdad, Harun al-Rashid summoned him.
"Are you Shaqiq the Ascetic?" Harun demanded when he came into his presence."
"I am Shaqiq," he replied, "but not the Ascetic."
"Counsel me," Harun commanded.

"Then attend," Shaqiq proceeded. "Almighty God has set you in the place of Abu Bakr the Trusty, and requires trustiness from you as from him. He has set you in the place of Omar the Discriminator, and requires from you as from him discrimination between truth and falsehood. He has set you in the place of Othman of the Two Lights, and requires from you as from him modesty and nobility. He has set you in the place of Ali the Well-approved, and requires from you as from him knowledge and justice."
"Say more," Harun cried.
"God has a lodging-place called Hell," Shaqiq said.

"He has appointed you its doorkeeper, and has equipped you with three things—wealth, sword and whip. ‘With these three things,’ He commands, ‘keep the people away from Hell. If any man comes to you in need, do not grudge him money. If any man opposes God’s commandment, school him with this whip. If any man slays another, lawfully exact retaliation on him with this sword.’ If you do not these things, you will be the leader of those that enter Hell."

"Say more," Harun repeated.
"You are the fountain, and your agents are the rivulets," said Shaqiq. "If the fountain is bright, it is not impaired by the darkness of the rivulets. But if the fountain is dark, what hope is there that the rivulets will be bright?"

"Say more," Harun said again.
"Suppose you are thirsting in the desert, so that you are about to perish," Shaqiq went on. "If in that moment you come upon a draught of water, how much will you be willing to give for it?"
"As much as the man demands," said Harun. "And if he will not sell save for half your kingdom?"
"I would give that," Harun replied.

"And suppose you drink the water and then it will not come out of you, so that you are in danger of perishing," Shaqiq pursued. "Then someone tells you, ‘I will cure you, but I demand half your kingdom.’ What would you do?"

"I would give it," answered Harun.
"Then why do you vaunt yourself of a kingdom," said Shaqiq, "the value of which is one draught of water which you drink, and then it comes out of you?"
Harun wept, and sent Shaqiq away with all honour.

To read the first part of this story, click here.


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