ON THE ADVANTAGES OF SILENCE
I said to a friend that I have chosen rather to be silent than to
speak because on most occasions good and bad words are scattered
concurrently but enemies perceive only the latter. He replied: ‘That
enemy is the greatest who does not see any good.’
The brother of enmity passes not near a good man
Except to consider him as a most wicked liar.
Virtue is to the eyes of enmity the greatest fault.
Sa’di is a rose but to the eye of enemies a thorn.
The world illumining sun and fountain of light
Look ugly to the eye of the mole.
A merchant, having suffered loss of a thousand dinars, enjoined
his son not to reveal it to anyone. The boy said: ‘It is thy order and
I shall not tell it but thou must inform me of the utility of this
proceeding and of the propriety of concealment.’ He replied: ‘For fear
the misfortune would be double; namely, the loss of the money and,
secondly, the joy of neighbours at our loss.’
Reveal not thy grief to enemies
Because they will say ‘La haul’ but rejoice.
An intelligent youth possessed an abundant share of
accomplishments and discreet behaviour so that he was allowed to sit
in assemblies of learned men but he refrained from conversing with
them. His father once asked him why he did not likewise speak on
subjects he was acquainted with. He replied: ‘I fear I may be asked
what I do not know and be put to shame.’
Hast thou heard how a Sufi drove
A few nails under his sandals
And an officer taking him by the sleeve
Said to him: ‘Come and shoe my horse.’
For what thou hast not said no one will trouble thee
But when thou hast spoken bring the proof.
A scholar of note had a controversy with an unbeliever but, being
unable to cope with him in argument, shook his head and retired.
Someone asked him how it came to pass that, with all his eloquence and
learning, he had been unable vanquish an irreligious man. He
replied: ‘My learning is in the Quran, in tradition and in the sayings
of sheikhs, which he neither believes in nor listens to. Then of
what use is it to me to hear him blaspheming?’
To him of whom thou canst not rid thyself by the Quran and tradition
The best reply is if thou dost not reply anything.
Galenus saw a fool hanging on with his hands to the collar of a
learned man and insulting him, whereon he said: ‘If he were learned he
would not have come to this pass with an ignorant man.’
Two wise men do not contend and quarrel
Nor does a scholar fight with a contemptible fellow.
If an ignorant man in his rudeness speaks harshly
An intelligent man tenderly reconciles his heart.
Two pious men keep a hair between them untorn
And so does a mild with a headstrong man.
If however both sides are fools
If there be a chain they will snap it.
An ill-humoured man insulted someone.
He bore it and replied: ‘O man of happy issue,
I am worse than thou canst say that I am
Because I know thou art not aware of my faults as I am.
Subhan Vail is considered to have had no equal in rhetorics
because he had addressed an assembly during a year and had not
repeated the same word but, when the same meaning happened to occur,
he expressed it in another manner and this is one of the
accomplishments of courtiers and princes.
A word if heart-binding and sweet
Is worthy of belief and of approbation.
When thou hast once said it do not utter it again
Because sweets, once partaken of, suffice.
I heard a philosopher say that no one has ever made a confession
of his own folly except he who begins speaking, whilst another has not
yet finished his talk.
Words have a head, O shrewd man, and a tail.
Do not insert thy words between words of others.
The possessor of deliberation, intelligence and shrewdness
Does not say a word till he sees silence.
Several officials of Sultan Mahmud asked Hasan Muimandi one day what
the sultan had told him about a certain affair. He replied: ‘You
must yourselves have heard it.’ They rejoined: ‘What he says to thee
he does not think proper to communicate to the like of us.’ He
answered: ‘Because he trusts that I shall not reveal it. Then why do
you ask me to do so?’
A knowing man will not utter every word which occurs to him.
It is not proper to endanger one’s head for the king’s secret.
I was hesitating in the conclusion of a bargain for the purchase
of a house when a Jew said: ‘Buy it for I am one of the landholders of
this ward. Ask me for a description of the house as it is and it has
no defect.’ I replied: ‘Except that thou art the neighbour of it.’
A house which has a neighbour like thee
Is worth ten dirhems of a deficient standard
But the hope must be entertained
That after thy death it will be worth a thousand.
A poet went to an amir of robbers and recited a panegyric but he
ordered him to be divested of his robe. As the poor man was
departing naked in the world, he was attacked from behind by dogs,
whereon he intended to snatch up a stone but it was frozen to the
ground and, being unable to do so, he exclaimed: ‘What whore-sons of
men are these? They have let loose the dogs and have tied down the
stones.’ The amir of the robbers who heard these words from his room
laughed and said: ‘O philosopher, ask something from me.’ He
replied: ‘I ask for my robe if thou wilt make me a present of it.’
We are satisfied of thy gift by departure.
A man was hoping for the gifts of people.
I hope no gift from thee. Do me no evil.
The robber chief took pity upon him, ordered his robe to be restored
to him and added to it a sheepskin jacket with some dirhems.
An astrologer, having entered his own house, saw a stranger and,
getting angry, began to insult him, whereon both fell upon each
other and fought so that turmoil and confusion ensued. A pious man who
had the scene exclaimed:
‘How knowest thou what is in the zenith of the sky
If thou art not aware who is in thy house?’
A preacher imagined his miserable voice to be pleasing and raised
useless shouts, thou wouldst have said that the crow of separation had
become the tune of his song; and the verse- for the most detestable
of voices is surely the voice of asses- appears to have been applicable
to him. This distich also concerns him:
When the preacher Abu-l-Fares brays
At his voice Istakhar-Fares quakes.
On account of the position he occupied the inhabitants of the
locality submitted to the hardship and did not think proper to
molest him. In course of time, however, another preacher of that
region, who bore secret enmity towards him, arrived on a visit and
said to him: ‘I have dreamt about thee, may it end well!’ ‘What hast
thou dreamt?’ ‘I dreamt that thy voice had become pleasant and that
the people were comfortable during thy sermons.’ The preacher
meditated a while on these words and then said: ‘Thou hast dreamt a
blessed dream because thou hast made me aware of my defect. It has
become known to me that I have a disagreeable voice and that the
people are displeased with my loud reading. Accordingly I have
determined henceforth not to address them except in a subdued voice’:
I am displeased with the company of friends
To whom my bad qualities appear to be good.
They fancy my faults are virtues and perfection.
My thorns they believe to be rose and jessamine.
Say. Where is the bold and quick enemy
To make me aware of my defects?
He whose faults are not told him
Ignorantly thinks his defects are virtues.
A man used to shout superfluous calls to prayers in the mosque of
Sinjar and in a voice which displeased all who heard it. The owner
of the mosque, who was a just and virtuous amir, not desirous to
give him pain, said: ‘My good fellow, in this mosque there are old
muezzins’ to each of whom I pay five dinars monthly but to thee I
shall give ten, if thou wilt go to another place.’ The man agreed
and went away. Some time afterwards however, he returned to the amir
and said: ‘My lord, thou hast injured me by turning me away for ten
dinars from this place because where I next went they offered me
twenty dinars to go to another locality but I refused.’ The amir
smiled and said: ‘By no means accept them because will give thee
even fifty dinars.’
No one can scrape the mud from gravel with an axe
As thy discordant shouting scrapes the heart.
A fellow with a disagreeable voice happened to be reading the Quran,
when a pious man passed near, and asked him what his monthly salary
was. He replied: ‘Nothing.’ He further inquired: ‘Then why takest thou
this trouble?’ He replied: ‘I am reading for God’s sake.’ He
replied: ‘For God’s sake do not read.’
If thou readest the Quran thus
Thou wilt deprive the religion of splendour.