The Emperor and the Seed
An emperor in the Far East was growing old and knew it was time to choose his successor. Instead of choosing one of his assistants or his children, he decided something different. He called young people in the kingdom together one day. He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next emperor. I have decided to choose one of you.”
The youth were shocked! But the emperor continued. “I am going to give each one of you a seed today. One very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come back here after one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next emperor!”
One boy named Ling was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly told his mother the story. She helped him get a pot and planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other youth began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Ling kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Weeks went by. Still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants but Ling didn’t have a plant, and he felt like a failure. Six months went by, still nothing in Ling’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed.
Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Ling didn’t say anything to his friends, however. He just kept waiting for his seed to grow.
A year finally went by and the youth brought their plants to the emperor for inspection. Ling told his mother that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But his mother told him to be honest about what happened. Ling felt sick to his stomach, but he knew his mother was right. He took his empty pot to the palace. When Ling arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the others. They were beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Ling put his empty pot on the floor and was laughed at. A few felt sorry for him and remarked, “Nice try.”
When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young people. Ling just tried to hide in the back. “What great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be appointed the next emperor!” All of a sudden, the emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring him to the front. Ling was terrified. “The emperor knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me killed!”
When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked his name. “My name is Ling,” he replied. Everyone else was laughing and making fun of him. The emperor asked for everyone’s attention. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold your new emperor! His name is Ling!” Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow his seed. How could he be the new emperor? Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone here a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new emperor!”
Moral of the Story
If you plant honesty, you will reap trust. If you plant goodness, you will reap friends. If you plant humility, you will reap greatness. If you plant perseverance, you will reap victory. If you plant consideration, you will reap harmony. If you plant hard work, you will reap success. If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation. If you plant openness, you will reap intimacy. If you plant patience, you will reap improvements. If you plant faith, you will reap miracles.
If you plant dishonesty, you will reap distrust. If you plant selfishness, you will reap loneliness. If you plant pride, you will reap destruction. If you plant envy, you will reap trouble. If you plant laziness, you will reap stagnation. If you plant bitterness, you will reap isolation. If you plant greed, you will reap loss. If you plant gossip, you will reap enemies. If you plant worries, you will reap wrinkles. If you plant sin, you will reap guilt.
* * * *
The Blind Boy
A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which said: “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat.
A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. He put the sign back so that everyone who walked by would see the new words.
Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon the man who had changed the sign came to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?”
The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.”
What he had written was: “Today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it.”
Of course both signs told people the boy was blind. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind. The second sign told people they were so lucky that they were not blind. Should we be surprised that the second sign was more effective?
Moral of the story
Always remain grateful to Allah for the bounties that He has showered upon us. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
“It is He, Who has created for you (the sense of) hearing (ears), sight (eyes), and hearts (understanding). Little thanks you give.” (Surah Al-Mu’minun, 23:78)
* * * *
The Pious Man
There lived a pious man all by himself, who spent most of his time praying, fasting and praising Allah. Almost all his waking hours were utilised in meditation and devotions. He was very happy with his spiritual progress. No wicked thoughts came to his mind and no evil temptations entered his heart.
One night, he had a disturbing dream. He saw that a shopkeeper in the town was far superior to him in spiritual matters and that he must go to him to learn the basics of true spiritual life.
In the morning, the pious man went in search of the shopkeeper. He found him busy with his customers, selling goods and collecting money with a cheerful face. He sat there in a corner of the shop and watched the shopkeeper carefully. “No signs of any spiritual life at all,” he said to himself. His dream could not be true. But then he saw the shopkeeper disappear to say his prayer. When he returned, he was once again engrossed with money matters.
The shopkeeper noticed the pious man sitting in the corner and asked him if he wished to have something. The pious man replied that he did not want to buy anything but shared the dream with the shopkeeper.
“Well, that is quite simple to explain,” said the shopkeeper, “but you will have to do something for me before I answer your question.”
“I will do anything for you,” replied the pious man.
“All right! Take this saucer; there is some mercury in it. Go to the other end of the street and come back fast within half an hour. If the mercury falls out of the saucer, you will hear nothing from me. There you go now.”
The pious man took the saucer and started running. The mercury nearly wobbled out of the saucer. He saved it just in time, and slowed down. Then he realized he had to return within half an hour, so he started walking briskly again. At long last he returned exhausted. “Here is your mercury, safe and sound,” he told the shopkeeper. “Now tell me the true interpretation of my dream.”
The shopkeeper looked at the pious man’s weary condition and asked him: “Well, friend, how many times did you remember Allah while you were going from this end of the street to the other?”
“Remember Allah!” exclaimed the pious man. “I did not remember Him at all. I was so worried about the mercury in the saucer.”
“But I do remember Him all the time,” said the shopkeeper. “When I am doing my business, I am also carrying mercury in a saucer. I am fair, honest and kind to my customers. I never forget Allah during my dealings with other men.”
Moral of the story
Islam is a way of life. Din and dunya are intertwined. The Holy Qur’an says: ”(Are) Those men, whom neither any bargain nor any trade distracts from the Remembrance of Allah and from establishing the prayer and from paying the charity – they fear the day when the hearts and the eyes will be overturned. In order that Allah may reward them for their best deeds and by His munificence, bestow upon them an increased reward; and Allah gives sustenance to whomever He wills, without account.” (Surah an-Noor 24:37-38).
Date parables posted: June 4, 2011
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Editor’s note: The authors of these parable are unknown. The same stories appear on the internet in different editions.
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