A king once ordered that whoever told a lie should pay a fine of five dinars. The crier went through the city announcing the command, and people began to avoid each other, fearing that they might speak an untruth. Meanwhile the king and his wazir disguised themselves and wandered about the marketplace to see the effects of the decree.
They paused in front of the store of a rich merchant- though who is rich beside Allah? The merchant invited them in and served them coffee, and they passed time pleasantly in conversation. ” How old are you?” they asked,”Twenty,” said the merchant. ” What are you worth?”, ” seventy thousand.” ” How many children do you have?”.” One by grace of God.”
When the king and the wazir returned to the palace, they checked the records and sent for the merchant.”How old did you say you were?” “Twenty,” ” That will cost you five dinars. And how much are you worth? ” Seventy thousand,” “That will be another five dinars.” And how many sons do you have? ” One, by Allah.” ” Pay another five dinars.” ” First prove your case against me, said the merchant. “You are old man – sixty five years old, according to the books- yet you claim you are only twenty!” ” The years I enjoyed and in which I found happiness are but Twenty – but of the rest I knew nothing.” ” Then what about your vast wealth, so large that it cannot be counted or calculated, while you admit to seventy thousand only. ” “With those seventy thousand I built a mosque. That is my fortune- the money I dedicated to God and man. ” “Well, do you deny that you have six sons?” they asked, and named them one by one. “No, but five are godless drunkards and adulterers. Only one, may God look kindly on him, is upright and good.”
“You spoken well, O truthful one,”the king admitted. “No time is worth remembering but that which was passed os bliss: no wealth worth counting but that spent for the cause of God and man; and no son worth mentioning unless he is pious and good.”