[Go back to The Spider and the Wind]
Then said the king, 'Praised be God over all praise and thanks be to Him over all thanks! There is no god but He, the Creator of all things, by the light of whose signs we know the glory of His greatness and who giveth kingship and dominion over his own country to whom He willeth of His servants! He chooseth of them whom He will to make him His vicegerent and steward over His creatures and commandeth him to just and equal dealing with them and the maintenance of laws and observances and the practice of right and constancy in ordering their affairs to that which is most acceptable to Him and to them. He who doth thus and obeyeth the commandment of his Lord, attaineth his desire, and God preserveth him from the perils of this world and maketh fair his recompense in the world to come; for indeed He neglecteth not the reward of the just: and whoso doth otherwise than as God bidders him sinneth grievously and disobeyeth his Lord, preferring his temporal above his spiritual weal. He hath no trace in this world and no part in the next: for God spareth not the unjust and the corrupt, nor doth He forsake any of His servants.
These our viziers have set forth how, by reason of our just dealing with our subjects and our wise governance of their affairs, God hath vouchsafed us and them His grace, for which it behoveth us to thank Him, because of the abundance of His mercies. Moreover, each of them hath spoken that wherewith God inspired him concerning this matter, and they have vied with each other in rendering thanks to God the Most High and praising Him for His favours and bounties. I also render thanks to God, for that I am but a slave commanded; my heart is in His hand and my tongue obedient to Him, accepting that which He adjudgeth to me and to them, come what may.
Each one of them hath said what came to his thought on the subject of this boy and hath set forth that which was of the renewal of [God's] favour to us, after I had reached the age when despair is uppermost and hope faileth. So praised be God who hath saved us from disappointment and from the alternation of rulers, like to the alternation of night and day! For verily, this was a great boon both to us and to them; wherefore we praise God the Most High who hath given a ready answer to our prayer and hath blessed us with this boy and set him in high place, as the inheritor of the kingship. And we entreat Him, of His bounty and clemency, to make him happy in his actions, apt to good works, so he may become a king and a sultan governing his people with justice and equity, guarding them from the perils of error and frowardness of His bounty and grace and goodness!'
When the king had made an end of his speech, the sages and learned men rose and prostrated themselves before God and thanked the king, after which they kissed his hands and departed, each to his own house, whilst the king withdrew into his palace, where he looked upon the new-born child and offered up prayers for him and named him Wird Khan. The boy grew up till he attained the age of twelve, when the king, being minded to have him taught the various branches of knowledge, built him a palace amiddleward the city, wherein were three hundred and threescore rooms, and lodged him therein. Then he assigned him three learned men and bade them relax not from teaching him day and night and look that there was no kind of knowledge but they instructed him therein, so he might become versed in all sciences. Moreover, he commanded them to sit with him one day in each of the rooms in turn and write on the door thereof that which they had aught him therein of various kinds of knowledge and report to himself every seven days what he had learnt. So they went in to the prince and stinted not from teaching him day nor night, withholding from him nought of that which they knew; and there was manifest in him quickness of wit and excellence of apprehension and aptness to receive instruction such as none had shown before him. Every seventh day his governors reported to the king what his son had learnt and mastered, whereby Jelyaad became proficient in goodly learning and fair culture; and they said to him, 'Never saw we one so richly gifted with understanding as is this boy, may God bless thee in him and give thee joy of his life!'
When the prince had completed his twelfth year, he knew the better part of all sciences and excelled all the sages and learned men of his day. So his governors brought him to his father and said to him, 'God solace thine eyes, O king, with this happy youth! We bring him to thee, after he hath learnt all manner of knowledge, and there is not one of the learned men of the time who hath attained to that whereto he hath attained [of proficiency].' The king rejoiced in this with an exceeding joy and prostrated himself in gratitude to God (to whom belong might and majesty), saying, 'Praised be God for His mercies that may not be told!' Then he called his chief vizier and said to him, 'Know, O Shimas, that the governors of my son are come to tell me that he hath mastered all kinds of knowledge and there is nothing but they have instructed him therein, so that he surpasseth all who have foregone him in this. What sayst thou, O Shimas?'
The vizier prostrated himself before God (to whom belong might and majesty) and kissed the king's hand, saying, 'The ruby, though it be embedded in the solid rock, cannot but shine as a lamp, and this thy son is such a jewel; his tender age hath not hindered him from becoming a sage and praised be God for that which He hath bestowed on him! But to-morrow I will call an assembly of the flower of the amirs and men of learning and examine the prince and cause him speak forth that which is with him in their presence.'
So the king commanded the attendance of the keenest-witted and most accomplished of the erudite and learned and sages of his dominions, and they all presented themselves on the morrow at the door of the palace, whereupon the king bade admit them. Then entered Shimas and kissed the hands of the prince, who rose and prostrated himself to him: but Shimas said, 'It behoveth not the lion-whelp to prostrate himself to any of the beasts, nor is it seemly that light prostrate itself to darkness.' Quoth the prince, 'When the lion-whelp sees the leopard, he prostrates himself to him, because of his wisdom, and light prostrates itself to darkness for the purpose of showing forth that which is therewithin.' Quoth Shimas, 'True, O my lord; but I would have thee answer me that whereof I shall ask thee, by leave of his highness and his folk.' And the youth said, 'With [my father's] permission, I will answer thee.'
So Shimas began and said, 'What is the Eternal, the Absolute, and what are the two essences thereof and whether of the two is the abiding one?' 'God,' answered the prince, '(to whom belong might and majesty,) is the Eternal, the Absolute, for that He is the first, without beginning, and the last, without end. His two essences are this world and the next; and the abiding one of the two is the world to come.' (Q.) 'Thou sayst truly: but tell me, how knowest thou that one of God's essences is this world and the other the world to come?' (A.) '[I know this] because this world was created from nothingness and had not its being from any existing thing; wherefore its affair is referable to the first essence. Moreover, it if a commodity swift of ceasing, the works whereof call for requital, and this presumes the reproduction of that which passes away: so the next world is the second essence.' (Q.) 'How knowest thou that the world to come is the abiding one of the two states?' (A.) 'Because it is the stead of requital for deeds done in this world, prepared by the Eternal without cease.' (Q.) 'Who are the people of this world most to be praised for their practice?' (A.) 'Those who prefer their weal in the world to come to their weal in this world.' (Q.) 'And who is he that prefers his future to his present weal?' (A.) 'He who knows that he dwells in a perishing house, that he was created but to pass away and that, after passing away, he will be called to account; and indeed, were there in this world one abiding for ever, he would not prefer it to the next world.' (Q.) 'Can the future life subsist without the present?' (A.) 'He who hath no present life hath no future life: and indeed I liken the people of this world and the goal to which they fare to certain handicraftsmen, for whom an amir builds a narrow house and lodges them therein, commanding each of them to do a certain work and assigning to him a set term and appointing one to act as steward over them. Whoso doth the work appointed unto him, the steward brings him forth of that straitness; but whoso doth it not is punished. After awhile, they find honey exuding from the chinks of the house, and when they have eaten thereof and tasted its sweetness, they slacken in their appointed task and cast it behind their backs. So they endure the straitness and anxiety in which they are, with what they know of the punishment to which they are going, and are content with this trifling sweetness: and the steward leaves not to fetch every one of them forth of the house, [for punishment or reward,] when his appointed term is expired. Now we know the world to be a dwelling, wherein all eyes are dazed, and that each of its folk hath his appointed term; and he who finds the little sweetness that is in the world and occupies himself therewith is of the number of the lost, since he prefers the things of this world to those of the next: but he who pays no heed to this paltry sweetness and prefers the things of the world to come to those of this world, is of those who are saved.' (Q.) 'I accept what thou sayest of this world and the next: but I see they are as two set in authority over man; needs must he content them both, and they are contrary to one another. So, if the creature set himself to seek his livelihood, it is harmful to his soul in the world to come; and if he devote himself to [preparation for] the next world, it is hurtful to his body; and there is no way for him of pleasing both these contraries at once.' (A.) 'Indeed, the quest of one's worldly livelihood with a [pure] intent and on lawful wise is a provision for the quest of the [goods of the] world to come, if a man spend a part of his day in seeking his livelihood in this world, for the sustenance of his body, and devote the rest of his day to seeking [the goods of] the next world, for the repose of his soul and the warding off of hurt therefrom; and indeed I see this world and the next as they were two kings, a just and an unjust.' 'How so?' asked Shimas, and the youth said,...
[Go to The Two Kings]
Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.
1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM