The bloodletter’s emulation of the merchant


It is said that in one of the distant cities of Khwarazm there was a merchant of much wealth and property whose name was ‘Abd al-Malik. He was always trying to find ways to make more money, so he frequented the gatherings of the learned men as well as those of the poor.

One day he thought: “I have been engaged in many kinds of business in different parts of the world, but now I am going to follow the Qur’anic precept”:


Having decided upon this, he proceeded to carry out his decision. Whatever wealth he possessed he distributed for charity. Whatever riches he had he gave as alms to the poor. He did not even had enough money left for his breakfast.

That night in a dream he saw a monk. He asked him: “Who are you?”

The monk replied, “I am the spirit of your good fortune. Since you have given all your wealth for charity and all your money to the poor, you must not be left to starve. Tomorrow morning I will reappear in this form before you. At that time you must hit me on the head with a cudgel and I will fall down and turn into gold. Whenever you cut off a part of me that part will grow back again and whatever limb you remove another will immediately grow in its place”.

O, Nakhshabi, relinquish whatever wealth you possess.
How long will you charity and benevolence disdain?
For the sake of God donate to someone a pure gold coin
And a thousand will later be your well deserved gain.

The next day when the night-travelling monk – the moon – was entering the temple in the west, and when the great, devout wayfarer – the sun – was spreading the carpet of light in the sky, and at the moment when the bloodletter was trimming the beard and the moustache of ‘Abd al-Malik, the monk appeared.

‘Abd al-Malik arose and hit him on the head several times with a cane. The monk immediately fell down and turned into gold. ‘Abd al-Malik gave a few silver coins to the bloodletter and warned him not to divulge the secret.

The bloodletter surmised that if anyone struck a monk on the head, that monk would turn into gold. He went home and made preparations for a feast inviting several monks to be his guests. After the dinner was over, he fetched a heavy stick and hit the monks on their heads with such force that their scalps were cut and blood began to flow like a stream. When the monks started to scream and wail with pain, a large crowd gathered. They bound the bloodletter securely and took him along with the monks to the magistrate of the city.

The magistrate asked: “Why did you beat up those poor people and crack their heads open?”

The bloodletter replied: “I was in the house of ‘Abd al-Malik when a monk came to see him. He beat him on the head several times with a cane and the monk immediately turned into gold. I thought that anyone who hit a monk on the head could cause him to turn into gold. With this temptation I invited the monks to be my guests and struck a few blows on their heads. Not only their condition failed to change, but the whole affair ended in a great fiasco”.

The magistrate summoned ‘Abd al-Malik and asked him: “what is this bloodletter claiming?”

‘Abd al-Malik answered: “This man lives on my street. For several days his senses have been affected and his mind has become deranged. He wanders around all day like a madman and talks nonsense. Otherwise why would a sane person act in such a manner or an intelligent man utter such words? He needs care, proper treatment, medicine and potions. He must be taken to a doctor. He must be sent to a capable physician. It is a pity that such a bloodletter should be wasted and it is regretful that his skill should be lost”.

The words of ‘Abd al-Malik met with the approval of the magistrate. He made excuses to the monks and ordered that the bloodletter be released.

O Nakhshabi, conduct your true self with integrity.
When will you ever forsake thought of worldly possession!
Fools will imitate unsuitable actions of others.
To maintain self esteem, you should always use discretion.