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> The judge Karakash
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> The courageous woman
During the reign of Al-Mansour, a caliph from the dynasty of the Abassids, there was a wise judge in Baghdad named Abdullah the right one (al-Mustakim). For his impartial judgements he was respected by people and caliph alike.
One day the judge saw a woman and her son passing by. They only had a donkey and an empty bag with them. The mother was crying. After the judge stopped them she told: "Dear Al-Mustakim, I know that you care for the poor, please listen to me!" The judge pressed her to tell what was on her heart. "My husband died a few months ago. Just before he died, he told me never to sell our land, since our son needs it for the future. However, when my husband died, the caliph asked me to sell the land because he wanted to build a palace there. After my refusal, he pressured me more than once, but I kept my opinion. Then he told me: 'If you refuse to sell it, you loose the right to accept compensation'. He then chased us away; me, my son, and the donkey. Now I have nothing, what can I do?" The judge told her not to despair since he knew the caliph. He asked her to give the donkey with the empty bag and to leave things in his hands.
The judge went to the caliph who was busy giving orders to his architect. The judge humbly asked for an audience. The caliph, who knew the judge's wisdom, honored the request. The judge told the mother's story, and begged the caliph to revoke his decision. But it was in vain. The caliph was convinced of his right to confiscate the land.
Then the judge brought the donkey and the bag and asked the caliph: "If you stay with your decision, do this woman at least one favour. Please, fill for her one bag of the earth she possessed." The caliph, greatly surprised, asked the judge: "I fail to see what difference it makes. And why shouldn't we ask a servant to do this?" The judge told him: "When you would not do it yourself, the gift would loose its value." The caliph did what he was asked to do, but found out that he could not lift the earth. He said: "The earth is much too heavy." Then the judge said: "If one sack of earth that you are willing to restore to its rightful owners is already too heavy for you, how will you bear the burden of this whole piece of land which you have confiscated by violence? How will you answer God in the day of judgement?" The caliph had to acknowledge the wisdom of the judge's words. He returned the lands to the widow and the son, and in compensation for the grief he had caused, he remitted all the woman's taxes.
Arab Educational Institute, Moral Stories from Palestine. Culture and Palestine Series, Bethlehem 1999. For more information: email@example.com