Saviors Of Earth

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Dried Fruit - a short story from the East

Saturday, 06 November 2010 11:49

By Doc Jazz

A wise man one day was spending his day teaching his students, between morning and afternoon prayer. The topics that were discussed were deep and complex, and he gave his students plenty of opportunity for questions; he invited them to question everything they were told, and to ponder on their own thoughts and emotions about the meanings of life.


A few hours into the lessons, one of the students raised his hand. He said: "Please, dear teacher, allow me to interrupt your class for one question that has little to do with the subjects being discussed."The teacher said: "Sure, my son, ask the question that is on your mind. Believe me, in life everything is connected, so don't be surprised if your question turns out to have more to do with our subjects than you may think."


The student said: "Thank you my dear teacher, but the question is really of a very basic and earthly nature. We have been listening and straining our minds and hearts for a few hours now, and I am starting to feel hungry. Is it possible that I run to the grocery and get some food, so that my hunger does not stop me from concentrating on the lessons?"

"Granted", said the teacher. "But make sure you get enough so that others in the class will also be able to get their share. Undoubtedly, others are also feeling hungry by now, and we wouldn't want this to affect the quality of the teaching."

So the student rushed off, and soon returned with a large bag of dried fruit. He said: "Come on, my fellow students, why don't you all have some, this fruit is truly of the best quality in our region!"

But one of the other students interrupted him. "Dear brother, I believe we should not all rush to the food like this. Don't you think you should ask our teacher how we shall share this food? Otherwise, things might turn into chaos, and we are all hungry ... some might eat more than others!"

"Thank you", replied the food-supplier,"you are so right, my wise friend. Dear teacher, would you be so kind as to distribute this delicious dried fruit?"

The wise man had been following the events with interest, and seemed to be quite amused at the situation. With a twinkle in his eye, he said:"By all means, my dear student, I would be quite willing to do so. However, since it is your fruit, I will pose a question to you about how it should be distributed. Would you like me to distribute it in the way that God would, or in the way that a human being would?"

The student seemed surprised at the question, and hesitated for a moment. However, his voice sounding resolute and decided, he said: "Dear teacher, but of course I would like you to distribute it in the way that God would. Human beings are so prone to failure and injustice!"

"As you wish", said the teacher. "Please pass me the bag of fruit, and I will distribute it according to your instruction."

So the bag of fruit was handed over to the wise man, and he ordered his students to line up in an organized way, and pass by him one by one, in order to receive their share of the fruit. However, to everyone's surprise, he gave some students three pieces of fruit, while some received two, and others only one. There were even some who were told to move on without receiving any piece whatsoever!

Out of respect for the wise man, they nevertheless continued to move forward in the line, each leaving with his share. Yet already after a few minutes, discord began to spread in the ranks, and the rumble of heated discussions and disagreements started swelling in the class.

The student who had bought the fruit was looking at the situation in astonishment and bewilderment. He spoke up in a loud voice, asking everyone for silence, but no one seemed to hear him. Then he shouted out loud: "Please! Everyone stop!"

The students stopped their arguments, and the line was halted. They were all looking at him - with some of the less fortunate ones giving him some displeased and even angry looks.

"Please, dear teacher! I am so surprised! I asked you to distribute it in the way of God, so that it would all be shared equally! How can the distribution turn out to be so unjust, with some of my fellow students having more than they can eat, and some having nothing at all !"

The wise man smiled. He had obviously been anticipating this question, and had been patiently handing out the fruit in a seemingly random way, while waiting for it to be asked.

He said: "Dear student of mine, I gave you exactly what you asked for. You were given two options, and you chose the one that you believed to be best. I did precisely what you asked; I distributed the fruit to my own whim, based on my own judgments and plans, and not based on what you perceive as equality. There may be a wisdom to my way of sharing that you cannot oversee, however you are not in a position to decide whether it is just or unjust. 

In this same way, God gives to some people more than to others, but we cannot but trust that His justice is higher than that of ours, He is after all the Omniscient, and knows things that we do not know. Had you asked of me to distribute it as a human being, I would have taken extreme care to be perfectly equal in the distribution, for fear of the disapproval of our Creator, and for fear of his Divine judgment."

The wise man told everyone to give back all the fruit, and then distributed it evenly. 

He then dismissed the class, and said:"I hope that today's lesson will stay engraved in your hearts and your minds. If you have understood me well, I have tried to teach you that we, human beings, have to treat each other in perfect equality, and be fair and just to one another. We have no other option since we cannot judge one another, and this is why God has commanded us to treat one another in perfect equality. 

The ultimate justice, that of God, is only up to Him. He knows what is in all our hearts and minds. Undoubtedly, He who has the power to give or not to give, will in the end be more just than any of us humans could ever be. We should not question the unequal distribution of riches that we can see He endows upon this world ... some are born in poverty, and some in wealth. Yet we should always strive to be fair and just to one another despite this. Equal distribution is therefore a task for us humans - indeed a commandment to us from God Almighty, by which he will judge us all."

Note: this story was told to me by an Afghan colleague. I found it very interesting and therefore wrote it down, in order to share it with my friends. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

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