Pride and Repentance
It is recorded that the son of the King of Balkh, one day went out for a walk. On the way, he passed by a low wall, beyond which was a beautiful garden filled with trees and plants, full of flowers and fruits. On looking beyond the wall, he noticed an old man with a Sacred Thread tied around his waist working in this garden with a spade in his hand, planting a sapling of a mango tree. The Prince who was young, inflated with pride as the successor to the throne of Balkh, called out to the old man in the garden.
The Prince said: “ O old man, why do you plant a tree from which you will never eat?”
The old man replied: “I plant this tree for others after me, like those before me have planted the trees for us to eat from its fruit. So, I plant this tree so that others may eat from its fruit, and it is possible that we too might eat from it.”
The Prince said: “I take an oath to separate from all my possessions, if I see you live on the day you eat the fruit from this tree. You are an old man living on borrowed time from your Lord, and I doubt that he will grant you an increase in your age to eat from this tree.” After saying these words, the haughty prince went his way. The old man inquired from some of the people walking by about the young man who had just said the harsh words to him. The people told him that he was the Prince, and the only son of the Ruler of Balkh.
The years passed by. The Ruler of Balkh died and his son, the prince ascended the throne in the place of his father. By now, the young price had matured in age and had learnt the lessons of telling the difference between what was right, and what was wrong.
One day, he decided to go on a sightseeing trip around the city. He moved along with his retinue of bodyguards and soldiers. They passed an orchard, which was extremely pleasant full of fruit and flowers, filled with fully-grown trees with ripe fruits hanging on its branches, with its branches gently swaying to the breeze and pleasant air that filled the garden.
The prince took an immediate liking to the garden. He held back his reins, got down from his horse, and entered into the garden. The Prince did not recognise the old man who was tending to the garden. The old gardener, likewise, did not recognise the prince who was now the ruler of the land.
The old man acting in the best traditions of hospitality welcomed his guests and had them seated comfortably in the garden. He went around the garden with a basket, and started plucking the most ripe and delicious fruits with which he could serve his guests.
The King took some ripe delicious mangoes from the basket for himself, and gave the other fruits to his soldiers. He noticed the old man standing before him without eating anything from the basket and invited him to participate in the feast that he had laid out for him.The old man took the fruits offered to him by the King, and gave it to some of the King’s servants who were standing nearby, and said: “It is not fit for me to eat from these fruits.” The King was extremely puzzled by the old gardener’s answer and said: “But…why?”
The old gardener replied: “For the reason that when I was planting the mango tree, the Prince of Balkh once passed by my garden and rebuked me for planting the mango saplings and had said to me, ‘Your years are numbered, you are at the verge of your grave, and you cherish fond hopes to eat from the mango tree, which you plant at this age, and will never bear fruit for several years.’ And, when I replied to him, he swore an oath on the holy name of God that he would forsake all his possessions the day he finds me eating from this garden, and the mango tree. And, I soon found out that he was the only son of the King of Balkh, and out of consideration for his young age, I did not eat from the fruit of this garden, for the fear that if I eat from the garden, his holy oath would come into effect, and for the fear of God, I did not want to disinherit him of his father’s kingdom.”
The Prince who was now the ruler of Balkh immediately repented for his sin. He addressed the old gardener, and said: “Oh old man, I am the Prince, and it was I who had sworn the oath in the holy name of God for I was young and immature those days. I repent for my sins, and seek forgiveness from Allah, the Almighty God for my foolish oath. And, as for your integrity in forbidding the fruits for yourself from this garden, I confer upon you the rank of my minister, and will never begin any task without consulting you first. If you have truly forgiven me, then please accept this post as a token of my repentance for my sins.”
The old gardener hung his head down for a long time, and reflected on the words of the King and said: “I accept your offer. However, a Muslim King and a Zoroastrian Minister assisting him in performing his Islamic duties will be unable to coexist together. Since, we worship the same God, and desire what is best for us in this world, and in the Hereafter, and regard the same tenets as the principles of our faiths, I will become a Muslim.
Moral of the Story: If you desire the best in the world, and happiness in the Hereafter then do not turn away your face from the path of integrity.