Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Shawwal 3, 1445 H
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Stories from the Book of Misers (4)


16) There was a man who owned a date shop in the city of Al-Mada’in near Baghdad. He had a young assistant who sometimes locked himself in the shop. The owner suspected that he’d be eating dates during that time. He asked for a white cotton and made the assistant chew it. The cotton came out sticky and yellowish. The owner said: “Is that what you do every day behind my back? Get out and never return!”

17) Abu Al-Huthail was a known miser who gifted Moes a chicken. Knowing that gifting never came naturally to Abu Al-Huthail, Moes expressed a great joy when receiving the gift and went on describing the great meat and fat it had. He even called it a marvel to which Abu Al-Huthail answered proudly: “Have you heard of its breed and age? As chicken only gets better with those aspects! And do you know what we fed it and how we fattened it up?” which made Moes laugh. Abu Al-Hatheel never realised that Moes was making fun of him. Since then, whenever chicken was mentioned, Abu Al-Huthail would boast: “It’s nothing compared to that chicken. Tell them Moes!” And when other meats were mentioned Abu Al-Huthail would argue: “The best fat is in meat and duck. While the best part of fish and chicken is the stomach. Especially if it was the same breed of chicken that I gifted Moes!” Even better, when people or birthdays were mentioned Abu Al-Huthail would refer to the dates as: “It was a year after I gifted the chicken” or “There was only a day between him coming and me gifting the chicken.” Hence, the chicken became a reference in every conversation he had.

18) A miser asked his wife about a piece of meat that went missing. She claimed that it was eaten by their cat. The miser picked up the cat and weighed it saying: “This the weight of the meat. So where is the cat?” In another incident, a piece of watermelon went missing. This time, the wife said that it was eaten by the neighbour’s cats. To verify her story, he threw the rest of the watermelon in front of the cats who naturally didn’t eat it. Nevertheless, the miser made the neighbours pay for the whole watermelon, even though they claimed that their cats were full at the time and hence failed his test.

19) Asad ibn Abdullah scolded his cook for over-cooking the meat, accusing him of using the excess fat for his own benefit. When Asad’s brother heard the story, he said: “Of ignorance better than knowledge!”

20) Bilal ibn Abi Burda was the governor of Basra at the time of the leprosy outbreak. People advised him of soaking in ghee to ward it off. Whenever he finished his baths, he’d order for the leftover ghee to be sold in the market. That year, people stopped eating ghee. Bilal also fed locals during the month of Ramadan. People would sit in groups and food would be served. After the call for prayers, Bilal would leave the table without eating and people would follow suit, feeling embarrassed to eat while their host is praying. Once everyone was busy praying, the servants would come and clear the tables.

21) A miser called Ibn Habbar was criticised by a poet who wrote: “If a cauldron cried for how long it’s been locked away from fat it would be that of Ibn Habbar/ It never touched fat since it was made and never saw fire other than the smith’s!”

Hope you enjoyed the misers’ stories!

Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of: The World According to Bahja.

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