Tales : The Advice of Bahlool

It happened once upon a time that the mighty king Haroun al Rashid was standing on the parapet of his castle, looking over the lands below, when he saw the figure of Bahlool the Fool, who was at that moment jumping again and again into the air, flapping his arms and calling like a bird with each leap. The king had heard that Bahlool was actually not a fool at all, but a wise man who behaved strangely in order to keep people at a distance, and he thought perhaps he could get some good advice from him.

“Bring Bahlool to me,” said the king.

The command was sent down to the guards at the gate, but they found they were unable to persuade Bahlool to enter the castle. “This is the gate of a cemetery. Only dead men walk in,” he told the guards.

When the king heard this, he said, “Very well. Put him in a basket and haul him up to me here.”

The attendants sent a rope with a basket attached down the wall of the castle, and Bahlool was pulled up to the level of the king. When Bahlool saw the king and his attendants, he gave a look of horror and said, “More dead people!”

“You cannot fool me,” the king said. “I know you are not a fool but a wise man, and so I want to ask you, how can I be closer to God?”

“You wish to be closer to God?” Bahlool asked.

“Yes,” said the king.

“That is easy,” Bahlool said, and coming closer to the king, said in a conspiratorial whisper, “You just have to wait for the basket!”

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