Tales : True charity

It happened once upon a time that Mullah Naasruddin was walking through the countryside, when he came upon a very ragged looking man sitting under a tree by the side of the road.

“Mullah,” said the man in greeting, “a little charity for a poor man.”

But the Mullah himself was chronically penniless, and at the moment had nothing in his pockets, as he attempted to explain to the poor man.

“Please, Mullah, anything! Only a single coin,” implored the man. “Look, this is all I have,” and he showed the Mullah a grimy, tattered, small cloth bundle.

“You have nothing more?” asked the Mullah.

“I swear to you, Mullah, these are all my worldly possessions. Beside this, I have nothing.”

The Mullah suddenly held up a bony finger and said, “Brother, it is in my power to give you something priceless.” And without warning, he snatched the bundle away from the man and ran off down the road. After a split-second of frozen astonishment, the poor man leaped to his feet and ran in pursuit of the Mullah.

Rounding a turn, the Mullah dropped the bundle in the middle of the road and dove out of sight in the bushes. From there he watched as the poor man appeared, and, finding his bag, clutched it to his chest in great relief. “Thank God!” he said. “Oh, thank God I have not lost this…”

There, said the Mullah to himself, true charity is making someone happy.

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