I Know You?
In ancient Iraq, a
scholar and wise man by the name of Wahab bin Amr turned himself
wise fool, knowing that his insanity would protect him from
persecution. He became known as Bahlool, the idiot and hero of
folklore, forever revealing the underlying truth in various
social situations. A very pertinent anecdote featuring Bahlool and his feelings
on the subject of war goes something like this ...
A cruel and foolish king wished to amuse himself by watching Bahlool in
combat, even though it was well known that Bahlool was a hopeless fighter.
Bahlool pleaded for his life but soon realised that there was no
escape from his ruler’s desire for amusement, so Bahlool asked for a
last meal that was both scrumptious and plentiful.
The next morning Bahlool stood with his king and the king’s many
powerful warriors on one side of a field while the enemy’s king and
powerful warriors stood on the other side of the field.
At the chosen time, a strong and mighty enemy knight rode onto the
area of battle wielding a sharp and deadly sword, demanding that a
combatant be sent to fight him.
Bahlool had no choice but to ride onto the field of war but Bahlool had a
plan. When the fierce knight
charged with his weapon raised in the offensive, Bahlool signalled to him
that he only wished to talk. Bahlool
showed no fear and did not attempt to retreat but, despite the enemies
continued displays of aggression, he showed no sign of preparing to fight
and merely repeated his signal that he would like to have a little chat.
Eventually the frightening opponent was overcome by curiosity and moved
close enough to hear whatever it was that Bahlool wished to say.
Bahlool graciously greeted the warrior then asked, “Dear Sir, I just
want to ask you whether, by any chance, we happen to have met before?”
The warrior was puzzled and replied that he had never seen Bahlool before
in his life and thought he was a fool for asking.
Bahlool merely smiled and asked, “Have you ever heard of name before,
The knight grunted a laugh and said, “I do not need to know the name of
idiots so, no, I do not know your name.”
Bahlool gave his name and a small bow, before asking, “Now that you know
my name, Sir, can you tell me if you or any of your family have demanded
my death in some sort of revenge for harming any of your loved ones?”
The fearsome warrior was insulted and insisted that he was quite capable
of protecting his loved ones and that his entire family was safe and well.
Bahlool nodded as he said, “So is there a large sum of money that I have
forgotten to pay you, Sir? Indeed,
am I in debt to you for any reason? Is there anything that I owe you?”
The enemy knight exploded and insisted, “You owe me an explanation.
We are supposed to be in battle and all you want to do is talk.
Bahlool smiled at the enemy as he said, “I am indeed in debt for your
patience, kind Sir and would therefore like to vanquish this dept by
asking you to share a most wonderful meal with me. That is, if you can spare the time before you slay someone
who is entirely unknown to you and who has never done you any wrong.
The mighty warrior sat open-mouthed with shock as Bahlool rode his
horse close enough to touch the enemy’s horse while also taking from his
saddlebags the scrumptious feast he had been sent by his king as a final
Bahlool’s ingenuity and courage so amazed and impressed both his
opponent and the battle-hungry kings that the war was called off for the
day and everyone enjoyed each other’s company.
king decided never to send Bahlool to battle ever again, in case he kept
bringing peace to them all forever.
today I used to disown my friend,
If his creed was not akin to mine;
But my heart now has become a pasture
For gazelles and a monastery for monks –
A temple for idols and a a Kaaba for a pilgrim,
A sheet of the Bible and a page in the Qur’an.
I do now have faith in Love – and with it
I journey wherever its caravan heads,
For love now is my faith and conviction.
Ibn Ul-Arabi (1165 – 1240) Sufi mystic
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