The Share

Harun al-Rashid, the Khalifa of Baghdad, frequently had insomnia. One night he wanted to have some entertainment because he could not sleep. So, Masrur, his sword-bearer, suggested that he would go and fetch a funny story-teller called Ibn al-Karibi. The Khalifa had never heard this man’s stories and wanted to listen to them all the more.

Masrur went to Ibn and promised to take him to the Khalifa on condition that Ibn paid him three-quarters of what he got from the Khalifa. Anxious for Khalifa’s favours, Ibn agreed.

On seeing Ibn, the Khalifa said, “Make me laugh with your funny stories. If you fail, I shall have you punished severely.”

The unfortunate Ibn was so frightened at these words that he became confused and could think of nothing funny. The Khalifa grew wild and ordered his men to give Ibn a hundred strokes. After receiving twenty-five strokes,

Ibn asked the men

to stop. ‘My share is only one-quarter,” he said. “The rest belongs to Masrur.” He explained the deal between himself and Masrur.

So Masrur began to receive his share. After receiving twenty-five strokes, he said, “As Allah lives! I do not deserve such a large share. I give up my share of the rest! That is only fair!”,

The Khalifa burst out laughing at last. He ordered his men to stop and gave each victim a thousand dinars.

Chandamama September 1955 

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