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Books Section > The Golden Deeds of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Yakub Khan > The Desert Thief


The Desert Thief:
by Muhammad Yakub Khan
Taken from: The Golden Deeds of Islam


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Once upon a time there lived in a lovely oasis in Arabia a man named Ahmad. He was the head of his clan and was therefore known as the Sheikh. The Sheikh was a very good man. His fame had spread far and wide. Wayfarers found his hospitable door ever open, by day as well as by night. He would do sundry little things for the blind and the cripple. For old women, he would draw water from the well and was ever at the service of those who needed his help. Never did an untruth pollute his lips.

Now the Sheikh had a steed of the purest Arab breed. Throughout the length and breadth of the land wherever there was talk about horses of the finest breed, the name of the Sheikh's animal was invariably on everybody's lips. People from far and wide came to see it. The Arabs were very fond of horses and every now and then held horse fairs. On these occasions huge crowds would come to witness the feats of the Sheikh's steed. Many were the well-to-do chiefs who offered huge sums for it. But the Sheikh refused to sell it.

It so happened that like the Sheikh's steed, there was one more object whose fame had spread. There was a pretty girl, named Layla, who came of a nomad tribe and whose matchless beauty was the gossip of the tribes. Many a young man was attracted to seek her hand. When the fame of the Sheikh's steed reached her ears, she simply could not resist the temptation to obtain possession of it. She yearned for it and was bent upon having it at any cost. But the Sheikh, she was told, was not going to part with the animal for any price. So she hit upon a clever stratagem. She had it announced that she would give her hand to the man who might get her the Sheik's steed.

Qasim, an enterprising young lad set out to try his luck. After a long and wearisome journey across the desert, he arrived at the Sheikh's villa. The Sheikh, as was usual with him, treated him with all hospitality. But he would listen to no talk about the steed and refused big offers that Qasim made him. Disappointed to get the horse by fair means, Qasim thought of trying a trick. All, he said to himself, was fair in love and war.

It was the Sheikh's wont to have a ride in the evening and to come back home after sunset. One evening as he was returning from one such ride he came across, by the wayside, a man wrapped up in a blanket and crying in pain. The Sheikh pulled up the reins of the horse and stopped by the side of the man.

"What is the matter with you?" he asked the fellow on the ground.

"I am ill," the man replied. "Pray, have pity on me and take me along to that hamlet."

The Sheikh dismounted and helped the man to the animal's back, himself holding the reins and walking along in front.

"Wait a bit, please," said the man on horseback, as they had gone a dozen paces. "You have left my blanket on the ground. Please pick it up."

And as the Sheikh left the reins to go back for the blanket, the man spurred the horse and bolted off. Looking back, the Sheikh saw that he had been tricked. It was Qasim who turned back and shouted: "Goodbye, Sheikh! I am off. You see how I got the steed you wouldn't give for money?"

"Just one word before you bolt off!" replied the Sheikh.

"Yes, come along. What is it?" shouted Qasim, stopping a short distance away.

"Just one word," rejoined the Sheikh, "and if you promise me that, I wouldn't regret the loss of my pet. Should someone ask you how you got the steed, for God's sake, don't tell him you tricked me. It would mean a blot on the good name of Islam and Muslims. A Muslim is above underhand dealings and you must not spoil that reputation."

Though blind in love, this appeal to his higher self went home to Qasim. There and then he dismounted.

"Here you are," he said, handing the reins over to the Sheikh. "A son of Islam, I will do nothing to sully the name of Islam."

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Books Section > The Golden Deeds of Islam by Maulana Muhammad Yakub Khan > The Desert Thief

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