The Emperor’s Watermelon

There was a great Muslim Emperor who was very kind. He used to fulfil the desires of his subjects unconditionally. One day, while the Emperor was walking along the street, he saw a mendicant singing a song. The song went thus: “Even if Allah does not give us anything, no harm; for our Emperor will give us everything.”

The mendicant did not know that it was the Emperor who was walking by, since the Emperor was wearing ordinary clothes. The Emperor said to him, “You come to my palace tomorrow.”

“Palace?” asked the mendicant.

“Yes,” replied the Emperor. “I am the Emperor. You come to my palace.”

The mendicant was moved and, at the same time, a little frightened, but he came to the palace the following day. The Emperor said, “Yesterday you were singing a song. I am pleased with you. I am giving you this watermelon as a gift from me.”

Outwardly the man thanked him, but inwardly he said to himself, “I thought that he would make me very rich. Now he is only giving me a watermelon. All right, let me accept this gift, since he is giving it to me.”

On the way back to his house, somebody asked the mendicant if he was going to sell the watermelon. The mendicant thought, “The best thing is to get rid of this watermelon. Who wants to carry such a heavy thing anyway?”

So he sold it for a very nominal price. With that money he bought some cookies and ate them. O God. A few days later he was walking along the street and whom did he see? The Emperor. The Emperor said, “So, are you happy now?”

The mendicant confessed, “No, I am not. You were so kind to me and you invited me to come to your palace. But you gave me just a watermelon, instead of giving me something valuable. I feel that I have missed my chance.”

The Emperor said, “You are such a fool! You should have examined the watermelon. Inside I had put a few gold coins. I had cut out a piece and put it back, adding four gold coins.”

On hearing this, the man started striking his forehead. “Now the man I sold the watermelon to—I am sure he has got these gold coins. I do not even know who the man was.”

The Emperor said, “You deserve this fate. When I saw you the first time, you were flattering me to such an extent. It is impossible for me to be more kind-hearted to humanity than Allah Himself. Out of His Compassion, Allah has given me a little wealth and a little kindness. Yet you have to flatter me to such an extent, saying that I am more compassionate than God! Is it possible? Because of your unthinkable flattery, you deserve this punishment. How can a human being have more Compassion than Allah Himself? Be sincere.

Then only will you be given everything. If you promise to me that you will be sincere, then I will give you a little money. I will give you ten gold coins, but from now on, be sincere. The world doesn’t need flattery. It needs sincerity. If you sincerely pray to God, God will give you everything.

20 February 1979