The beggar’s well-deserved dinner


Many years ago, there lived two woodcutters, Rahim and Rahman, in a village. They would go out every morning to the nearby forest to cut firewood and sell it in the nearby town. They earned barely enough to survive. After they had cut wood, they would sit on the bank of the river and eat their lunch from their lunch boxes. Next they would sell the firewood till the end of the day in the marketplace before going home.

One sunny day, the woodcutters were eating their lunch. It was at that time, Rahim noticed a thin and exhausted beggar, coming out of the forest. His clothes were torn and his hair was dishevelled. The beggar hungrily eyed the packets of lunch.

“I see that you are having an excellent day my friends,” said the beggar, addressing them. “I wonder if you can spare a few morsels of food for me.”

Rahim, who felt sorry for the beggar, quickly reached for his packet of lunch bag and was about to give a part of it to the beggar, but Rahman immediately grabbed his elbow and pulled him back.

“We have no food to spare,” Rahman told the beggar. “We work hard throughout the morning and pack enough food for ourselves to see us through the day. At the end of the day, we buy food and other essentials for our families. So you see we cannot give you what we are eating. But if you wish, I can lend you my Axe and we both will teach you how to cut firewood and sell it. In Sha Allah at the end of the day, you will have enough to eat and buy yourself a new Axe to cut more firewood tomorrow. This way, you can earn a livelihood with dignity.”

The beggar joined Rahman and they both went inside the forest. Patiently, Rahman showed the poor man how to cut the firewood and make it into a neat pile. Thereafter they took him to the market and told him how to sell it.

At first, the beggar had no success. He began to mutter angrily: “It would have been so much simpler if these men had been generous, and shared their food with him.”

As he was thinking, a carriage pulled up before him. A person stepped out. He purchased the whole bundle from the beggar. While making an exit, he pulled out a bundle of currency notes from his pocket and pressed it into his hands. The beggar was delighted and grinning happily, he proudly took the money to Rahman to show them his earnings. Rahman took him to another shop and purchased him a brand new Axe with a part of his money. After thanking Rahman and Rahim for their help, he headed towards an inn to eat his dinner and catch up with some badly needed rest.

After he had gone, Rahman told Rahim, “Had you given the beggar some food, he would have eaten it quickly and would have been again hungry tonight. By teaching him how to start his own trade in firewood, we have both taught him a skill, which will last him a lifetime. Now he will never go hungry again. In doing this, we have followed the teachings and the example that has been set for us by the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him).”

As a very famous saying goes, “Don’t give them fish but teach them how to catch the fish.”

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