The Poor Man who Married Four Wives

Once there was a poor man who was a woodcutter. Whenever he wanted to petition Allah he used to visit Allah"s prophet, Moses, and say, Pray Allah to send me prosperity.

When Moses returned from speaking to Allah he said, Praise be to Almighty Allah, He says, Let him marry. The poor man married and his poverty increased.

He went back to Allah"s prophet, Moses, and said, When you go again to speak to Allah say that I married and my poverty increased.

Every time the prophet, Moses, went up into the mountains to speak to Allah he was gone for forty days. This time he said, O Allah, You know that this poor man is Your servant, and he wants to be relieved of his poverty a little.

Allah said, Let him marry.

But he is married.

Let him marry.

When the prophet, Moses, returned he said, Allah, the Almighty, says, Let him marry.

Amazed, the poor man said, But I did marry. Anyway he married again and his poverty increased.

And so it was until the fourth time that Allah told Moses, Let him Marry.

O Allah, he is married.

Let him marry.

The poor man took his fourth wife and before a month had pas¬sed she said, The work of a woodcutter is a poor sort of work I"ll tell you of a better job.

What"s that?

Haul sand and earth. Haul it from the desert for the people who build.

He said, I have no money to buy donkeys.

Here, take my gold necklace, sell it and buy a few donkeys.

He took the necklace, sold it, bought three donkeys and three saddle bags and he hauled earth for whoever was building. The three donkeys became four, the four became five, and, not to make a long story, the five became one hundred donkeys. He hauled earth until he became quite prosperous and decided to sell the donkeys and open a shop.

Four men bought the donkeys and began to work with them. The very first day that they went to the desert they began to dig and their axes struck against some metal with a clang. When they dug farther they uncovered the roof of an underground room. One of them went down and he found that the room contained seventy earthenware jars with covers of iron dipped in tar. He opened one of them and found it full of gold coins of olden times.

One of them said, What shall we do? Let us not carry earth to¬day, but load the donkeys with gold and cover the gold with earth and take it back to the city. So they opened the seventy jars and load¬ed the gold onto the donkeys and covered it up with earth.

Then one said, How now, father? We are tired and we cannot return to the city with a load of gold before nightfall.

Another said, Let two of us go to the city to bring food and two of us will stay here ~o guard the gold. So two went to the city and two remained with the treasure and the donkeys.

The two who went for food began to talk together. One of them said. How is it? Why should we divide the treasure among four? Why not divide it between us two and not let the others have any?

What"s your plan? asked the other.

Aren"t we going to the city for food? answered his friend. We shall eat our fill in the city before we return, and in the food that we take to the others we will put poison and they will eat it and die and we will bury them in the underground room and the donkeys and the wealth will be ours alone.

That"s a good idea, said the other. They went and ordered bread and kibab and bought greens according to plan and went back to their friends.

The two men who stayed with the donkeys also made a plan. One of them said, When the two who have gone to the city come back we will attack them from behind as soon as they sit down and kill them so that this wealth will be for the two of us. .

That"s a good idea, said the other.

The two men came back from the city bringing the food.

Please come and eat, said the two hungry men.

No, you eat. We are not hungry; we ate in the city, said the other two and they sat down at some distance from the food.

Well, let us eat, the others said, but first we will bring the water jars from over there. So they went behind their friends who were sitting on the ground and each man had in his hand his ax which he buried in the head of one of the men who had just come from the city. They dragged the bodies to the underground room, washed their hands and began to eat the kibab. The poison entered their blood and they also died.

The donkeys remained standing patiently until the usual time to return in the evening and then they started to return home. They followed the road they knew until they reached the house of the man who had sold them. The man and his four wives were sitting at supper when they heard a strange knocking at the door. The donkeys were knocking on the door with their heads. The husband said, Go and see who is there.

One of the wives went to open the door and said, 0 here are the
donkeys you sold; they have lost their way.

Poor things. Let them come in and take off their loads. They can stay until their master comes for them.
The courtyard of that house was very large because it was built on the edge of the desert. They let in the hundred donkeys and dump¬ed their loads which they found were golden coins. They called their husband, Come and see what is here.

They closed the door and worked all night until near morning picking the gold coins out of the dirt and putting them in all sorts of containers which they buried in the earth. Today, tomorrow, the day after, they waited for someone to come for the donkeys. No one came. No one came at all. So the donkeys became theirs as well as the gold.

One day Allah"s prophet, Moses, came to see the man with the four wives. How are things with you now? he asked.
I ask Allah to bless you. Praise be to Almighty. I did as He said, and He provided for me. Good luck was on the forehead of my fourth wife who brought me fortune. Praise be to Allah.