Stories & Tales
The Clever Merchant

There was once a merchant who amassed a great fortune traveling far and wide and selling his merchandise. Although he felt he had learned a great deal about his fellow men and women through his travels and work, he still thought that finding true love and loyal friends was the most difficult thing to achieve in life.


As time went on the merchant's business improved and expanded until he had enough money to have a large palace built for himself, and he filled it with beautiful carpets. Because he loved gardens, he had all kinds of flowers planted in the palace grounds and a special gate put in that led to a field covered with fruit trees.


The merchant had an only son named Zahir whom he loved very much. He wanted his son to have a good education and employed tutors to teach him reading, writing, arithmetic and history, geography and literature. The merchant did not like to deny his son anything, especially since Zahir was such an honest and loving boy.


Zahir spent most of his time with a young boy his own age named Ziad. The two boys were always together and one was never talked about without the other's name being mentioned. Zahir knew very little about his friend and his father warned him that Ziad would have to prove himself before he could be considered worthy of a friendship. However, the young boy became upset every time his father expressed doubt about Ziad's loyalty and the subject was very rarely discussed.


One day the merchant decided to make a long journey to a distant land. He made plans to lock all his money and precious jewels in a large chest and to leave it in a safe place until his return.


As the merchant sat thinking of his trip, Zahir came to him and said, "What's on your mind, father?"


"I'm thinking of going on a long trip and I would like you to come with me. It will be a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about the world and the different countries and cultures in it. What do you think?"

Zahir was thrilled at the idea and told his father that he had always longed to accompany him on one of his adventures.


There is something else on my mind, son. I am worried about the money and jewels in this chest. Where can we put it all for safekeeping until we get back?"

Then the merchant said, "I know. Why don't we ask your good friend Ziad to look after the box for us while we're away?"


Zahir was very pleased with his father's suggestion.


"Do you think Ziad is the right person to give the box to then?"


"Well, he's your friend, isn't he? You love and trust him, don't you?"


So before leaving on their journey Zahir and his father put the chest with Ziad and told him that it contained money and precious stones.
The father and son traveled great distances, exploring many countries and learning about history and culture. One spring morning, the merchant said to Zahir: "I think it's time we returned home, my son. I must resume my work and you have to return to your studies."


So Zahir and his father went back home. As soon as they arrived, the merchant asked Zahir to go to Ziad's house and bring back the chest.
When Zahir returned with the chest, he seemed very upset.


"What's the matter Zahir?" asked the merchant.


"I am very angry with you, Father."


"Why are you angry, son?"


"I found out that you'd left only sand and rock in the chest, Father. How could you do that to my friend?"


The merchant laughed: "If your friend had indeed been trustworthy he would not have opened the chest to find out what was in it in the first place."

Zahir realized what his father had meant him to understand by giving the box to his supposedly honest friend for safekeeping.