Sa'di: A story about wealth vs. virtue, from the Gulistan (early 13th Century CE)

Sa'di's Gulistan (Rose-Garden) is one of the most popular books in the Islamic world. A collection of poems and stories, it is widely quoted as a source of wisdom. A native of Shiraz, he was also the father-in-law of another great Persian writer, Hafiz.

I saw the son of a rich man seated at the head of his father's sepulcher, and engaged in a dispute with the son of a poor man, and saying, "My father's sarcophagus is of stone, and the inscription colored with a pavement of alabaster and turquoise bricks. What resemblance has it to that of thy father? which consists of a brick or two huddled together, with a few handfuls of dust sprinkled over it." The son of the poor man heard him, and answered, "Peace! for before thy father can have moved himself under this heavy stone, my sire will have arrived in paradise. This is a saying of the Prophet: 'The death of the poor is repose.''"

Translated by Nathan Haskell Dole and Belle M. Walker

From Nathan Haskell Dole and Belle M. Walker, eds. The Persian Poets. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1901, p.303.



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This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing.

The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State University, but material on this page may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:

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