The Episodes of Bohlool
It is said that Haroun Rashid sent some food to Bohlool. His servant brought the food to Bohlool, put it in front of him, and said, "This is the Khalifa's special food, he has sent it to you to eat."
Bohlool placed the food in front of the dog that was sitting in the ruins of the place. The servant screamed, "Why did you give the Khalifa's food to the dog!"
Bohlool said, "Be quiet! If the dog hears that the Khalifa sent this food, it won't eat it either."
Bohlool Sits on Haroun Rashid's Throne
One day Bohlool arrived at Haroun's palace and saw that the throne was empty. There was no one to stop him, so he unhesitatingly and fearlessly went and sat in Haroun's place. When the court slaves saw this, they immediately started whipping him and took him off the throne. Bohlool started crying. Haroun came and saw this; he asked those nearby why Bohlool was crying. A slave told him the whole story. Haroun scolded them and tried to cheer Bohlool up.
Bohlool said he wasn't crying at his condition, but at Haroun's condition. "I sat on the seat of Khalifate wrongfully for a few seconds and received such a beating and endured such misfortune; but you have been sitting on this throne all your life! What troubles you must receive, yet you still don't fear the consequence."
Bohlool and a Businessman
One day a Baghdadi businessman met Bohlool and said, "Sir Shaykh Bohlool! Give me advice as to what I should buy that would benefit me most."
Bohlool replied, "Iron and cotton."
The man went away and bought a lot of iron and cotton and stocked them. After a few months, he sold them and gained a lot of profit. Again he met Bohlool and said, "O Crazy Bohlool! What should I buy that would profit me?"
This time Bohlool told him to buy onions and watermelons. The businessman went and bought his entire savings worth of onions and watermelons. Just a few days later, they all rotted and caused a lot of harm. He immediately sought out Bohlool and said, " When I first asked you for advice, you said buy iron and cotton. I profited a lot from this, but the second time what kind of advice did you give me! All my wealth was destroyed!"
Bohlool said, "The first day you addressed me as Shaykh Bohlool, and since you addressed me as an intelligent person, I advised you according to my wisdom. The second time you called me Crazy Bohlool, so I advised you like a crazy person."
The businessman was ashamed of his behavior and understood Bohlool well.
Bohlool With His Friend
One day a friend of Bohlool's took some grains to grind at the mill. After grinding them, he loaded them on his donkey and started home. Near Bohlool's house, his donkey began limping and fell. He called Bohlool and said, " Give me your ass so I can take my bundle home."
Bohlool had taken an oath that he would not give his donkey to anyone, so he said, "I don't have a donkey." But then a donkey's bray was heard.
The man said to Bohlool, "You have a donkey but you said you didn't."
Bohlool replied, "You are a strange and stupid friend. Even though we have been friends for fifty years, you don't listen to me, but you listen to an ass."
Bohlool and the Sage in Haroun Rashid's Court
Haroun sent for a certain sage of Greece. When he came, Haroun greeted him with majesty, splendor, and respect. For a few days court rulers and the great men of Baghdad came to see this philosopher. On the third day Bohlool also went with some people. In the middle of the formal and petty talk, Bohlool suddenly asked him, " What kind of work do you do?"
The sage was aware of Bohlool's insanity, so he wanted to make him look like a fool. He answered, "I am a philosopher and I awaken the dead (people's minds)."
Bohlool replied, "Don't kill those (minds) that are alive (by giving wrong ideas). Reawakening the dead (people's minds) is your compensation for that."
Haroun and his courtiers laughed a lot at Bohlool's answer, and the sage shamefully left Baghdad.
Bohlool Criticizes Haroun
One day Bohlool was near Haroun. He said, "O Bohlool! Criticize me."
Bohlool said, "O Haroun! If there is no water in the desert, you are attacked by severe thirst, and near death; what would you give for one gulp of refreshing water?"
"What if the master of the water does not agree to give water for dinars? Then what will you give?"
"I will give half of my kingdom."
"After drinking the water, you get that illness in which you can't urinate. Now what will you give that One Who will cure this illness of yours?"
Haroun answered, " The remaining half of my kingdom."
Bohlool said, "Then don't give importance to this kingdom for it is not worth more than a drink of water. Isn't it proper that you do good with Allah's creations?"
Bohlool's Discussion with a Faqih
It is said that a famous Faqih of Khorasan came to Baghdad. When Haroun heard of this, he invited the Faqih to his court. He was respectfully welcomed and was seated next to Haroun and treated very importantly by Haroun. During their conversation, Bohlool arrived. Haroun told him to take a seat. The Faqih took one look at Bohlool and said to Haroun, "The Khalifa's favors and likes are strange that he likes an ordinary man and seats him close to himself."
Bohlool understood that the Faqih was talking about him, so with all his might he turned to that man and said, "Don't be arrogant about your worthless knowledge, and don't judge my looks. I am ready to debate with you and prove to the Khalifa that you don't know anything."
The Faqih replied, "I have heard you are insane and I won't have anything to do with crazy people."
"I confess my insanity, but you don't acknowledge your misunderstanding."
Haroun Rashid looked at Bohlool angrily and told him to be quiet, but Bohlool didn't listen to him and said, "If that person is so confident about his knowledge, then he should debate."
Haroun said to the Faqih, "What is the difficulty? Ask Bohlool some question."
He replied, "I am ready on one condition, which is that I will ask Bohlool something. If he gives a correct answer, I will give him 1,000 dinars (gold coins). If he can't answer, he will give me 1,000 dinars.
Bohlool said, "I don't have anything of worldly wealth, not even gold dinars, but I am ready; when I answer your question, I will take the money and distribute it among paupers. If I can't answer, then I will attend to you as a servant and slave."
The man accepted these conditions and asked Bohlool, "In a house a wife is sitting with her lawful husband. In that house one person is praying Namaz and another is fasting. Someone from outside enters the house. Because of his coming, the husband and wife become unlawful for each other, the prayers and fasts also become unlawful. Can you tell me who is the person that came?"
Bohlool immediately answered, "The man that entered the house was the woman's first husband, who had gone on a journey. When a very long time had passed since he left, and news was received that he had died; according to the permission of Shariah, the woman married the man sitting next to her. She hired two people; one to fulfill her dead husband's overdue, unfulfilled prayers, and another to fulfill tardy fasts. During this time the man who had gone on the journey returned, although news of his death was widespread. Therefore, the other husband becomes unlawful as do the prayers and fasts."
Haroun and those present became confident and praised Bohlool for solving the problem correctly. Then Bohlool said, "Now it's my turn to ask a question."
The Faqih said, "Ask."
Bohlool asked, "I have one jar of honey and a second full of vinegar. I want to prepare the refreshing drink Sikanjebeen. I fill one bowl with honey and another with vinegar. To make Sikanjebeen, I mix them both together. Afterwards I see that there is a mouse in it. Can you tell me if the mouse was in the honey or the vinegar jar?"
The Faqih thought for a long time, but was unsuccessful in answering.
Haroun said to Bohlool, "Now, you give the answer."
Bohlool replied, "If this person accepts his inferior knowledge I will answer the question."
Helpless, the Faqih confessed his inferiority.
Bohlool replied, "We should take the mouse out, wash it with water, and after it is cleaned of honey and vinegar, cut its stomach open. If the stomach contains vinegar, then believe that it fell in the vinegar jar. If it contains honey, accept that it fell in the honey."
The entire assembly was astonished at Bohlool's intelligence and knowledge, and praised him a lot. The Faqih bowed his head, and according to the deal, Bohlool distributed the 1,000 dinars amongst Baghdad's poor.
Bohlool and a Slave who was Scared of the Sea
A Baghdadi merchant was sitting in a ship with his slave, and they were going to Basra. Bohlool and some others were also in this ship. The slave started crying because he was afraid of the ship's turbulent movements. All the travelers became annoyed at this. Bohlool asked the slave's master permission to quiet him by some advice. The merchant agreed. Bohlool immediately gave the order to throw the slave into the sea. His command was carried out. When the slave was near death, he was rescued. After that experience, the slave quietly sat in a corner of the ship.
The travelers asked Bohlool the reason why this act quieted the slave. Bohlool replied, "This slave didn't know how comfortable this ship was or what greatness and value it held. When he was thrown into the sea, he understood that this ship is a comfortable and relieving place."
Haroun Asks Bohlool a Question
One day Haroun was intoxicated and was sitting in a place on the corner of the river, busy watching the spectacle being made by the water waves. Meanwhile, Bohlool arrived. Haroun gave a drunken laugh, and then gave Bohlool a happy, warm welcome, and ordered him to sit down.
A little while later Haroun said, "Bohlool, today I am going to ask you a matter. If you give the right answer I will give you 1,000 Dinars; if you can't answer, I will give the order to throw you from this palace into the river.
Bohlool said, "I don't have any need for the Dinars, but I will accept your offer on one condition."
Haroun accepted so Bohlool said, "If I correctly answer your question then you must free 100 friends of mine that are in your prison; if I don't answer correctly, you have the right to throw me in the river."
So, Haroun asked, "If I have one goat, one wolf, and a bundle of grass, and I want to get them one by one from this side to the other side of the river; then in which order should they be taken so that the goat can't eat the grass and the wolf can't eat the goat?"
"First leave the wolf and take the goat across the river. Then come back and take the grass, leave it there, but bring the goat back. Now leave the goat here and take the wolf to the other side. Leave it there, come back alone, and then take the goat. This way one by one, they can all be safely taken across the river. Neither will the goat eat the grass, nor will the wolf eat the goat."
Haroun exclaimed, "Bravo! You gave the correct answer."
Then Bohlool told the names of his 100 friends who were all in all believers of the Holy Imam. The scribe wrote these names down; but when Haroun received the list, saw and recognized the names, he broke his promise. Later, after listening to Bohlool again, he only freed and forgave ten people.
Haroun Asks Bohlool for Advice
One day Haroun was passing by on his way somewhere when he saw Bohlool riding a stick (as if it were a horse) and running with children. He called Bohlool who asked, "What do you want?"
Haroun said, "Criticize me."
Bohlool said, "Look at the palaces and graves of previous Khalifas with the mind's eye. This is a great warning. You know very well that these people pass a length of time in their palaces with pleasure and enjoyment, pride and delight. Many regret and grieve over their bad deeds, and are shameful, but know nothing can be a remedy. Know that we are also hurriedly approaching these consequences."
Bohlool's advice made Haroun uneasy. He asked, "What should I do that would make Allah happy with me?"
"That deed by which Allah's creations would be happy with you."
"What should I do that Allah's creations would be happy with me?"
"Become just and equitable. What you don't think proper for yourself, don't think suitable for others. Listen patiently to the pleas and requests of the oppressed. Give answers nobly, prove yourself true to favors, rule with justice, and give just decisions."
"Well done Bohlool! You have given very good advice. I give the order to fulfill your debts."
"Debt from debt is never fulfilled. Today whatever is under your control is the public's wealth, shower it upon them and do not favor me."
"Then request something else from me."
"My request is that you follow my advice, but it is sad that this world's majesty and splendor has made your heart so hard that my advice will have no effect upon you."
Then Bohlool shook his stick and said, "Move away! My horse kicks!" He remounted his stick and ran away.
Bohlool's Advice to Fazl bin Rabi'
Fazl bin Rabi' was passing by on his way somewhere when he saw Bohlool sitting with his head bowed, deep in thought. Fazl loudly said, "Bohlool! What are you doing?"
Bohlool raised his head, saw Fazl, and said, "I am thinking about your end. Your resurrection will be like that of Jafar Barmaki."
Fazl's heart started beating faster because he was so frightened at these words. He said, "O Bohlool! I have heard about Jafar's death, but not from your tongue. I want you to tell me about his death without adding or hiding anything."
Bohlool said, "During the Khalifate of Mansoor's son Mehdi, Khalid Barmaki's son Yahya was Haroun Rashid's scribe and permanent reader. Soon Haroun, Yahya, and his son Jafar became very attached to each other. Haroun had so much affection for Jafar that he did his Nikah (engagement) with his sister Abbasa, but ordered Jafar not to be violent toward her. Jafar opposed Haroun's wishes and made Abbasa a concubine. When Haroun heard about this, his entire affection for Jafar was swallowed up by enmity and discord. Now, day and night he searched for an excuse to kill Jafar, and thus destroy the Barmaki family.
"Finally, one night he said to his slave Masroor, 'Tonight I want you to cut off Jafar's head off and bring it to me.'
Masroor started trembling at this and worriedly bowed his head. Haroun asked, 'Why are you so quiet, what are you thinking?'
Masroor replied, 'This is a very big deed. O! Would my death come before I would do this.'
Haroun said, 'If you don't obey my command, you will be subject to my anger and wrath, and I will beat you in such a way that even pigeons will cry for you.'
"Masroor helplessly went to Jafar's house and conveyed the tyrant Khalifa's dangerous command. Jafar said, 'Possibly the Khalifa gave this order while he was drunk, and when his mind clears, he will regret it. That is why I want you to go back and give the Khalifa news of my murder. If by morning there is no sign of regret in him, then I will, myself, bow down my head in front of your sword.'
"Masroor didn't have the courage to accept Jafar's condition. He said, 'Come with me to the curtain that separates us from the king's quarters. Maybe your love will make Haroun helpless and will change his decision.'
"Jafar agreed to Masroor's idea and walked towards his sorrowful demise. When these two arrived behind the curtain, Masroor started hiccuping and became very frightened. He went and stood in front of the Khalifa.
"Haroun asked, 'Masroor, what? What!'
"Masroor replied, 'I have brought Jafar. He is here, standing behind the curtain.'
'If you show the least bit of slowness or leniency in obeying my order, I will have you killed first!'
"There was no way to linger after these words. Masroor ran toward Jafar and cut off his head--the head of the handsome militant youth who was famous for being among the most well-mannered, and excelled in virtue and talent; he was a leader of generosity and beneficence. Masroor put Jafar's head on top of his own and presented it to Haroun. The unmerciful Khalifa did not think that this was enough, so he ordered the whole Barmaki family to be destroyed, and their entire wealth to be seized. Jafar's body was hung on the fort of Baghdad; a few days later it was burned."
Bohlool continued, "Now O Fazl! I fear for your end. I tremble at the thought that your demise may be like Jafar's."
Fazl became very frightened at Bohlool's words. He said, "Pray for my safety."
Fazl bin Rabi' Builds a Mosque
Fazl bin Rabi' had a mosque constructed in Baghdad. It was decided to place a plaque on its door. The people asked Fazl what should be written on it. Bohlool also happened to be present. He asked Fazl, "Who did you make the mosque for?"
Fazl replied, "For Allah."
Bohlool said, "If you made it for Allah, then don't inscribe your name on the plaque."
Fazl angrily said, "Why shouldn't I have my name inscribed on the tablet? People have to know who the maker of the mosque is!"
"Then have it inscribed that the maker of this mosque is Bohlool."
"I certainly will not have that written!"
"If you made this mosque for fame and self-show then you have lost your reward."
Fazl became speechless at Bohlool's words. He said, "Whatever Bohlool says, have that inscribed."
This time Bohlool said, "Have a verse from the Sacred Qur'an inscribed on the door of the mosque."
Bohlool and a Thief
One day Bohlool was wearing new shoes. He went to the mosque for prayers. He saw a man staring at his shoes. Bohlool understood that he wanted his new shoes. Helplessly, Bohlool stood for Namaz with his shoes on.
The thief said, "Namaz isn't done with shoes on."
Bohlool replied, "I won't have my Namaz, but I will have my shoes."
Haroun Asks Bohlool Another Question
One day Bohlool arrived in Haroun's court and sat in a seat equal to him during the assembly. Haroun was surprised at Bohlool's behavior, so he wanted to embarrass him. He said, "Is Bohlool ready to give an answer to my question?"
"If you don't go back upon your promise, like you did last time; I agree."
"If you immediately answer my problem, I will give you 1,000 Dinars; if you can not answer I will give the order to shave your beard and mustache and to make you ride on a donkey through Baghdad's alleys and streets with disgrace and dishonor."
"I have no need of Dinars, but on one condition I will agree to answer your question."
"What is the condition?"
"If I give the answer to your problem, I want you to give the order that insects should not bother me."
Haroun bowed his head for a moment and said, "This is impossible. Insects are not my subjects."
"Then what does that worried person hope for if he can't even compete with or control insects."
The people of the court became astonished at Bohlool's boldness and intelligence.
Haroun's expression changed at Bohlool's answers. Bohlool understood that Haroun was planning revenge, so, to please him, he said, "Now I agree to answer your question without any condition."
"Which tree is it that has an age of one year, twelve branches, and on each branch there are thirty leaves, one direction facing light while the other faces toward darkness?"
Bohlool immediately replied, "This tree represents the year, the month, and day and night because there are twelve months in a year and thirty days in a month, which are half day and half night."
"Wow! A very correct answer!" Haroun said.
All those present praised Bohlool.
Bohlool's Gift to the Khalifa
One day Haroun Rashid gave Bohlool some money and told him to distribute it amongst the poor and needy.
Bohlool took the money, but a moment later gave it back to the Khalifa, who asked the reason why he did this.
Bohlool said, "I thought a lot, but found no one more dependent and poor than the Khalifa. This is the reason why I returned the money. I see that your guards and officers stand in the shops and whip people, collect tax and revenue, and then pour them all into your treasures. So I thought that you are the most needy person, and gave the money back to you."
Bohlool and Haroun
One day Haroun Rashid asked Bohlool, "What is Allah's greatest blessing?"
"Allah's greatest blessing is the mind. Khawaja Abdullah Ansari says in his supplication, 'O Allah! Those whom You gave intelligence, what else did You not give; those whom You didn't give understanding, what did You give?' In one reliable Hadith, when Allah decided to take back His blessings from His slaves, first of all He took their intellect away. Reason is amongst subsistence. It is sorrowful that Allah took this blessing away from me."
Bohlool and Another Thief
It is said that Bohlool lived in a desolate house. Across it was a cobbler's shop which had a window opening towards the house. Bohlool collected a few dirhams and hid them in the dirt. Whenever the need came, he dug up the dirt and took out the needed coins, and buried the rest back again. As it so happened, one day when he needed some coins, he dug the earth and saw that all of his money had disappeared. He immediately understood that the cobbler, whose window faced his house, had taken the coins.
Without making any comment or commotion, Bohlool went and sat by the cobbler to chitchat. Bohlool talked so much that the cobbler became confident and not uneasy. Then Bohlool said, "Beloved friend! Please keep an account for me."
"You keep talking and I'll keep adding."
Bohlool talked about some houses and buildings, and with each he mentioned some coins. Then he said that in the house he now lived in there was buried a certain amount of coins. After that the cobbler added them all up and said that there was a total of 2,000 dinars.
Bohlool thought for a while and said, "O friend! Now I want some advice from you."
"I want to bury all the coins I have at other places in the house that I live in now; what do you think?"
"Very good idea. Bring all the coins you have hidden and bury them in your present house."
"I agree to this. Now I will go bring all the coins from other places to bury in that house." Saying this, Bohlool left the cobbler.
The cobbler thought to himself, "I will bury those coins I stole back where they were. When Bohlool brings the other coins, I will find them and take all of them at once." Thinking this, he returned the stolen coins to their previous place.
A few hours later, Bohlool went to his house and examined the area that he kept his money in and saw that the cobbler had reburied the coins he had stolen. Bohlool took out the coins, thanked Allah, left that house and went to another. The cobbler waited a very long time for Bohlool, but he was not going to be and could not be found. After a while the cobbler finally understood that Bohlool had tricked him, and so had got his money back.
Bohlool and the Amir of Kufa
Ishaq bin Mohammad bin Sabah was the commander of Kufa. His wife bore him a daughter. For this reason the Amir was very sad and depressed. He stopped eating and drinking. When Bohlool heard about this he went to the Amir and said, "O Amir, why this sorrow and grief?"
"I hoped for a son, but regretfully, my wife had a daughter."
"How would you like it if Allah gave you, instead of these beautiful hands and feet, and a healthy and perfect girl, a crazy boy like me?"
The Amir of Kufa laughed uncontrollably at Bohlool's speech, thanked Allah, ate his meal and drank water, and permitted people to come and congratulate him.
Bohlool and a Vizier
One day a vizier said to Bohlool, "The Khalifa has made you Amir and commander of dogs, chickens, and pigs."
Bohlool replied, "Then from now on don't disobey my orders because you have become my subject."
All of the vizier's companions laughed. The vizier was very ashamed and embarrassed because of Bohlool's reply.