The honesty certificate

There was a Muslim who was very, very rich. At the same time, he had a very good heart. Once a year he would offer unlimited gifts to the poor. He would distribute money, lengths of fabric and food unreservedly. Everybody was most grateful to him for his kindness and generosity, especially the poor people in the village.

One particular year, many poor people came to this Muslim on the day he was going to make his charitable offering. They formed a long line outside his house. The Muslim stood behind some tables which were piled high with grains, fabrics, fruits, spices and many other necessities. As each person came up to him, the Muslim would put certain things inside a bag for that person. He told everyone not to open up the bags there, but to wait until they arrived home.

One particular beggar waited in line very patiently. When it became his turn, the rich man put only one thing inside the bag. Then he gave it to the beggar. This particular beggar was extremely poor. He and his wife lived in dire poverty. When he returned to the tiny hut in which they made their home, he opened up the bag and saw that the Muslim had placed a single gold coin inside it.

The beggar immediately said, “O my God, this kind-hearted man has made a mistake. Instead of putting a little rice or something else inside our bag, he has put in a gold coin. I am sure he did not do it deliberately.”

His wife said, “No, you fool, you fool! We are so poor. Do you not see that God has given us this coin to relieve our suffering?”

Her husband disagreed. He said, “No, no, God is not like that. He does things in a different way. If He wants to improve our condition, He will give me the opportunity to do some kind of work. In the past, this rich man has given us rice, dal and new pieces of cloth to wear. I am sure he did not intend to give us a gold coin. I have to return it.”

The wife cried, “You cannot! You must not! It is God who has given this piece of gold to us in and through the rich man. This coin will provide us with enough food for many, many months.”

The husband replied, “I do not believe in this kind of God. Very soon the rich man will feel sorry that he has made such a serious mistake. We have to believe in God’s Dispensation. God has given money-power in abundant measure to this man and not to me. So I have to be satisfied with my poverty, the way he is satisfied with his wealth. I must go back to his house and do the needful.”

Although the wife continued pleading with her husband, he refused to listen to her. He took the gold coin and walked back to the rich man’s house. There he very humbly returned the coin to the rich man. The rich man was extremely pleased and moved. He had never met such a sincere, honest man.

He said to the poor beggar, “I deeply appreciate your honesty. Now, this time I am giving you a hundred gold coins. I am telling you exactly how many I am putting inside the bag so that you do not think I have made a mistake. Kindly take them. I assure you, you do not have to bring them back.”

This time the beggar unmistakably knew that the rich man wanted him to keep the gold coins. He bowed to the rich man, offering all his gratitude, and departed with his bag. When he entered his hut carrying the bag, his wife said, “Again you have brought the bag! Now this time what did he say?”

Her husband replied, “He himself has said that we should keep it. And he has increased the amount from one gold coin to one hundred gold coins!”

He opened up the bag and showed his wife all the coins. Needless to say, she was astonished and delighted. Her husband said, “You did not want me to go back, but I went. And this is what happened! Instead of one gold coin, we now have one hundred. We do not have to worry about food and clothing again. When you conquer greed, you get this kind of result.”

The wife said, “Yes, yes, I can see it. You were one hundred percent correct. Please forgive me for doubting you.”

So the beggar and his wife lived very happily. But the story does not end there. While the rich Muslim was giving the one hundred gold coins to the beggar, a merchant happened to be passing by. He was not poor in the least. He had a very nice house and he was extremely prosperous. When he saw the Muslim counting out the gold coins for the beggar, he hid and watched the exchange. Then a brilliant idea struck him. He thought to himself, “Tomorrow I will come to this Muslim’s house in the guise of a poor man. I will put on dirty, filthy clothes and stand in front of his door. For bringing one gold coin this beggar has received one hundred. If I put fifty gold coins in my bag and give them to the rich man, I am sure he will reward me by giving me much more than one hundred in return. I can easily afford to take fifty gold coins from my business for one morning. I will tell exactly the same story as the beggar. Who ever thought there would be such an easy way to gain instant wealth!”

The next day the merchant went to the rich man in the guise of a beggar. He handed the rich man a bag containing fifty gold coins and said, “Yesterday, by mistake, you gave me this. I cannot imagine that you intended to give me fifty gold coins.”

Then he waited eagerly. He was full of expectation that he would receive a substantial amount of money from the rich man. Meanwhile, the rich man was surprised. He could not remember having given this particular beggar fifty gold coins. What is more, even though the beggar was absolutely dirty and unkempt, he was wearing a costly ring on his finger. The rich man wondered how a beggar came to be wearing such a ring, and he began to grow a little suspicious.

Now the time had come for the beggar to ask for more gold coins. He said, “With utmost sincerity I have come here to return your money. Now will you not give me any reward?”

The rich man beckoned one of his clerks and requested him to bring a special piece of paper. When the clerk brought it, the rich man asked him to write down that the beggar was an honest man. Then the rich man gave the piece of paper to the beggar.

“You are not giving me money?” cried the beggar-merchant in dismay.

The Muslim said, “Oh no, I am giving you something much more valuable. I am so pleased with you that I am giving you an honesty certificate. Money I can give to this person and that person. But because of your exceptional honesty, I want you to have this special certificate!”