The king and the salt

A Muslim king once decided to go out with a few guards and ministers to a very distant place to see the poorest village in his kingdom. The people in that village had never seen the king before. They were so excited to hear that he was coming to visit them, and they decorated the village according to their poor capacity.

When the king arrived with his entourage, he asked his cook to prepare a delicious meal. The cook prepared the meal, but he did not have enough salt. The king said to the cook, “Go and get some salt from one of the villagers, but make sure you pay for it.”

The cook said, “O King, how will the villagers accept money for the salt if I tell them that it is for you? Even if I don’t say it is for you, if I ask them for a small quantity of salt, they will not ask for money.”

The king said, “If they don’t ask for money, no harm. Just ask for the salt and then give them double the amount of money that you would pay for it at the market.”

The cook said, “I will do it, O King, but I can’t understand why I should pay them. You are the King and you are coming here to visit them. They are deeply honoured that you have come.”

The king said, “These are poor people. You have to pay them! I have to think of my son and my kingdom. To protect my kingdom I have to make my son wise. No matter what I do, my son always imitates me inwardly and outwardly and tries to surpass me. If I take some salt without paying for it, then one day my son will come here and take something that is very expensive without paying. If I take something for free, then he will force these people to give him something for free that is very expensive.

“That is why I am paying double the amount for the salt. I tell you, one day my son will come here and pay four times the amount that something costs. That is what I want. I want my son to be generous. I want my son to surpass me in every way in good qualities, but not in bad qualities. Now I am showing my generosity, so that one day my son will come and show even more generosity.”