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The Story Of The Dervish Who Wanted A Son

Sadi knew of a certain dervish whose wife was expecting a baby. The dervish wanted a son, so he took a vow and prayed, "God, if you give me a son I will give my neighbors all my possessions except the clothes I wear."

A few months later, the dervish's wife gave birth to a son and he was extremely happy. The whole family rejoiced and then the dervish carried out his vow. He entertained the entire neighborhood and presented them with his material possessions.

Several years later, Sadi was passing through the dervish's neighborhood after a trip to Syria. He asked some people standing in the street about the dervish's whereabouts.

The neighbors shook their heads sadly and said, "He is sitting in the local prison."

Sadi was very surprised and asked for an explanation.

The neighbors said, "One night, the dervish's son got into an argument with another man.  The dervish's son ended up seriously injuring the man, and then he fled the city. The authorities could not find him, so they decided to put his father in prison instead."

Sadi exclaimed, "I remember, that it was this very son for whom the dervish prayed and honored a vow!"

The following poem accompanies the story:

"Wise friend! It is better that the fruitful bride
In parturition should a serpent bear
Rather than sons (for thus the wise decide) -
Sons who respond not to a father's care."

Note: This story is based on one from Sadi's, "Gulistan-e-Sadi" or "The Rose Garden". I believe Sadi uses "serpent" here, because there is an old saying which states something like... "even if you tame a serpent [snake] and keep it as a pet it will still bite you!" Therefore, a serpent is better than a uncaring son, perhaps the "bite" is less painful?!