The Best Place in the World
Source: Mujtaba Issue 34 July/Aug 2004 | Translated by: Z. Manji

A caravan of traders once lost their way. They walked for miles and were so thirsty that they were ready to give up all hope, when they spotted a well! Thanking Allah (S.W.T.) for this blessing, they rushed to it. Quickly tying a rope to one of their buckets, they threw it in the well. When it was full, they began to pull it up but suddenly the rope snapped! SPLASH! The bucket fell all the way back!

"Perhaps we didn't tie a tight enough knot," one of them said. So they took another bucket and fastened it with a double not this time. Again, they filled the bucket and again, the rope broke and they lost the water!

The traders were too thirsty to risk losing any more water or buckets, so they decided to send a man down to bring the bucket up safely. Everyone agreed it was an excellent idea and they sent the youngest, healthiest man amongst them. They tied the rope firmly around his waist and down he went!

But as they were pulling him up, there was a muffled sound and suddenly they could feel no weight at the rope's end! Quickly, they tugged at it and it came up empty!

"Look!" cried one of them."The rope has been cut! There must be a beast down there who ate up our friend!" Sure enough, there were sharp teeth marks on the cut end! What were they to do? They decided to send the strongest amongst them, but lost him too. After that, no one wanted to go down the well, yet they needed the water if they were to find their way home.

"I shall go down and get us water," the oldest man in the group volunteered. At first, the others laughed. How could a weak, old man succeed when the young and strong had failed? But the man insisted, and finally they agreed. Slowly, they lowered him into the darkness. When he reached the bottom, the old man saw a pair of gleaming red eyes and heard the terrible laugh of an ogre!

"So you have come to save your friends, have you?" the ogre asked, in a mean voice. "You will join them and be my dinner! Hah Hah!"

"All I want is some water," the old man replied quietly, trying very hard not to show how scared he was.

"Anyone who wants my water must first answer a question!" the ogre shouted. "And if I don't like your answer, you will join the others who came before you!"

"Ask me your question," the man said, confidently.

"Tell me," cried the ogre. "What is the best place in the world?"

The old man answered,' The best place in the world is the place that a person is fond of. It does not matter whether it is a great, big palace or a dark hole in the ground, as long as the person living there likes it."

The ogre was very pleased with this reply. "You are truly a wise man," he said, "I shall let you take all the water you want and I will even free your friends so you can teach them from your wisdom!"

And so the traders got all the water they needed and their friends back. With their thirst quenched, they soon found their way home. But the best lesson they learnt was never to make fun of what others have!