About the Translator: Mahmoud Fathi Saad
CEO and Translation Manager of Endpoint Translation Company
Mahmoud Fathi (born in 1987) is an English <> Arabic translator with more than 12 years experience in this field. He holds two Bachelor degrees in English language; one from the faculty of Education of Fayoum University (2008), and the other is from Minia University (2010). He started his career as an English language translator immediately after his first graduation in 2008. During the past 12 years he has worked for many translation companies around the world including businesses in the USA, Canada, and Asia. He has a track record of more than 10 million words translated in most areas of translation. Now, he is the CEO of Endpoint Translation Company.
About the Author: Mustafa Lutfi el-Manfaluti
Mustafa Lutfi el-Manfaluti (1876–1924) is an iconic Egyptian writer and poet who was famous for his unique and remarkable writing style. One of his most notable traits was that he couldn't read or speak French. He asked some of his friends to translate plays or books to Arabic, then he rewrote them in his fascinating style. The short stories he wrote in his books evoke every emotion and sympathy for the diverse characters, melting even the hardest of hearts. Our short story today is from his book “The Views” (Al Nazarat).
His most prominent books are:
1-The Tears (Al-Abarat)
2- The Views (Al Nazarat) (three parts)
3- For the Sake of the Crown
The Original Arabic Story Was Written By: Mustafa Lutfi el-Manfaluti
English Translation By: Mahmoud Fathi Saad
CEO Endpoint Translation Company
One of my friends narrated the following story to me.
While I was sitting at my house in the morning, a fisherman carrying a big fish in his net approached. He offered me the fish and I accepted his offer without debating the price. Instead, I paid the amount he requested.
He exultantly took the money and said, “This is the first time I have sold something for the price I demanded. May Allah grant you happiness of soul and peace of mind in the same way he made your money a source of your happiness.”
I was pleased with his supplication and wished to accept it from Allah. I was really astonished and wondered how one of the common people could realize a fact known to very few persons: that happiness of soul and peace of mind are more important than financial ones.
I replied to him, “O Old Man, are there any types of happiness other than the one that results from wealth and money?”
He smiled quietly and said, “Yes, there is another one. If money was the only source of happiness, I would have been the most miserable and unfortunate person on the earth since I am the poorest one.”
I said, “Do you consider yourself a happy man?”
He said, “Yes, since I am established in my livelihood and pleased with my life. I never sorrow for anything I fail to achieve, and do not let my soul indulge in yearning for any greediness. Therefore, there is no way for misery to hit my heart.”
I said, “O old man, I think you are out of your mind. How can you pretend happiness when you are unable to buy shoes to wear and can hardly find even ragged clothes to put on?”
He replied, “If you define happiness as the pleasure of the soul and peace of the mind and misery as its pain and suffering, I would be a happy man, since I don’t feel that my ragged clothes and my hard life cause me any pain or anxiety. However, if you consider happiness as something else, it would be nonsense for me.”
I replied, “Don’t you feel aggrieved when you see rich people enjoying their luxurious furniture, clothes, adornments, and vehicles, having servants and slaves taking care of them, eating tasty foods, and drinking delicious beverages? Don’t you get very sad for such a great difference between your life and theirs?”
He answered, “What makes me diminish all these things and consider them as trivial is that I see that the amount of pleasure and happiness I feel due to being deprived of these things is much bigger than the pleasure and happiness these things provide for their owners.
“If the purpose of the tasty food you mentioned is to be satisfied and having my tummy full, I don’t remember that I have ever gone to my bed hungry. However, if the purpose is to satisfy the lusts of the soul, I never eat unless I am hungry. So, I feel that every bite of food is very tasty and I enjoy it. And I think among all food pleasures, this is the most exciting one. As for luxurious palaces, I have a small cottage whose space is quite enough for me, my wife, and my son. I never regret that it isn’t a big palace. Moreover, if I want to feast my eyes on beautiful landscapes, it doesn’t take me more than carrying my fishing net at sunrise and heading to the river’s bank to see the sky, water, white rays and green grass. It only takes few minutes to see the Sun's disk rising from the east as if it is a golden shield or a glimmer of light. After it reaches one or two miles above the skyline, it starts spreading its rays like scattered pearls over the water surface. Such a wonderful view, surrounded by the tranquility of nature, overpowers my feelings and haunts me as if I am fast asleep and enjoying sweet dreams and wishing not to wake up in order not to miss such dreams. I am so entranced by such pleasure that never wake up until I feel a strong pull on my hand by the fish, caught in my net, moving all around in a panic. What makes these fish panic is that they have been removed from the vast ocean scape, where they can swim freely, to my narrow net where they can neither find their freedom nor open spaces.
“These fish totally embody and reflect the status of poor and rich people. The Poor people walk freely as they want. They don’t care about anyone looking at them. They move like the birds landing wherever they wish. Such birds don’t care about who is looking at them otherwise they wouldn’t have flown into space and moved from place to place. On the other hand, you can find the rich person always being watched and envied by others. He never leaves his house unless he has spent a long time in front of his mirror to dress well. Based on his imagination or his actual status, he invents a certain look for himself to stick to. Then he stands in the shoes of the beholders to judge whether such a look is decent. After ascertaining that he has achieved the perfect look, he finally goes out. During his walk, he never moves freely in order not to ruin the look he has chosen for himself. He never enjoys or contemplates nature around him freely for fear of missing any of the greetings and gestures of generosity.
“If I manage to catch a good number of fish for my day, I return and sell them in markets or in front of doors. When the day departs and the night comes, I go home to find my son waiting for me with hugs and my wife with cheerful smiles. After satisfying my child’s needs by working hard and my God’s rights by doing prayers, I go to my bed full of tranquility and peace of mind which is for me more comfortable than sleeping in beds with silky sheets. How can I consider myself a miserable person when I am the most comfortable one, even if I am the poorest?
“There is no difference between me and the rich except that people never show me respect by standing up nor care about me when I’m walking in front of them. As for me, this is not a big deal and I care nothing for whether they stand up or sit down, or anything else since there is no relationship between me and them. I only look at them in the same way any person looks at animated cartoons.
“I have no relationship with anybody except the one with my God. I truly worship him, and I never associate anyone with my Lord. You must know that I believe in Allah’s Oneness, and that there is no other god but him. Sir let me tell you another thing: being a true believer in my Lord, I can’t admit to true greatness in anyone except him. Such great certainty and confidence empower and haunt my feelings providing me with inner strength and courage, immunizing me against fear from anyone - even if he is a king surrounded by his majestic courtiers and equerries.
“This great certainty and confidence are the main grounds of my solace and peace of mind against any sorrow or sadness. They are my anchor against the crisis that may befall me. Thanks to this certainty, I can hardly feel any misfortune that hits my life. How can I feel sorrow or get hurt due to a scourge when I know that it is my fate, and the more I tolerate, the more God will compensate me?
“I believe in fate, in both its good and evil aspects, as well as the Last Day in both its reward and its punishment. Therefore, I diminish the life of this world and care nothing about its value. I don’t even cheer up my heart with its good things or mope about its misfortunes. I don’t count on anything in this life, even being alive or dead. Believe or not, I have never been to the river’s bank any time carrying my fishing net without wondering if I will survive or die. Will I stay or pass away?
“If we contemplate the reality of life and death, we shall find that life is nothing but a big sea with its people like fish swimming in that sea, and death is a clever fisherman who throws his net into that sea every day to catch group of fish and those that evade his trap and net today will inevitably fall one day. How can I regret anything I don’t have, or depend on persons who are totally dependent? If I did so, I would be most deviant and would no longer be a true believer.”
I was astonished with the steadiness of the mind of the old fisherman. I hold such a man in high esteem, and I felt jealous of him for being satisfied with his life.
I said to him, “O old Man, most people lament not being happy. They search for happiness and joy but in vain, which forces them to think that the misery is one of life’s necessities and that it never ceases. How do you regard this world a joyful one despite being swamped with pains and sorrows?”
He said, “Sir I don’t agree with you. The Human Being is happy by nature. Nothing causes him pain or sorrow but himself. He always rapaciously desires to gain more and more. He starts to lament when he gains nothing or becomes empty handed. He thinks that achieving all his aims is one of his undebatable rights. Hence, if he misses the targets and fails to achieve his desired goals, he starts to object and challenge as if he was severely oppressed. He sets high expectations for his life. But when life deprives him of his beloved family members or precious properties, he experiences unsustainable and intense feelings of sorrow and loss which would have hardly hit him if he had realized the true fact of life; that is that Life is nothing but a temporarily borrowed gift and all the objects which people allege to have are nothing but deception and illusion woven by their own sick souls.
“The great amount of sorrow and pain sustained by people is caused by their negative thoughts, not by the reality of their lives. The envier suffers a lot when seeing the person he envies. The resentful person laments whenever he remembers his inability to avenge his enemy. The avaricious man grieves over his unachievable ambitions and desires. The drinker groans whenever he sobers up. The adulterer wails whenever his accusing soul blames him for his sins. The oppressor feels distress when he hears the supplications of the person he has oppressed or whenever he finds the evil that he was plotting hemming him in alone. So do all liars, gossipers, slanderers, and every wrongdoer.
“Whoever wants to be happy, must seek such happiness inside his virtuous soul otherwise he will be the most miserable person - even if he possesses the whole world."
The narrator said “When the fisherman had said such words, he got up and picked his stick up and said, “I commend you to Allah’s keeping Sir and I shall pray for you with the same supplication I prefer for myself. ‘May Allah grant you happiness of soul and peace of mind in the same way he made your money a source of your happiness’. Peace be upon you Sir.”
All Rights Reserved to Mahmoud Fathi Saad