The Gulistan of Sa’di

Author: Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa'di Shirazi  | Date: 1258

Story 39

The son of a faqih said to his father: ’These heart-ravishing words of moralists make no impression upon me because I do not see that their actions are in conformity with their speeches.’

They teach people to abandon the world

But themselves accumulate silver and corn.

A scholar who only preaches and nothing more

Will not impress anyone when he speaks.

He is a scholar who commits no evil,

Not he who speaks to men but acts not himself.

Will you enjoin virtue to mankind and forget your own souls?

A scholar who follows his lusts and panders to his body

Is himself lost although he may show the way.

The father replied: ’My son, it is not proper merely on account of this vain fancy to turn away the face from the instruction of advisers, to travel on the road of vanity, to accuse the ullemma of aberration, and whilst searching for an immaculate scholar, to remain excluded from the benefits of knowledge, like a blind man who one night fell into the mud and shouted: "O Musalmans, hold a lamp on my path." Whereon a courtesan who heard him asked: "As thou canst not see the lamp, what wilt thou see with the lamp?" In the same way the preaching assembly is like the shop of a dealer in linen because if thou bringest no money thou canst obtain no wares and if thou bringest no inclination to the assembly thou wilt not get any felicity.’

He said: ’Listen with thy soul’s ear to a scholar

Although his actions may not be like his doctrines.’

In vain does the gainsayer ask:

’How can a sleeper awaken a sleeper?

A man must receive into his ears

The advice although it be written on a wall.’

A pious man came to the door of a college from a monastery.

He broke the covenant of the company of those of the Tariq.

I asked him what the difference between a scholar and a monk

amounts to?

He replied: ’The former saves his blanket from the waves

Whilst the latter strives to save the drowning man.’


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Chicago: Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa'di Shirazi, "Story 39," The Gulistan of Sa’di Original Sources, accessed December 9, 2023,

MLA: Shirazi, Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa'di. "Story 39." The Gulistan of Sa’di, Original Sources. 9 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Shirazi, SM, 'Story 39' in The Gulistan of Sa’di. Original Sources, retrieved 9 December 2023, from