The Merchant Who Looked Down

Once upon a time, there was a merchant who lived near the sea in the south of Spain. Each day, he waited to hear news of a ship which would arrive carrying all of the goods and merchandise he was planning to sell, including beautiful silk cloth, golden forks and knives, rubies and emeralds for ladies’ earrings, and rare kinds of tea and coffee which were grown in far away lands.merchant-picture

One afternoon, a dockworker from the port ran up to him, crying out: “O merchant! We have very bad news for you: we have heard that your shipload of goods sank in the sea!”

The merchant listened carefully, and then, bowing his head and looking down, he said softly, “Praise be to God.”

A few days later, the same dockworker came running from the port, crying out, “O merchant! We have some very good news: the ship carrying your wordly goods did not sink after all! It has just landed, and your merchandise is being unloaded from the boat!”

The merchant listened carefully, and then, bowing his head and looking down, he said softly, “Praise be to God.”

The messenger asked the merchant politely, “What are you doing when you look down – just after receiving the bad news and the good news?”

The merchant quietly explained, “O messenger, I was checking in both instances that my heart did not move!”


What do you think?

Imam al-Ghazali reminds us that whatever happens is coming from God, and He knows what is best for us. Whatever happens – whether we think it is good or bad – we must say, “Al-hamdu li lah.” If we do not trust the wisdom of God, our hearts may be filled with regret and sadness or great desire.

What kind of person do you think the merchant was?

Make up a story about something good or bad happening to someone. Let the person in your story accept God’s will with peace and trust, so that they are an example of wisdom and holiness to those around them.

If you aren’t sure what to write, you can read the story of the “Ant and the Pen” or the story of the “Boy Who Lost His Horse” in the Book of Knowledge to give you some ideas.


If you would like to send us your story, please fill out the form below! We look forward to hearing you!

The Merchant Who Looked Down