The Seven Uncles

or How Greed Makes One Blind

There was once a young man who had seven wealthy uncles. One day he decided to try and get some money out of them.
He went and bought two white rabbits. He took them home and tied one outside the front door. Turning to his wife, he said that he wished to invite his seven uncles for supper that day. Knowing them well, he then listed each one’s favourite dish and asked her to prepare it for him.
Taking the second rabbit, he went to see his uncles and invited them for supper. They all agreed to come and he asked each what was the favourite dish he would like to have. They each named the dish which he had already told his wife to prepare. He then turned to the rabbit in his arms, whispered in its ear and let it go free.
"What did you tell it?" asked the uncles. "Oh, I just told it to go and tell my wife what food each of you would like so that she could prepare it." He then spent the rest of the time till supper with his uncles, speaking of this and that. They set off for his house. On arrival, the uncles were surprised to find, according to their knowledge, the very same rabbit their nephew had set loose, tied up outside his house. Their astonishment knew no limits when they saw the very same dishes prepared for them that they had expressed a desire to eat.
They began entreating their nephew to sell them this wonder rabbit. He refused, but eventually gave in, selling it to the uncle who bid the highest. The uncles left, one with a rabbit, and the nephew counted out the 50 gold coins his uncle had paid for the rabbit.
The next day, the uncle with the rabbit told it to go and tell his wife to prepare roast leg for supper. So saying, he let the rabbit loose and it bolted for freedom. This uncle went home in pleasurable anticipation of a fine meal. When he got there, his good mood turned to rage when he saw that supper was the usual baked beans. "Didn’t the rabbit bring my message?" he roared at his wife. "What rabbit?" she asked in return.
The next day, the enraged uncle went to his brothers and told them how their nephew had taken them for a ride. They resolved to go and teach him a lesson and set off to his house. In the meantime, the nephew said to his wife, "My uncles would have discovered my ruse by now. They will be on their way here. I need to divert their attention." He repaired to a small room in the house and was loudly praying for money when his uncles turned up. To their surprise, they saw gold coins dropping into the room from a crack in the wall while their nephew prayed for money.
All thoughts of the fake rabbit left their minds as they saw this marvelous site. "What is this?" they asked their nephew. "Oh," said he, "This room has a special quality. Whenever I pray for anything in it, my prayer is answered." The uncles asked to be allowed to use the room. When their nephew agreed, they entered and began praying for more money. More gold coins poured into the room. Taking their gold coins, the uncles departed in good humour, the nephew restored to their good books. When they left, their nephew went outside the room and paid the small boy for pushing coins through the crack.
On the way home, some of the gold coins fell into a river and the ‘gold’ colouring washed off, revealing cheap copper coins. Furious with rage, they turned to their nephew’s house, determined to teach him a lesson once and for all. The nephew, in the meantime, said to his wife, "My uncles will be back again, so play along when I carry out my plan." He slaughtered a chicken, collecting the blood in a casing. He gave this to his wife to hold under her clothes.
The uncles were treated to a gory sight as they arrived; their nephew was slashing at his wife with a knife, and blood was flying everywhere. His wife fell to the floor, apparently dead. "What on earth are you doing?" they asked, "Are you mad?" "No," replied the nephew, "I regularly teach my wife a lesson by killing her when she bugs me." Incredulously, the uncles demanded, "What do you mean? How can you kill a person many times?" "Well," said the nephew, "This knife has magical properties. After I kill her with it, I use it to bring her to life again." He matched his words with action by pointing the knife to his wife and she rose up, as though from the dead.
Now the uncles’ greed knew no bounds. They must have this wonderful knife at all costs. Forgotten were the fake gold coins. Eventually, the nephew grudgingly decided to part with the knife, selling it to the uncles for 700 gold coins. They each chipped in, and agreed to use the knife by turns, to teach their wives a lesson. Eagerly they rushed home, each swiftly slaying his wife before they tried to raise them to life again. No luck! The wives stayed dead.
Seven infuriated uncles stormed to their nephew’s house and bundled him into a sack. They hauled him away, taking him to drown at a well outside town. On the way they took a rest. Tying the sack to a tree, they walked to a nearby inn, asking directions to the well. Back at the tree, the nephew yelled for help. A passing cowherd, taking his 50 cattle to pasture, heard the cries and stopped to untie the sack. "What are you doing in this sack?" he asked the nephew in astonishment. "Oh, how unfortunate am I!" wailed the nephew, "My uncles want me to marry the most beautiful girl in the next town, the daughter of the rich mayor. I don’t want to marry her and they are taking me by force to marry me off!" The cowherd exclaimed, "Why don’t you want to marry her?" "Well," said the nephew, "What would happen to me, married to the most beautiful girl? All through our marriage I would have to endure other men desiring my wife." "Well," laughed the cowherd, "if that’s all it is, I don’t mind swapping places with you!"
No sooner said than done. The cowherd stepped into the sack which the nephew tied up. He departed for home, richer by 50 cattle. The uncles took the sack to the well and dropped it in, drowning the poor cowherd. On the path back home, a little remorse struck them for their nephew’s poor wife. "We must see her right," they agreed. Turning their steps to her house, they came in to see a sight that knocked them down; their nephew was there, alive and surrounded by many cattle! Speechless, they stared, all reason fleeing their minds.
"Hello there, Uncles!" greeted their nephew cheerily. "What do you know; the well wasn’t deep and I saw a tunnel branching off from the inside wall. I followed it and, strike me down, I saw lush fields with herds of cattle. I took a few and returned home." Greed again blinded the seven uncles to reason and they rushed eagerly to the well to get their hands on a handsome treasure. One by one they jumped into the well, each meeting his end.
Moral: This is the parable of the greed for this worldly wealth. When acquiring the treasures of this world overrides our devotion to Allah, it blinds us, snatching away our reason. We forget death that must come to all, and the next life which is an everlasting journey. When we ultimately meet that end, of a sudden, we are helpless to make amends and are destroyed.
The intelligent person is one who lives in this world, yet remembers the coming journey after death and makes preparation for it.

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