King Parveez and Queen Shireen were sitting in their palace one day, when a fisherman who was selling ormental fish was brought in front of them. The king decided to buy a fish and gave the fisherman 4,000 dirham for it.
The fisherman was overjoyed. He thanked the king effusively and left.
Annoyed, Queen Shireen chided her husband for paying so much for a fish. King Parveez let her have her say but said that the fish was purchased and there was nothing that could be done about it.
However, the queen was adamant and insisted that the fisherman be brought back. “We will ask the fisherman about the gender of the fish,” she said, “If he answers that it is female, we will say we wanted a male fish and if his response is that it is male, we will say we wanted a female fish! Either way, we will be able to return his fish and get the money back.”
So the fisherman was called back and the question was put to him. However, he was clever enough not to fall into the trap. He replied, “This fish is unique in the sense that it is neuter — it is neither male nor female.”
Inwardly smiling at the fisherman’s shrewdness, King Parveez ordered a further 4,000 dirham to be paid to him. The fisherman thanked the king again but as he was about to leave with the heavy bag of golden coins, one coin fell onto the floor. The fisherman immediately bent down to look for it.
Queen Shireen was already upset that the man had been given 8,000 dirham. “Look how miserly this man is!” she exclaimed, “A coin has fallen out of his bag stuffed with money, and yet he searches for it instead of leaving it for some poor servant to find.”
Overhearing her words, the fisherman at once said, “O Queen, it is not out of miserliness that I search for the coin. It is because it has the image of generous King Parveez on it. I cannot bear the thought that someone might cause dishonour to the king by unwittingly treading on the coin.”
Flattered and exceedingly pleased, King Parveez immediately called for another 4,000 dirham to be given to the fisherman.
Queen Shireen now thought it better to hold her tongue and let the fisherman go with the 12,000 dirham before her husband decided to reward him even more.
Verily they say — speech is an art. If one knows what, when and how to talk, then such a person will be successful in life.
Prophet Muhammad once said, “The beauty of man is in the clarity of his tongue.” And it was Imam Ali bin Abi Talib who taught, “Your tongue is the translator of your intellect.”