Mussa and Najib

Mussa and Najib

15 June 2015,   By ,   2 Comments

while this version is as retold by Sarah Malone, we would like more information on its origin if you have an idea

Mussa and Najib were friends.  Mussa was the wealthy one, but Najib was his faithful partner. One day Mussa needed to go on a great long journey across the desert.  He prepared well for the journey bringing his servants and his camels, and he invited Najib to go along. The two men decided this was a perfect time to invite their sons to go on such a journey and learn the ways of the desert. And the boys were very excited to go along.

Not too long after they began their journey, they set up camps, pitching their tents in the deep sand. After everyone had gone to sleep Mussa decided he would go out for a walk by himself, and he hadn’t gone very far, when the wind picked up. And suddenly, as will occur in the desert, he was in the middle of a blinding sand storm.

Well, when his son heard the winds howling and felt the sands pelting against the tent, he woke up to discover that his father was missing.  And he went quickly to his friend Najib and said, “My father is missing, he must be out for a walk – he likes to do those things.”

Najib took a great rope, and he tied it around the posts of one of the tents, and he headed out into the desert, calling for his friend “Mussa!  Mussa it’s me, Najib!”

And he brought a horn and he blew it loudly.  And then by the grace of Allah, Mussa heard his friend Najib, and the two men were able to find their way back to camp, holding onto that rope.

Well, Mussa was so indebted and so pleased to have been saved by his friend, that the next day, Mussa ordered his servants to carve into a stone that they found nearby, “Here is the place Najib saved Mussa’s life.”

The servants were grumbling, and even the boys were wondering why they were taking an awful lot of time out of their journey to carve all those words into the stone.  But they spoke not at all of their doubts, and the next day they carried out on their journey.

Well as often happens when people are traveling long distances, they grew tired and weary. And one day Najib was in a foul mood, and without thinking, he insulted Mussa.  The insult was so severe, that everyone held their breath, and gasped, to see what Mussa might do.

Indeed, he was quite angry, as evidenced by the redness in his face. Najib’s son was so scared to see what might befall his father that he ran into the tent and hid his head, under the pillow.

Well, no one could quite explain when Mussa turned to his servants and told them to write in the sand, “Here  is the place where Najib insulted Mussa.”

Well, now the servants were really grumbling. Mussa’s own son ran to the tent and told his friend what his father had determined, and they came out to watch.  Why, the carving in the sand took no time at all. The servants were grumbling, and they were all perplexed as to what was going on with Mussa.

Mussa could see the question written across the faces of the children, and of his servants, and he said,  “I know, I know. You’re wondering why is it that when Najib saved my life, I had that message carved in stone, whereas now that he has insulted me, I have asked that it be written in the sand.

“Well, he explained, I would like the memory of Najib’s kindness to live in my heart for the rest of my life, and I hope that the memory of the insult will disappear as quickly as the message written in the sand.”

Upon hearing this, Najib turned to Mussa and apologized for the insult, and the two men embraced, and were friends again.

And Mussa turned to the two boys and said, “I hope that when you are men yourselves, and you bring your own sons across the desert, you will go back to that place and revisit the stone.

And the message will still remain there, carved as it was the other day.

And they in turn will bring their children and story will be told and retold,

And everyone who hears it will be inspired to remember the kindnesses and forget our mistakes.”


  1. Cindy Gantick says:

    Oral storytelling traditions often do not have direct sources since the tradition is to not write them down. So for me I’d rather focus on the essence of the tradition and give the credit as best I can, knowing that it will be limited and flawed as the endeavor to pass along stories is human and beautifully imperfect.

  2. Mike Calabro says:

    Adapted from a story by Malba Tahan (pen name for Julio Cesar de Mello e Souza, 1895-1975), a mathematician from Brazil who also wrote The Man Who Counted (Editoria Record, 2001), which was first published in Brazil in 1949.

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