Mahmout, the Persian: an Allegory

by , from August 8, 1901 Christian Science Sentinel

Mahmout, the Persian, builded him a house, long after “the Adam-dream; long after the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” And Mahmout was glad, for all he saw was good. The sun smiled in kindly approval upon all within, and touched each door and window, each picture on the wall, with a tender kiss, and for very joy Mahmout sang all day long. And when evening came he waved his hand in grateful acknowledgment to the setting sun and the sun grew conscious of him and was glad.

A brook, like melted crystal, talked to the grasses and flowers on its brink as it tumbled its way onward to the distant hills. Great trees, laden with fruit, nodded in the breeze and whispered. “How beautiful!” and the brook answered back again, “How beautiful!”

But one morning, as the sun rose from behind a great bank of clouds, tipping their peaks with torches of golden fire, he saw, to his astonishment, that a cloud had settled upon the face of his friend, the builder of the house. And he called to him, “Mahmout, what ails thee?”

“My house, my house!” cried Mahmout. “You have lighted it up beautifully, within and without, till every wandering bird sings about it, and all travelers gaze upon it in admiration. But alas! that which troubles me cannot be seen by bird or man—one of my rooms is dark.”

“Is what?” asked the sun.

“Is dark,” answered Mahmout.

“Alack!” said the sun, “these mortals ever speak to me in riddles. Come, tell me, what is dark?”

“Darkness is the absence of light, O Sun!”

The sun flashed a burst of splendor through the realms of ether to a distant star as he wondered. “How strange!”

“How strange!” cried the brook, as it reflected back to the sun its open wonder.

“How strange!” sang the birds; and the tired traveler caught the words as he knelt at the happy brook to drink, lifted his head, and marveled, “How strange!”

“Absence of light!” gasped the sun, “absence of light! I never heard of that. One of his rooms is dark! Show me thy room, Mahmout!”

“Come down, O Sun, and look!” cried Mahmout; and the great Light-bearer, filled with wonder, came swiftly down. “Behold! here is the room, an upper one, the only one that’s dark!” grumbled Mahmout as he flung open the door.

The sun stepped in and peered about in every crack and crevice, from floor to ceiling, but he could not guess.

“Where is the dark, O man?”

Mahmout, almost blinded by the sun’s astonishment, gazed in bewilderment: there was no dark.

“Where is the dark, O man?”

Mahmout hung his head in shame. “Alas, I cannot tell! The room was dark before you entered in.”

“What is this wall you’ve builded against my rays?” now cried the angry sun.

“The wall of self,” answered the trembling wretch. “The birds annoyed me with their songs, the brook with its ceaseless babble, and my fellow-mortal with his never-ending cries for help.”

“Remove it!” thundered the sun as he mounted back to heaven; “let’s hear no more of self.”

“I wonder what is self?” murmured the brook as it fed the thirsty grasses along its brink. “I wonder what is self?” whispered the trees as their ripe fruits pattered to the ground that all who would might eat and rest beneath their shade. “Self, self,” sang the birds, “who ever heard of self?”

Then Mahmout, the builder of the wall, began to take it down. For you must know, that to his poor sense, after the sun was gone, the room again was dark. O, how hard it was to break loose the first great stone. But, as it fell, Mahmout could hear the singing of the angels. And as the first faint rays of the sun came gladly in, Mahmout could see the under side of the stone glaring up at him from the floor, and on it was written, “malice.”

Then came “envy,” “jealousy,” “hatred,” “revenge,” and all their awful kind, as Mahmout, with bleeding fingers, tore eagerly at the wall. At last, “Self-love,” the great corner and foundation, fell inward with a crash and all the room was light.

“I’ll throw them out!” cried Mahmout as he turned to execute his threat. But lo, the loving Sun had already melted them to air. Then sang the birds, the trees, the brook, and even Mahmout too,—a song was wafted to them by the angels: “Unto him that overcometh will I give a crown of life.”

Mahmout and the house were one. The Sun was Love, that still is calling to each mortal man: “Mahmout! Mahmout! O tear away the wall.”

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