Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1               Spring 1420/ 2000

Stories

IFNA

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

The Discontented Fish
           Once upon a time there was a colony of little fishes who lived together in their own small pool, isolated from the rest of the fish in the river. It was a still, gray pool, dotted with stones and clumps of weed. On the land above grew thorn bushes and a few palm trees.
          Most of these fish were as happy and friendly as they could be. But there was one fish, much bigger and stronger than all the others, who kept himself aloof, and who would draw himself up in a conceited manner whenever the others came near him.
          "My good fellow," he would say, opening his eyes as wide as he could and balancing himself erect on his handsome tail, "stop making such a commotion in the water beside me. Can't you see I'm having my afternoon nap? Go away! And take that lousy bunch away with you," he would add, sweeping one glistening fin towards a group of cheerful small fish nearby.
          This sort of thing happened so often that one day one of the older fish replied to him sarcastically, "I wonder why you don't leave this tiny pool and go off to the big river? A fish as large and important as you should surely mix with others of his own size and excellent breeding."
          The big fish thought things over for several days and puffed himself up even bigger with pride. Then at last he decided to leave his home and search for a better one.
          "My friend is quite right," he said to himself. "I would be happier if I lived among fish of my own size. How tired I am of these stupid little creatures! With all the rain we've been having lately the time must be near when the big river overflows its banks, and the flood water will soon be coming up into our pool. When it arrives, I'll go with it and let myself be swept down into the big river. Then I'll get away from all this!"
          He told his companions what he had in mind. The older fish congratulated him on his enterprise with solemn faces, but some of his friends could not conceal their delight at the thought of being free of the small pool and joining him on his great adventure.
         After a few more days of heavy rain the floods arrived. They covered the little pool, and the big fish along with a dozen others who wanted to follow him, rose to the top of the water and allowed themselves to be swept downstream to the river. Once between the banks in the depth of the river, the fish noticed how different the water tasted and how much larger the rocks and weeds were. They all sighed in relief and anticipation, thinking of the good life that lay ahead.
         The group rested for a few moments beside a large stone, and the big fish exclaimed triumphantly to his companions, "There! Do you see? We are now free of the little pool and have the entire river to explore and enjoy." But scarcely had he finished speaking when he felt the water swirling behind him. Suddenly four or five fish, much bigger than he, passed overhead. One of them looked down and said harshly, "Out of our way, little fish! Don't you know this is our hunting ground?"
          Then the larger fishes dove straight at the little fishes driving them away.
          They hid between two huge rocks and waited tensely for the danger to pass. Finally, one of the smaller fishes said to the big fish, "I want to go home. It's too dangerous in the big river."
          Feeling slightly annoyed that his authority and leadership were being questioned, the big fish snapped at him sternly, "I'm the one who makes the decisions. Now follow me and well find a good place to stay." With that, the big fish led his group out of their hiding place and swam towards the edge of the current.
          Presently, two large black and white fish came rushing at them with their fearsome jaws open wide. They gobbled up three of the smaller fishes and then darted away. The panicked group darted into a thicket of weeds and waited for the predators to forget about them.
          "O dear!" gasped one of the remaining little fishes. "I do hope there aren't any more fish like that in this river. How will we live if we have to spend the whole day hiding?"
          The big fish, a little shaken but still in command said, "They only got the slowest members of our group. And I'm sure we will find this river a place of happiness and security. We must be more careful, that's all."
          So all day long they stayed in their hiding-place, but when night came, they slipped out and began swimming freely in the black water, looking for some supper.
          Suddenly, the big fish felt a sharp nip in his tail, and turning swiftly he saw the bewhiskered face of a large tiger-fish. The monster swallowed four of the little fishes and came swooping straight towards him. He was just about to give himself up for lost when a huge dark object passed overhead. It was a canoe, although the fish didn't know this, and a wall of mesh plunged into the water scooping up both the tiger-fish and the last of the little fishes. The big fish, now alone, was just barely able to streak away and hide in the mud.
          "Alas!" he said to himself. "Why did I come to this terrible place? I have lost my companions and am likely to meet some unspeakable fate myself! If only I could get back to my own little pool, I would never grumble again."
          At last he determined to find the point where he had first entered the river and then make his way back to the pool before the last of the flood-waters receded.
          He wriggled slowly along the muddy bottom of the river, once almost becoming lunch for a giant crab, until he recognized the spot where he had first arrived. Then with a great leap he was out of the river and into the large expanse of flood-water which was surging past him.
          How he struggled as he tried to force his way against the swirling water. Until at last, when his strength was almost gone, he found himself back in the pool again.
          There he lay panting on the bottom, too tired to move. As he turned his eyes this way and that and saw the old familiar landmarks, he said to himself, "If I had only known what the river was really like, I would never have left the safety of our pool and caused the loss of so many of my fellows."
          After this, the tiny fish played undisturbed wherever they pleased, and never again did the big fish say he was too good to live among them, even though at one time he thought so.
          So we see, every person should be contented with what he or she has.

Most of these fish were as happy and friendly as they could be.

"I would be happier if I lived among fish of my own size. How tired I am of these stupid little creatures!"

"Out of our way, little fish! Don't you know this is our hunting ground?"
          Then the larger fishes dove straight at the little fishes driving them away.

The monster swallowed four of the little fishes and came swooping straight towards him.

A wall of mesh plunged into the water scooping up both the tiger-fish and the last of the little fishes.

Every person should be contented with what he or she has.

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