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Long ago in Ancient Persia there lived two merchant traders, Mussa and Nagib, who set out together in a caravan with camels, horses and servants. They headed into the mountains of Northern Persia and soon came to a river that was swift flowing, muddy and dangerous to cross.

Mussa being the younger offered to go first. He started across the river holding a rope to guide the rest of the caravan. Partway across he stumbled, lost his footing fell into the swirling waters and dropped the rope. Nagib did not hesitate. Immediately he jumped into the river and was able to reach his friend and pull him to the shore.

Mussa called his servants to him and said, “I want you to carve my words into the rock of these cliffs here beside the river. That afternoon and evening his servants chiseled while others made camp. They wrote, “Wanderer, in this place, Nagib heroically saved the life of his friend, Mussa.”

The merchants traveled for many months and eventually returned to this same river crossing with loads of tea and silk. This time the water level was lower so the crossing was easy. Mussa and Nagib sat and talked by the stone cliff where Nagib’s heroism had been recorded.

Allah only knows what caused them to disagree, but they soon got into an argument. They quarreled; and in a fit of anger, Nagib struck Mussa.

Mussa picked up a stick. With it he wrote in the sand by the river. “Wanderer, in this place, in a trivial argument, Nagib broke the heart of his friend Mussa.”

His servants came up to him asking, “Master Mussa, do you not want us to carve your words in the rock?”

To this Mussa replied, “I hope to forget this argument before the wind and water erase my words from the sand.”

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