short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What Are You Really Selling? (Or, The First Capitalist)

Around a hundred years ago in the city of Damascus, all sugar arrived from India. The price of each kilogram was one majidi (an Ottoman currency). Merchants would add expenses and a margin of profit and sell a kilogram for two majidis.

One day a merchant by the name of Tarek began to sell each kilogram of sugar for only one majidi. The sugar merchants were very upset with Tarek, but they decided to ignore him. "After all," they would comfort each other, "how long can he possibly keep up this ridiculous strategy?"

But months passed by, and Tarek continued to sell a kilogram of sugar for one majidi. The merchants met to discuss the “Tarek Affair.” “This has gone beyond any reasonable attempt to gain new customers,” they argued. “We simply have to put an end to this.”

The merchants decided to invite Tarek for dinner to discuss the matter with him.
Tarek arrived and sat with his fellow sugar merchants. A very nice dinner was served and, later, over tea, the merchants proclaimed: "We have locked the door, and you shall not leave until you explain to us how you can possibly continue to sell sugar for no profit at all?"

Tarek smiled, took a sip of his tea, and said: "But I don’t sell sugar."

"This is not the time for humor," the merchants said firmly.

"But that is the truth. I really don’t sell sugar. Allow me to explain. You have been in my shop; it's just a big room. I have placed the sugar on a big cloth spread out on the floor. My customers come in, all attracted by the fact that they can buy a kilogram of sugar for only one majidi. So, it is only natural that they want to buy lots of sugar. Where are they going to place all the sugar they decide on buying? Naturally, they need bags. I stand ready to satisfy this need. I have all the bags they may ask for, but my bags are not free. I sell my bags for profit, for lots of profit. But who is going to stop and question the price of my bags when they are getting such a good deal with the price of my sugar? I don’t lose on sugar; I simply deliver it for the price for which I purchase it. But when it comes to bags," Tarek smiled again, "that's where I really make a profit. So you see, my friends, I really don’t sell sugar. My specialty is bags."

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005. Two other stories from this book have appeared on my main blog, Blest Atheist. The given title for this story is Dr. Omar's. The title in parentheses is my tongue-in-cheek suggestion. (I thought it was time for a little change in the fare of this blog.)


  1. What a cool story. What an inventive man! He learned how to sell packaging!


About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.