Abdul smiled happily and wiped his brow as he strode between the tents that formed a cloth city in the desert oasis.
“Let me in on the joke,” called his friend, Hadji, from the front of a beautiful striped tent.
“No joke, to be sure, Friend Hadji. A boon. A blessing from Allah. I have just completed the harvest of my dates. It surpasses last year’s crop which was superb and the crops from all prior years that were nothing to sniff at.”
“I’m glad to hear of your good fortune, Friend Abdul,” said Hadji. “Let me show my happiness to you by loaning you my camel. He can carry more than your small donkey. You will be able to take a larger share of your date crop to the city in one trip.”
“You are a good friend, indeed,” said Abdul. “I accept your generous offer. Why not travel with me? When my dates are sold, we shall celebrate together.”
“I will prepare to leave at once,” replied Hadji, and he withdrew into his tent.
Abdul hurried away to sort his dates.
Together Abdul and Hadji loaded the camel with sacks of dates. Then they began the long journey across the desert toward the city. The morning had been warm, but the afternoon was hot. The two friends trudged along next to the heavily laden camel, saying little.
Abdul on one side of the camel walked comfortably, for he was in the shadow cast by the beast. Hadji on the other side struggled in the heat. Now and then he glanced at his friend striding along in the shadow.
Finally, Hadji could stand it no longer. “Friend Abdul,” he suggested, “I shall join you in the shadow. It is truly a warm day.”
“Friend Hadji,” replied Abdul, “I regret that it is impossible. Obviously there is only enough shade for one and I am already here.”
“Friend Abdul,” insisted Hadji, “if there is only enough shade for one, it should be my shade as it is the shadow of my camel.”
“Ah, but you loaned the camel to me,” resisted Abdul, “therefore, you loaned the shadow also.”
“Not so,” said Hadji. “I did not loan the shadow, only the camel.”
“They are one and the same,” cried Abdul.
“Not at all,” shouted Hadji.
The two friends continued to shout and wave their arms there in the middle of the desert. All the noise and commotion startled the camel, which was the cause of the argument, and he raced away from the two men, taking the load of dates with him.
“What fools we are,” complained Abdul as the two men trudged back toward the oasis in the heat of the afternoon. “If we had shared and taken turns walking in the shadow, we would have arrived in the city, sold the dates, and celebrated.”
“I agree, Friend Abdul,” said Hadji. “Because of our foolishness, we now both walk in the sun and must search for the dates and the camel. Certainly we have learned a lesson.”