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The Island of monkeys

There was a city on an island on top of a mountain. The land was fertile; the climate pleasant; the water sweet, and there were trees and with fruits together with several species  of animals.

All the people on this island were related to one another, all being the descendants of a single ancestor. Their life was peaceful and pleasant because it was ruled by love, compassion and friendliness. There was no envy, deceit enmity or wickedness, among them.

It so happened that a group of these people sailed out into the sea and were shipwrecked. They were washed onto another island. This island had steep mountains, with tall trees bearing very little fruit. It had deep rivers with turbid waters, dark caves and flesh eating animals. The population of the island consisted mostly of monkeys. On a neighboring island, there lived a huge, strong bird that hovered over the island each day, carrying away a number of monkeys.

Those who survived the shipwreck dispersed through the island in search of food and water. They ate from the fruits of the trees, and drank the impure water. They covered themselves with leaves from the trees, and took shelter from the heat and cold in the dark caves. They became familiar with the monkeys and the monkeys became familiar with them. They started living with the monkeys and even had families with them.

As time passed, they adopted this island as their home and forgot about their original home. They took shelter in the mountains, built houses, and collected fruits and hoarded them. They began quarrelling amongst themselves about female monkeys, envying those who had more fruit and females. They began to wish for eternity in that place, leading to conflict.

It so happened that one of them had a dream. In it he saw himself returning to his original home. When the people of his homeland heard that he had returned, they rejoiced and came out to receive him at the gates of the city. But all of them were shocked to see the state that he was in. His hair was long and unkempt, his nails had grown and his clothes were tattered. They washed him in a river that flowed outside the city walls, trimmed his nails and cut his hair. They dressed him in new clothes, perfumed him and sat him on a mount and led him into the city in a procession.

Each inhabitant of the city rejoiced on seeing him. They sat him on the highest position in the council, and began inquiring about his fellow travellers and the details of their journey and what time had done to them. They were all pleased that he was back as everyone had given up hope of ever seeing him again. He too was extremely happy that the Almighty had saved him from the wreck and from the separation from his original home and his miserable life amongst the monkeys. All this he thought had actually happened.

When he awoke, he was saddened to find himself still amongst the monkeys. He became grief stricken and lost his appetite for life in the island, and began contemplating ways to get back to his original home.

He talked about his dream to one of his brothers, rousing in him the memory of their home, their families and relations, and the bounties that they had there. They discussed and pondered amongst themselves, saying,” How can we return home and free ourselves from this place?” It occurred to them that they should help each other and collect wood from the island and build a ship to return to their original home. They took an oath amongst themselves, never to deceive one another nor to be apathetic but endeavor and work as one.

They thought that if more of their brothers would join in their enterprise it would be so much the better for them to achieve their goal and reach their end. With this in mind they approached the others, reminding them of their pleasant, blissful life in their pristine home, inspiring them to return there. Thus a group of people began working on building the ship which would take them home.

While they were busy one day felling trees, for the ship, a huge bird approached and snatched one of the brothers from the group and soared away into the sky. It looked down upon its prey intending to find a monkey as usual, but was taken by surprise when it saw that this catch was a human. The bird took this man back to his original home and dropped him onto the roof of his house.

The human was mesmerized to find himself on his own rooftop. He began to rub his eyes, wondering if this was only a dream. He realized that it was in fact his own house, his own city, his family, and relations. He sat there wishing that the bird would bring one brother every day and drop him home as it did to him.

His brothers on the other island were grief stricken at the loss of their brother, wondering what the bird had done with him. If only they knew what had happened to the brother they would all wish the same for themselves.

In this hikayat the other island is compared to the world, and it’s inhabitants the monkeys. The bird is the bird of death. The friends of the Almighty are those who have been shipwrecked. The original home is heaven from where they had left. Wake up O brother, from the slumber of ignorance. Indeed this world is an illusionary abode full of difficulties. The intelligent one does not wish to live here forever. May Allah taala guide you and us on the right path.