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Mustapha's Camel

A wealthy, elderly merchant, visited his three sons to tell them how to split his fortune, a herd of camels, when he died: The eldest would inherit one half of the camels, the middle son would inherit one third of the camels, and the youngest would inherit one ninth of the camels. They were all satisfied with that.


When the merchant died, the three sons got together. The herd of camels now included 17 camels. Much to their dismay, they realized they could not split the fortune as directed without one of them getting more than his share and the two others getting less. 

As the sons struggled with how to solve the issue, it just happened that Mustapha, a well-known sage, came walking through their town with his camel. The eldest son approach Mustapha and explained their problem.


“Well," Mustapha said after a moment of reflection, "I’ll give you my own camel.” When the sons hesitated, he said to their big surprise: “Now, go ahead, split your fortune the way your father told you.”


Since they now had 18 camels, the eldest son got 9, the middle son got 6, and the youngest son got 2.

“And . . . I get my camel back again,” Mustapha said with a smile and left.


Morale: We work like Mustapha: Using his own resource, Mustapha proposed a solution, started the process, but did not become a part of the result!

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