Friday on Saturday, A Tale

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

As this tonight is my third “Weekend Anthropology” Essay, I guess it’s officially a Series now. heh. Here are links for the previous essays, last week and the week before.

What I’m hoping to do with these is share some little discovery, a tale, a story or myth, of the “Folk” genre, global, multi-cultural, that relates in some way to our current struggles and living.

The tale I have for you tonight (below) is a Friday’s Eve story from Iran/Middle East that I share to show my support and solidarity for “the Global Day of Action on July 25th so the citizens of the world can stand together for:

* Civil and human rights for the people of Iran;

   * Stopping the abuse of power-the imprisonment, torture and killing?.

   * Solidarity with the Iranian people.

To our Iranian brothers and sisters: We have heard your voices, and you are not alone.

I’ve decided to open each essay with a prayer or blessing, to be sure Trickster gets his due set the tone. 😉

Sun Tracks

Atoni (Choctaw)

The track of the sun

across the Sky

leaves its shining message,




us who are here,

showing us we are not alone,

we are yet ALIVE!

And this fire……

Our fire…..

Shall not die


A partial solar eclipse silhouettes birds surrounding a minaret

of the shrine of Sufi Saint Bah-ud-din Zakria in Multan, Pakistan

on Wednesday, July 22, 2009.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”   ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Here is the story from one source, but it’s out there in multiple dots. Here is another which has some good notes.

The Magic of Mushkil Gusha

Once in the royal city of Isfahan, there was an old woodcutter who lived alone with his young daughter. Every day, the woodcutter went out to the desert to gather camel-thorn bushes, then sold them in the marketplace as firewood. In this way, he earned barely enough for the two of them.

One morning, the woodcutter’s daughter said, Father, we always have enough to eat. But just once, it would be nice to have something special. Do you think you could buy us some date cakes?

I think I could do that, my dear, said the woodcutter. I’ll just gather some extra wood today.

So the woodcutter walked farther that day to gather more thorn bushes. But he took longer than he meant to.

By the time he got back with the wood, darkness had fallen. It was too late to go to the marketplace. What’s more, when he reached his house, he found that his daughter had already bolted the front door and gone to bed.

Knock as he would, there was no answer. So he had to sleep outside on the doorstep.

Next morning, the woodcutter awoke while it was still dark. He told himself, I might as well go out right now and get another big load of wood. Then I can sell twice as much and buy even more date cakes.

So he left his load and went back to the desert to gather more bushes. But again he took longer than he meant to, and when he got back, it was dark and the door was bolted. So again he had to sleep on the doorstep.

He awoke once more before dawn. There’s no sense wasting a day, he said. I’ll go back out for one more big load. How many date cakes we’ll have then!

But yet again he took too long, and yet again the door was bolted when he got back.

The woodcutter sank to the doorstep and wept.

What’s wrong, old man?

He looked up to see a dervish in a long green robe and a tall green cap.

Holy sir, for three days I have gone out to gather thorn bushes, and for three days I have come home too late to get into my house. And in all that time, I’ve had nothing to eat.

What night is this, old man?

The woodcutter said, Why, Friday eve, of course.

That’s right. It’s the eve of our holy day. And that’s the time of Mushkil Gusha.

Mushkil Gusha? said the woodcutter.

That’s right, old man — the ‘Remover of Difficulties.’

The holy man took some roasted chickpeas and raisins from his pouch and handed them to the woodcutter. Here, share this with me.

Thank you, sir!

You may not know it, the dervish went on, but Mushkil Gusha is already helping you. If you want your good fortune to continue, here’s what you must do: Every Friday eve, find someone in need. Then share what you have, and tell a tale of Mushkil Gusha. That way, you both will be helped.

And with that, the holy man vanished.

As the woodcutter stared at the empty spot, the door to his house swung open.

Father, where have you been? Oh, please come inside! I was so worried!

A few days passed, while the woodcutter and his daughter enjoyed the many date cakes he bought after selling his wood. Then one morning, when the woodcutter had gone to the desert and his daughter had finished her housework, she decided to go walking in a public park.

She was strolling down a broad path when a carriage stopped beside her.

What a pretty little girl! said a royal young lady. I am the daughter of the king. Would you like to be my handmaiden?

Yes, Your Highness, the girl said, blushing.

So the woodcutter’s daughter became a handmaiden of the princess. With the gifts the princess gave her, she and her father became quite rich. He bought a nice house, and he didn’t have to gather thorn bushes anymore.

His life became comfortable. But he forgot what the dervish had suggested him.

A month went by. One day, the princess went on a picnic to one of her father’s private gardens, and she brought along the woodcutter’s daughter. There was a small lake there, so they decided to go for a swim.

The princess took off her necklace and hung it on a branch overlooking the water. But when she came out, she forgot all about it.

A few days later at the palace, the princess looked for the necklace but couldn’t find it. She turned angrily to the woodcutter’s daughter.

You stole my necklace! You must have taken it when we went for our swim!

No, Your Highness, I wouldn’t do that!

You’re a thief and a liar too! I’ll show you what happens to people of your kind! Get out of my sight!

The woodcutter’s daughter ran home in tears. But an hour later, soldiers came to the door. They arrested the woodcutter and carried him off to a public square in front of the prison. Then they locked his feet in the stocks and left him there.

The woodcutter had to suffer the taunts and jeers of the passersby. Some people were kinder, though, and even threw him scraps of food.

Now, that evening was Friday eve. As the sun set, the woodcutter cast his thoughts over all that had happened to him in the past weeks. All at once, he cried out.

Oh, what a foolish, ungrateful wretch I am! Didn’t the dervish say to share what I have each Friday eve and tell of Mushkil Gusha? Yet I haven’t done it once!

Just then, a packet of chickpeas and raisins landed by the woodcutter. When he looked up, he didn’t see who had thrown it. But he did see a beggar boy coming by.

Young friend! called the woodcutter. Please share this with me while I tell you a story.

The boy sat down and gratefully took what was offered. As he ate, the woodcutter related everything that had happened, from when his daughter asked for date cakes, to when he was put in the stocks.

Thank you, sir, said the boy. I needed the food, and the story was good too. I hope it has a happy ending.

The beggar boy went on his way. But he’d only gone a block when a rich merchant stopped him.

My one and only son! Ever since you were stolen at birth, I’ve looked for that birthmark on your left cheek. Now at last I’ve found you!

But they leave our story here.

The next day, the princess had another picnic in her father’s private garden, and again she went down to the lake for a swim. She was about to step into the water when she saw the reflection of her necklace. She looked up into the tree — and there was the necklace itself, right where she had left it.

That woodcutter’s daughter hadn’t taken it in the first place! The princess herself had kept it there and forgotton about it!

By the end of the day, the woodcutter was free from the stocks, and his daughter was back in the palace.

And every Friday eve after that, the woodcutter always remembered to find someone in need, share what he had, and tell his tale of Mushkil Gusha.


About the Story (from Aaron Shepard)

The custom of invoking Mushkil Gusha is practiced in Iran especially among traditional Muslim women. The tale is told each week on Friday eve, the beginning of the Muslim holy day. (Muslims measure their days from sunset to sunset, so “Friday eve” would come before Friday morning-just as “Christmas Eve” comes before Christmas Day.) Along with telling the story goes the sharing of a special snack food with the poor. Sometimes called aajeel and sometimes nokhod kishmish, it is a mixture of things like roasted chickpeas, raisins, dried dates, dried figs, nuts, and seeds.

The name Mushkil Gusha is Persian for “Remover of Difficulties.” But exactly who and what is he? If you ask Iranians, you get differing answers. Some say he is Ali, the prophet Muhammad’s cousin, son-in-law, and true successor-as he is considered by the Shiites, whose sect of Islam predominates in Iran. But one Iranian woman told me simply, “It is God, isn’t it?”



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  1. Photobucket

  2. Hit the spot!


  3. We all could use more of this series ma’am.


    • jamess on July 26, 2009 at 05:37

    kinda has a few Karmic elements to it.

    Too bad that ‘Remover of Difficulties’

    doesn’t show up, every day of the week.

  4. finally watched Slumdog Millionaire, loved it….

  5. This is a very timely message as our country, and the world, for that matter, faces numerous daunting challenges, and the present day is no exception. Overcoming the formidable forces of avarice and greed has never been an easy task.  And unfortunately, extending kindness and charity to those in need seems to be particularly out of favor in many circles today.  

    I was raised in the Protestant tradition, and many of the lessons learned from my early years have remained with me, despite my differences with the practice of most organized religions.  That said, it does seem that many religious fundamentalists have deleted from consideration much of the red print in the New Testament.  A couple of prime examples can be found in Matthew 5 —… and Matthew 25:31-46 —

    A few years ago, I purchased a book entitled, “The Worldwide Laws of Life” by John Marks Templeton, who had been an extremely successful investor earlier in his life, but pursued some interesting work during his extended retirement.  The take-home message from the book was that there are more similarities than differences between the major religions of the world.  It seems that when groups of individuals have selectively cited certain passages (taken out of context, of course) to their own personal advantage (and at the expense of others) that their pursuits depart from the original intent of their religion that serious trouble ensues.

    Speaking of Iran, Rick Steves recently traveled to Iran and produced an illuminating and entertaining video of their experience. The video consists of six segments, all available on youtube.  The link to the first of the series follows:

    Back to your article, the story and the photos were incredible.  Looking forward to seeing more of your fine work.

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