Once upon a time, there lived in Basra an old man whose
only occupation was caring for and loving his only son
who was a handsome young man. The old man invested
all his money on his son’s education. The young man
went away for a few years and acquired an education at a
well known university under the great scholars of that
The day had arrived for the son to return from his
studies and the old man waited at the door for his son.
When the son came and met his father, the old man
looked into his eyes and felt great disappointment.
“What have you learnt my son?” he asked,
“I have learnt everything there is to be learnt father“, he said.
“But have you learnt what cannot be taught?” asked the
father. “Go my son and learn what cannot be taught“,
said the old man.
The young man went back to his master and asked him
to teach him what cannot be taught.
“Go away to the mountains with these four hundred sheeps and come back when they are 1000″ said his master.
The young man went to the mountains and became a
shepherd. There for the first time he encountered
silence. He had no one to talk to. The sheep did not
understand his language. In his desperation, he would
talk to them but they would look back at him as if to say
he was stupid. Slowly but surely he began to forget all
his worldly knowledge, his ego, his pride and he became
quiet like the sheep and great wisdom and humility came
At the end of two years when the number of sheep had
grown to one thousand, he returned to his master and
fell on his feet.
“Now you have learnt what cannot be taught,” said the master.
N.B. It is interesting to note that the (Prophets/ messengers)Nabis of Allah Taala (Alayhimus salaam) at some time in their lives, generally before Nubuwwat, tended to sheep, and other such animals.