When there was famine in Canaan, the brothers of Joseph went to Egypt in the hope of getting some grain from the Governor of the place. Joseph was the Governor and he knew them, but they knew him not. They related to him the story of their misery and prayed for relief. Joseph’s face was hidden under a veil and in front of him there was a wonderful cup. He struck his hand on the cup which gave out a mournful tune.

“Can you make out what the cup says?” Joseph asked his brothers.

“O knower of secrets,” they replied, “none of us knows what the cup proclaims.”

“I know what it says,” said Joseph. “It says that you had a brother, handsome beyond description. His name was Joseph and he surpassed you in virtue.”

He then struck his fingers on the cup again and said: “The cup says further that you threw him in a pit. You soaked his shirt in the blood of an animal to lend colour to your story that he had been devoured by a wolf. You thus drowned the heart of his bereaved father in blood”.

Once more he put his hand on the cup and said: “The cup adds that you consumed the heart of your father and sold your brother. O faithless men, who would display such conduct towards a brother? Shame on you, infidels. By throwing Joseph in a pit, you all placed yourselves in a ditch of woes.”

The wicked brothers were thunderstruck. Tears came into their eyes.*

A boastful bird said: “I have renounced everything. I am, therefore, worthy of His love so long as I am alive.”

“Such bragging and such pretentiousness do not enable one to be a companion of the Simurg on the heights of Kuh-i-kaf,” retorted the Hoopoe. “Do not for a moment boast of your love for Him. What are you? What can you yourself achieve? Whatever takes place proceeds from Him.”

“In spite of this rebuke, another irrepressible braggadocio came forward. “I think,” said he, “I have acquired perfection. I have also gone through a course of the most difficult austerities and renun­ciation. Why should I go further than this? My mission in life has already been fulfilled. Is there any one so foolish as he who, seated on treasure, would leave his comfortable seat and go out into wastes and wildernesses in search of treasure?”

“Ah, demon-spirited, conceited fool,” exclaimed the Hoopoe, “You have become totally drowned in egotism. The Devil has entered your head. All your perfection and virtues are mere figments of your imagination. As long as you are haunted by such devilish ideas, you will remain far away from the truth. Listen to this story.”