kr’s note: I recently came across this poem that’s a wonderful example of the richness and depth of the Arabic language. It’s certainly a tongue twister, but it’s also filled with useful wisdom and advice that is still relevant to us in these times. Also, you probably should not read this out loud because many people will think you’re using bad language =). A special thanks to two very close mentors who helped me refine this translation.
The best of people is the one who bridles his tongue (lit: restrains his jaw) and opens his hand (in charitable giving and working)
The worst of people is the one who loosens his tongue (lit: loosens his jaw) and closes his hand (as a miser)
So how many a loose (charitable) hand stopped many tongues*
And how many a closed mouth loosened many hands**
So keep closed your mouths and open up your hands!
*Alternatively, this line may be understood that there were many who by opening up their hands (in generosity) were able to keep their own mouths shut, ie, they were busy working and thus were able to refrain from and/or didn’t have the time to use their tongues for destructive purposes. Or can also mean that because such a person was generous, he kept other mouths shut (three possibilities here: he fed others (so their mouths were shut), he worked for others (so people shut their mouths of speaking ill of him), or he worked and ensured to keep his mouth shut (through his selfless generosity)
**Alternatively, this line can mean that there were many who because they shut their mouths, they were able to open their hands, ie, they stayed quiet and thus were able to spend freely and work for others. Or because they kept their mouths closed from speaking ill, they were able to encourage others to open their hands in charity and good works.
Alternatively, this can be translated and summarized as =):