A Vignette of Two Vendors A Poem by A Vignette of Two Vendors

I know a woman who sells perfume,
and keeps me apprized of the richest scents in bloom.
Whenever I find my fragrances nearly finished,
I peer into her shop window before the store hours diminish.
Ever ready is she with scents that enliven the air:
Freesia, Jasmine, Vanilla, and Pear.
Finally, when I manage to tear myself away,
the fragrances linger upon me, far from decay.

I then see a man parting from a blacksmith marked,
It seemed on his journey home he embarked,
In a state unfit, unclean and utterly marred,
By the remnants of the burnt metal, almost scarred.
Stumbled did he onto the sidewalk coughing,
Incited by the ash and soot he’d been inhaling.
Shaking hands with passersby,
Who wiped their hands clean on the sly.

When I got home, I realized that it saddened me to see,
That this man’s merchant does not do for him what mine does for me.

The Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings upon him) said: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim).