Tag Archives: arabic narrative

You will leave the world empty-handed – Arabic Story


He heard this story in the 1960s from a family member of the man who passed away (منكو, pronounced “Mango” despite the “k” sound). The burial took place in Amman, Jordan, and said that “people talked about it for two decades but still old people in my age remember the story and talk about it till these days.” According to him, “it was not usual at all that deceased people have their body parts hanging out of the coffin.” He said that it is like a warning: no matter how much you have, money does nothing for you when you die. A peaceful life is therefore better than a life spent chasing money.


“A very rich man, multi-millionaire, knew that he was going to die soon because he was very sick. When he wanted to do his will, he asked that when they put him in the coffin, to put his hand out of the coffin, open and empty. He wanted people to see that he took nothing with him. He left empty-handed.”


This story is profound because it acknowledges the temporary nature of material goods. Because there are stereotypes about Arab parents wanting their children to be either engineers or doctors so that they can make a lot of money, this story feels like a counterbalance. Although it is not bad to make money, encouraged by the stereotype, the story warns people to not focus their life on getting money for the sake of being rich. If someone does not heed the story, they essentially wasted their life; what good will their riches do when they die? Additionally, because having body parts hanging outside the coffin was “not usual at all,” the man must have known this as well, and went against the norm in order to make his warning memorable. This story acknowledges the presence of greed in humanity, and encourages its listeners to value moderation.