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Monday, May 22, 2006

Thorough-"bread" mathematician

Another interesting story from the time of the Khulafa' al-Rashidin that I'd like to share:

It is mentioned that there was a dispute between two people, Mr A and Mr B, over the distribution of some money. They had shared their lunch together with another person Mr C. The lunch consisted of eight loaves of bread, that included five loaves of Mr A and three loaves of Mr B. Mr C did not bring any bread and therefore, paid them eight dinars in lieu of. Mr A took five dinars and gave three to B. However, Mr B did not accept this and claimed equal amount to be distributed between them. The matter was put before 'Ali r.a. He suggested Mr B to accept the division of 5:3 as this was rather in his favour. However, Mr B insisted that 'Ali r.a. should decide. Consequently 'Ali r.a. made a 7:1 distribution, which meant B was entitled for just one dinar. 'Ali r.a. justified his decision on the basis of contribution made by the two persons. 'Ali r.a. explained it this way. If each bread is divided into three pieces, the total pieces of bread would be 24. It suggests that the contributions of A and B to the pool would be 15 (5 x 3) and 9 (3 x 3) pieces respectively. Assuming that everybody ate the same quantity, C ate seven pieces of A and one piece of B. Therefore A should get seven dinars and B only one.
A. Khaliq Ahmad. (2005: 53-54).
In Mazilan Musa & Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen Shaikh Mohd Salleh (eds.)
Quality Standard from the Islamic Perspective.
Kuala Lumpur: IKIM

Sayyidina 'Ali grew up as a trader's son. He followed his father all the way to Syam to trade. He was exposed to mathematics, in particular arithmetic, from a very young age. So, it's no surprise that he tackled this problem in a wise and just manner.

1 comment:

kechi said...

yeah.. here comes the mathematician.. seems like i watch numbers series too much.. heheh