Happiness is Not Distant – The Story of Ali Hafed

Happiness is Not Distant – The Story of Ali Hafed

Excerpt from the talk titled: Our Search for Happiness by James E. Faust


The story is told of Ali Hafed, a wealthy ancient Persian who owned much land and many productive fields, orchards, and gardens and had money out at interest. He had a lovely family and at first was contented because he was wealthy, and wealthy because he was contented.

An old priest came to Ali Hafed and told him that if he had a diamond the size of his thumb, he could purchase a dozen farms like his. Ali Hafed said, “Will you tell me where I can find diamonds?”

The priest told him, “If you will find a river that runs over white sands, between high mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds.”

“Well,” said Ali Hafed, “I will go.”

So he sold his farm, collected his money that was at interest, and left his family in charge of a neighbor, and away he went in search of diamonds, traveling through many lands in Asia and Europe. After years of searching his money was all spent, and he passed away in rags and wretchedness.

Meanwhile, the man who purchased Ali Hafed’s farm one day led his camel out into the garden to drink, and as the animal put his nose into the shallow waters, the farmer noticed a curious flash of light in the white sands of the stream. Reaching in, he pulled out a black stone containing a strange eye of light. Not long after, the same old priest came to visit Ali Hafed’s successor and found that in the black stone was a diamond. As they rushed out into the garden and stirred up the white sands with their fingers, they came up with many more beautiful, valuable gems. According to the story, this marked the discovery of the diamond mines of Golconda, the most valuable diamond mines in the history of the ancient world.

Had Ali Hafed remained at home and dug in his own cellar, or anywhere in his own fields, rather than traveling in strange lands where he eventually faced starvation and ruin, he would have had “acres of diamonds.” (Story paraphrased from Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds [Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1960], 10–14.)

We feel only pity for Ali Hafed as we picture him wandering homeless and friendless farther and farther away from the happiness he thought he would find in digging up diamonds in a far-off place. Yet how many times do we look for our happiness at a distance in space or time rather than right now, in our own homes, with our own families and friends?

The Savior of the world taught us to seek that inner peace which taps the innate happiness in our souls. He said, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).