Story No. 252 – Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb’s (as) Mathematical Brilliance: Dividing 17 Camels

A person was about to die, and before dying he wrote his Will which went as follows:

“I have 17 Camels, and I have three sons. Divide my Camels in such a way that my eldest son gets half of them, the second one gets 1/3rd of the total and my youngest son gets 1/9th of the total number of Camels.”

After his death when the relatives read his will they got extremely perplexed and said to each other that how can we divide 17 camels like this.

So after a long hard thought they decided that there was only one man in Arabia who could help them: “Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as).”

So they all came to the door of Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) and put forward their problem.

Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) said, “Ok, I will divide the camels as per the man’s will.”

Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) said, “I will lend one of my camels to the total which makes it 18 (17+1=18), now lets divide as per his will.”

The eldest son gets 1/2 of 18 = 9
The second one gets 1/3 of 18 = 6
The youngest gets 1/9 of 18 = 2
Now the total number of camels = 17 (9+6+2=17)

Then Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (as) said, “Now I will take my Camel back.”