How to divide eighteen camels into three unequal portions

This post was written by admin on December 4, 2009
Posted Under: teaching puzzle

The following two puzzles are ascribed to Ali Ibn Talib, Amir Al Momenin (Ali the son of Talib, the Prince of the Faithful, the son in law of the prophet Mohamad – mpbh – the first Imam of the Shiites and the fourth true Khalif of the Sunies). Basically he’s is an extremely important dude (no disrespects but I call him that out of love) for all of us Muslims of every sect.

The 2500 Adages of Imam Ali (Forgotten Books)

One day the Prince of the Faithful comes to two young men sitting in the desert next to their camel downhearted and depressed. He asked why they were just sitting there as action makes you feel good. Sitting down like that would make them feel even worse.

One of the young men said, “O’ Ali, the wisest of the wise, we are dejected as we don’t know what to do? Our father, may he be blessed in heaven, loved practical jokes and he left all his belongings to whoever’s camel can come last in this race from here to that palm tree. Neither of us will get on his camel as it’s an impossible race.”

Ali thought for a little while and game them the solution. In a matter of a minute the race had been settles with a winner whose camel came last as the father had stipulated in his will.”

How did Ali solve the puzzle?


Second puzzle again has to do with a will, brothers and camels. In this case the father had seventeen camels. He willed half to his eldest son, a third to his middle son and left a ninth to his youngest son. They did not know how to divide the seventeen camels the way the father had willed. After all half of seventeen is eight and a half camels.

They did not know how to divide the camels so their father’s wishes would be fulfilled. They quarreled until Ali came by listened to their problem and quickly managed to divide the seventeen camels according to the father’s desires.

How did he do it?

Please leave your answers as comments.

The above two puzzles are examples of where lateral thinking (thinking outside the box) is needed.

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