A tanner who worked with stinking dung and urine wandered by accident one day into the perfumers' bazaar. The smell of the perfume overwhelmed him, and he fell unconscious on the spot.
People tried to revive him, sprinkling him with rose-water. They did not understand that the rose-water was causing his sickness, not curing it.
The tanner's own brother heard what had happened and came running with some dog-dung. "We must do what wise doctors advise: give the patient what he's used to."
It worked: the tanner revived as soon as he smelled the dung.
"Thank you, brother," he said.
Inspired by: The English prose version of Rumi in More Tales from the Masnavi by A. J. Arberry.
Notes: This is story 104 in the book. You can read more about tanning at Wikipedia. In Rumi's story, the brother has a bit of dung smeared on his hand, but the people do not know that; he bends over his brother and holds his hand to his nose, and the people think he is reciting some kind of magical charm. They do not realize that it is the smell of dung that provided the cure. Compare Ramakrishna's story of the fishmonger and the flowers: The Fish and the Flowers.