Humility

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A sagacious youth of noble family landed at a seaport of Turkey, and, as he displayed piety and wisdom, his baggage was deposited in a mosque. One day the priest said to him: “Sweep away the dust and rubbish from the mosque.”Immediately, the young man went away and no one saw him there again. Thus, did the elder and his followers suppose he did not care to serve. The next day, a servant of the mosque met him on the road and said: ‘Thou didst act wrongly in thy perverse judgment. Knowest thou not, O conceited youth, that men are dignified by service?” Sorrowfully, the youth began to weep. “O soul-cherishing and heart-illuminating friend!” he answered; “I saw no dirt or rubbish in that holy place but mine own corrupt self. Therefore, I retraced my steps, for a mosque is better cleansed from such.”

Humility is the only ritual for a devotee. If thou desire greatness, be humble; no other ladder is there by which to climb.

The Bustan of Sadi, tr. by A. Hart Edwards,

The Story of Hatam Taei and the Messenger Sent to Kill Him

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One of the kings of Yemen was renowned for his liberality, yet the name of Hatam Taei was never mentioned in his presence without his falling into a rage. “How long,” he would ask, “wilt thou speak of that vain man, who possesses neither a kingdom, nor power, nor wealth?” On one occasion he prepared a royal feast, which the people were invited to attend. Someone began to speak of Hatam, and another to praise him. Envious,the king dispatched a man to slay the Arabian chief, reflecting, “So long as HatamTaei lives, my name will never become famous.

The messenger departed, and traveled far seeking for Hatam Taei that he might kill him. As he went along the road a youth came out to meet him. He was handsome and wise, and showed friendliness toward the messenger, whom he took to his house to pass the night. Such liberality did he shower upon his guest that the heart of the evil-minded one was turned to goodness.

In the morning the generous youth kissed his hand and said, “Remain with me for a few days.” I am unable to stay here,” replied the messenger, “for urgent business is before me.” “If thou wilt entrust me with thy secret,” said the youth, “to aid the will I spare no effort.”

“O,generous man!” was the reply, “give ear to me, for I know that the generous are concealers of secrets. Perhaps in this country thou knowest Hatam Taei, who is of lofty mind and noble qualities. The king of Yemen desires his head, though Iknow not what enmity has arisen between them. Grateful shall I be if thou wilts direct me to where he is. This hope from thy kindness do I entertain, O friend!”

The youth laughed and said, “I am Hatam Taei, see here my head!Strike it from my body with thy sword. I would not that harm should be fall thee, or that thou shouldst fall in thy endeavor.”Throwing aside his sword, the man fell on the ground and kissed the dust of HatamTaei ‘s feet. “If I injured a hair on thy body,” he cried, “I should no longer be a man.” So saying, he clasped Hatam Taei to his breast and took his way back to Yemen.

“Come,” said the king as the man approached, “what news hast thou?” Why didst thou not tie his head to thy saddle-straps? Perhaps that famous one attacked thee and thou wert too weak to engage in combat.” The messenger kissed the ground and said, “O, wise and just king!I found HatamTaei, and saw him to be generous and full of wisdom,and in courage superior to myself. My back was bent by the burden of his favors; with the sword of kindness and bounty he killed me.”

When he had related all that he had seen of Hatam Taei ‘s generosity, the king uttered praises upon the family of the Arab chief and rewarded the messenger with gold.

Excerpt From: Bustan by by Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa’di Shirazi r.a

Extra Note: HatamTaei was an Arabian chief who was renowned for his generosity. He was born in Yemen, in Arabia Felix, and lived some time before Hazrat Mohammed (p.b.u.h) in the sixth century. Many legends have been woven around his life and character.

Hazrat Ibrahim Adham {r.a}

Hazrat Ibrahim Adham {r.a} used to be the custodian of some orchards and spent the proceeds upon his companions and it is said: And there were some of his companions who, while he was working during the day spending on them, would gather someplace in the night and they would be fasting during the day. It was the case that he was often slow returning from the work. And one night they decided to eat their breakfast and sleep without him as a motivation for him to return earlier. And when Ibrahim returned and found them sleeping he said: Poor people and there might have been no food for them and so he prepared a pot of food on the fire, and they asked him about it and he replied: I thought you slept without breakfast therefore I wanted you to wake to some prepared food and thus some of them told the others: Observe what we did vs. what he did!

In order to be Ibrahim Adham’s companion there were three conditions: 1) He would do all the service, 2) He would call Adhan (Muslim call to prayers) i.e. he would not be the Imam and offer that to the companion as a sign of grace and humility and 3) He would pay for all the expenses that might have come their way. And in one occasion one of companions told him that I cannot accept these conditions and Ibrahim replied: Your truthfulness impresses me! (Dara: The real companion would not accept these conditions and the lack of acceptance would declare the real intentions of the companion and thus the truth would come out.)

The Gulistan (“The Rose Garden”) Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa’di Shirazi r.a

Two sons of Amirs were in Egypt, the one acquiring science, the other accumulating wealth, till the former became the Ulema of the period and the other the prince of Egypt; whereon the rich man looked with contempt upon the Faqih (religious scholar) and said: ‘I have reached the sultanate whilst thou hast remained in poverty as before.’ He replied: ‘O brother, I am bound to be grateful to the most high Creator for having obtained the inheritance of prophets whilst thou hast attained the inheritance of Pharaoh and of Haman, namely the kingdom of Egypt.’

I am that ant which is trodden under foot
Not that wasp, the pain of whose sting causes lament.
How shall I give due thanks for the blessing
That I do not possess the strength of injuring mankind?

~~

Two Khorasani dervishes traveled together. One of them, being weak, broke his fast every second night whilst the other who was strong consumed every day three meals. It happened that they were captured at the gate of a town on suspicion of being spies; whereon each of them was confined in a closet and the aperture of it walled up with mud bricks. After two weeks it became known that they were guiltless. Accordingly the doors were opened and the strong man was found to be dead whilst the weak fellow had remained alive. The people were astonished but a sage averred that the contrary would have been astonishing because one of them having been voracious possessed no strength to suffer hunger and perished whilst the other who was abstemious merely persevered in his habit and remained safe.

When eating little has become the nature of a man
He takes it easy when a calamity befalls him
But when the body becomes strong in affluence
He will die when a hardship overtakes him.

~~

Moses, to whom be salutation, beheld a dervish who had on account of his nudity concealed himself in the sand exclaiming: ‘O Moses, utter a supplication to God the most high to give me an allowance because I am, on account of my distress, on the point of starvation.’ Moses accordingly prayed and departed but returning a few days afterwards he saw that the dervish was a prisoner and surrounded by a crowd of people. On asking for the reason he was informed that the dervish had drunk wine, quarreled, slain a man and was to be executed in retaliation.

If the humble cat possessed wings
He would rob the world of every sparrow-egg.
It may happen that when a weak man obtains power
He arises and twists the hands of the weak.
And if Allah were to bestow abundance upon his servants, they would certainly
rebel upon earth.

What has made thee wade into danger, O fool,
Till thou hast perished. Would that the ant had not been able to fly!

When a base fellow obtains dignity, silver and gold,
His head necessarily demands to be knocked.

Was not after all this maxim uttered by a sage?
‘That ant is the best which possesses no wings.’
The heavenly father has plenty of honey but the son has a hot disease.

He who does not make thee rich
Knows better what is good for thee than thyself.

Book excerpts from chapter three, the number of the stories as follows 2,7,16

The Gulistan (Persian: گلستان‎ Golestȃn “The Rose Garden”) Sheikh Muslih-uddin Sa’di Shirazi r.a (1258) Translated by Sir Edwin Arnold (1899)

Story About the Dog

Rumi was once walking on a narrow path and a dog came into his way, the surrounding area was muddy. Rumi told the dog to step aside, the dog told him to step aside. Then Rumi said, “You are a dog it doesn’t matter if you get dirty.”

The dog replied, “No, by stepping aside your clothes will get dirty and clothes can be washed, however if you force me to step aside, you might feel in your heart that you are better than a dog. Your heart hence will not be washable with water.”

Rumi stepped aside and let the dog pass.

Sufi Stories: The Frogs

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit.

The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs asked him, “Why did you continue jumping. Didn’t you hear us?”

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

This story holds two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path.

The power of words… it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times.

Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.