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In former days there was a man named Hamid. In his youth he lived in Delhi as the servant of Tughril, that same Tughril who late in life had himself crowned as king in Lukhnauti. In short, this Farid became the servant of that Tughril, and he remained in his service till one day, as he was waiting on Tughril, a form appeared to him. ‘O Hamid,’ it asked, ‘why are you waiting on this man?’ Having spoken, it disappeared.

Hamid was puzzled about who this could be. Then a second time, as he was waiting on Tughril, again that form appeared and asked: ‘O master Hamid, why are you waiting on this man?’ Hamid remained perplexed. Then he saw this form a third time, and again it asked: ‘O Khwaja Hamid, why are you waiting on this man?’ But this time Hamid rejoined: ‘Why should I not wait on him, since I am his servant, he my master. I receive wages from him; why should I not wait on him?’

Replied the form: ‘You are wise, while he is ignorant. You are free, but he remains enslaved. You are righteous, he is corrupt’. Having spoken, it disappeared. When Hamid understood what the form had said, he went to the king and announced: ‘If I owe you some service or have unpaid debts, tell me, for I will no longer be your servant’.

‘What nonsense are you speaking?’ retorted the king. ‘You must be mad’. But Khwaja Hamid stood firm. ‘No, I will no longer serve you. I have been blessed with contentment’.

When the master – may Allah remember him with favour – came to this point in the story (the master is in this case the Chishti Sufi Nizamuddin Awliya), I interjected: ‘That form that appeared to Hamid was surely one of the men of the unseen?’ ‘No,’ replied the master. ‘Whenever a man cleans his inner self of defilements, he will see many things of this sort. A myriad of such qualities exist in each of us, but on account of despicable deeds they remain occluded. Only when the inner self becomes completely translucent can a person recognise the many, many wonders within himself’. And then on his blessed lips came this verse:

That musk-pod you seek will deep inside you remain,
For your fate is such that no scent of it you’ll gain.

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