Testing the tested

In his khanegah, the Chishti dervish ‘Abdullah prayed to God that he would send him a murid. It grew dark when a knock came at the door. He opened it and a stranger entered. Dervish ‘Abdullah asked him to sit down. For some time, not a word passed between them.

Dervish ‘Abdullah was the first who spoke: “Who are you, and what do you desire of me?”

“My name is John Lemprière”, said the other. “I have made a long journey to come here. I wish to be your murid. I have brought you all I have.” He drew out a pouch and emptied it on the table. The coins were many. He offered them with his right hand. Dervish ‘Abdullah had turned away to light the lamp. When he turned back again, he noticed that John had a rose in his left hand.

Dervish ‘Abdullah then remarked: “Money is not what I seek; and if money matters to you, you will never become my disciple.”

“The gold does not matter to me”, John replied. “These coins are no more than a token of my willingness to work. I wish that you will guide me along the Sufi path.”

Dervish ‘Abdullah responded: “Many people say that I am an impostor.”

After a short silence, John said: “I am ready to study with you, I wish for proof before we set out on the way.”

Dervish ‘Abdullah shook his head, saying: “Aazmuda raa aazmudan jahl ast- Asking for proof from those who have proven themselves is ignorance.”

“Every murid is ignorant at the beginning of the path” – said John. “Please destroy this rose in the fire and make it bloom again. Let me be the witness of this miracle. I ask only this of you.”

“You are interested in superficial things”- said dervish ‘Abdullah. “I demand faith.”

John did not change his opinion: “I wish to see with my own eyes the annihilation and the reappearance of the rose.”

Dervish ‘Abdullah raised his voice and said: “Who are you to enter my house and demand a miracle? What have you done to deserve such a favour?”

“I know very well that I have accomplished nothing” – said John. But I ask, in the name of the many years that I shall study in your shadow, that you allow me to see its ash and, after that, the rose again. I shall ask nothing more, and I shall believe the testimony of my eyes.”

He suddenly threw the rose into the fire. The Chishti dervish responded thus: “The learned in this town all affirm that I am a trickster. Perhaps they are in the right. There is the ash that was the rose. It will no more be rose.”

John felt ashamed. He, an intruder, had forced dervish ‘Abdullah to confess that he was an imposter: “I have made a mistake. I have lacked faith, which the Lord demands of a murid.” He spoke with unfeigned passion. But that passion was charity towards someone who was so honest to say he was no master. The money could not be left there and John took it, as if for alms, as he went. The Chishti dervish accompanied him to the door.

Dervish ‘Abdullah was left to himself. He sat down and took the ash of the rose into his cupped palm, and, in a low voice, recited the Supreme Name of God and the rose returned.