These dervishes are like apes


While it is good that murids in the beginning of their path emulate the behaviour of their murshid, it is important that in due course of time this doesn’t turn into a blind following (taqlid) of their spiritual guide and teacher.

A Sufi shaykh visited some dervishes in Misr during his travels. When he was with them, he taught some apes to do a dance. They learned to do it very quickly. Dressed in golden robes and wearing impressive crowns, they went through the steps and, for a while, put on a very good show. This show took place in front of the dervishes the shaykh had visited. They responded with enthusiasm to the dance of the apes.

Something unexpected took place. The shaykh, who had a handful of nuts in his pocket, suddenly tossed these nuts among the dancing apes. One look and they forgot all about the dance. They reverted to what they really were, apes, and started to fight one another over the nuts. The troop of dancing apes fell apart and the onlooking dervishes hooted…

The shaykh then said to them: “You are like these apes! You wear dervish robes, you perform dervish dances and you claim to be dervishes. As things stand, a vulture could sooner play to be a nightingale, than any of you could be a dervish!”