Fearful King


A noble sen­ti­ment  one with which few peo­ple any­where would dis­agree, but it is, as I have given it to you here, taken out of con­text, and so it lacks some of the bite that it has in the orig­i­nal, where it is the cul­mi­na­tion of the fol­low­ing story:

An Arab king who was noto­ri­ous for his cru­elty came on a pil­grim­age to the cathe­dral mosque of Dam­as­cus, where he offered the fol­low­ing prayer, clearly seek­ing God’s assis­tance in a mat­ter of some urgency:

“The darvish, poor, own­ing noth­ing, the manwhose money buys him any­thing he wants,here, on this floor,  enslaved, we are equals. Nonethe­less, the man who has the most comes before You bear­ing the greater need.”

When the king was done pray­ing, he noticed me immersed in my own prayers at the head of the prophet Yahia’s tomb. The monarch turned to me, “I know that God favors you darvishes because you are pas­sion­ate in your wor­ship and hon­est in the way you live your lives.

I fear a pow­er­ful enemy, but if you add your prayers to mine, I am sure that God will pro­tect me for your sake.” “Have mercy on the weak among your own peo­ple,” I replied, “and no one will be able to defeat you.”

To break each of a poor man’s ten fin­gers just because you have the strength offends God. Show compassion to those who fall before you, and oth­ers will extend their hands when you are down.The man who plants bad seed hal­lu­ci­nates if he expects sweet fruit at har­vest time. Take the cot­ton from your ears!

Give  your peo­ple jus­tice before jus­tice finds you.All men and women are to each other the limbs of a sin­gle body, each of us  drawn from life’s shim­mer­ing essence, God’s per­fect pearl; and when this life we share wounds one of us, all share the hurt as if it were our own. You, who will not feel another’s pain, you for­feit the right to be called human.



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