The Ones Who Serve are Served

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is taken from “When You Hear Hoof Beats Think of a Zebra” by Shaykh Shems Friedlander.

One day in the courtyard of the mosque, Shaykh Tayfur Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q.s.), a great Sufi shaykh and the Quthb al-‘Arifin, the central pillar of knowledge, was making his ablutions in preparation for prayer.  Across the courtyard, he saw a very old man.  In the old days, they used heavy clay pitchers for water, and if you were strong enough, you picked one up and washed yourself.  Often, the person next to you would help you pour the water, and in turn you did the same for him.

Shaykh Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q.s.) saw no one was helping the old man.  He walked over to the old man and said, “Old man, what could you have done in your long life that you do not have one friend?  No one has come to help you?”

The old man looked at him and said, “The ones who serve are served.  And if I had not served Allah and His Creation, how would the Quthb al-‘Arifin, the man of the highest knowledge, come now to serve me?”


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