Sufi Politeness – A True Story

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

It is related in Muhammad Sa’id al-Jamal ar-Rafai as-Shadhuli’s eloquent book, Music of the Soul, that at the time he was a disciple of Sidi ‘Abd ar-Rahman, may God be well pleased with them both, there was a troublesome old man in Damascus who everyday would throw stones at the zawiyya, the Sufi lodge. Each time the incident of stone throwing happened, his guide would say, “Send him mercy. If he wants food, give him food. If he wants clothes, give him clothes. If he wants money, give him money. Give him what he wants.”

When he, according to the advice of his guide, provided for the old man, he would gather his sons and would throw more stones at the zawiyya.

He asked himself, “What is the wisdom in this?” Then he would again go to this old man and gave him some food and some money and some clothes from his guide, but at the same time he felt something very strong about this person. His guide said to him, “There are many messages when this old man throws stones at the zawiyya.”

Then one day the old man became sick and the eminent guide sent his disciple to him. When he arrived at his house, the old man woke up and asked, “Who is there?” He mentioned his name and the old man began to weep and he started to say Astaghfirullah! (seeking forgiveness from Allah). And after some days, he came to live in the zawiyya. And he became a holy student under the guide.

When Sidi as-Shadhuli later wrote down this story, this man was already one hundred and five years old. Later when he met him in Amman, Jordan, the old man said, “Sidi, excuse me for throwing stones at the zawiyya. But if I had not hit the zawiyya, I would not have reached God. How could I have known the guide and the Way, if I had not thrown stones?” The guide saw the wisdom of his actions and knew that this old man was one of his students.

This story has a picture illustrating it. The picture is of the date tree. “Be like this tree,” advises Sidi. “When any person throws something to hit the date tree, it gives him back sweets. This is the right way.”

“If anyone makes something bad for you, or speaks in an unkind way, understand Who speaks and Who hits. Be sweet and give to everyone who wants sweets, because after the fire is the garden and after the darkness is light. It is necessary to see within everything, to see where it is coming from and to return it to God. Be polite! Everything is the Face of God.”

– Edited from a longer post on Sadiq’s Mystic Saint blog. (Muhammad Sa’id al-Jamal ar-Rifai as-Shadhuli is now the Head of the Higher Sufi Council in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He is also a teacher at the Holy mosques at al-Aqsa in Jerusalem).

Ya Haqq!

12 Responses to Sufi Politeness – A True Story

  1. Shahrzad says:

    Very beautiful and this part “after the fire is the garden” which is Abraham story. Last week i was exactly thinking about this point the guide mentioned and did. It’s what they use for pains to pass those seven cities of love too.
    Love is fire that burns, but like Abraham, one has to go through it to reach the Garden..

  2. brokenmystic says:

    Beautiful, masha’Allah. Reminds me of the Qur’anic verse: “Repel evil with that which is good.”

  3. Shirley says:

    That is so lovely about the date tree. I must remember to teach it to my children.

  4. imran says:

    Salam. Thought you might like this poem:

    Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, “Rope of Arrival”

    Poem from Diwawin al-Sit (pp. 108-109)
    Translation by Zakariya Wright

    May all those who hold to my rope attain arrival,
    May he attain true knowledge of Him, whoever has not given lie to the Lord
    And my traversing the deserts of gnosis is beyond (another’s) aspiration
    So the cardinal poles have failed to realize my objective
    (This) by the preference of the God of mankind, mighty and exalted is He
    And (by) the love of the Messenger of God, my Prophet, Ta Ha.

    I took an oath, indeed no one loves me
    Except the most felicitous, and the opposite for him who hates me
    And the people (have come to) know that I am his servant
    Since the link to the beloved of God is found in my bond

    And I have not said my words astray or boastfully
    And no drunkenness, no departed reason, has touched me
    My writings are felicity for the human race
    So he is not miserable who has seen me (or) my writing, (even for) a day
    And I have not said this without authorization, and surely I
    In order to conceal a secret, it was not disclosed to other than me

    And the possession of all of this is from the love of the master of messengers
    Upon him the blessing of Allah, (a blessing which) exalts my affair
    I have been filled with light from him, until I (myself) was overwhelmed, however
    (It was) the might of the Messenger of God (that) overwhelmed my thoughts
    His exuberance, love, from Him to Him
    And glory to the Lord whose manifestation has annihilated my being
    And from the secret of this, I died yearning, passionately in love
    The closer I came,1 the more my longing increased

    So who is for me is for the beloved, and would that I be
    His intimate in both of his states, my (sincere) wish.
    (So) upon him the blessing of God, then peace
    (A blessing that) equals the prayer of (all) the people of remembrance prior to me
    Upon him and his noble family and companions (peace)
    (A blessing equal to those) who have traveled the open road of love before me.

  5. Aafke says:

    Very nice story.
    It reminds me of the story of Isa: ”to repay in the coin you have” which made such a big impression on me. And so does this story.

  6. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Sisters and Brother:

    Thank you all for the kind comments. Indeed this is a worthy tale of giving back kindness in exchange for harshness, both like Isa ibn Maryyam words, and the Qur’anic verse mentioned by Aafke and Broken Mystic. And thank you, Imran, for the beautiful poem :)

    Ya Haqq!

  7. Dipti says:

    Dear Brother…what a beautiful reminder.. what a beautiful story ..

    Regards to you..

  8. Achelois says:

    Very beautiful!

  9. Abdur Rahman says:

    Salaams Irving bhai

    Allah! Beautiful and timely, as ever.

    Allah bless you always

  10. hema says:

    what a beautiful reminder

  11. Umm Bilal says:

    Assalamu alaikum Dear Irving Darvish,
    makes me want to go and throw stones…with the hope of finding the Way and God. Sufi tales truly reach deep into the heart, JazakumuLlahu khairan.
    Wassalamu alaikum

  12. MysticSaint says:


    All praise descend and ascend back to The Supreme Source!

    Thank you so much beloved brother for sharing this lovely story. May peace and blessings be with you and all who chance upon here!

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