The Story of Sultan Mahmood and Ayaaz

One day Sultan Mahmood called together the officials of
his government with the aim of testing their
intelligence. He took out a pearl from his treasury and
first of all handed it to the Chief Minister and questioned him:
“What is the value of this pearl? How much can it be sold for?”
The Wazir replied, “Sir, this pearl is of great value. It is more
valuable than two hundred donkeys laden with gold”. The king
then ordered: “I command you to crush this pearl.” The Wazir
replied: “I will not destroy this valuable pearl. I have the
welfare of your treasury at heart and to crush this valuable gem
would amount to disrespect on my part”. The king applauded
this reply and rewarded him with a royal robe of honor.

The king then took the pearl from the Wazir and handed
it to another of his court officials and asked him to determine
what the value of the pearl was. He replied, “Sir, this precious
pearl is more valuable than half of your kingdom. May God
protect this pearl.” The king commanded him similarly; to crush
the pearl. He replied, “Sir, my hands cannot move to destroy
this valuable pearl. To destroy this pearl would amount to
enmity towards your treasury”. The king praised him profusely
for his reply and rewarded him as well. In this manner, one by
one the king called sixty-five officials from his government and
each one of them followed the example set by the Chief
Minister. The king praised each one of them and rewarded
them with a royal robe of honor.

After testing all the other officials, the king now turned
to Ayaaz, handed him the pearl and said: “O Ayaaz, everyone
of my officials have seen this pearl. You also have a look at its
radiant light and then tell me, what is its value?” Ayaaz replied,
“Sir, whatever value I am going to mention, this pearl will be
worth much more than that”. The king ordered, “Quickly, crush
this valuable gem into pieces”. Ayaaz knew the king’s
temperament and immediately realized that the king was
putting him to a test. He broke the valuable pearl into small
pieces and did not pay any attention towards receiving any
royal robe as a reward.

As soon as he broke the pearl into pieces, all the officials
created a great commotion. The Minister of the State uttered,
“By Allah! This man is a disbeliever, an ungrateful one,
showing no regard for a valuable gem belonging to you.” Ayaaz
replied, “Respected brothers! Which is more valuable, the
command of the king or this pearl? O people, in your sight the
pearl is more valuable than the king’s command. I could not
dismiss and, like a Mushrik, turn towards the pearl. To remove
my sight from the king and turn towards the pearl is equivalent
to shirk in the love and obedience towards the king.” Ayaaz
said: “Respected Sirs, is the command of the king more valuable
or the pearl? I shall not move my sight from the king and I will
not turn my sight to the pearl like a Mushrik. O You unworthy
ones! The actual pearl was the king’s command. All of you
broke the pearl of the king’s command.” When Ayaaz explained
this secret to all the Ministers who were jealous of Ayaaz’s
nearness to the king became humiliated and disgraced by his

In this story, we learn that the “command comes before
respect”. It means that when the king gave a command, the
correct line of action was to obey that command. Ayaaz had
personal love for Sultan Mahmood whereas the Ministers and
courtiers had love for their own positions, ranks and wealth.
The understanding and rational reasoning which Ayaaz
displayed was an outflow of his love for Sultan Mahmood.
Love itself teaches one the etiquettes of love. This true
understanding and knowledge is not derived through the
intellect, it is created out of love. Note that Shaytaan himself
was a rational being and not a being filled with love. For this
reason, he objected to the command of Allah Ta’ala, the Ruler of
all rulers, whereas it would have been only proper that when
an order came from Allah Ta’ala, it should have been
immediately implemented. The result of his action was that he
was banished from the Court of Allah Ta’ala. On the other
hand, Nabi Adam (Alaihis Salaam) and Hawa (Alaihas Salaam)
were lovers of Allah Ta’ala. When they committed a mistake,
they did not feel any disgrace in admitting their fault to Allah
Ta’ala. Along with admitting their fault before their Beloved,
they busied themselves with gaining His pleasure, by shedding
tears as they prayed for His pardon.
In this story, there is a further lesson of the magnitude
of the Divine Command which should be carried out without
any hesitation. The relationship between Sultan Mahmood and
Ayaaz was the relationship between Master and slave. Our
relationship with Allah Ta’ala is even greater and deeper. Every
atom of our bodies was created by Him, reared by Him and is
owned by Him. He has such absolute ownership over us;
wherein no one else shares.

Ma’aarif- e -Mathnawi