THE STORY OF AYAAZ AND THOSE WHO WERE JEALOUS OF HIM
Extract from Ma’Arif-e-Mathnavi
Ayaaz, one of the close courtiers of king Mahmood, built a room in which he kept his old leather jacket, other torn and tattered clothing which he wore before becoming a servant of the king. He used to keep the room locked at all times.
Occasionally, he used to enter this room alone. Then, looking at his torn and tattered clothes and his leather coat, he used to cry thus, “O Allah, I am a son of a very poor person. I used to be in this torn and tattered state. This was my clothing of which today I am so ashamed that I keep it locked up. Not only will I not wear it in the presence of others, but I feel ashamed to even show it to them. In fact, now I consider it an insult to let others come to know of them.”
Then he used to address himself, “O Ayaaz, today you are a close courtier of the king. Do not be arrogant and proud of the shine and splendour you enjoy. For in reality you are like these tattered clothes.”
The other courtiers and ministers of the king did not know what was in the room. Seeing him entering and leaving this room, they started forming all kinds of opinions and ideas about the room and its contents.
One day, all the king’s courtiers gathered in one place.They exchanged ideas as to why Ayaaz went into this room alone and why he kept the room locked at all times? The king loved him and considered him a saintly person. They thought that Ayaaz was stealing the king’s wealth and hiding it in that room. They thought that if the king was to be informed of the treasure that was being kept in the room, then upon its discovery, Ayaaz would lose his position of nearness to the king.
Secondly, if the king was to find the treasure, he would reward his informers. Hence, the result of their mutual consultation was that king Mahmood should be informed of their suspicions. A delegation from among them went to the king and told him: “The court officials told the king that Ayaazhas a room in which is hidden gold, silver and carpets. He does not permit anybody else to enter into it and keeps the room locked at all times.”
The king listened to them and said: “At midnight, I am going to inspect that room. You all should remain with meduring the inspection. Whatever wealth we shall find therein will be divided amongst you people.”The king further said:”Sorrow upon Ayaaz that in spite of so much respect and honour that he enjoys from us, he should involve himself in such a despicable act, as to hoard gold and silver in secret.
Whoever has discovered the life of Divine Love, for him it is ingratitude to become involved with beings other than Allah Ta’ala.”The king was quite convinced of the sincere love which Ayaaz had for him and had full confidence in his honesty. However, he was actually jeering at the courtiers and making a fool of them.
The king had no mistrust of Ayaaz. He only tested the court officials and played the fool with the jealous ones. It was impossible that Ayaaz could be untrue to the king because his faithfulness was unlimited. Ayaaz was a king among kings; in fact, he was a king in the making and it was only for protection from an evil eye that he was called Ayaaz. King Mahmood was aware of his innocence and purity of life and only to rectify those who envied him, he decided to inspect.
In the middle of the night, the room was opened. When the court officials could not find anything, they said: “The treasure must be under the ground.”
Hence, the floor of the room was dug up, but still they found nothing. Everybody was quite surprised and distressed as to what excuse to give before the king and worried as to how they were going to save themselves from their false accusations.
Finally, in despair, they bit their hands and lips and like women they put their hands on their heads in shame. They all came before the king and said: “Whatever punishment you wish to meet out to us, we are prepared to accept. We deserve such punishment. But if you pardon us, (it will be good) for you are king of Grace.”The king said: “Whatever Judgment or verdict Ayaaz will give, that will be our Judgment, because you people have tried to defame him and his good name and honour. Therefore, I shall; not pass any Judgment.”
He said further:”O Ayaaz, please pass Judgment on these evil-mongers for you were innocent of their accusations and completely loyal. O Ayaaz, from your test and trial numerous people are ashamed and full of grief”.
Now listen to Ayaaz’s good fortune, his annihilated self and his morals of love. Ayaaz said:”O king! All sovereignty and rule is fitting for you, it is your kindness that this honour Ayaaz enjoys, I am a mere slave. How can a star show its light in the presence of the sun? Whether it is Venus, or Mercury or whether it is a shooting star, How can any of these show their existence in the presence of the Sun?”The king, hearing this, became quite pleased.
He replied:”O Ayaaz, your high-mindedness has caused serfdom to be granted light and your light has speedily moved from down here to the stars. O Ayaaz, your bondage has reached that rank which is the envy of freedom, for you have done your duty to bondage and acquired the true life.”
To this Ayaaz replied:”This high-mindedness is your gift and the result of the blessings of your company otherwise, I am that slave of lowly rank who initially appeared before you in tattered clothes and leather jacket. O You listener, your tattered clothing is a clot of blood and your leather jacket is the blood of menstruation. Apart from that everything else you possess is a gift from Allah Ta’ala.”
In this story, Maulana Rumi (Rahmatullah Alaihe) is teaching the lesson of annihilation of the self.
Ayaaz was granted many favours by the king. In spite of that honour, in order to save himself from arrogance and pride, he used to go and see his tattered
clothing and his old leather jacket and used to advise himself: “O Ayaaz, this is your reality. Be not proud of your position of nearness to the king”.
In the same way, the seekers after the Sufi path and the seekers of Allah Ta’ala should at all time keep their reality in front of their eyes. They should remember their humble beginnings as Allah Ta’ala reminds us:”We have created man from a clot”. The origin of man is that he is created from the father’s sperm and the mother’s blood of menstruation.