A long time ago in Afghanistan............
- A long time ago in Afghanistan, there lived a man named Aziz. People
called him sheikh. A sheikh is a Sufi teacher. Sheikh Aziz was very
worried about the fact that the country was in a drought and no one
could find oil. Oil at that time came not from an oil well but from
plant and animal sources. The highest grade of oil had not been seen
in the market for many months. The Sheikh prayed. "Oh, Allah, I
always thanked you for all the good and bad in life, but this time
so many people are freezing. The winter has been cold and very long.
Please, Allah, help the suffering."
Several weeks passed, and the Sheikh was busy in his small shop when
a stranger walked in. "Would you like to buy some oil?" the
stranger said very abruptly. "You have oil?" asked the
Sheikh. "Yes," said the stranger, "The finest oil that can be
had." The stranger took the goatskin oil bag off of his back and
drew out some oil. "This is the finest oil I have ever seen," said
the Sheikh. "How much is it? For I have very little money, and this
oil must be very expensive." The stranger said, "It is only 10
Afghani's." "Why, I have never heard of oil so cheap," said the
Sheikh, "I paid a lot more for the lowest grade of oil last fall.
Do you have any more? There are a lot of people in great need of
oil." The stranger said, "As much as you want." "From where?"
asked the Sheikh, but the stranger had unloaded the oil and was
Day after day, the mysterious stranger filled oil container after
oil container. Even the poorest people received oil, and money was
found lying under numerous oil containers. One day Sheikh Aziz
decided to find out where this oil came from, so he followed the
stranger all over Kabul. In Kabul there is a place that is filled
with water in the summer; but in the fall, it is drained; and by
winter, the water that remains is stagnant and smelly. It is to this
place that Sheikh Aziz followed this stranger and saw him fill his
oilskin with water. "Peace be with you," said Sheikh Aziz. The
stranger jumped and said, "Please do not tell anyone what you have
seen." Sheikh Aziz replied, "I will never say a word; please just
tell me your story."
"Ah yes, my story " began the stranger. "I was a general in an
army. I was cruel and heartless in battle. When I was discharged, I
took a job as governor of a western province. I was just as cruel as
when I was a general. All the people were suffering, and I was
happy. One day a dervish came to my door and said, `You will die
this day or serve Allah.' `I serve no one but myself,' I replied
and went to kick the dervish. Suddenly the dervish was smiling down
at me as I lay on my back on the floor. I have no idea what had just
happed, but I could not move. I started to cry like a little baby
and begged the dervish not to kill me. The dervish said, `Only
Allah can give and take life,' and asked if I was ready to serve
Allah. `Yes!' I cried, `Oh Allah, I wish to be forgiven!' The
dervish spoke to me, `I was told in a dream by the prophet Muhammad
to tell you to go to Kabul and fill this goatskin bag with water.
When you have done so, take the goatskin bag to someone in need of
oil. When you reopen the bag, you will find the finest grade of oil.
Sell oil to those who can afford it. Provide the money and the oil
for those who cannot. Do this until all who need oil are provided
for.' I am now doing as the dervish asked. That is my story."
Sheikh Aziz went back to his store and kept the oil seller's
secret. At the end of winter, the oil seller disappeared, and Sheikh
Aziz had a dream and was told that he could tell the story as a
lesson. And so it comes to you.
Live in the world as a wayfarer /stranger the Nabi Muhammad may
peace and blessings be upon him said.
Isk Ma'bub lailala