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Sufism
Man and Teacher

A builder was commissioned by a good man to construct and prepare a house which was to be given to the needy.

The builder started work; but soon he found himself surroun­ded by people. Some of them wanted to learn how to build houses. Of these, only a few had the necessary ability. Some of the people remonstrated with the builder, saying:

'You select only the people whom you like.' Others reviled him, saying: 'You are building this house for yourself.’

The builder said to them: 'I cannot teach everyone. And I am building this house for some needy person.'

“They replied: ‘You have produced the excuse after the accusation merely in order to answer it.'

He said: ‘But what if it is the truth? Is it still to be called a lie?’

They told him: “This is sheer sophistry; we will not listen.”

The builder carried on with his work. Some of his assistants became so attached to the house that, for their own good, he sent them away. The detractors cried:

‘Now he begins to show his true colors. See what he has done to his only real friends: cast them out!’

One of the builder's friends explained: 'He has done this for a sufficient reason. It is for the good of the others.'

“Then why does he not speak for himself, explaining it in detail to us all?' they cried.

The builder, sacrificing time which was needed in the making of the building, went to them himself, and said:

'I am here to tell you what I have done and why.'

They immediately shouted: 'See, having found that his hireling cannot convince us, he has come in person, trying to deceive us! Do not listen to him.'    

The builder went back to his work, while the others called after him: 'See how he slinks away . . . he cannot confuse us, for we are clear-thinking people.’

One of the people, who were more fair-minded than the rest, said to them:   

'Could we not come to some accommodation in this matter; perhaps the builder is really trying to do something good. On the other hand if he is not, we can perhaps determine the situa­tion on the basis of facts, not opinions.'

A few of the people agreed, though the, majority dissented. These majority were divided among those who thought that the fair-minded man was in the builder's pay and those who thought that he was weak of intellect.

The few now approached the builder saying:

'Show us an authorization, from your charitable employer, so that we may be convinced.’

But when the authorization was presented to them, it was found that none of them could read.

‘Bring me a man who can read, and I shall be delighted, so that we can have an end to this,’ said the builder.

Some of these few went away in disgust, saying:

‘We asked for proof, and all he does is mutter about reading and writing…’

Others searched and returned with sharp-witted and crafty illiterates who claimed that they could read. All of these, assuming that nobody in the world could read, asked the builder large sums of money in exchange for attesting the truth of authorization. He refused to conspire with them.

'Literate people you see, are very scarce in that country. Those who can read and write are not trusted by the populace, or else have other things to do.

The facts of the situation are these. People interpret them as they desire.

Mudir Ali Sabri

 . ..

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