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A Tale of Two Servants

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 29th August 2006 21:27

A Tale of Two Servants

The contrast between a person who is preoccupied with himself and another who refuses to fall into anxious preoccuption is illustrated by the parable of two servants to the king. The first servant is busy carrying out his master's orders without turning aside to concern himself with what he will wear or what he will eat. Rather, he is completely engaged in the service of his Lord. This makes him heedless of wasting time trying to secure his own wants and needs, which he deems unimportant. The behavior of the second servant is different. No matter what the master requests him to do, he finds the servant busily engaged in washing his own clothes, finding means for his own transportation and adorning his own appearance.

Don't you think that the first servant is more deserving of his master's beneficence and acceptance, when compared to the second servant who is preoccupied with his selfish impulses and acquisitive desires to the point of neglecting the rights of his master? Since when was a servant purchased to serve himself rather than his master?

So it is that you always see an insightful servant busy with carrying out the rightful prerogatives of his master and carefully observing his commands. This distracts him from his selfish impulses and keeps him from giving them any value at all. When a servant is like this, the true One undertakes to support him in every detail and secure for him his every concern and turn to him with generous gifts. This is because the servant sincerely relies on his master. Whoever totally entrusts God in all affairs has God alone as his recompense (Qur'an 65:3). Can you say the same for the negligent servant? You always find him struggling to collect worldly means to attain his needs and coveting the things through which to satisfy his selfish desires. He stands on the foundation of his own plotting and planning for himself. He fraudulently ascribes to himself ownership of his self and is therefore cut off from beautiful trust in another and sincere reliance upon another.

-Shaykh Taj-ud-Din Ahmad ibn 'Ata'Allah al-Iskandari, The Book of Illumination (Translated by Scott Kugle from the Imam's Kitab al-Tanwir fi Isqat al-Tadbir)

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