- Author Hazrat Inayat Khan
There is a story of a slave called Ayaz, who was brought before a king with nine others; and the king had to select one to be his personal attendant.
The wise king gave into the hands of each of the ten a wineglass and commanded him to throw it down. Each one obeyed the command.
Then the king asked each one of them, «Why did you do such a thing?»
The first nine answered, «Because Your Majesty gave me the order»: the plain truth, cut and dried.
And then came the tenth slave, Ayaz. He said, «Pardon Sire, I am sorry,» for he realized that the king already knew it was his command; in the reply «Because you told me,» nothing new was said to the king. This beauty of expression enchanted the king so much that he selected him to be his attendant.
It was not long before Ayaz won the trust and confidence of the king, who gave him the charge of his treasury, the treasury in which precious jewels were kept.
This sudden rise from slave to treasurer of the king, an envied position, made many jealous. No sooner did people know that Ayaz had become a favorite of the king than they began to tell numerous stories about him in order to bring him into disfavor.
One of the stories was that Ayaz went every day into the room where the jewels were locked In the safe, and that he was stealing them by little. The king answered, «No, I cannot believe such a thing. You have to show me.»
So they brought the king as Ayaz entered this room, and had him stand in a place where there was a hole looking into the room. And the king saw what was going on there.
Ayaz entered the room and opened the door of the safe. And what did he take out from it? His old, ragged clothes which he had worn as a slave. He kissed them and pressed them to his eyes, and put them on the table. There incense was burning, and what he was doing was something sacred to him.
He then put on these clothes and looked at himself in the mirror and said, as one might say a prayer, «Listen, O Ayaz, see what you used to be before. It is the king who has made you, who has given you the charge of this treasure. So regard this duty as your most sacred trust, and this honor as your privilege and as token of the love and kindness of the king. Know that it is not your worthiness that has brought you to this position. Know that it is his greatness, his goodness, his generosity which has overlooked your faults, and which has bestowed that rank and position upon you by which you are now being honored. Never forget, therefore, your first day, the day when you came to this town; for it is the remembering of that day which will keep you in your proper place.»
He then took off the clothes and put them in the same place of safety and came out. As he stepped out, what did he see? He saw that the king before whom he bowed was waiting eagerly to embrace him; and the king said to him, «What a lesson you have given me, Ayaz! It is this lesson which we all must learn, whatever be our position. For before that King in whose presence we are all but slaves, nothing should make us forget that helplessness through which we were reared and raised and brought to life, to understand and to live a life of joy. People told me that you had stolen jewels from our treasure house, but on coming here I have found that you have stolen my heart.»