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Ethiopia - Muslim tomb (next door)Insightful story: This Too Shall Pass


Shakir taught the Sufi fakir that fate doesn't care whether a person is good or bad.


Life is about constant change.

Previous TaleTown Story: Repaying Parental Debt

Isha had a car accident. She had escaped unscathed, but the crash shook her.

She arrived home red-faced, shaking spasmodically, her tears ready to spill out of her eyes.

Rosh heard her tale patiently, hugged her, checked the car, and called the insurance company.

“Why does it only happen to us?” she asked Rosh tearfully. “We’ve never harmed anyone!”

“A dervish went to Hajj,” Rosh answered compassionately. “As night began to fall, he sought shelter in a village he saw on the way.”

“The door he knocked on, to seek refuge, belonged to a man called Shakir.”

“Shakir took good care of the fakir. Fed him well. Packed him lunch too, of bread, pickle, dates, and water for the road, as the fakir was leaving the next day.”

The departing mystic blessed him, “May Allah grant you increasing prosperity.”

Shakir laughed when he heard this.

“Dervish!” he replied. “Even what is, isn’t going to last.”

The fakir was surprised at this strange retort to his blessing, but he said nothing. Taking the name of Allah, he went on his way.

A few years passed. Returning from Hajj, the mystic took the same route back. Seeing Shakir’s village, he felt an urge to meet him again. He went and knocked on his door.

Shakir didn’t live there anymore. The new homeowner told him that Shakir now served in the house of Hamdad. He was a destitute now, so he slept there too.

The fakir met Shakir. He had become poor, but his generosity hadn’t waned. He welcomed the mystic warm-heartedly. Sat him down lovingly on his torn mat, in his dilapidated shack.

Shakir served him dry bread with onions and green chilies. The fakir found them delicious. Cool water from the earthen pitcher tasted like sherbet.

When Shakir packed him a lunch of boiled potatoes and salt for the road, the next day, the fakir couldn’t contain his tears.

“Allah,” his heart cried out. “What have you done to your servant?”

Shakir laughed again.

“Why are you sad, Dervish?” he asked. “He can keep His servants however He pleases. A servant should say thanks and be happy with His master’s will.”

“But it doesn’t seem right that this should happen to a good man like you,” the mystic argued.

“What does time care about anyone’s righteousness or evil?” Shakir replied. “Change is the name of the game. This too shall pass. This won’t last either.”

“The mystic embraced Shakir.”

“I see!” Isha smiled. “Be grateful! Don’t worry!”

Rosh smiled and nodded, and said no more.

“What happened to Shakir?” she couldn’t contain herself. “Is that all there was to his story?”

“You are unhappy with his end too,” Rosh grinned. “You want a happy ending. But:”

Jo Tere Fakir Hote Hain, Kitne Raushan Zameer Hote Hain
Vo Tera Aitbar Karte Hain, Hashr Tak Intezaar Karte Hain
Rind Utne Gunah Nahi Karte, Jitne Parhezgar Karte Hain
Ter Bandgi Karen Na Karen, Tere Bandon Se Pyar Karte Hain

(Your followers are such enlightened beings. They believe. Wait till the end. They may engage with the world but do less harm. They may or may not worship You, but they do love Your flock.)

“He is not going to leave them in such a state,” interjected Isha, “if they are His true followers! Shakir was an intrinsic believer. What happened to him then?”

Saanvaan Te Suha Rang,” Rosh sighed, “Sabde Naseeb Da, Khele Dukh Sukh Ankh Micholi. Rang Hai Usda Nyara, Mera Murshid Khele Holi.”

(Black and White colors are in every destiny, as Happiness and Grief play hide and seek in everyone’s life. Our Teacher’s colors are unique, in which He paints us up playfully.)

“The mystic could not forget Shakir. A few years passed. He was passing by from there another time when his feet automatically led him to Hamdad’s house.”

Hamdad was dead. But before dying, the childless Hamdad had willed all his wealth to Shakir. The fakir was dazzled when he saw Shaakir.

Silky garments on his body. Precious sandals on his feet. Servants, wealth, fame. But prosperity hadn’t corrupted his humility, just like poverty hadn’t wrinkled his brow.

Shakir served the fakir generously again. When he was leaving, the Mystic commented happily, “Praise be to Allah! Those times are gone. I am happy to see you bathing in His grace now.”

On hearing this, Shakir laughed again.

“What?” the fakir despaired. "Is there a catch to this good fortune? Is this wealth not truly yours? Is it transient too?"

“It is, Dervish!” Shakir boomed with mirth. “Either it shall perish, or the one who calls it his, shall. Nothing lasts forever.”

The fakir realized his mistake. Lifting his hands to the sky, he thanked the Lord and departed. Days passed. Months passed. Years passed.

Returning that way, the fakir’s steps were drawn to Shakir’s door once again. Shakir had passed away. Pigeons cooed in the courtyard of his mansion now.

Keh Raha Tha Aasmaan, Ki Ye Samaan Kuchh Bhi Nahi
Ro Rahi Shabnam, Ki Naurangi Jahan Kuchh Bhi Nahi
Jinke Mahlon Mein Hazaron, Jalte Thay Faanoos Tab
Jhaad Unki Kabr Par Tha, Aur Nishaan Kuchh Bhi Nahi

(This glory is nothing, said the sky. The nine-colored world is nothing, cried the dewdrop. Barring a tree on their grave, no sign of those whose palaces were once lit by a thousand chandeliers, survives.)

‘What the rich, the mighty, the emperors received,’ the mystic thought, ‘is no more. They themselves are no more. Neither pleasures last forever, nor do troubles.’

Jo Tere Fakir Hote hain, Har Haal Mein Khush Rehte Hain
Mil Gaya Maal, Toh Us Maal Mein Khush Rehte Hain
Ho Gaye Behaal, Toh Us Haal Mein Khush Rehte Hain

(Your believers remain happy, regardless of their state. Happy in their wealth. Happy in their dearth)

The mystic asked the servants directions to Shakir’s grave, so he could go there and pray. As he neared the tomb, he saw the inscription.

‘This Too Shall Pass,’ it said.

“The mystic laughed, bowed to pay homage to Shakir’s grave, and blessing him for his last lesson, continued on his way.”

“That’s too much!” Isha was frustrated. “Granted that prosperity isn’t forever, paucity isn’t forever. Illness shan’t last, nor shall health. Youth shall pass, life too shall pass. But a tombstone won’t survive either! What’s so interesting and insightful about that, that the Dervish had to laugh?”

"I get it that one shouldn’t fret, one shouldn’t grumble. One should live in the now, and not waste today worrying about the morrow. Chasing what will be left behind anyway, isn’t clever. Driving fast, so I am not late to work isn’t wise. But the gravestone inscription isn’t implying all this, is it?”

“What is or isn’t here now, won’t be there later. The car is smashed, why cry? I could have lost my life, what’s a car, what’s a job? The people I chase after and call ‘Sir’, would be dust and shadows. Still, I don’t get what new message this Sufi fakir got from Shakir in the graveyard…”

“This (lesson) too won’t survive,” Rosh replied and got up, to go on his walk.

Next TaleTown Story: Are You A Leaf Or Root?

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