A Tale of Belief

There was once, many years ago, a certain merchant of Balkh, in Khorosan, who was eager to succeed in the world, and was very busy with buying and selling.  He travelled constantly, always on the lookout for goods he could buy cheaply, haul to another town, and sell for a handsome profit.

Once, during his travels, he happened to pass a believer standing in prayer before a pagan idol of carved stone at the edge of a marketplace.  The merchant, a Muslim and sure of the superiority of his belief, interrupted the worshipper, saying,  “The Almighty Creator did not make you to worship a lifeless stone.  He is beyond all name and form, and He is all-pervading Life itself. What can you gain from worshipping a lifeless stone?”

The worshipper  paused, and then replied politely, “If I have sufficient belief, even this stone will answer me.  But if I have doubt, even your all-powerful, Living God will not help.”

Then the worshipper looked closely at the merchant, and said, “You are not from here.”

“No,” said the merchant.  “I travel constantly. I have just arrived in this town, and tomorrow I shall leave again.”

“May I know for what purpose?”

“Seeking trade,” said the merchant. “I have to earn my bread.”

“If you have a God who is alive and all-pervading,” said the worshipper, “could this God not provide you with your daily bread in your own home town, so you do not have travel such a long way to get it?  Listen, brother: if you are searching for something that is not in your destiny, you will not get it, no matter how you try.  And if something is in your destiny,  you will receive it no matter where you are. It will find you even at the bottom of the sea.  Have you not heard it said, ‘Don’t worry abut your bread.  There is a line of loaves leading from here to your grave.'”

And in that moment, the life of the merchant began to change.  It is said that later, he gave up his life of trade completely, and in time became a respected Sufi of deep understanding.

2 Replies to “A Tale of Belief”

  1. Inam

    El encuentro del mercader con el devoto fue mágico, así como el momento de leer este hermoso cuento, pero la vida sigue y uno debe enfrentar todos los asuntos cotidianos. ¿Cómo haría este mercader para ir sacando la duda de su corazón? o ¿habrá sido un regalo de Dios?

    • Nawab Pasnak Post author

      Well, the tale talks about ‘destiny’ – meaning, perhaps, something designed for us by the Divine Presence. But it may be our destiny to work very hard to arrive at a certain level of understanding. It is said that this merchant was further helped on his way by meeting in Mecca Ibrahim Adham, the king who left his throne to become a dervish, and the merchant became his student and successor.


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