It happened once upon a time that a certain dervish came to the capital of the great king Ibrahim Ibn Adham, and walked, without seeking permission, into the palace. In the east it is – or was – generally understood that ordinary people must take care, for they cannot judge the stature of such folk as dervishes and fakirs, who have given up the world in search of truth. It is said that mighty arms may be concealed under the sleeves of a patched robe. Therefore no one dared to stop the dervish as he walked past one guard after another.
He came at last to the great hall, where Ibrahim Ibn Adham was seated on his throne. The king greeted the dervish courteously and asked him what he wanted.
“I want a place to sleep in this inn,” the dervish replied.
“This is no inn,” the king explained. “This is my palace.”
“And who did it belong to before you?”
“To my father.”
“And where is he?”
“He is no more.”
“And who did it belong to before your father?”
“To my grandfather,” said the king. “He also is no more.”
“So,” said the dervish, “this is a place where people lodge for a time and then move on. Is that not an inn?”