In an earlier post about the Sufi Fozayl-e Ayaz, an episode was mentioned about the days in his life when he was a robber. Here is Hazrat Inayat Khan’s telling of that story.
There is a story of a great Sufi who in his early life was a robber.
Once there was a man travelling through the desert in a caravan and he had a purse full of coins. He wanted to entrust them to someone because he had heard that robbers were about.
He looked around and some way off he saw a tent and a man was sitting there, a most distinguished-looking man. So he said, “Will you please keep this purse? For I am afraid that if the robbers come they will take it.”
The man said, “Give it to me, I will keep it.”
When the traveller came back to the caravan he found that robbers had come and taken all the money of his fellow-travellers, and he thanked God that he had given his purse to someone to keep.
But when he returned to the tent he saw all the robbers sitting there, and among them was this most dignified man dividing the spoils. He realised that this was the chief of the robbers and thought, “I was more foolish than all the others, for I gave my money to a thief. Who can be moe foolish than that!” And he was frightened and backed away.
But as soon as the chief saw him he called to him and said, “Why are you going? Why did you come here?”
He said, “I came to get my purse back, but I found that I had given it to the very band from which I wanted to protect it.”
The chief said, “You gave me your purse, is it not so? You entrusted it to me and it was not stolen. Did you not trust me? How can you expect me to take it from you? Here is your purse, take it.”
This act of trustworthiness impressed the robbers so much that they followed the example of their chief. They gave up robbery. It moved them to the depth of their hearts to feel what trust means. And in his later days this chief accomplished great spiritual work.
This shows that by distrusting people we perhaps avoid a little loss, but the distrust that we have sown in our hearts is a still greater loss.