In the journey to perfection, we should hold ourselves ready, for every moment may be a test, sometimes recognised, sometimes not. Consider, for example, the story of the test of Yusuf. There was, long ago in Egypt, a seeker by the name of Yusuf bin Husain, and in a divine dream he was directed to seek the Sufi Dhun-Nun, from whom he would learn the Sacred Name.
Accordingly, Yusuf went to the Sufi, and asked to serve him. After two years of service, Dhun-Nun told him to ask for a gift. Yusuf asked that the Sacred Name be imparted to him, but when he did so, the Sufi remained silent.
Yusuf continued to serve, and sometime later, Dhun-Nun put into his hands a bowl covered by a handkerchief, with the instructions to carry it to a dervish who was living on the opposite side of the river. “On no account,” said the master, “must you lift the cover of the bowl.” Then he told Yusuf that the dervish would impart to him the Name of the Lord.
As he was crossing the river, Yusuf perceived some noise from inside the bowl, and overcome by curiosity, he untied the handkerchief. Immediately a mouse jumped out of the bowl, fell into the Nile, and was carried away by the current.
When he reached the other bank, Yusuf presented the now empty bowl to the dervish and requested initiation in the Name, but the dervish said, “You could not protect a mouse entrusted to you. What certainty is there that you would be able to keep the Name of the Lord safe? You have failed in the examination.”