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(Masnavi Book 4: 03) The Preacher who prayed for the wicked

Story of the preacher who at the beginning of every exhortation used to pray for the unjust and hard-hearted and irreligious.

A certain preacher, whenever he mounted the pulpit, would begin to pray for the highway robbers (who plunder and maltreat the righteous).
He would lift up his hand, (crying), O Lord, let mercy fall upon evil men and corrupters and insolent transgressors,
Upon all who make a mock of the good people, upon all whose hearts are unbelieving and those
who dwell in the Christian monastery.
He would not pray for the pure; he would pray for none but the wicked.

85. They said to him, “This is unknown (extraordinary): it is no generosity to pray for the people of unrighteousness.”
He replied,I have seen (experienced) goodness from these folk: for this reason I have chosen
to pray for them.
They wrought so much wickedness and injustice and oppression that they cast (drove) me forth from evil into good.
Whenever I turned my face towards this world, I suffered blows and beating from them,
And took refuge from the blows Yonder: the wolves were always bringing me back into the
(right) Way.

90. Inasmuch as they contrived the means of my (spiritual) welfare, it behoves me to pray for them, O intelligent one.
The servant (of God) complains to God of pain and smart: he makes a hundred complaints of his pain.
God says, “After all, grief and pain have made you humbly entreating and righteous.
Make this complaint of the bounty that befalls you and removes you far from My door and makes you an outcast.”
In reality every foe (of yours) is your medicine: he is an elixir and beneficial and one that seeks to win your heart;

95. For you flee away from him into solitude and would fain implore help of God's grace. Your friends are really enemies, for they make you far from the (Divine) Presence and occupied (with them).
There is an animal whose name is ushghur (porcupine): it is (made) stout and big by blows of the stick.
The more you cudgel it, the more it thrives: it grows fat on blows of the stick.
Assuredly the true believer's soul is a porcupine, for it is (made) stout and fat by the blows of tribulation.

100. For this reason the tribulation and abasement (laid) upon the prophets is greater than
(that laid upon) all the (other) creatures in the world,
So that their souls became stouter than (all other) souls; for no other class of people suffered that affliction.
The hide is afflicted by the medicine (tan-liquor), (but) it becomes sweet like Tá’if leather; And if he (the tanner) did not rub the bitter and acrid (liquor) into it, it would become fetid,
unpleasant, and foul-smelling.
Know that Man is an untanned hide, made noisome and gross by humours.

105. Give (him) bitter and acrid (discipline) and much rubbing (tribulation), that he may become pure and lovely and exceedingly strong;
But if you cannot (mortify yourself), be content, O cunning one, if God give you tribulation without choice (on your part),
For affliction (sent) by the Friend is (the means of) your being purified: His knowledge is above your contrivance.
The affliction becomes sweet (to the sufferer) when he sees happiness: the medicine becomes
sweet (to the sick man) when he regards health.
He sees victory for himself in the very essence of checkmate; therefore he says, “Kill me, O
trusty ones!

110. This policeman became a (source of) profit in respect of another, but he became reprobate in respect of himself.
The mercy appertaining to the Faith was cut off from him; the hate inherent in the Devil enfolded
He became a factory of anger and hatred: know that hate is the root of error and infidelity.

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