nationalism and racialism to be fatal poisons, since they are a variety of European disease. And Europe has infected Islam with it thinking it would cause division, and Islam would break up and be easily swallowed. My students and those people who have had anything to do with me know that for years I have tried to treat that disease. Since it is thus, good sirs, why you make every incident a pretext to harass me? According to what principle do you cause me distress at every worldly incident, which is like punishing and inflicting trouble on a soldier in the West because of a mistake made by a soldier in the East because they both belong to the army, or convicting a shopkeeper in Baghdad because of a crime committed by a tradesman in Istanbul due to their being in the same line of business? Who could do this in all conscience? What advantage is there that could require it?
My friends who wonder how I am and are astonished at my meeting in patience every calamity, silently ask the following question: “How can you endure the difficulties you’re faced with, when formerly you were very proud and angry and could not endure even the least insult?”
T h e A n s w e r : Listen to two short stories about two incidents and you will receive your answer:
The First Story: Two years ago an official spoke insultingly and contemptuously about me behind my back. They told me about it later. A vein of temperament remaining from the Old Said made me feel upset about it for about an hour. Then through Almighty God’s mercy the following occurred to me; it dispelled the distress and made me forgive the man. It was this:
I addressed my soul saying: if his insults and the faults he described concerned my person, may God be pleased with him, because he recalled the faults of my soul. If he spoke the truth, he prompted me to train my soul and helped to save me from arrogance. If he spoke falsely, he helped to save me from hypocrisy and undeserved fame, the source of hypocrisy. No, I am not reconciled with my soul, for I have not trained it. If someone tells me there is a scorpion on my neck or breast or else points it out to me, I should be grateful to him, not offended. But if the man’s insults were directed at my belief and my being a servant of the Qur’an, it does not concern me. I refer him to the Qur’an’s Owner, who employs me. He is mighty, He is wise. And if it was merely to curse at me, insult me, and blacken my character, that does not concern me either. For I am an exile, a prisoner, a stranger, and my hands are tied; it does not fall to me to try to restore my honour myself. To do so is the business of the authorities of this village where I am a guest and