It is said that it was a custom in olden days that when anyone attended a King’s court he presented to the King some gift. The King obviously was not in need of that gift, but it was presented to gain the King’s favour and pleasure and some good return from the King. Maulana Rumi(rah) has illustrated this point through an interesting story, as follows:
Once a villager decided to pay a visit to the Caliph of Baghdad. He wanted to carry a gift for the King. He consulted his wife about the gift suitable for the Caliph. In her natural naivety she advised her husband to take with him for the Caliph a pitcher of water, as in her opinion, the Caliph might not be enjoying such sweet and cool water in the capital. The villager appreciated her wife’s suggestion and set off for Baghdad on foot with a pitcher of water on his head. On approaching the Caliph he presented to him the gift of water, saying that it was pure and cool water, the like of which might not be available to the Caliph in his capital. It may be noted that on account of the long journey and contamination of dust and dirt the water gone dirty.
The Caliph ordered the villager to open the cover of the pitcher. As soon as the mouth of the pitcher was opened, the entire hall was filled with foul nauseating smell. Realising that the villager had decided to present that useless, rather disgusting present in his extreme simplicity and sincerity the caliph accepted and appreciated it and ordered the pitcher to be filled with gold coins. The villager, was very happy and heartily thanked the Caliph for his generosity. When the villager was going back home with his reward, the Caliph asked one of his servants to see him off along the bank of the river Tigris.
The villager was going back home joyfully with the caliph’s escort, suddenly he saw the River Tigris proudly flowing with its cool, crystal clear and sweet water. He felt ashamed at the gift of worthless water he had presented to the Caliph and realised from the core of his heart the Caliph’s generosity and magnanimity, because not only did he punish him for presenting him such a worthless gift but filled his pitcher with gold coins.
The Value of our worship
Drawing a moral from the above story Maulana Rumi (rah); has said that our worship is just like the villager’s pitcher of dirty and foul water, deserving to be pelted at our faces. It is, however, the unlimited mercy of Almighty Allah that He accepts them for valuable recompense. Allah takes account of man’s limited power and thanks that His servant has presented it with faith and sincerity. The example which Maulana Rumi(rah), has given holds good of all our worships which are in fact no better than the villager’s pitcher of worthless water.