A man grew grey in the work of digging graves.

“You have spent all your life in excavating the earth,” said a man to him. “Pray tell me, did you discover any mystery under the bowels of this earth?”

“I have seen this mystery,” he replied. “For three score years and ten the dog of my passion* saw me incessantly digging graves for frail mortals, but the constant sight of the spectre of death and of heart-rending funerals has not produced the slightest impression on him. He has not been dead or dormant for a moment. Not once has he obeyed the call of reason, not once has he offered a prayer.”

Shah Abbas once remarked, “It is possible that myriads of infidels in this world will some day adopt the true faith, but although a hundred thousand and twenty prophets have been sent into this world, so that this faithless dog of passion may either become a Musalman or be annihilated, none has hitherto succeeded in accomplishing either of the two missions. Under the sway of passion we are all infidels. We have been harbouring an infidel in our own hearts. To destroy that infidel is no easy matter, but he is a true hero who chases him and puts fetters round his hands and feet, and a chain about his neck. The dust under the feet of such a man is infinitely more precious than the blood of others”.

Another bird complained, “I am waylaid by Satan (Iblis). He haunts me, even while I am engaged in prayers. Tell me how I may be saved from his snares.”

“So long as the dog of passion runs in front of you,” replied the Hoopoe, “so long will Iblis seize you by the throat.* Your own desires are your Satan. Subservience to this devil turns this earth into a hell. A foolish man once complained to a Sufi saint that Satan had seduced and waylaid him and had made him miserable. The Sufi told him that Satan had been there only a minute before and had lodged a complaint against the man himself. “What Satan told me,” said the saint, “was this: ‘My jurisdic??ion extends over the whole world. I have nothing to do with those who withdraw themselves from my domain. Therefore, tell this man to tread in the Path of God, and to wash his hands of the earth. Whoever keeps away from my province has no reason to fear me. Farewell.’”

“I am in love with gold,” said another bird. “My desire for wealth is so great that it stands like an idol in my way.”

“It is but coloured tinsel,” replied the Hoopoe. “You have taken a fancy for it just as a child is enamoured of coloured baubles. Give up such childish fancies, and scatter in all directions whatever you have got. I will tell you a story that will perhaps inspire you to do so.”