Moses and the Shepherd

By Mevlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Image: Moses and the Shepherd by Hossein Behzad

Moses once heard a shepherd praying as follows: “O God, show me where thou art, that I may become Thy servant. I will clean Thy shoes and comb Thy hair, and sew Thy clothes, and fetch Thee milk.”

When Moses heard him praying in this senseless manner, he rebuked him, saying “O foolish one, though your father was a believer, you have become an infidel. God is a Spirit, and needs not such gross ministrations as, in your ignorance, you suppose.” The shepherd was abashed at his rebuke, and tore his clothes and fled away into the desert.

Then a voice from Heaven was heard, saying, “O Moses, wherefore have you driven my servant? Your office is to reconcile my people with me, not to drive them away from me. I have given each race different usages and forms of praising and adorning me. I have no need of their praise, being exalted above all such needs. I regard not the words that are spoken, but the heart that offers them. I do not require fine words, but a burning heart. Men’s ways of showing devotion to me are various, but so long as the devotions are genuine, they are accepted.”

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