A person had once gone to visit the ruler of his area. The ruler asked him about his condition and the man complained to him about numerous worries and concerns that were troubling him. He also said to the ruler: “You are very fortunate. You are enjoying a very wholesome life. Your food, drink and sleep are all enjoyable and your life is free from all disturbing things. You are the ruler and everything is at your service.” The ruler remained silent and did not reply to him.
The ruler then invited this person for a meal. He placed an unsheathed sword suspended on a weak string above the spot where he was sitting. When this person saw this unsheathed sword above his head on the verge of falling on him, he lost all his desire to eat.
The ruler said to him: “You must eat all of these foods that are before you because they are very wholesome and delicious.” The man said to him: “The food may be wholesome and delicious, but my fear that this sword will fall on me does not allow me to enjoy this delicious food and eat it with relish.”
The ruler said to him: “That is exactly how my life is, for which you are envious of me. You desired it for yourself not knowing what it entails. It is similar to the possibility of this sword falling on your head at any moment. I am constantly at a threat from an enemy of mine or a relative of mine who is coveting my rule. I constantly fear murder, assassination, poisoning in my food, a sudden attack while I am asleep, or a rebellion and uprising against me.
“I am in constant discomfort and sleeplessness, fear and threat, caution and vigilance in every hour of my life. Rather it is you who are extremely fortunate, you sleep in peace, you walk in peace, you eat in peace, and you are at peace whether you are at home or whether you are on a journey. So it is you who are envied for your life and not someone like me.”
The man agreed with him and praised and thanked Allah Ta‘ala for the condition in which He placed him. (Risaalatul Mustarshideen, pg. 223)
1. For most people the more they have, the greater the stress and worry, and the lesser they have, the more the peace and comfort.
2. It may seem that a person of wealth and influence is enjoying life, but the reality could be completely opposite. Hence, we need to be pleased with the condition that Allah Ta‘ala has placed us in.