Two Beggars

There was once a Muslim mendicant, Makdun. Makdun used to roam from one place to another, all the time praying and meditating. Even while walking along the street he would be praying and meditating. He was very poor and depended entirely on the generosity of good and kindhearted people for his material needs.

One day he was walking along the street when he saw thousands of people gathered before a beautiful mosque. “Why are so many people there?” he wondered. Then someone told him, “The Emperor is coming today to offer a special prayer here.” When the Emperor came, the mendicant went into the mosque and devotedly watched him pray to Allah most soulfully for more wealth, more name and more fame.

Then the Emperor said to the crowd, “Now come and take anything that you want from me.” He started giving away money, clothing and everything, showing his heart’s magnanimity and generosity. All the people stood in a line and one by one came up and took from the Emperor whatever he or she needed. Each one went away satisfied with what he had got. Makdun watched and watched, and when everybody had taken what he wanted, he started going away. The Emperor called out, “What are you doing? Why are you going away and not taking anything from me? What is wrong with you?”

With folded hands Makdun said, “Forgive me, O Emperor, but how can I take anything from a beggar? Just an hour ago you were begging God to give you more name, fame and earthly possessions. I don’t need anything from a beggar. You are begging to the same Person for name and fame that I am begging to for peace, love, joy and inner satisfaction. The things that you are crying for I do not need, and perhaps the things that I am crying for you do not need. So you pray to Almighty Allah for what you want and let me pray to Him for the things that I need. You and I are just two beggars. Let us beg for our respective things to the One who has them.”