The Ones who Serve, are Served
You must want more for your brother than you want for yourself and more important, before you want it for yourself.
Allah loves each one of us. Allah has created us. We are not here by accident. This world is a perfect design, if we can see it, if we can see ourselves and our surroundings…a vast sky held up by no pillars, a carpet of earth that gives us all the food and fruit and nourishment we need to live, animals of every species, some that we can ride, some that we can eat, some that can help us in our work. They have specific duties.
They have all been placed here as a means for us to see our inner natures. Just because we are dressed like human beings does not exempt us from having animal tendencies. The mouse in us that steals a little bit from here and there. The vain peacock that grooms himself all the time. The sly fox. The stubborn donkey that closes his ear to the name of Allah. The scorpion that stings. These are all in us.
Human beings have the opportunity not only to brush all that away, but to become real human beings both internally and externally, if we reflect why are we here? What is our purpose in this life? Allah said, “I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known. So I created man in order to be known.” In that statement, Allah says that He has given us the possibility, the potential, the guidance and support that we need to know Him. Man can know Allah. It is our purpose in this life to have faith, to worship, and to love Him. This world, this life is a place we are just passing through. We have to learn to serve one another. You must want more for your brother than you want for yourself and more important, before you want it for yourself.
Abu Yazid al-Bistami was a great Sufi sheikh. He was a pir, and known as the Kutub al-Arifin, the central pillar of knowledge, the man of the highest knowledge. One day in the courtyard of the mosque, he was making his ablutions in preparation for prayer. Across the courtyard, he saw a very old man. Today we have taps that can be turned on, and the water simply flows, but in the old days they used heavy clay pitchers for water, and if you were strong enough, you picked one up and washed yourself. Often the person next to you would help you pour the water, and in turn you did the same for him. What Abu Yazid al-Bistami saw was that no one was helping the old man. He walked over to the old man and said, “Old man, what could you have done in your long life that you do not have one friend, no one has come to help you?” The old man looked at him and said, “The ones who serve are served. And if I had not served Allah and His creation, how would the Kutub al-Arifin, the man of the highest knowledge, come now to serve me?”