How Much For a Pair of Shoes?
Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia was a great saint, and it is said that no one who ever approached him went empty-handed. So a poor man, who had a daughter to marry off, once came to him and begged for his help.
“My son,” the saint told him, “whatever offering comes to me during the next three days I will gladly give to you.”
Filled with hopeful anticipation, the poor man stayed for three days with the saint. But during that time not a single soul brought any offering to him. On the evening of the third day, when the poor man, his high hopes dashed, was weeping miserably, Nizamuddin Aulia gave him his own shoes.
“Take these, my good man,” he said, “for what they may be worth. They are the only possessions I have, and, at the least, you can sell them for enough to buy a day’s supply of food.”
Greatly disappointed, the poor man nevertheless thanked the saint and left, to return to his village. As he trudged wearily along the dusty road, he saw approaching him a large caravan of richly appointed and heavily laden camels. It was the caravan of Amir Khusro, who was returning from Kabul with all of his many possessions, after retiring from the king’s service.
Amir Khusro himself was riding at the head of the caravan, and, as he approached the poor man, he began to smell the fragrance of his beloved Master. After he had ridden past the poor man, he noticed that the fragrance came from behind him. Both puzzled and intensely curious, Amir Khusro at once got down from his camel and ran after the poor man.
“Who are you, friend,” he asked. “Where have you come from?”
The poor man, still feeling very miserable and wretched, told the whole story of his three days’ stay with the great saint, and held up the pair of shoes to show how old and of little value they were.
“Would you sell the shoes to me, my good man? Amir Khusro asked with some impatience.
“Why, by all means, noble Sir. I was hoping to sell them in the next village, so I could get a little food, for otherwise I would go hungry,” the wretched fellow replied.
“I will pay you well for them,” said Amir Khusro. “Give me the shoes, and in return you may have all my caravan, including all the camels and their loads, except for the two beasts that are carrying me, my wife and children.”
Overjoyed at this totally unexpected good fortune, the poor man thanked Khusro profusely, and went away rejoicing at the head of the great caravan.
Amir Khusro eventually reached his Master and placed the pair of shoes at his feet.
“And how much, my son, did you pay for such an old pair of shoes?”asked Nizamuddin smiling.
“Sir, I gave everything I had, except for the two camels that are standing here,” Amir Khusro told him humbly. Again Nizamuddin smiled, “You got them cheap.”
When he realized the depth of Amir Khusro’s love, Nizamuddin ordained that when they died they should be buried side by side.
“If you dig Khusro’s grave anywhere else, he will break from the tomb to be with me,” said the saint.
Tales of the Mystic East