When the night falls…



Sufi stories always fill your heart with warmth and your soul with longing.


“Could you send a kiss to your beloved by a messenger?”, a Sufi master once asked when one man approached him to ‘learn’ Sufism. Each human being’s spiritual quest is essentially unique and personal. What the Sufi master wanted to convey by this provoking question was that Sufism is not something to ‘learn’ about; but it’s about discovering and uncovering one’s own inner self. It’s about the unique universe of emotions that can only be experienced, but never explained. You may appreciate thousands of Sufi poems or have eloquent discussions about Sufi mysticism; but then you understand it with your intellect whereas the experience in real is a thing of the heart. Or, supremely the soul. You need to explore with your heart, with your master, with your surrounding beings, and ultimately with the Master of the Universe.

Sufi masters were of the habit of telling stories to their disciples in order to open up new horizons in their minds. In fact, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) himself used stories to teach great morals and principles. These Sufi stories are short or brief, but filled with eternal wisdom and unconditional love. It purified the hearts of not only the listeners but also the storyteller. Rather, only a purified heart could narrate them to effect. When Sufis speak of love, they mean loving divinity and humanity. They believe that one’s love, if it’s true and innocent, cannot be stopped by anything, even by lovers, but by the Lover alone. When you fall in love with a new person in worldly life, you suddenly begin to see the world in all its beauty. Sufi ecstasy of loving gives it the touch of the forever, as then you see everything associated with your Ultimate Lover. In the case of Rumi, the greatest of the mystics, the music of the flute became a poignant and contented longing to return to its primitive self, the bamboo. Flute, then, becomes a hollow cylinder through which infinity flows to infinity. That’s how the rhythm of life gets a new sense of experience and meaning.

Here are some Sufi stories retold for you. They include both the tales told by Sufi masters as well as incidents from the lives of Sufi masters. They are a random selection from different traditions. As they are the possessions of humanity and they are being passed through generations, some stories are beyond tracing original sources. The first one is a very famous story from Jalaluddin Rumi’s Masnawi and the last one is from Ghulistan of Saa’di, another Persian Sufi.
One man came to meet his lover, who was inside a room. He knocked at the door.
“Who’re you?” she asked from inside.
“It’s Me,” the lover replied.
She refused to open the door. The disappointed lover waited, went back and after a period of wandering came back again to knock at the door.
“Who’re you?” she asked.
“It’s Me, your beloved,” the lover replied.
She still didn’t open the door. The man returned with gloom in his heart and face.
After a period, he again came back and knocked at the door.
“Who’re you?” she asked from inside.
“It’s You,” the lover replied.
And she opened the door to embrace him. “Here there was no space for two of us,” the lover told her beloved.
One Sufi master asked his disciples one day, “Do you know when the night falls and the day begins? Do you know the time when the dawn appears?”
“When one can distinguish a dog and sheep from a distance?” asked a student.
“No,” said the master.
“Is it when one can distinguish two different species of leaves?” asked another disciple.
“No,” replied the master.
“Please tell us then.” The students pleaded.
“When one can look into the face of a human being, and there’s enough light to see his brother in him, it is dawn.” The wise master replied. “Until then, it’s night, and the darkness is with us.”


One day some frogs were going on their way. Two of them fell into a deep pit. All other frogs came on the bank of the pit to see what had happened to the fallen ones. The two were miserably trying to escape from the pit. They jumped and jumped. But it was too deep. “You cannot come out. It’s too harmful to jump that way,” shouted the frogs at the bank. But both frogs tried hard, jumping as high as possible. “It’s impossible to jump out. You’ll harm yourself if you try too hard. Be there, be calm,” the frogs were shouting to the pit. One of the fallen frogs, really tired and depressed, slid down deep and died. The other one, still determined, tried earnestly and finally made his jump outside the pit. It was astonishing for the other frogs. “Why didn’t you give up even when we warned you not to try hard?” they asked him. After a while, the frog replied, “I’m deaf and I didn’t hear anything you said. I thought you were all encouraging me to come out and I finally managed it.”
Once there was a happy child who was fond of beating a drum. He never stopped his beating, and his parents were annoyed with the drumbeats. The villagers complained. Some advised the boy, some threatened him to stop. But practically nothing stopped the boy from playing with the drum. Hearing the story, many clever people and so-called Sufis came to meet the boy. They wanted him to stop being a nuisance to the villagers. One of them gave him a book and toys and told him to read the book and play with the toys. Another man tried to teach him music and rhythm, telling him that there could be fantastic ways of beating the drum. Some others gave a flute to him. A fourth man came to teach him the art of meditation. Another man wanted to save the irritated villagers and parents from the noise and taught them how to control their anger through some peculiar tricks. But all of the ‘solutions’ worked only for a short while; the boy went on beating the drum more and more loudly.
Then came a Sufi master, who gave a hammer and chisel to the boy and said, “I wonder what would be INSIDE the drum.” Then the boy began to play the drum with chisel and hammer… 

Once a poet came to a doctor. He complained that he was suffering from many incurable and unknown diseases. “I’m feeling pain from foot to head,” he told the doctor.
The doctor examined him in detail but could not diagnose any disease. “Have you written some more new poems?” asked the doctor.
“Yes,” the poet replied.
“Please recite them for me,” the doctor asked.
From memory, the poet recited all his newly composed poems.
“You’ve recovered now. You’re completely well,” the doctor said. “It was your mind’s subjects that troubled your body. Now both are cured.”
The poet returned happily. 


Once a Sufi master and his disciples were sailing in a deep sea on a small boat. The boat was overloaded and it was wavering in the water. All were afraid, but the master told his students not to fear and be calm and observant. But one of the disciples, horrified by the turbulence, started crying and shouting as if he was going to die. His friends tried to calm him, but in vein. Then the master ordered him to be thrown into the sea. The disciples took the frightened one and put him in the sea. Unable to swim, he began to drown. Then the master told some of his disciples, “Go and save him.” They dived into the sea and took him out of water. The master gave the rescued student a towel to dry his head and body. He didn’t fear afterwards. 

(This was originally published in the Sufism special issue of Meantime magazine)

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  • ranjith

    just came across. nice. i could read only the story on sufism. it’s the very right time i’m reading it. just read the collection of sufi stories collected by N.P Mohemed and now going through ‘principles of sufism by qushairy. peace upon you.

  • saritha k venu


    its really a happy reading…nice.

    God belss you

  • ashraf

    i had read almost every write up before in various places.but i still love to revisit them includibg this beutiful sufi stories.


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