Selection by: Nida Ahmad
A student had spent thirty years acquiring knowledge. His teacher said to him: "Let me ask you a question. If you know the answer, I shall give you your diploma. The question I am going to put to you is not about the Quran or Traditions, yet it is not unconnected with these. If you have understood just a little of what you have learned, if your studies have been at all fruitful, you will be able to answer. But not if you have learned without understanding."
The teacher then asked his student this question: "How many days' journey is your home country from here?"
"It takes three months," the student replied.
"If Allah wills, you will receive your diploma and make that long journey."
"Yes, if Allah has so destined."
"On your way, will you pass nomad encampments with flocks of sheep, and will they have sheepdogs to guard the flocks?"
"Of course! I will pass all of these on the way."
"Well then, suppose you were to be set upon suddenly by five or six of those sheepdogs as you were passing by on your way home. What would you do? If you have understood your lessons, if you have got anything from the blessed Quran and Traditions and if history has taught you anything, then you will answer the questions correctly, pass this examination, receive your diploma, go back home and become a preacher whose sermons will benefit the people in this world and the Hereafter."
The student gave this reply: "My respected teacher! If I encounter savage dogs along the way I shall fight them off with the staff I carry."
"It is no easy matter to contend with half a dozen savage dogs. You may beat off three, but the other three will bite you meanwhile. That is no answer."
"I shall drive them off with stones."
"That is not possible either."
"Then I shall use a gun."
"In that case you will not escape the owner of the dog. Sheepdogs are very valuable."
The student had failed the exam; He had not been able to give the right answer to the question. "My son," said his teacher, "you have learned a lot, but you have not understood. Think things over for a while, then come back to me." After reflecting for some days, the student approached the teacher again. "Have you found the answer to my question?" The teacher asked him. "No sir," he said. He then explained, "My son, if you should run into such a situation, do not try to fight the dogs! Leave them alone and call the shepherd at once. The shepherd will tell the dogs not to attack you. You should understand that tyrants are Allah's savage dogs. In the life ahead of you, in your own country, you may at any time encounter such tyrants. If you try and fight them, they will bite you and tear you apart. If you kill them, their master will call you to account and you will be condemned. The best course is to appeal to Allah, the dogs' true Owner. Only by His grace can you hope to be delivered from such tyrants. What a fine helper is He!"