Sufi Stories

The Frogs

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. All the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out. The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit.

The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, the other frogs asked him, "Why did you continue jumping. Didn't you hear us?"

The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

This story holds two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them. Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path.

The power of words... it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times.

Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.

[author unknown]


  One day Nasrudin was walking along a deserted road.  Night was
falling as he spied a troop of horsemen coming toward him.  His
imagination began to work, and he feared that they might rob him,
or impress him into the army.  So strong did this fear become that
he leaped over a wall and found himself in a graveyard.  The other
travelers, innocent of any such motive as had been assumed by
Nasrudin, became curious and pursued him.

  When they came upon him lying motionless, one said, "Can we help
you?  And, why are you here in this position?"

  Nasrudin, realizing his mistake said, "It is more complicated
than you assume.  You see, I am here because of you; and you, you
are here because of me."

[author unknown to me]

The Birds Experiment

"Representatives of all the various kinds of birds decided to find out which species was able to fly highest. They formed a council to judge, and experiments were started. One by one they dropped out, until only the Eagle was left. He continued his upward flight higher and higher until, when he was at his maximum, he exclaimed:'See, I have reached the highest point, leaving everyone else behind!'

At that moment a tiny Sparrow, which had been riding on his back, leapt off his wing and flew even higher, because he had conserved his strength.

The Council met to decide the winner. 'The Sparrow', they declared,'gets a prize for being the cleverest, but the recognition for attainment must still go to the Eagle. And in addition, he gets a prize for endurance, for he outdid all the other competitors with the Sparrow on his back!'"

[author unknown to me]

A Cliff

A man was chased off a cliff by a tiger. He fell, and just managed to hold onto a branch. Six feet above him stood the tiger, snarling. A hundred feet below, a violent sea lashed fierce-looking rocks. To his horror, he noticed that the branch he was clutching was being gnawed at its roots by two rats. Seeing he was doomed, he cried out, "O Lord, save me!"

He heard a Voice reply, "Of course, I will save you. But first, let go of the branch!"

[Traditional Sufi Story, this version from: Perfume of the Desert, Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom, compiled by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 1999, p. 18]


Four people were given a piece of money.
The first was a Persian. He said: 'I will buy with this some angur.'
The second was an Arab. He said: 'No, because I want inab.'
The third was Turk. He said: 'I do not want inab, I want uzum.'
The fourth was a Greek. He said: 'I want stafil.'
Because they did not know what lay behind the names of things, these four started to fight.

They had information but no knowledge.

One man of wisdom present could have reconciled them all, saying: 'I can fulfil the needs of all of you, with one and the same piece of money. If you honestly give me your trust, your one coin will become as four; and four at odds will become as one united.'

Such a man would know that each in his own language wanted the same thing, grapes.

- taken from the sufi Jalal-Uddin Rumi (d.1273)

Four Towns

There were 4 towns. In each town, people were starving to death. Each town had a bag of seeds.

In the first town, no one knew what seeds could do. No one knew how to plant them. Everyone starved.

In the second town, one person knew what seeds were and how
to plant them, but did nothing about it for one reason or another.
Everyone starved.

In the third town, one person knew what seeds were and how to plant them. He proposed to plant them in exchange for being declared the king or ruler. All ate, but were ruled.

In the fourth town, one person knew what seeds were and how to plant them. He not only planted the seeds, but taught everyone the art of gardening. All ate, and all were free and empowered.

Repaying a Debt

The Hodja (teacher) was selling olives at the market and business was slow. He called to a woman who was passing by and tried to entice her. She shook her head and told him she didn't have any money with her.

"No problem," the Hodja grinned. "You can pay me later." She still looked hesitant, so he offered her one to taste.

"Oh no, I can't, I'm fasting," she responded.

"Fasting? But Ramadan was 6 months ago!"

"Yes, well, I missed a day and I'm making it up now. Go ahead and give me a kilo of the black olives."

"Forget it!" shouted the Hodja. "If it took you 6 months to pay back a debt you owed ALLAH, who knows when you'll get around to paying me!"

The Scholar

"Nasrudin, ferrying a pedant across a piece of rough water, said something ungrammatical to him.

"Have you never studied grammar?" asked the scholar.


"Then half of your life has been wasted."

A few minutes later Nasrudin turned to the passager. "Have you ever learned how to swim?"

"No. Why?"

"Then all your life is wasted - we are sinking!"


A man and a nail had a conversation.

The nail said: "I have often wondered during my years sticking here in this panel, what my fate is to be."

The man said: "Latent in your situation may be a tearing out with pliers, a burning of wood, the rotting of the plank -- so many things."

Said the nail: "I should have known better than to ask such foolish questions! Nobody can foresee the future, let alone a variety of them, all so unlikely."

So the nail waited, until someone else came along, someone who would talk intelligently, and not threaten him.

So do we really want to know our fate, or even our present situation?


A man being followed by a hungry tiger, turned in desperation to face it, and cried: "Why don't you leave me alone?"

The tiger answered: "Why don't you stop being so appetizing?"

Mahmud of Ghazna

It is related that Mahmud of Ghazna was once walking in his garden when he stumbled over a blind dervish sleeping beside a bush.

As soon as he awoke, the dervish cried, “You clumsy oaf! Have you no eyes, that you must trample upon the sons of men?”

Mahmud’s companion, who was one of his courtiers, shouted, “Your blindness is equaled only by your stupidity! Since you cannot see, you should be doubly careful of whom you are accusing of heedlessness.”

“If by that you mean”, said the dervish, “that I should not criticize a sultan, it is you who should realize your shallowness.”

Mahmud was impressed that the blind man knew that he was in the presence of the king, and he said mildly, “Why, O dervish, should a king have to listen to vituperation from you?”

“Precisely”, said the dervish, “because it is the shielding of people of any category from criticism appropriate to them which is responsible for their downfall. It is the burnished metal which shines most brightly, the knife struck with the whetstone which cuts best, and the exercised arm which can lift the weight.”

What you MIGHT need

A Bedouin was once walking with his dog in the desert, carrying a skin of water on his shoulders, crying pitifully as he went along. 

When asked by someone why he was crying, he replied, “Because my dog is dying of thirst.”

“Why don’t you give him some of your water, then?” the questioner asked.

“Because I might need the water myself.”

Prayer for sufis

With the first ‘Allah hu akbar’, they put the world and all its inhabitants behind them.

With the second ‘Allah hu akbar’, they forget the hereafter.

With the third ‘Allah hu akbar’, they cast the very thought of anything other than God out of their hearts.

With the fourth ‘Allah hu akbar’, they forget even themselves.