A long time ago there was a pious man who used to pray day and night. One day some people came and told him that there was a forest where a tree was being worshiped by a group of people. This made the pious man very angry & he set out with an ax, aiming to cut the tree.
On his way, he met an old man. The man asked: “Where are you going?” The pious man answered: “There is a tree that is worshiped by people, & I want to cut it down so that it can’t be worshiped anymore, as this is Shirk.” The old man was Satan in human form. He told the pious man to return home. The pious man disagreed, and so they fought. The pious man won and was about to cut Satan’s neck when Satan pleaded to be freed and said: “Please spare me and go back home. If you do so, you will find two gold coins from me every day.” The pious man was tempted by the offer and agreed.
The next day the pious man found the gold coins under his pillow. This happened for a week or two, but after that, he did not find any gold coins. The pious man was furious & he went down to cut the tree once again. Again, Satan appeared and asked the pious man where he was going.
The pious man answered that he was going to cut the tree as he had not received gold coins from him. Satan said: “Return home, as you don’t have any power to do this.” The pious man disagreed once again, & they fought. But this time Satan managed to win the struggle. The pious man asked in surprise: “When you came to stop me the first time, I won over you. How come this time you knocked me down?”
Satan said: “When your intention was pure, you were doing it for Allah’s sake. You had enough power to overcome me, so you knocked me down. But this time it is different because this time you are coming for money. This time, your faith is not pure. Now if you don’t return home at once, I will kill you.” The pious man was very ashamed and returned home.
Moral: When someone has pure faith and the right intentions, no one can overcome him, but when his Niyyah becomes mixed, he faces failure…………
Translation of an Arabic fable found in al-Qazwini’s classic Wonderous Creatures.