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So they asked her.
"When I learned that the shaikh was coming that night to my apartment," she said, "I would prepare delicious dishes and adorn myself. When he arrived and saw what I had done, he would send for me and look at me for a while. Then he would contemplate the food for a while. Then one night he took my hand and drew it into his sleeve and rubbed it over his belly.
I felt fifteen knots from his breast to his navel. 'Girl, ask me what these knots are,’ he said. 'What are they?’ I asked. 'All these,’ he replied, 'are the violent flames of fortitude which I fastened knot by knot, to withstand your offering of such beauty and such delicious fare.’ He then left me. That was the only time I was bold with him, so extreme was his self-discipline."
Anecdotes of Ibn Khafif
Ibn Khafif had two disciples, one called Ahmad the Older and the other Ahmad the Younger. The shaikh favoured Ahmad the Younger the more. His companions were jealous, arguing that Ahmad the Older had performed many tasks and endured much discipline. The shaikh, learning of this, desired to demonstrate to them that Ahmad the Younger was the better of the two. Now a camel was sleeping at the door of the convent.
"Ahmad the Older!" Ibn Khafif cried out.
"Here am I," Ahmad the Older responded.
"Carry that camel up to the roof of the convent," Ibn Khafif ordered.
"Master," Ahmad the Older protested, "how is it possible to carry a camel on to the roof?"
"That is enough," Ibn Khafif said. "Ahmad the Younger!"
"Here am I," replied Ahmad the Younger.
"Carry that camel on to the roof of the convent!"
Ahmad the Younger at once girded his loins, rolled up his sleeves and ran out of the convent. Putting his two hands under the camel, he tried with all his might but could not lift the beast.
"Well done! Now we know," Ibn Khafif exclaimed. Then turning to his companions he added, "Ahmad the Younger did his duty. He obeyed my command and offered no objection. He had regard to my command, not to whether the task could be carried out or no. Ahmad the Older was only concerned to argue and dispute. From outward actions one can perceive the inner intention."
A traveller came to visit Ibn Khafif wearing a black robe, a black shawl, black breeches and a black shirt.
The shaikh felt inwardly a sense of jealousy. When the traveller had performed two rak’as and spoken a greeting, Ibn Khafif addressed him.
"Brother, why are you dressed in black?"
"Because my gods are dead." (He meant the carnal soul and caprice.) "Hast thou seen him who has taken his caprice to be his god?"
"Put him out!" cried Ibn Khafif.
They drove him out with contumely.
"Now bring him back!"
They brought him back. Forty times the same treatment was repeated. Then Ibn Khafif arose and kissed his head and begged his pardon.
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