Shah Jahan had heard many good reports about a particular Muslim mendicant. People said that he was constantly praying to Allah and that he was very pious and spiritual. Everybody felt that this mendicant said and did the right thing at all times, and they greatly appreciated and admired him. The Emperor was also full of appreciation for him and he had a strong desire to meet him. Of course, since he was the Emperor, Shah Jahan could have asked to see the mendicant at any time. But Shah Jahan never wanted to summon him or in any way force him to come to the court.
One day, when Shah Jahan was on the third floor of his palace with some of his close friends and relatives, this particular mendicant happened to pass by the palace gates. The Emperor's companions saw him from the window and said to the Emperor, "Look, here is the mendicant whom you have wanted to meet for such a long time."
Shah Jahan said to them, "Since he is near the palace, please tell him that I would be extremely grateful if he would come to see me for a few minutes. Tell him that he does not even have to walk up the stairs. We will hang a basket off the balcony by a rope and lift him up to the third floor."
The mendicant was a very humble man and he was extremely surprised to hear that the Emperor himself wanted to see him. He said, "If His Majesty wants to see me, how can I refuse?"
So he sat in the basket and Shah Jahan and a few others pulled him up. The Emperor welcomed the mendicant respectfully and said, "I am so happy and grateful that you have accepted my invitation. Today I wish to discuss spiritual matters with you. All the time I am with people who do not practise spirituality and I am also in that same category. If I wanted to, I could make time for my spiritual life. Unfortunately, I do not have sincere aspiration. But I do appreciate you and admire you very much."
The mendicant said, "Your Majesty, I do not deserve your appreciation and admiration. You and your subjects see only my face; you do not know what is going on inside my mind. My mind is uglier than the ugliest. I have so many bad thoughts. Outwardly I may appear very calm and peaceful, but inwardly my mind is very undivine. So I do not deserve your appreciation."
The Emperor smiled and said, "I deeply appreciate your sincerity, but I know and I also feel that you are truly a very pure and pious man. Please tell me how you have become so close to Allah. Is it because you pray and meditate all the time?"
The mendicant said, "No, no, no! You think that I am close to Allah, and many others also believe the same. But I tell you, I am not closer to Allah than any of His other children. It is like the relationship between an Emperor and his subjects. I am one of your most useless subjects. I have no capacity. Would I ever have dared to request an audience with a great Emperor like you? A beggar, an insignificant creature like me, would never ask you to grant him an audience. It is your kindness, your affection, your love and your concern for a useless fellow like me that enabled me to come and speak with you. I do not deserve to see you at all.
"You wanted to see me and honour me. If I had cherished pride and haughtiness, I would not have come to see you. I would have thought: 'Oh, although he is the Emperor, he does not pray or meditate. So why should I go to him? I do not need him!' But I know that I am nothing by myself. I was also moved by your invitation.
"Similarly, I am moved by the Call of Allah. Allah does not need an insignificant creature like me. Allah does not need anyone. Out of His infinite Love and Compassion, He calls me and I respond. In this way, He calls each and every person in secret. But very few are lucky enough to be able to respond to His unconditional Call. Because I have been fortunate enough to respond to His Call, I am becoming close to Him. It is not my capacities or qualities that have brought me close to Allah, but His unconditional Love and Compassion for His creation. In the same way, He can and will call each and every human being on earth. Alas, how many will ever respond to His Call?"