The acts like bathing in all pilgrimage sites and having mercy for all creatures bear equivalent results.
An emperor was passing through a forest and had lost his way. When he saw a man sleeping under a tree, he became happy that perhaps now he would be guided on the way. But when he went up to him he saw that the man’s mouth was open – some people sleep with their mouths open – and a snake was entering into his mouth. The emperor just saw the tail of the snake. He lifted his whip and started beating that man. The man suddenly woke up – he could not understand! He started shouting and crying, “What are you doing? Why are you beating me? What wrong have I done to anyone?
Oh God! What an evil person this man is. He is strong, he is sitting on a horse; he is so powerful that I cannot even fight with him.”
The emperor forced him to eat the rotten fruits that were lying on the ground. He didn’t stop; he went on whipping the man terribly. The man was crying and eating, and the fruits were rotten and stinking. The emperor whipped him so much and forced him to eat so much rotten fruit that he vomited and passed out. When he vomited, the snake came out with the vomit.
When the man saw the snake he could not understand what had happened. Then bowing to the feet of the emperor he said, “It is out of your great compassion that you whipped me, that you forced me to eat this rotten fruit, that you made my body shed blood. It is my great fortune. God has sent you at the right time or I would have died. But I want to say one thing: if you had said that I had eaten a snake, that I had swallowed a snake or that a snake had entered in me, then I would not have abused you and cursed you.”
The emperor said, “If I had told you, then getting the snake out would have been impossible. You would have been died out of fear. By my beating you did not die. If I had told you that you had swallowed a snake, then I would not have been able to make you eat the fruit; you would have become unconscious and it would have been impossible to save you. So I had to stop myself from telling you and beat you instead. To make you vomit became my main concern. I had to stop worrying about you because if I could make you somehow vomit, the snake would be thrown out.”
On the basis of this story, the Sufis have a saying. You may have heard this saying although you may never heard the story before.
The saying is: Better to have an intelligent foe than a foolish friend.