The Mad King’s Idol(from Wisdom of the Idiots a collection of Sufi stories by Idries Shah)
There was once a violent, ignorant and idolatrous king. One day he swore that if his personal idol accorded him a certain advantage in life, he would capture the first three people who passed by his castle, and force them to dedicate themselves to idol-worship.
Sure enough, the king’s wish was fulfilled, and he immediately sent soldiers on to the highway to bring in the first three people whom they could find.
These three were, as it happened, a scholar, a Sayed (descendent of Mohammed the Prophet) and a prostitute.
Having them thrown down before his idol, the unbalanced king told them of his vow, and ordered them to bow down in front of the image.
The scholar said:
“This situation undoubtedly comes within the doctrine of 'force majeure’. There are numerous precedents allowing anyone to appear to conform with custom if compelled, without real legal or moral culpability being in any way involved.”
So he made a deep obeisance to the idol.
The Sayed, when it was his turn, said:
“As a specially protected person, having in my veins the blood of the Holy Prophet, my actions themselves purify anything which is done, and therefore there is no bar to my acting as this man demands.”
And he bowed down before the idol.
The prostitute said:
“Alas, I have neither intellectual training nor special prerogatives, and so I am afraid that, whatever you do to me, I cannot worship this idol, even in appearance.
The mad king’s malady was immediately banished by this remark. As if by magic he saw the the deceit of the two worshippers of the image. He at once had the scholar and the Sayed decapitated, and set the prostitute free.
A topical reading is that a Constitution, whether Irish or American, is an idol.