When prayer time would commence, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) would ask Bilal (radi Allahu anhu) to call the Adhan with the words, “Give us comfort by it, O Bilal.” [Ahmad]
Nizamuddin Auliya would often say, “The laundress’s son was more fortunate than us. I couldn’t even do that much.” Then he would faint. One day his disciples asked him what the deal was with the laundress’s son. So he told them that there was once a laundress who would get clothes from the royal palace to be laundered. The laundress and her husband would wash and iron the clothes and then take them back to the palace.
They also had a son who began to help his parents out with the work when he grew up. The clothes of the princess would also come to be washed. The boy would wash these too. And through these clothes the boy fell in love with the princess, though he had never set eyes on her.
On the awakening of these feelings for the princess the ways of the laundress’s son changed. He began to separate the princess’s clothes out. Then he would wash them really well. After ironing them he would fold them in an especially unique way. This continued for some time until his mother began to notice what he was doing. She confided in her husband her worry that their son’s love for the princess would bring ruin to the whole family.
So the father forbade the son from doing anymore laundry. While the son had been doing some service for his beloved it had worked to let off steam and keep the fever of his passion for the princess under control. But when he was forbidden from this service his love found no outlet and no way to express itself. So he fell severely ill and died. Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajioon.
When the quality of the washing and the style of folding of the princess’s clothes changed, she sent for the laundress and asked her who was responsible for her clothes. The laundress replied, “Your Highness, it is I.” “Who would wash them before you?” the princess grilled. “It was I all along,” said the laundress. “Fold these clothes!” commanded the princess. But the laundress could not fold as her son used to. “You are lying. Who used to wash my clothes before? Tell me the truth or I’ll have you punished!” ordered the princess.
The laundress saw no way out except by telling the truth and her heart was also overflowing with grief. So she began to cry and told the princess everything. The princess was stunned. Then she asked for the royal carriage to be brought and filled a basket with flowers. Then she went to the grave of the boy who had sacrificed his life in his love for her and laid the flowers at his grave. During the rest of her life she continued to visit the boy’s grave every year on the anniversary of his death and lay flowers at his grave.
After relating this story Nizamuddin Auliya said, “If it is possible to fall in love with a human being whom one has never seen then why isn’t it possible to love Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) without seeing Him? If the love of a human being can change one’s temperament and one can pour all one’s abilities and love into washing their clothes then why can’t we pour our love for Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) into our worship of Him? But instead of our prayers having our heart and soul in them they weigh on us like burdens. If a princess can recognize clothes that have been folded with love, will Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) not be able to differentiate between prayers that have our love for Him in them and prayers that we throw off as yokes.”
Nizamuddin Auliya would then say, “The laundress’s son was successful because his love found acceptance while we do not know whether our worship will be accepted or thrown back at us. The way that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) demands faith, prayers and fasts, He demands our love too. This love is not recommended but required of us. Yet we are ignorant of it.”
Then Nizamuddin Auliya would say, “I swear by Allah, that if these prayers had not been commissioned then the hearts of those who love Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) would burst in the same way that the heart of the laundress’s son burst from not being able to express his love. The night-long prayers are not possible without the emotion behind them that keeps one standing. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) prescribed prayers on seeing the condition of His Messenger’s heart and asked him to pray throughout the night and keep repeating His words to find comfort. That is why when prayer time would commence, the Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) would ask Bilal (radi Allahu anhu) to call the Adhan saying, “Give us comfort by it, O Bilal.”