There was once a man who had three friends. The first he loved most dearly and was with him day and night. He gave his all for this friend and would even lay down his life for him if need be.
The second friend he had, he loved him too, but not as much as the first. Yet he paid his respects to this friend and extended every effort to ensure that he attained his happiness and approval and always tried to act according to his wishes.
As for the third friend, he barely spared any love for him, and met him only rarely. In fact, whenever he would meet him it would only be by chance.
One day that man met with trouble and required the assistance of his friends. The ruler of the land, the king, had summoned him. He set out to seek the help of his dearest friend, the one who he loved deeply. “Please help me at this time”, he entreated.
“I have many other friends, you are not the only one”, he replied carelessly. “Indeed they are more dear to me now than you. Yes, I will provide you with basic provisions for your trip. Some cash and sundries, but beyond that I can do nothing.”
Hearing this, the man went to his second friend to ask for help. “I cannot accompany you to the king’s court, brother”, he replied. “The farthest I can come is to the gates of the palace”.
Finally, the man went to the third friend and ashamedly asked for help. The friend immediately reassured him, “Do not worry at all my friend. I will help you through all your difficulties. The king holds me in very high regard. I will respond on your behalf, and ensure that the king shall be happy with you. Do not fear, I will accompany you.”
There are pearls of wisdom in this parable:
The first friend is worldly wealth, which man spends all his time amassing. When the summons came from the king, meaning when his death came calling, his wealth was useless for him, except to buy him two pieces of his shroud for his burial.
The second friend who was also unable to help alludes to his family, his wife and children. What could they do but bring him to the graveyard, bury him and leave.
The third friend who helped him in his hour of difficulty are one’s good deeds and prayer. This will come to a man’s assistance in his grave and when he stands before Allah Ta´ala. He will help him and be there for him.