Dhul-Nun was acting strangely: screaming, shouting, pelting everyone with sticks and stones.
"He's insane!" the people said, and they locked him up.
"Maybe he really has gone mad," said some of his students.
"No," said others. "He's testing us!"
When his disciples came to see him, Dhul-Nun became even more agitated.
"We're your students," they protested. "We know you!"
"You don't know me," he yelled as he rolled in the dirt.
The students all ran away.
Then Dhul-Nun laughed.
"Why are you laughing?" asked a guard.
"They still haven't learned to look beyond the surface," said Dhul-Nun. "But they will."
Inspired by: Sufi Stories from Around the World by Debjani Chatterjee
Notes: This is story 11 in the book, and the story is also found in Rumi; see Tales from the Masnavi by A. J. Arberry, story 36. You can read about the Sufi Dhul-Nun al-Misri (the Egyptian) at Wikipedia.