A farmer caught a man stealing fruit from the trees in his orchard. "I'm going to thrash you!" the farmer shouted.
You can't do that! retorted the thief. "I am only God's servant eating of God's fruits. This is all God's doing."
But the farmer grabbed a stick and began beating the thief. "With God's stick God's servant is thrashing another servant of God. The stick is God's, and so is the back (thwack!) and the sides (thwack!) and the shoulders (thwack!)."
"You're right!" the thief shouted. "I repent. I acted of my own free will! It wasn't God's doing."
Inspired by: The English prose version of Rumi in More Tales from the Masnavi by A. J. Arberry.
Notes: This is story 156 in the book.