Sultan Mahmud had a priceless pearl.
"Crush it!" he commanded his vizier.
"I cannot destroy such a treasure!" the vizier protested.
The sultan smiled.
He tried another courtier, who refused, and another, and another. They all refused.
Then the sultan told Ayaz, "Crush it!"
Without hesitation, Ayaz crushed the pearl.
The courtiers shouted in dismay.
"The sultan's command is more precious than any pearl!" declared Ayaz.
"Death to all my court," shouted the sultan, "except Ayaz."
Ayaz then interceded for them. "You are perfection," he said. "Grant them perfect mercy."
Thus Ayaz obeyed the sultan and saved the sultan's court.
Inspired by: The English prose version of Rumi in More Tales from the Masnavi by A. J. Arberry.
Notes: This is story 147 in the book. Compare a similar story about Ayaz: Ayaz and the Wineglass.There is an article about Ayaz at Wikipedia.