Abu al-Termedhi was driven out of his native town of Termedh and took refuge in Nishapur, where he was preaching in 898. He is regarded as one of the outstanding creative thinkers of Islamic mysticism.
In Termedhi’s time lived a great ascetic who was always criticising him. Now in all the world Termedhi possessed nothing but a cabin. When he returned from his journey to Hejaz, a dog had whelped in that cabin, which had no door. Termedhi did not wish to drive the dog out, and he went and came eighty times in the hope that the dog would have of its own free will carried its puppies out.
That same night the ascetic saw the Prophet in a dream.
“Sirrah, you have put yourself up against a man who eighty times brought succour to a dog,” the Prophet said. “If you desire eternal happiness, go, bind up your loins and serve him.”
The ascetic, too ashamed to answer Termedhi’s greetings, thereafter spent the rest of his life in his service.
From: Muslim Saints and Mystics: Episodes from the Tadhkirat al-Auliya (‘Memorial of the Saints’) by Farid al-Din Attar, translated by AJ Arberry.