The disciple of a Sufi of Baghdad was sitting in the corner of an Inn one day, when he heard two figures talking.
From what they said, he realized that one of them was the Angel of Death.
"I have several calls to make in this city during the next three weeks," the Angel was saying to his companion.
Terrified, the disciple concealed himself until the two had left.
Then, applying his intelligence to the problem of how to cheat a possible call from Death, he decided that if he kept away from Baghdad he should not be touched.
From this reasoning it was but a short step to hiring the fastest horse available and spurring it night and day towards the distant town of Samarkand.
Meanwhile, Death met the Sufi teacher and they talked about various people.
"And where is your disciple so-and-so?" asked Death.
"He should be somewhere in this city, spending his time in contemplation, perhaps in a caravanserai," said the teacher.
"Surprising," said the Angel; "because he is on my list.
Yes, here it is: I have to collect him in four weeks' time at Samarkand, of all places."
This treatment of the Story of Death, is taken from Hikayat-i-Naqshia (Tales formed according to a design').
The author of this story, which is a very favourite folklore story in the Middle East, was the great Sufi Fudail ibn Ayad, a former highwayman, who died in the early part of the ninth century.
from: 'Tales of the Dervishes' by Idries Shah