Spiritual Link between Real Self of Man and the Divine SelfWe have seen at length what science has achieved so far, as regards man’s psychic powers or capabilities. We have also had glimpses of the latent powers which even those possess and actualize who have not embraced faith and who do not practice the formal spiritual discipline which has been revealed to mankind through the beloved Messenger of Allah. They only have an unsystematic belief in all what they observe whether compatible with or incongruous to science. They do not have faith in the ‘unseen’ which is basic to Islamic faith. They are, therefore, deprived of the real knowledge of spiritualism, its real value in our practical life and the reservoir of energies it provides to man to conquer the universe. They do many things but in a disorderly manner. They do achieve out of it but very little. They neither study nor practice the formal establishment of divine link between real self of man and the Ultimate Divine Authority of the universe – Allah Almighty in accordance with the revealed procedure.
Spiritualism of Islam is based on the relation of the real human self to the Divine Self, which is the Perfect Self. He is no doubt the Almighty ‘the Eternal, the Living and the Self-Subsistent’ (The Qur’an, 2:255). All depends upon this affiliation between the believer’s soul and Allah which Islam so emphatically exhorts. Hadrat Makhdum Ali Hajwiri (Data Ganj Bakhsh) explains: 
Tasawwuf is to establish relation with Allah.
Man establishes his relation with Allah abandoning the worldly lustful temptations and affiliations. Consequently, the spiritual bliss and rapture entrance him.
The spiritual insight into the Qur'anic philosophy reveals that the human self has, by virtue of his relation with Allah Almighty, the capacity to develop itself on the model of the Divine attributes. It then rises higher and higher in the scale of existence. It is a hard task and man is required to be on guard against all threats from within and without while treading this path. The restrictions Islam imposes on the individual aim at developing in him a strong character and enduring personality for successful self-actualization. This is where we need the divine guidance and spiritual assistance from someone who has already attained Allah’s proximity and accomplished what is essential to reach the ultimate goal – the countenance of Allah. The best model to follow in this regard is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW).
At this juncture, the system of spiritual channels comes in to facilitate spiritual survival and growth of the common man in face of heavy odds and tempting evils of the earthly existence. This is the spiritual system that has perpetuated ever since the emergence of Islam through Auliya Allah who enjoy nearness to Allah and His Holy Messenger (SAW) and who are the spiritual giants of the universe. They acquire the divine attributes and Allah places under their control what all they wish to control.
A Mo’omin’s hand is Allah’s hand’
Commanding, Elegant, Prudent, Triumphant.
This happens according to a system. We have already acquainted ourselves with the studies on parapsychology and the literature produced on learning about infinite potentiality man has been bestowed with. Islam offers a well-organized system that wins us the spiritual prowess and competence. The lives of Auliya Allah are replete with the incidents that befittingly illustrate as to what it is that we call the spiritual power, how it is acquired and what is it that we name as the spiritual system of life. This also unfolds how these spiritual personalities acquire attributes of the Divine Reality.
These glimpses are in sharp contrast with the casual episodes that the scientists of parapsychology probe with an unusual surprise. These anecdotes have been taken from ‘Muslim Saints and Mystics’ by A.J.Arberry, an English translation of Tadhkiratul Auliya by Farid-ud-Din Attar. They are in fact miraculous manifestations of the spiritualism of Islam.
Hasan Basri and the Fire-WorshipperHasan Basri is revered as one of the greatest saints of early Islam. Brought up in Basra, he met many companions of the Holy Prophet (SAW) including seventy of those who fought at the Battle of Badar.
Hasan Basri’s neighbour Simeon, a fireworshipper, fell ill and was on deathbed. Hasan called on him and found him discoloured with fire and smoke.
“Fear God,” Hasan counselled him. “You have passed all your life amid fire and smoke. Embrace Islam so that God may have mercy on you.”
“Three things keep me from becoming a Muslim,” Simeon replied. “First, you speak ill of the world, yet you run after worldly things day and night. Second, you fear facing death, yet you do not prepare for it. Third, you believe in seeing God’s face, yet you do everything contrary to His good pleasure.”
“This is the token of those who know truly,” Hasan commented. “Now if believers act as you describe, what have you to say? They acknowledge the unity of God whereas you have spent your life in fire worship. You who have worshipped fire for seventy years and I who have never worshipped fire - we are both carried off to Hell. Hell will consume both you and me. God will pay no regard to you; but if God so wills, the fire will dare not burn one hair of my body. For fire is a thing created by God; and the creature is subject to the Creator’s command. Come now, you who have worshipped fire for seventy years; let us both put our hands into the fire, then you will see with your own eyes the impotence of fire and the omnipotence of God.”
Saying that, Hasan thrust his hand into the fire and held it there. Not a particle of his body was affected or burnt. When Simeon saw this he was amazed. The dawn of true knowledge began to break.
“For seventy years I have worshipped fire,” he groaned. “Now only a breath or two remains to me. What am I to do?”
Become a Muslim,” Hasan replied.
“If you guarantee in writing that God will not punish me,” said Simeon, “then I will believe. But until I have it in writing, I will not believe.”
Hasan wrote it down and the witnesses endorsed the document. Then Simeon wept bitterly and accepted Islam. He spoke his last testament to Hasan.
“When I die, bid them wash me, then commit me to the earth with your own hands, and place this document in my hand. This document will be my proof.”
Having charged Hasan thus, he spoke the attestation of faith and died. They washed his body, said the prayer over him, and buried him with the document in his hand. That night Hasan went to sleep pondering what he had done.
“How could I help a drowning man, seeing that I am drowning myself? Since I have no control over my own fate, why did I venture to prescribe how God should act?”
With this thought he fell asleep and saw Simeon in a dream glowing like a candle; on his head a crown, robed in fine raiment, he was walking with a smile in the garden of Paradise.
“How are you, Simeon?” Hasan inquired.
“Why do you ask? You can see for yourself,” Simeon answered. “God Almighty of His bounty brought me nigh His presence and graciously showed me His face. The favours He showered upon me beggar description. You have honoured your guarantee; so take your document. I do not need it anymore.”
When Hasan awoke, he saw that parchment in his hand. “O God,” he cried, “I know well that what You do is without cause, save of Your bounty. Who shall suffer loss at Your door? You grant a fire worshipper of seventy years to come into Your near presence because of a single utterance. How then will You exclude a believer of seventy years?”
Knowledge and FaithOne day Hasan Basri called on Habib Ajami. Habib placed two rounds of barley bread and a little salt before him. Hasan began to eat. A beggar came to the door, and Habib gave the two rounds and the salt to him.
“Habib,” remarked the astonished Hasan, “you are a worthy man. If only you had some knowledge, it would be better. You took the bread from under the nose of your guest and gave it all to the beggar. You ought to have given a part to the beggar and a part to the guest.”
Habib said nothing. Presently a slave entered with a roasted lamb in a tray on his head, together with sweet meat and fine bread, and gave hundred silver dirhams. He set the tray before Habib. Habib gave the money to the poor, and placed the tray before Hasan.
“Master,” he said when Hassan had eaten some of the roast, “You are a good man. If only you had a little faith, it would be better. Knowledge must be accompanied by faith.”
When Rabe’a Basri was Born!Rabe’a settled in Basra, attained great fame as a saint. To her is attributed a large share in the introduction into Islamic Mysticism of the theme of Divine love.
The night when Rabe’a Basri was borne, there was nothing whatsoever in her father’s house. Her father was a very humble and poor person. He did not have even a drop of oil to anoint her navel. He already had three daughters, and Rabe’a was his fourth; that is why she was called by that name.
There was no lamp lit in the house, nor a rag to swaddle the baby.“Go to neighbour so-and-so and beg for a drop of oil, so that I can light the lamp,” his wife said to him.
The father had already promised that he would never ask any mortal for anything. So he went out, just laid his hand on the neighbour’s door, and returned.
“They won’t open the door,” he reported.
The poor woman wept bitterly and he, in that state of extreme anxiety, placed his head on his knees and fell asleep. He dreamed that he saw the Holy Prophet (SAW).
“Be not sad,” the Prophet (SAW) bade him. “The girl child you are just blessed with is a queen among women, who shall be the intercessor for seventy thousand of my Ummah. Tomorrow,” the Prophet (SAW) continued, “go to Isa-e-Zadan, the governor of Basra. Write on a piece of paper to the following effect: ‘every night you send upon me a hundred salutations and blessings, and on Friday night four hundred. Last night was Friday night, and you forgot me. In expiation for that, give this man four hundred dinars lawfully acquired.”
Rabe’a’s father on awaking, burst into tears. He rose up and wrote as the Prophet (SAW) had bidden him, and sent the message to the governor by the hand of a chamberlain.
“Pay him two thousand dinars,” commanded the governor on reading the note, “as a thanksgiving for my beloved Prophet (SAW) remembering me. Give another four hundred dinars also to the Shaikh, and tell him: ‘I wish you come to me so that I may see you. But I do not hold it proper for a man like you to come to me. I would rather come and rub my beard in your threshold. However, I adjure you by God, whatever, you may need, pray let me know.’”
A Glimpse of FaithOnce two gentlemen came to visit Rabe’a Basri; both were hungry. They expected that they would be entertained with food by their hostess.
“It may be that she will give us food,” they said to each other. “Her food is bound to come from a lawful source.”
When they sat down there was a napkin with two loaves laid before them. They were well content. A beggar arrived just then, and Rabe’a gave him the two loaves. The two men felt much upset, but said nothing. After a while a maidservant entered with a handful of warm bread.
“My mistress sent these,” she explained.
Rabe’a counted the loaves; they were eighteen.
“Perhaps it was not this that she sent me,” Rabe’a remarked.
All that the maidservant assured her proved of no avail. She took back the loaves and carried them away. Now it so happened that she had taken two of the loaves for herself. She asked her mistress, and she added the two to the pile and returned with them. Rabe’a counted again, and found there were twenty loaves. She now accepted them.
“This is what your mistress sent me,” she said.
She set the loaves before the two men and they ate, feeling much amazed.
“What is the secret behind this?” they asked her. “We had an appetite for your own bread, but you took it away from us and gave it to the beggar. Then you said that the eighteen loaves did not belong to you. When they were twenty, you accepted them.”
“I knew when you arrived that you were hungry,” Rabe’a replied. “I said to myself, How can I offer two loaves to two such notables? So when the beggar came to the door I gave them to him and said to Almighty Allah, “O Lord, You have said that You repay tenfold, and this I firmly believe. Now I have given two loaves to please You, so that You may give twenty in return for them.’ When eighteen were brought to me, I knew that either there had been some misappropriation, or that they were not meant for me.”
Gratitude & ComplaintOnce Rabe’a saw a man with a bandage tied round his head.
“Why have you tied the bandage?” she asked.
“Because my head aches,” the man replied.
“How old are you?” she asked
“Thirty,” he replied.
“Have you been in pain and anguish the greater part of your life?” she enquired.
“No,” the man answered.
“For thirty years you have enjoyed good health,” she remarked, “and you never tied about you the bandage of thankfulness. Now because of this one night that you have a headache you tied the bandage of complaint!”
Ibrahim AdhamIbrahim Adham, born in Balkh of pure Arab descent, is described in Sufi legend as a prince who renounced his kingdom and wandered westwards to live a life of complete asceticism, earning his bread in Syria by honest manual toil until his death.
Sweet Pomegranates“Once,” Ibrahim Adham narrated, “I was appointed to look after an orchard. The owner of the orchard came and said to me, ‘Bring me some sweet pomegranates.’ I brought some, but they were sour.
“ ‘Bring me sweet ones,’ the owner repeated. I brought another dishful, but they were also sour.
“ ‘Glory be to God!’ the owner cried. ‘You have spent so long in the orchard, but you do not know ripe pomegranates?”
“ ‘I look after your orchard, but do not know what pomegranates taste like because I have never sampled any,’ I replied.
“ ‘When I heard these words, I departed from that place.”
The Wind SubsidedIbrahim was once on a shipboard when suddenly a wind sprang up and the world grew dark.
“Alas, the ship is sinking!” the voyagers cried.
“Fear not that the ship will sink,” came a voice from the air, “Ibrahim Adham is with you.”
Immediately the wind subsided, and the darkened world became bright.
Allah’s RemembranceOnce Ibrahim passed by a drunkard. His mouth was foul. So he fetched water and washed the drunkard’s mouth.
“Do you leave foul the mouth that has mouthed the name of God? That is irreverence!” Ibrahim said to himself.
“The ascetic of Khorasan washed your mouth,” they told the man when he woke.
“I too now repent,” the man declared.
After that Ibrahim heard in a dream, “You did wash a mouth for My sake. I have washed thy heart.”
BeggaryOne day Ibrahim saw a beggar bewailing his lot.
“I guess you bought beggary gratis,” he remarked.
“Why, is beggary for sale?” the beggar asked in astonishment.
“Certainly,” Ibrahim replied. “I bought it with the kingdom of Bulkh. I got a bargain.”
Sitting Cross-leggedNo one had ever seen Ibrahim sitting cross-legged.
“Why do you not sit cross-legged?” he was asked.
“I did sit that way one day,” he replied. “I heard a voice from the air saying, “Son of Adham, do servants sit so in the presence of their lords?’ I at once sat upright and repented.”
Ba Yazid Bestami and his MotherBa Yazid Taifur al-Bestami, the founder of the ecstatic school of Sufism, is famous for the boldness of his expression of the mystic’s complete absorption into the Godhood.
Ba Yazid’s mother sent him to school. He learned the Qur’an. One day his teacher
was explaining the meaning of the verse in Sura Loqman, Be thankful to Me, and to
your parents. These words changed Ba Yazid’s mind.
“Go and be God’s”
“Sir, please permit me to go home and say something to my mother.”
The master gave him leave, and Ba Yazid went home.
“Why, Taifur,” cried his mother, “why have you come home? Did they give you a present, or is it some special occasion?”
“No,” Ba Yazid replied. “I reached the verse where God commands me to serve Him and you. I cannot manage in two houses at the same time. This verse stung me to the quick. Either you ask for me from God, so that I may be yours entirely, or apprentice me to God, so that I may dwell wholly with Him.”
“My son, I resign you to God, and exempt you from your duty to me,” said his mother. “Go and be God’s.”
“The task I supposed to be the hindmost of all tasks proved to be the foremost,” Ba Yazid later recalled. “That was to please my mother. In pleasing my mother, I attained all that I sought in my many acts of self-discipline and service.
One night my mother asked me for water. I went to fetch her some, but there was none in the jug. I fetched the pitcher, but none was in it either. So I went down to the river and filled the pitcher with water. When I returned to the house, my mother had fallen asleep.”
“The night was cold. I stood there keeping the jug in my hand. When my mother awoke from sleep she drank some water and blessed me. Then she noticed that the jug was frozen to my hand. ‘Why did you not lay the jug aside?’ she exclaimed. ‘I was afraid you might wake when I was not present,’ I answered. ‘Keep the door half-open,’ my mother then said.
“I watched till near daybreak to ensure that the door was properly half-open and that I should not have disregarded her command. At the hour of dawn, that which I had sought so many times entered by the door.”
mother had resigned him to God, Ba Yazid left Bestam and for thirty years wandered
from land to land, disciplining himself with continuous vigil and hunger. His mother
in the meantime had grown ailing and old with the back bent double owing to grief.
“O Lord, Care Well for our Exile.”
After Ba Yazid had visited Medina, he received the order to return and care for his mother. Accordingly, he set out for Bestam, accompanied by a throng. The news spread through the city, and the people of Bestam came out to welcome him a good way from the town. Ba Yazid was likely to be so preoccupied with their attentions that he would be detained from God. As they approached him, he drew a loaf out of his sleeve. Now it was the month of Holy Ramazan; yet he stood and ate the loaf. As soon as the people of Bestam saw this, they turned away from him.
“Did you not see?” Ba Yazid addressed his companions. “I obeyed an ordinance of the sacred Law, and all the people rejected me.”
He waited patiently until nightfall. At midnight he entered Bestam and, coming to his mother’s house, he stood listening for a while. He heard his mother performing her ablutions and praying.
“O Lord, care well for our exile. Incline the hearts of the Shaikhs towards him, and vouchsafe him to do all things well.”
Ba Yazid wept when he heard these words. Then he knocked the door.
“Who is there?” cried his mother.
“Your exile,” he replied.
Weeping, his mother opened the door. Her sight was dimmed.
“Taifur,” she addressed her son, “do you know what has dimmed my sight? It is because I have wept so much being parted from you, and my back is bent double from the load of grief I have endured.”
Abu Hafs Haddad and JunaidAbu Hafs al-Haddad, a blacksmith of Nishapur, visited Baghdad and met Abul Qasim al-Junaid, the greatest exponent of the ‘sober’ school of Sufism who admired his devotion; he also encountered Abu Bakr Al-Shibli and other mystics of the Baghdad school.
He began to Speak ArabicAbu Hafs resolved for the pilgrimage. He was an illiterate and did not understand Arabic. When he came to Baghdad, the Sufi disciples whispered together.
“It is a great disgrace that the Shaikh of Shaikhs of Khorasan should require an interpreter to understand their language.”
Junaid sent his disciples out to welcome him. Abu Hafs knew what they were thinking, and at once began to speak Arabic. The people of Baghdad were amazed at the purity of his speech.
Self-SacrificeA number of great scholars gathered before Abu Hafs and questioned him on self-sacrificing love.
“You are able to express yourselves. You define it,” Abu Hafs replied.
“As I see it,” said Junaid, “true self-sacrifice means that you should not regard yourself as self-sacrificing, and that you should not attribute to yourself whatever you may have done.”
“Excellent,” commented Abu Hafs. “But as I see it, self-sacrifice means acting with justice towards others, and not seeking justice for oneself.”
“Act on that, our Companions,” said Junaid.
“To act rightly requires more than words,” retorted Abu Hafs.
“Rise up, our companions,” Junaid commanded when he heard this reply. “Abu Hafs exceeds in self-sacrifice Adam and all his seed.”
Broth and HalwaOnce Abu Hafs asked Junaid, “Order the disciples to make broth and halwa.”
Junaid directed one of his disciples to make them. When he brought the dishes, Abu Hafs proceeded.
“Call a porter and put them on his head. Let him carry them until he is tired out. Then, whatever house he has reached, let him call out, and whoever comes to the door, let him give them to him.”
The porter obeyed these instructions. He went on until he felt tired and could go no farther. Setting the dishes down by the door of a house, he called out. The owner of the house, an elder, replied.
“If you have brought broth and halwa, I will open the door.”
“I have,” replied the porter.
“Bring them in,” said the elder, opening the door.
“I was amazed,” the porter related. “I asked the old man, ‘What is going on? How did you know that I have brought broth and halwa?” The old man answered, ‘Last night when I was at my prayers, the thought came into my mind that my children had been begging me for them for a long time. I know that my prayer has not been in vain.”
Abu Hafs and Abu Bakr ShibliShibli gave hospitality to Abu Hafs for four months. Every day he produced a different kind of dish and several sorts of sweetmeat.
When Abu Hafs came to bid him farewell, he said, “Shibli, when you come to Nishapur I will teach you true entertainment and generosity.”
“Why, what have I done, Abu Hafs?” asked Shibli.
“You took too great pains. Extravagance is not the same as generosity,” said Abu Hafs. “One should treat a guest exactly as oneself. That way, his coming will not be a burden to you, and his departure will not be an occasion of gladness. When you go to extravagant lengths, his coming is burdensome to you and his departure a relief. No man who feels like that towards a guest is truly generous.”
When Shibli came to Nishapur he stayed with Abu Hafs. Forty persons were in the party, and at night Abu Hafs lit forty-one lamps.
“Did you not say one should not act extravagantly?” remarked Shibli.
“Then get up and put them out,” answered Abu Hafs.
Shibli got up, but for all his efforts he could not extinguish more than one lamp.
“Sheikh, how is this?” he asked.
“You were forty persons, emissaries of God. For the guest is an emissary of God. Naturally I lit a lamp in the name of each one, for the sake of God, and one for myself. Those forty which I lit for God you were unable to put out, but the one lit for myself you extinguished. All that you did in Baghdad you did for my sake; I did what I did for God’s sake. So the former was extravagance, the latter not.”
Abul-Qasim al-JunaidAbul Qasim al-Junaid, elaborated a theosophical doctrine which determined the whole course of orthodox mysticism in Islam. He expounded his theories in his teachings, and in a series of letters written to various contemporaries that have survived.
The Worst of PeopleSari-al-Saqati once asked Junaid to preach. “While the master is there, it is not seemly for the disciple to preach,” Junaid demurred. Then one night Junaid saw the Prophet in a dream.
“Preach,” the Prophet ordained.
Next morning he arose to go and report to Sari, but he found Sari standing at the door.
“Hitherto,” Sari told him, “you were inhibited, waiting for others to tell you to preach. Now you must speak, because your words have been made the means of a whole world’s salvation. You would not speak when the disciples asked you to. You did not speak when the Shaikhs of Baghdad interceded with you. You did not speak at my urging. Now that the Prophet has commanded you, you must speak.”
“God forgive me,” Junaid replied. “How did you know that I saw the Prophet in a dream.”
“I saw God in a dream,” Sari explained. “God said, ‘I have sent the Messenger to tell Junaid to preach from the rostrum.”
“I will preach then,” consented Junaid. “only on one condition, that it be to no more than forty persons.”
One day Junaid was preaching, and forty persons were present. Of these eighteen expired, and twenty-two fell to the ground unconscious. They were lifted up and carried to their homes.
On another day Junaid was preaching in the cathedral. In the congregation there was a Christian lad, but no one knew that he was a Christian. He approached Junaid and said, “According to the Prophet’s saying, ‘Beware of the insight of the believers, for he sees by the light of God.’ ” “The pronouncement is,” replied Junaid, “that you should become a Muslim and cut your Christian girdle, for this is the time of Muslimdom”
The boy immediately became a Muslim.
After Junaid had preached a number of times, the people cried out against him. He gave up preaching, and retired to his room. For all that he was urged to resume, he would not do so.
“I am content,” he replied. “I cannot contrive my own destruction.”
Some time later he mounted the pulpit and began to preach without any prompting.
“What was the inner wisdom in this?” he was asked.
“I came upon a Tradition,” he replied, “according to which the Prophet said, ‘In the last days the spokesman of the people will be he that is the worst of them. He will preach to them.’ I know that I am the worst of the people. I am preaching because of what the Prophet said, so that I may not oppose his words.”
The Creator’s CureOnce Junaid’s eye pained him, and he sent for the doctor.
“If your eye is throbbing, do not let any water get into it,” the doctor advised.
When he had gone, Junaid performed his ablutions and prayed, and then went to sleep. When he awoke, his eye was well again. He heard a voice saying, “Junaid forsook his eye to gain Our good pleasure. If with the same intention he had begged of Us all the inhabitants of Hell, his petition would have been granted.”
The physician called and saw that his eye was healed.
“What did you do?” he asked.
“I performed the ablutions for prayer,” Junaid answered.
Thereupon the physician, who was a Christian, declared his conversion and embraced Islam.
“This is the Creator’s cure, not the creature’s,” he commented. “It was my eye that was sick, not yours. You were the physician, not I.”
The Question of NeedA man brought five hundred dinars and offered them to Junaid.
“Do you posses anything besides this?” Junaid asked him.
“Yes, a lot,” the man replied.
“Do you need more?”
“Yes, I do.”
“then take it away,” Junaid said, You have a better right to it. I possess nothing and I need nothing.”
The Spiritual Awareness about the DiscipleA disciple of Junaid’s was dwelling in seclusion in Basra. One night a sinful thought entered his mind. He looked in a mirror and saw that his face had turned black. Stupefied, he tried every device he could think of, but in vain. He was so ashamed that he showed his face to no one. Three days went by; then the blackness gradually grew less.
Unexpectedly some one knocked at his door.
“Who is it?” the disciple asked.
“I have come with a letter from Junaid,” said the caller.
The disciple read the letter.
“Why do you not conduct yourself becomingly in the presence of Glory? For three days and nights I have had to work as a fuller, to change your face from black to white.”
Mystic Intuition and AwarenessShaikh Junaid had a disciple whom he loved most. The other disciples felt jealous of him, a fact that the Shaikh realized by his mystic intuition.
“He is superior to you in manners and understanding,” he told them. “That is what I have in view; let us make an experiment, so that you may also realize it.”
Junaid commanded twenty birds to be brought to him.
“Each of you take one,” he told his disciples. “In a place where no one can see you kill it, then bring it back.”
All the disciples went off and killed and brought back the bird except that favourite disciple. He brought his bird back alive.
“Why did you not kill it?” Junaid asked him.
“Because the master said it must be done in a place where no one can see,” the disciple answered. “Wherever I went, God saw.”
“You see the measure of his understanding!” Junaid exclaimed. “Compare that with that of the others.”
All the other disciples begged God’s forgiveness.
Nine Litters for MartyrsJunaid had eight special disciples who carried out his every thought. One day the notion occurred to them that they must go to the holy war. Next morning Junaid ordered his servant to make all preparations for the war. He then set out to fight together with those eight disciples.
When the lines of battle were drawn up, a champion stepped forth from the ranks of the infidels and martyred all eight.
“I looked up to heaven,” said Junaid, “and I saw nine litters standing by. As each of the eight was martyred his spirit was lifted up on a litter, until one remained empty. ‘That one must be meant for me,’ I thought, and I joined the battle-ranks once more. Then the champion who had slain my eight companions came up and addressed me. “Abul Qasim, that ninth litter is for me. You return to Baghdad, and be the Shaikh of the community. Offer me Islam.’
“So he became a Muslim. With the same sword with which he had slain the eight disciples, he slew a like number of infidels. Then he achieved martyrdom himself. His soul,” Junaid concluded, “was also placed in that litter, and all vanished.”
Private Sanctuary of GodSomeone known as Naseri, a Sayyad, one of the descendents of Hadrat Ali, intended to proceed on pilgrimage. When he reached Baghdad he went to visit Junaid.
“Whence comes the Sayyad?” Junaid enquired when greetings had been exchanged.
“From Gilan,” he replied.
“Of whose sons are you?” asked Junaid.
“I am descended from Ali the Prince of the Believers, God be well pleased with him,” the man answered.
“Your forefather wielded two swords,” said Junaid. “One against the unbelievers, the other against himself. Now, Sayyad, you who are his son, which of these two do you employ?”
The sayyid wept bitterly when he heard these words and groveled before Junaid.
“Master, my pilgrimage is here,” he exclaimed. “Show me the way to God.”
“Your heart is the private sanctuary of God,” said Junaid. “So far as you are able, admit naught unsanctified into the private sanctuary.”
“That is all I want to know,” said the Sayyad.
The Essence of FriendshipOnce Junaid and Shibli both fell sick. A Christian physician visited Shibli.
“What pains are you feeling?” he asked.
“None,” Shibli replied.
“What do you say?” the doctor repeated.
“I have no pain,” Shibli told him.
The physician then visited Junaid.
“What pains do you have?” he enquired.
Junaid described his symptoms in detail, enumerating each pain in turn. The Christian treated him, and departed. Later the two friends came together.
“Why did you expose all your pains to a Christian?” Shibli asked.
“So that he might realize,” Junaid answered, “if His friend is treated so, what He will do to His foe! And you,” he added, “why did you not describe your pains?”
“I was ashamed,” Shibli replied, “to complain to an enemy of the Friends!”
Dhun-Noon, al-MisriAbul Faiz Thauban bin Ibrahim al-Mesri, called Dhun-Noon, studied under various teachers and traveled extensively in Arabia and Syria. A great saint of his time and a legendary figure as alchemist, supposed to have known the secret of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.
The Inanimate World under Spiritual CommandDhun-Noon was once among a group of his followers. They were telling stories of inanimate things obeying commands. Now there was a sofa in the room.
“An example,” said Dhun-Noon, “of inanimate things obeying saints’ commands would be if I were to say to that sofa there, “Waltz around the house’ and it started to move.”
No sooner had Dhun-Noon spoken these words than the sofa started to circle round the house, then it returned to its place. A youth present there burst into tears at the sight, and then gasped his last. They washed his body on that very sofa, and buried him.
Stone turned into EmeraldOnce a man came up to Dhun-Noon and said, “I have a debt, and I have no means of paying it.”
Dhun-Noon picked up a stone from the ground and gave it to him. The man took the stone to bazaar. It had turned into an emerald. He sold it for four hundred dirhams and paid his debt.
A Defiant YouthA certain youth was always speaking against Sufis. One day Dhun-Noon took the ring off his finger and handed it to him.
“Take this to market and pawn it for a dinar,” he said.
The young man took the ring to market, but they would not take it for more than one dirham. The youth returned with the news.
“Now take it to the jewelers, and see that they value it at,” Dhun-Noon told him.
The jewelers priced the ring at a thousand dinars.
“You know as much about Sufis,” Dhun-Noon said to the youth when he returned, “as those stall holders in the market know about this ring.”
The youth repented, and shunned his disbelief in the Sufis.
Dhun-Noon and the Holy Prophet (SAW)Dhun-Noon had been longing for sekbaj (a stew made of meat, wheat-flour and vinegar) for ten years, but he never gratified that longing. Now it was the eve of festival, and his soul said within him, “How would it be if tomorrow you gave us a mouthful of sekbaj as a festival treat?”
“Soul,” answered Dhun-Noon, “if you want me to do that, then consent with me tonight in chanting the whole Koran in the course of two rak’as.”
His soul consented. The next day Dhun-Noon prepared sekbaj and set it before his soul. He washed his fingers and stood in prayer.
“What happened?” he was asked.
“Just now,” Dhun-Noon replied, “my soul said to me, ‘At last after ten years I have attained my desire.’ ‘By God,’ I answered, ‘you shall not attain that desire,”
The relater of this story states that Dhun-Noon had just spoken these words when a man entered and set a bowl of sekbaj before him.
“Master,” he said, “I did not come on my own. I was sent. Let me explain. I earn my living as a porter, and I have children. For some time now they have been asking for sekbaj, and I have been saving up. Last night I made this sekbaj for the festival. Today I saw in a dream the world-adorning beauty of the Messenger of God. ‘If you would see me on the morrow of uprising,’ said the Prophet, ‘take this to Dhun-Noon and tell him that Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, the son of Abdul-Muttalib, intercedes with him to make truce with his soul for one moment and swallow a few mouthfuls.”
“I obey,” said Dhun-Noon, weeping.
When Dhun-Noon DiedAs Dhun-Noon lay on his deathbed his friends asked him, “What do you desire?”
“My desire,” he answered, “is that I die, even if it be for only one moment, I may know Him.”
He then spoke the following verse.
Fear wasted me,
Yearning consumed me,
Love beguiled me,
God revived me.
One day later he lost consciousness. On the night of his departure from this world, seventy persons saw the Holy Prophet in a dream. All reported that the Prophet said, “The friend of God is coming. I have come out to welcome him.”
When he died, there was seen written in green on his brow, “This is the friend of Allah. He died in the love of Allah. This is the slain of Allah by the sword of Allah.”
When they lifted his coffin to carry him to the grave the sun was extremely hot. The birds of the air came and with wings flapping kept his bier shaded from his house to the graveyard.
As he was being borne along the road, a muezzin chanted the call to prayer. When he reached the words of attestation, Dhun-Noon lifted a finger out of the shroud.
“He is alive!” the shout went up.
They laid down the bier. His finger was pointing, but he was dead. For all that they tried, they could not straighten his finger. When the people of Egypt beheld this, they were all put to shame and repented of the wrongs they had done him. They did things over his dust that cannot be described in words.
Ahmad Khazruya and the ThiefA thief broke into Ahmad Khazruya’s house. He searched everywhere but could not find anything. He was about to leave disappointed when Ahmad called out to him.
“Young fellow, take the bucket and draw water from the well and purify yourself, then attend to your prayers. When something comes I will give it to you, so that you shall not leave my house empty-handed.”
The youth did as Ahmad bade him. When daylight returned, a gentleman brought a hundred dinars and gave them to the Shaikh.
“Take this as a reward for your night of prayer,” he said to the thief.
The thief suddenly trembled all over. He burst into tears.
“I had mistaken the way,” he cried. “I worked for God just one night, and He has favoured me so.”
Repenting, he returned to God. He refused to take the gold, and became one of Ahmad’s disciples.
Seventy CandlesOnce a dervish was received by Ahmad; in hospitality. Ahmad lit seventy candles.
“This is not pleasing to me,” said the dervish. “Making a fuss bears no relation to Sufism.”
“Go then,” said Ahmad, “And extinguish every candle I have not lit for the sake of God.”
All that night the dervish was pouring water and earth, but could not extinguish even one of the candles.
“Why so surprised?” Ahmad addressed the dervish next morning. “Come with me, and you will see things really to wonder at.”
They went off and came to the door of a church. When the Christian deacons saw Ahmad and his Companion, the archdeacon invited them to enter. He laid a table and bade Ahmad to eat.
“Friends do not eat with foes,” Ahmad observed.
So Ahmad offered them Islam, and seventy of his retinue accepted conversion. That night Ahmad had a dream in which God spoke to him.
“Ahmad, you lit seventy candles for Me. I have lit for you seventy hearts with the light of the Faith.”
Lack of FaithShah-e-Shuja‘ had a daughter. The kings of Kerman asked for her hand in marriage. He requested three days grace, and during those three days he went from mosque to mosque, till at last he caught sight of a dervish praying earnestly. Shah-e-Shuja‘ waited patiently until he had finished his prayers, then he addressed him.
“Dervish, do you have any family?”
“No,” the dervish replied.
“Do you want a wife who can recite the Koran?”
“Who is there who will give such a wife to me?” said the dervish. “All I possess is three dirhams.”
“I will give you my daughter,” said Shah-e-Shuja‘ “Of these three dirhams you possess, spend one on bread and one on attar of roses, then tie the marriage-knot.”
They agreed accordingly. That same night Shah-e-Shuja‘ dispatched his daughter to his house. Entering the dervish’s house, the girl saw some dry bread beside a jug of water.
“What is this bread?” she demanded.
“It remained over from yesterday. I kept it for tonight,” the dervish told her.
Thereupon the girl made to leave the house.
“I knew,” the dervish observed, “that the daughter of Shah-e-Shuja‘ would never be able to live with me and put up with my poverty.”
“Sir, it is not on account of your lack of means that I am leaving you,” the girl replied. “I am leaving because of your lack of faith and trust, in that you set aside bred from yesterday, not relying on God’s provision for tomorrow. At the same time I am surprised at my father. For twenty years he has kept me at home, always saying ‘I will give you to a god-fearing man.’ Now he has given me to a fellow who does not rely on God for his daily bread.”
“Is there any atonement for this sin?” the dervish asked.
“Yes,” said the girl. “The atonement is, that only one of the two remains in this house myself or the dry bread.”
Yusuf Razi and the Prophet Yusuf (AS)Yusuf Razi was travelling in Arabia with a company of his fellows when he arrived in the territory of a certain tribe. When the daughter of the Prince of the Arabs caught sight of him, she fell madly in love with him; for he was possessed of great beauty. Waiting her opportunity, the girl suddenly flung herself before him. Trembling, he left her and departed to a more distant tribe.
That night he was sleeping with his head on his knees, when he dreamed he was in a place the like of which he had never seen. One was seated on a throne with kingly grace, surrounded by a company clad in green robes. Wishful to know who they might be, Yusuf edged his way towards them. They made way for him, treating him with much respect.
“Who are?” he enquired.
“We are angels,” they replied, “and he who is seated on the throne there is Yusuf, upon whom be peace. He has come to pay a visit to Yusuf Razi.”
In Yusuf’s own words:
Overcome with weeping, I cried, “Who am I, that God’s Prophet should come to visit me?”
Thereupon Yusuf, upon him be peace, descended from his throne, took me in his embrace, and seated me on the throne.
“Prophet of God,” I cried, “who am I that you should be so gracious to me?”
“In the hour,” Yusuf answered, “when that lovely girl flung herself before you, and you committed yourself to God and sought His protection, God displayed you to me and the angels. God said, ‘See, Yusuf! You are that Yusuf who inclined after Zoleikha only to repel her. He is that Yusuf who did not incline after the daughter of the King of the Arabs, and fled.’ God Himself sent me with these angels to visit you. He sends you the good tidings that you are of God’s elect.”