Mystics of Ancient Period
1. Habib al-Ajmi (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu Muhammad Habib al-Farsi was man of boldness, true follower of Shariat, holder of lofty state and enjoyed excellent position amongst the Sufis. At first he was a usurer and committed to all sorts of wickedness, but Allah blessed him with sincere repentance, and he took the path of devotion to Allah. His conversion took place before Hasan Basri, who guided him to religious knowledge and practice. He was non Arab and was unable to speak Arabic correctly. Allah blessed him with many Karamat (miracles).
One evening Hasan Basri came to his devotional place and found Habib engaged in his prayer. Hasan came in, but did not pray under his leadership, as Habib was unable to recite Quran correctly. The same night, Hasan had vision of the Truth in his dream and he asked Allah, “O Lord, wherein does Thy good pleasure consist?
Allah answered: “O Hasan, you found My good pleasure, but did not know its value:”
Hasan asked: “O my Lord, how?”
Allah answered: “Had you said your prayer in Habib’s leadership and if his true intention had restrained you from taking offence at his Arabic pronunciation, I should have been well pleased with you.”
It is well known among Sufis that when Hasan Basri fled from the troops of Hajjaj and entered the cell of Habib, immediately they also reached there. They asked Habib if he had seen Hasan. Habib answered affirmatively. They asked that where was he? “He is in my cell,” answered Habib. They went into the cell, but saw no one there. Thinking that Habib was making fun of them, they got angry, abused him and called him a liar. He swore before them that he had spoken the truth and Hasan was in his worship cell. They again searched for Hasan couple of times, but found no one there and at last departed. Hasan immediately came out and said to Habib that Allah had saved him from the hands of those tyrants because of his benedictions. But let me know that why did you tell them that I was here? Habib replied:
“O Master, it was not on account of my benediction that they failed to see you, but was of my speaking the truth. Had I told a lie, we both should have been shamed.”
Someone asked Habib that what pleases Allah?
في قلبك ليس فيه غبارالنفاق
“With a heart which is not desecrated by hypocrisy,”
Because hypocrisy is the opposite of concord, and the state of rida (acquiescence) is the essence of concord. There is no link between hypocrisy and love. Love subsists in the state of being well pleased (with whatever is decreed by Allah). Therefore acquiescence is a characteristic of friends of Allah, while hypocrisy is the characteristic of His enemies. This is a very important matter and will be explained at another place.
2. Malik b. Dinar (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was a companion of Hasan Basri and amongst the Sheikhs of the Sufism. He is famous for his Karamat (miracles) and was well known for his renunciation and devotion. His father was a slave, and Malik was born before his father’s emancipation. His conversion took place, as on one evening he along with his friends was enjoying a musical concert. Tired, when they were all asleep, a voice came from the musical instrument which they had been playing:
“O Malik! Why don’t you repent?”
As soon as he heard the voice, Malik abandoned his evil ways and went to Hasan Basri, and made an earnest repentance before him. He reached to such a high degree that once when he was aboard on a ship, by chance somebody lost his costly gem stone. Since he was an unknown figure among the passengers, therefore, they pointed their fingers on him for stealing the jewel. He raised his gaze towards the heaven, fishes in abundance each carrying jewel in their mouths appeared on the surface of water. Malik took one of the jewels, and gave it to the man whose jewel had lost. Then he set his foot on the sea and waded through until he reached the shore.
احب الاعمال علي الاخلاص في الاعمال
“The deed that I love best is which is done with sincerity,”
Act only becomes an action in virtue of its sincerity. Sincerity bears the same relation with action as the spirit to the body, as the body without spirit is a lifeless thing, so an act without sincerity is useless. Sincerity is an inward of all the actions, whereas acts of devotion belong to the class of external actions. The latter are completed by the former, while the former derive their value from the latter. Although a man should keep his heart sincere for a thousand years, it is not sincerity until his sincerity is combined with action; and although he should perform external actions for a thousand years, his actions do not become acts of devotion until they are combined with sincerity.
3. Habib b. Salim al-Rai (may Allah have mercy on him)
An unparalleled among the poor and leader of the saints Abu Halim Habib b. Salim al-Rai is regarded by the Sheikhs of Sufism at a very high place. His proofs and evidences on all states are manifest. He was a companion of Salman Farsi (may Allah be pleased with him). He related that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
نيت المومن خير من عمله
“The believer’s intention is better than his act.”
He had flocks of sheep, and resided on the bank of Euphrates. He followed the path of solitude. A certain Sheikh relates that once he saw him praying, while a wolf looked after his sheep. He resolved to meet him as he appeared to him some great saint. So he approached him, and after exchanging greeting he asked him: “O Sheikh: I see the wolf in accord with the sheep.”
He replied: “That is because the shepherded is in accord with Allah.”
With those words he held a wooden bowl and put it under a rock. Two fountains, one of milk and other of honey, gushed from the rock. He bade me to drink. I asked him that how he had attained that degree? He answered:
“By obedience to Muhammad (peace be upon him) the Prophet of Allah. O my son, the rock gave water to the Ummah of Moses although they disobeyed him and while Moses (may blessings of Allah be on him) is not equal in rank to Muhammad (peace be upon him). Why should the rock not give milk and honey to me, while I am obedient to Muhammad (peace be upon him), who is superior to Moses?”
On my request for some counseling he said:
لا تجعل قلبك صندوق الحرص و بطنك و عاء الحرام
“Do not make your heart a chest of greed and your belly a vessel of unlawful things.”
It is because both these evils are the cause of human disaster and safety lies in refraining from them.
My Sheikh had many traditions concerning him, but for me narration of more is not possible as my books have been left at Ghazna while I myself have become a captive in the district of Lahore, which is located in the suburbs of Multan. Allah be praised both in joy and sorrow!
4. Abu Hazim al-Madni (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was steadfast in poverty, and thoroughly versed in different kinds of self mortification. He was Sheikh of many Sufis. Umru b. Uthman al-Makki, one of his disciples showed great zeal on his behalf. His sayings are popular among the Sufis and also quoted in many books. Umru relates that in reply to what he possessed Hazim said that his wealth is laid in, “الرضاء عن الله والغناء عن الناس acquiescence (rida) with Allah and independence from mankind.”
It is a big blessing for who is satisfied with his Lord and is independent of mankind. Ghina غناء, here refers to Allah, i.e. one who is Ghani (rich) with Allah, he will not look towards others. He won’t be knowing any way other than leading to Allah, both in solitude and in presence his eye do not witness anyone other than Him. He does not expect from others because he knows that honor and humiliation are from Him.
Some Sheikh went to see him and found him asleep. When he awoke he said, “I dreamt just now that Prophet (peace be upon him) gave me a message for you, and bade me to inform you that it is better to fulfill the obligation you owed to your mother than to make the Pilgrimage. Return, therefore, and try to please her.” The Sheikh turned back to his native place and did not go for Pilgrimage.
This is what little knowledge we have about Abu Hazim.
5. Muhammad b. Wasi (may Allah be pleased with him)
He was a man of contemplation, spokesman of the followers of the path of mortification and a unique personality of his time. He was associated with many Companions, Tabieen and also met some of the ancient Sheikhs. He had a perfect knowledge of Sufism. He said:
ما رايت شيءا ً الا و رايت الله فيه
“I never saw anything without seeing splendor of Allah therein”.
This is an advanced stage of contemplation. When a man is overcome by the friendship of actual Causer, he attains to such a point that in looking at His act he does not see the act but the Agent only and exclusively, just as one looks at a photo and sees only the artist.
The true meaning of these words is the same as in the saying of Abraham (may blessings of Allah be on him), the Friend of Allah who when saw the sun and moon and stars, said, “هَـذَا رَبِّي this is my Lord” (Q 6:76-8), for he was then in that state of longing that what ever he saw, he found the qualities of his Beloved appeared therein. The friends of Allah when see they perceive the same that the universe is subject to His Might and is captive to His Dominion, and that the existence of all created things is nothing in comparison with His command of “كُنْ “ (Be), the power of the Agent thereof. When they look thereon with longing, they do not see the conquered but the absolute Conqueror, the Omnipotent, instead of cause they see the Agent and instead of creature the Creator. I shall treat this in the chapter on contemplation (mushahida).
Some persons have fallen into error here, and have alleged that the words of Muhammad b. Wasi, “I saw splendor of Allah therein,” involve a status of division and transmigration, which is sheer infidelity. Because place is homogeneous with that which is enclosed in it, and if one supposes that place is created the occupant must also be created; or if the latter be eternal the former also must be eternal. Hence, both these assertions are wrong because one need to accept created as eternal or to creator as non-eternal, and both of which are infidelity. Accordingly, when Muhammad b. Wasi said that he saw splendor of Allah in things, he meant, to have seen in those things the signs, evidences and proofs of Allah. There are some subtle points connected with this question which I shall discuss at the proper place.
6. Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu Hanifa Nuaman b. Thabit al-Khazaz is the Imam of Imams and who’s Fiqah (Religious doctrine) is being followed by the Sunnis. He was wholeheartedly committed to mortification and devotion, and is a great authority on the principles of Sufism. At first he went into seclusion and abandoned the society of mankind, for he had made his heart free from every thought of human authority and pomp and started on with pure devotion to Allah. One night, however, he dreamed that he was collecting the bones of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from his grave, and selecting some and discarding others. He awoke in fear and terror and asked one of the companions of Muhammad b. Sirin to interpret the dream. He after hearing interpreted his dream as:
“You will attain a high rank in safeguarding the Sunnah (ordinances of the Prophet, peace be upon him), so that you will sift what is genuine from what is unauthentic.”
At another time Abu Hanifa dreamed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him:
“You have been created for the purpose of reviving my Sunnah, therefore, refrain yourself from solitude”
He was the master of many Sheikhs. Ibrahim b. Adham, Fudayl b. Iyad, Dawud Tai and Bashr Hafi, received religious guidance from him. Besides, there are many others also amongst his disciples.
At the time of Caliph Mansur, a plan was suggested to appoint a Qadi (Justice) and Abu Hanifa, Sufyan Thawri, Masar b. Kadam, and Abu Abdullah Shuraik who all were known and accomplished Ulama (Religious Scholars) of their time were summoned to the presence of Caliph. On their way to court Abu Hanifa said to his companions that he appreciated what all of you would do in the Caliph’s court. Then he said that he would save himself from the office of Qadi by some pretension. Masar would feign to be a madman, Sufyan would run away, and Shuraik would be made Qadi.”
Hence, Sufyan while on their way fled away and embarked in a ship, imploring the passengers of the ship to save him from enemy who wanted to slain him. This was reference to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) saying in which he said:
“One who is appointed as Qadi, is slain without knife?”
The others were ushered into the presence of Caliph who first of all asked Abu Hanifa to act as Qadi. Abu Hanifa replied:
“O Commander of the Faithful, I am not an Arab, and belong from the family of their slaves; and the chiefs of the Arabs will not be satisfied with my decisions.”
Mansur said that this matter had nothing to do with lineage, it demanded learning, and you were the most eminent knowledgeable Ulama of the day. Abu Hanifa persisted that he was not worthy of the appointment, for if he had spoken the truth he was disqualified, and if he had told a lie it was not right that a liar should be a judge over Muslims, and that you should entrust him with the lives, property, and honor of your subjects. He escaped in that way.
Then Masar came forward and seized the Caliph’s hand and asked him how was he and his children, and his domestic animals? The Caliph shouted that he was a madman and ordered for his removal. Finally, Shuraik was asked to accept the post of Qadi who also argued that he was melancholic and light-witted, but Caliph ignored his contention and advised him to take suitable medicated feed until his intellect was fully restored. So Shuraik was made Qadi, and Abu Hanifa never spoke to him again.
This illustrates not only the sagacity of Abu Hanifa, but also his adherence to the path of righteousness and salvation, and his determination not to let himself be deluded by seeking popularity and worldly renown. It shows, moreover, the soundness of blame, since these three venerable men resorted to some trick in order to avoid popularity. The Ulama of today deny this sort of conduct because they are the followers of their desires and are afar from the path of Truth. They have made palaces of princes their Qibla and the houses of evildoers their temple, and refute what ever go against their wishes.
Once in Ghazna, a self adopted Ulama who claimed to be learned in divine and religious matters, declared wearing of Muraqqa (patched frock) as heresy. I said to him, “you have made wearing of brocade robe lawful, although it is made of silk and wearing of silk is unlawful for men, and then you beg with importunity these unlawful dresses from the tyrants which is again illegal. Why, then, is it heretical to wear a lawful garment, procured from a lawful place, and purchased with lawful money? Had you not been ruled by inborn conceit and by the error of your soul, you would have expressed a better opinion. The wearing of silk dress is only lawful for women and permissible for lunatics. If you are amongst them, then you are excused (for condemning the patched frock). We seek Allah’s shelter from being unfair.”
Abu Hanifa relates:
After the death of Naufal b. Hayyan, I saw in my dream that it was Day of Resurrection and whole the creature was going through questioning and answering of their worldly deeds. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), surrounded by many eminent was standing on Kauthar fountain. There was an eminent with lighting face and grey hair, which had placed his eyes on the eyes of Prophet (peace be upon him). I also saw Naufal b. Hayyan standing nearby to them. When he saw me, he came towards me and we exchanged saluting. I asked him to give me some water. He said that let him take permission from the Prophet (peace be upon him) who assented permission by pointing his finger. Naufal gave me water in a cup which I drank and made my friends also to drink but the quantity of water in the cup remained unchanged. I asked Naufal that who was standing next to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He told that they were Abraham (may blessings of Allah be on him), Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) and this way I counted seventeen eminent. When I got up I found the signs of this counting on my fingers.
Yahya b. Maud al-Razi relates that he in his dream saw Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him: “O prophet of Allah, where shall I seek you?”
He answered: “in the knowledge of Abu Hanifa.”
Once, when I was in Syria, I fell asleep at the tomb of Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him), the Muadhdhin, and dreamed that I was at Mecca, and saw that the prophet (peace be upon him) was entering through the gate of Banu Shaiba, tenderly clasping an old man to his bosom in the same fashion as people are wont to carry children. I ran to him and kissed his hand, and stood wondering who the old man might be? The Prophet (peace be upon him) was miraculously aware of my secret thought and said to me that he was your Imam and the Imam of your countrymen. In consequence of this dream I and my countrymen have great hopes for ourselves. And it also appeared from the dream that Abu Hanifa was one of those who, having annihilated their natural qualities, continue to perform the law of Shariat, as appeared from the fact that he was carried by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Had he walked by himself, his attributes should have been subsistent, and such achievers sometimes reach to their destination and sometimes do not. But since he was carried by the Prophet (peace be upon him), his attributes must have been non-existent while he was sustained by the living attributes of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet cannot err, and it is equally impossible that one who is sustained by the Prophet should fall into error.
When Dawud Tai had acquired knowledge and had become a famous authority, he came to Abu Hanifa and sought his counseling for his future activities. Abu Hanifa replied, “Practice what you have learned, for theory without practice is like a body without a spirit.”
Until there is practice with the knowledge, it remains void of sincerity and purity. He who contents to learning alone is not learned, and the truly learned man is not content with learning alone, as Divine guidance involves self-mortification, without which contemplation is unattainable. There is no knowledge without action, since knowledge is the product of action, and is brought forth and developed and made profitable by the blessings of action. The two things cannot be divorced in anyway, just as the light of the sun cannot be separated from the sun itself.
7. Abdullah b. Mubarak al-Mervasi (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was well versed on law of Shariat and principles of Sufism and was Imam of his time. He saw time of many Sheikhs with most of them consorted also. He is the author of celebrated works and is famous for his Karamat (miracles). He was amongst the favorite pupils and associates of Abu Hanifa and had full grasp in each branch of religious knowledge.
The story of his conversion to the Path is very interesting. He was in love with a girl. One night he went to see her. She came on the roof of her house and Abdullah stationed himself at the foot of the wall of her house. They both involved so much in gazing each other that did not realize how much time had passed until they heard the call for the Morning Prayer. Abdullah thought it was time for evening prayer; and only when the dawn started appearing did he discover that he had spent the whole night in rapturous contemplation of his beloved. He got cautioned by this, and thought that he had spent whole night standing on his feet just for own selfish pleasure but always got furious on Imam if he read a long Sura (chapter) of the Quran during the prayer. He felt ashamed of himself and repented wholeheartedly. He devoted himself to the study of knowledge, and entered upon life of asceticism, in which he attained such a high degree that once his mother found him asleep in the garden, while a big snake was driving the flies away from him with a branch of basil which it held in its mouth.
From Baghdad he moved to Merv and lived there for a long time in the company of Sufi Sheikhs. From there he went to Mecca and spent some time there also.
When he returned to Merv, the people of the town gathered around him and asked him to educate them on religious matters. There were two religious sects in Merv at that time, half of the population was follower of Hadith and Sunnah and rest of the half followed Fiqah (adherent of Opinion). Abdullah was popular amongst both the sects, and they called him Radi al-Fariqayn as he always treated both with respect and equality and each party claimed him as one of themselves. He got built two institutions there, one for each sect. Both these institutions are working to the present day. Afterwards he went back to the Hijaz and settled at Mecca.
On being asked that what wondrous thing he had seen, he replied:
I saw a Christian monk, who was emaciated by self-mortification and his body had hunched by fear of Allah. I asked him about the way leading to Allah. He answered, “Had you known Allah, you would have known the way to him.”
Then he said, “I worship Him although I do not know Him, whereas you disobey Him although you know Him, (i.e. knowledge entails fear), yet I see you fearless which entails infidelity and ignorance. I feel fear within myself.”
Abdullah took his counsel to his heart, and that restrained him from many ill deeds.
Abdullah b. Mubarak said:
السكون حرام علي قلوب ا ولياء
“Tranquility is unlawful to the hearts of the Saints of Allah,”
For they are agitated in this world by seeking Allah and in the next by witnessing the presence of their Beloved, that is to say, their heart is agitated being away from the presence of the Truth and in the next world being in the presence of the Truth. Hence, for them this world is like the next world and next world is like this world, because tranquility of heart demands two things, either the object is attained or the desire is not fulfilled, since He is not to be attained in this world or the next, the heart can never have rest from the palpitation of love; and since indifference is unlawful to those who love Him, the heart can never have rest from the agitations of seeking Him. This is a firm principle among the adepts of the path.
8. Abu Ali al-Fudayl b. Iyad (may Allah have mercy on him)
He is one of the most celebrated Sheikhs who excelled in the Path of Sufism and is recognized as the eminent Sufi Sheikh by whole Ummah. He spent a life of truth and sincerity. His sayings are very subtle. He was a bandit initially and used to loot the caravans between Merv and Baward, but he was always inclined to piety, and never lacked courage and generosity which he invariably displayed. He never attacked a caravan in which there was any woman, or took the property of one who possessed little stock and used to allow them to keep some portion of their property, according to the need for further travel.
One day a merchant set out from Merv. His friends advised him to take an escort with him as he might on his way come across with Fudayl. But he refuted them and said that he had heard of Fudayl as God fearing man, therefore, there was no need of getting scared of him. He left on his journey without an escort but he took along a Qari (one who recites Quran) and asked him to keep on reciting the Quran aloud throughout during the journey. When they reached the place where Fudayl was laying ambush, the reader happened to be reciting the following verse of Quran:
أَلَمْ يَأْنِ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَن تَخْشَعَ قُلُوبُهُمْ لِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ
“Has not the time arrived for the Believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah?” (Q 57:16)
Hearing admonition from the words of Quran, the heart of Fudayl softened and he was engulfed by sobbing. He repented on his engaged profession and set to satisfy all those to whom he had looted.
He went to Mecca and resided there for some time and got acquainted with many Sufis. Afterwards he returned to Kufa, and got associated with Abu Hanifa. He remained there for quite some time and acquired knowledge from him. He got mastery over commentary of Hadith, and on matters relating to the knowledge of Sufism. He is the author of lofty sayings concerning the verities of Sufism and Divine knowledge. His recounts are held in high esteem by the Traditionalists. He said:
من عرف الله حق معرفته عبده بكل طاقته
“One who knows Allah as He ought to be known, worships Him with all his might,”
i.e. one who gets to know Allah, he acknowledges His bounty, His beneficence and mercy and once he knows this, he loves Him which makes easy for him to obey Him with all might he possesses, for it is not tedious on oneself to obey those whom he loves. Therefore, the more one loves, the more one is obedient, and love is increased by true marifat (knowledge of Allah). The mother of faithful, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates:
One night Prophet (peace be upon him) went out, and I followed him. I found him saying prayer in the mosque and he was sobbing. The whole night passed, when Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) called for Morning Prayer he was still in the same condition. After the prayer when he came back to his room, I saw his feet were swollen and fingers were oozing yellow water. I wept and said to him: “O Prophet of Allah, all of your mistakes have been excused, then why do you still pain yourself so much? Those who are fearful of their life of the next world might bear such hardship.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied:
“Aisha! How much Allah’s bounty, beneficence and mercy are upon me, should I not be His thankful slave. When He has bestowed upon me so much of His beneficence and mercy, should I not be thankful to Him by devoting myself to His Lordship.”
At the time of Ascension the Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted command of fifty prayers which he did not feel a burden but on Moses (may blessings of Allah be on him) plea he went back and ultimately these were reduced to five. The acceptance of fifty prayers was nothing but bowing down before the command of the Beloved. Love is the name of obedience of beloved.
It is related that Fudayl said:
الدنياء دارالمرضي و الناس فيها كاليجانين و للمجانين في دارالمرضي الفل و القيد
“The world is a mad house, and the people therein are madmen, wearing shackles and chains.”
Lust is our shackle and sin is our chain.
Fadl b. Rabi related that he accompanied Haroon al-Rashid to Mecca for pilgrimage. After the Pilgrimage, he asked me if there was any saint who might be visited. I took him to Abd al-Razzaq. We talked with him for some time. When we were about to leave, Haroon asked me to check up if he had any debts. On his affirmative reply Haroon gave orders for the clearance of his debts. Once we came out from his house, Haroon desired to see a saint of higher stature than Razzaq. I conducted him to Sufyan b. Uyayna. With him also our visit ended in the same way and Haroon ordered to pay his debts. At the time of departure Haroon said that he had not found the desired person. Then I recollected that Fudayl b. Iyad was also in Mecca. We went to him and founded him reciting Quran in the upper floor of his house. We knocked at the door. He enquired who was at the door. I replied him that it was the Commander of the Faithful. He said what he had to do with the Commander of the Faithful. I said was there not Prophet’s (peace be upon him) tradition that no one should seek to abase himself while in devotion to Allah. He replied:
“My acquiescence in Allah's will is everlasting glory. You see only my abasement, but I see my exaltation.”
Then he came down, opened the door, extinguished the lamp and stood in a corner. Haroon in his attempt to locate him, his hand fell upon on the hands of Fudayl who exclaimed, “Alas! I have never seen softer hand than this, I wonder if it escapes from the Hell-fire.” Haroon began to weep, and wept so violently that he fainted. When he came to himself, he requested Fudayl to give him a word of counsel. Fudayl said, O Commander of the Faithful, your ancestor (Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him)) was the uncle of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He had asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to give him dominion over men. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him,
“O my uncle, guard your nafs (lower soul), I for one moment give you dominion over yourself.” i.e. one moment of your obedience to Allah is better than a thousand years of men’s obedience to you, since dominion brings repentance on the Day of Resurrection.
Haroon pleaded for more counseling. Fudayl continued. When Umar b. Abd al-Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) was appointed Caliph, he summoned Salim b. Abdullah, Rajaa b. Hyat, Muhammad b. Kaab al-Qurzi (may Allah be pleased with them), and said to them,
“What am I to do in this affliction?
For I count it an affliction, although people in general consider it to be blessing.”
One of them replied:
“If you desire to be saved tomorrow from the Divine punishment, regard the elders as your fathers, and their young men as your brothers, and their children as your children. The whole territory of Islam is your house, and its people are your family. Visit the father, and honor your brothers, and deal kindly with your children.” Then Fudayl said:
”O Commander of the Faithful, I fear lest that your handsome face fall into Hell-fire. Fear Allah, and perform your obligations to Him better than this.”
Haroon asked Fudayl whether he had any debts. He answered, “Yes, the debt which I owe to Allah, namely, obedience to Him; woe to me, if He calls me to account for it!” Haroon interrupted and said, O Fudayl, I was speaking of debts to men. He replied, “Allah be praised! His bounty towards me is great, and I have no reason to complain of Him to His servants.” Haroon offered him a purse of a thousand diners, saying that he might use the money for some of his purposes. Fudayl said, “O Commander of the Faithful, my counseling has done you no good. Here again you are behaving wrongly and unjustly.” Haroon inquired how that was. Fudayl said, “I wish thee to be saved, but thou wouldst cast me into prediction: is not this unjust?” Haroon again started crying and in the same condition we took leave of him, and Haroon said to me, “Fudayl is the king indeed.”
All this shows his hatred of the world and its people, and his contempt for its gauds, and his refusal to abase himself before worldlings for the sake of worldly gain. He has countless sayings and recounts.
9. Dhu al–Nun b. Ibrahim (may Allah have mercy on him)
The treasure of nobility and Walayat (sainthood) Abu al-Fayd Dhu al–Nun b. Ibrahim al-Misri belonged to village Naub and his name was Thwban. He was the son of a Nubian. He is one of the most eminent of the hidden spiritualists, for he adopted the path of affliction and blame. The people of Egypt remained in doubt as to his true spiritual state, and did not believe in him until he was dead. On the night when he died seventy persons dreamed that they saw Prophet (peace be upon him), who said to all of them that Dhu al-Nun, the friend of Allah was coming and he had come to welcome him. And after his death following words were found inscribed on his forehead:
هذا حبيب الله مات في حب الله قتيل الله
“He is beloved of Allah, who died in love of Allah, slain for Allah.”
At his funeral the birds gathered above his bier, and shadowed it with their wings. On seeing this, the Egyptians felt guilt and repented of the injustice which they had done to him during his life time.
He has many fine and admirable sayings on the varieties of mystical knowledge. He said:
العارف كل يوم اخشع لا نه في كل ساعته من الرب اقرب
"The Gnostic’s fear is increased every day, because he is approaching nearer to his Lord every moment,"
The nearer one gets to Allah, the more he becomes flabbergasted and his sincerity in devotion increases because he gets aware of His Omnipotence and Majesty, and his heart is subdued by the majesty of the Truth. He does not consider himself separate and away from Him and at that time abandons his desire of unity with Him, hence his lowliness is increased. Thus Moses (may blessings of Allah be on him) asked Allah: "O Lord, where shall I seek Thee?"
Allah answered: “among those whose hearts are shattered."
Moses said: "O Lord, no heart is more shattered and despairing than mine.”
Allah answered: "Then I am where thou art.”
One who pretends to know Allah without lowliness and fear is not a Gnostic but an ignorant fool. The sign of Marifat (knowledge of Allah) lies in a true desire, and a sincere desire removes all secondary causes and severs all ties of relationship, so that nothing remains except Allah. Dhu al-Nun said, “الصدق سيف الله في ارضه ما وضع علي شيء الا قطعه truth (sincerity) is the sword of Allah on the earth: it cuts everything that it touches." Now sincerity regards the Causer, and does not consist in affirmation of secondary causes. To affirm the latter is to destroy the principle of sincerity.
One day Dhu al-Nun along with his disciples was sailing in a boat on the River Nile. In the mean time another boat filled with merry-makers approached them. They were busy in singing and making noise. The disciples were so disgusted by their unseemly behaviors that they begged Dhu al-Nun to implore Allah to sink the boat, so the people might remain save from their misdeeds. Dhu al-Nun raised his hands and prayed:
"O Lord, as Thou hast given these peoples a pleasurable life in this world, bestow them a pleasant life in the next world also!"
The disciples were astonished by this prayer. When the boat came nearer and those in it saw Dhu al-Nun, they began to weep and asked pardon. They broke their musical instruments, repented and turned unto Allah. Dhu al-Nun said to his disciples:
"A pleasant life in the next world is repentance in this world. Both of you are satisfied without making harm to anyone."
He acted thus from his extreme affection towards the Muslims, following the example of Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), who notwithstanding the ill-treatment which he received from the infidels, never ceased to say:
اللهم اهد قومي فانهم لا يعلمون
“O Allah! Direct my people, for they know not.”
Dhu al-Nun related that once on his way from Jerusalem to Egypt, he noticed in the far distance as some one was advancing towards him. His awful appearance encouraged him to have chat with him. When the person came nearer he found that it was an old woman carrying a staff and dressed up in a woolen tunic. He asked her from where she had come. She answered: "from Allah."
He asked her that where she intended to go then.
She answered: “To Allah.”
He drew a dinar and offered it to her, but she shook his hand and slapped on his face and said:
“O Dhu al-Nun, the notion which you have formed of me arises from the feebleness of your intelligence. I work for sake of Allah, and accept nothing unless it is from Him. I worship Him alone and take from Him alone.”
With these words she went on her way.
The old woman’s saying that she worked for the sake of Allah is a proof of her sincerity in love. Men in their dealings with Allah fall into two categories.
The first category when perform some act they think it is for the sake of Allah but in reality they work for themselves, and though it might not have been done with any sensual motive, but they do keep a desire of recompense in the next world. Others take no thought of reward or punishment in the next world and of ostentation and reputation in this world, but act solely from reverence for the commandments of Allah and their love of Allah bid them to do some act and in obedience to His command they forget every selfish interest.
The former category of people fancy that what they do for the sake of the next world, actually it is for Allah's sake and fail to recognize that the devout have a greater self-interest in devotion than the wicked have in sin, because the sinner’s pleasure lasts only for a moment, whereas delight of devout is for ever. Besides, Allah neither gains from the devotion of mankind, nor does He lose anything if they do not perform devotion to Him. If the whole world acts with the veracity of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), the gain would be wholly theirs, and if with the falsehood of Pharaoh, the loss would be wholly theirs, as Allah hath said:
إِنْ أَحْسَنتُمْ أَحْسَنتُمْ لِأَنفُسِكُمْ وَإِنْ أَسَأْتُمْ فَلَهَا
“If ye did well, ye did well for yourself; if you did evil, (ye did it) against yourself. (Q 17:7);
وَمَن جَاهَدَ فَإِنَّمَا يُجَاهِدُ لِنَفْسِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ
“And if any strive (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: For Allah is free of all needs from all creation.” (Q 29:6).
The people seek for themselves an everlasting kingdom and claim to be working for Allah’s sake, but to tread the path of love is a different thing. Lovers, in fulfilling the Divine commandment, regard only the accomplishment of the Beloved’s will, and have no eye for anything else. A similar topic will be discussed in the chapter on sincerity.
10. Ibrahim b. Adham (may Allah have mercy on him)
The chief of his contemporaries, unique in the Path of Sufism Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Adham b. Mansur was disciple of Prophet Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him). He met a large number of ancient Sufi Sheikhs and got benefited from their experiences. He was associated with Imam Abu Hanifa, from whom he learned divinity.
In the earlier part of his life he was Governor of Balkh but the will of Allah was to make him emperor of the spiritual world. One day he went for the game, and while pursuing a deer, he got separated from his suite. Allah caused the deer to address him in mankind language who said:
"Were you created for this, or were you commanded to do this?"
He repented, abandoned worldly governance, and entered on the path of asceticism and abstinence. He made the acquaintance of Fudayl b. Iyad and Sufyan Thawri, and consorted with them. After his conversion he never ate anything except what he had earned with his own hands. He had excellent deeds and is famous for his karamat (miracles). His sayings on verities of Sufism are original and beautiful. Junaid referred him as the key of the knowledge of Sufism.
Ibrahim Adham said:
اتخذ الله صاحبا و ذرالناس جانبا
“Seek friendship of Allah and leave mankind alone.”
When one has rightly turned towards Allah and is sincere in his relation with Him, then his turning towards Allah requires that he should turn his back on mankind, because the society of mankind stands nowhere near the love of Allah. Companionship with Allah is sincerity in fulfilling His commands, and sincerity in devotion springs from purity of love, which proceeds from hatred of passions and lust. One, who is slave of his sensual affections, is separated from Allah, and one who is parted away from sensual affections, is dwelling with Allah. Therefore you are all mankind in regard to yourself; if you turn away from yourself, and you have turned away from all mankind. One who turns away from the mankind but remains concerned to himself, is like one keeping relations with whole mankind, whereas the actions of all mankind are determined by the providence and predestination of Allah but you talk of yourself because you are responsible for yourself.
The outward and inward rectitude of the seeker is based on two things. There are some things to be known, should recognize them and there are others to be acted upon, should be performed. The former consists in regarding all good and evil and predestined by Allah, so that nothing in the universe passes into a state of rest or motion until Allah has created rest or motion in that thing. The latter consists in performing the command of Allah, in rightness of action towards Him, and in keeping the obligations which He has imposed. Predestination can never become an argument for neglecting His commands. True renunciation of mankind is impossible until one renounces himself. As soon as one has renounced himself, he will know that all mankind is committed to fulfillment of the will of Allah; and as soon as he has turned to Allah, he will also be accomplishing the decree of Allah. Hence it is not permissible to be satisfied with mankind. If one is satisfied with anything save Allah, it should be another, for satisfaction with another is to regard unification, whereas satisfaction with own self nullify the Creator. For this reason Sheikh Abu al-Hasan Saliba used to say that it is better for novice to be under the authority of act than under his own authority. Because companionship with another is for Allah’s sake, while companionship with one's self is to cultivate the sensual affections. This topic will be discussed at proper place.
Ibrahim b. Adham tells that once an old man met him in the jungle. He came to him and said, “O Ibrahim, do you know what place this is, and you are journeying without provisions and ride?” I knew that he was Satan. At that time I had four silver coins which I had obtained by selling a basket at Kufa. I cast them away and made a vow that I would pray four hundred Nuafil (obligatory prayer) for every stage that I traveled.
I remained four years in the desert, and Allah was giving me my daily bread without any effort on my part. During that time Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him) consorted with me and taught me the Great Name of Allah by blessing of which my heart became wholly empty of others.
11. Bashr b. al-Harith Hafi (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu Nasr Bashr b. al-Harith al-Hafi was possessed with very high dignity in self-mortification and had excellent conduct. He was the disciple of his maternal uncle, Ali b. Khashram and had the association of Fudayl b. Iyad. He was well versed in the principal as well as derivative sciences.
One day, when he was drunk, he saw a piece of paper lying on the road. He picked it up and saw following inscription on it:
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ
"In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful."
He picked it up with reverence, perfumed it, and put it at a clean place. The same night he dreamed that Allah said to him:
“O Bashr, as thou hast made My name scented, I swear by My Glory that I will make thy name scented both in this and the next world. Whosoever would hear your name, his heart would feel pleasure."
Thereupon he repented and beheld asceticism. So intensely was he absorbed in contemplation of Allah that he never put anything on his feet. When he was asked the reason of that act, he said:
"The earth is His carpet; I feel it wrong to walk on His carpet while there is something between my foot and His carpet."
This was one of the peculiar practices in the concentration of his mind on Allah that a shoe seemed to him a veil (between him and Allah). He said:
“Whoever desires to be honored in this world and exalted in the next world, he must avoid three things:
- Should not ask anything from the mankind,
- speak not ill of anyone,
- Should not accept an invitation to eat with anyone.”
No man who knows the way to Allah will ask a boon from mankind, since to do so is a proof of his ignorance of Allah. One who comes to know the Giver of all boons, he would not ask a boon from a fellow creature. To get a favor from creature is like prisoner getting a favor from fellow prisoner.
Similarly, the one who speaks ill of anyone is criticizing the decree of Allah, because both the individual himself and his actions are created by Allah. How one can criticize the creation of Allah? In reality to criticize some act is to criticize the causer. This does not apply, however, to the blame which Allah has commanded us to bestow upon the infidels.
As to his saying, ‘not to accept an invitation to eat with anyone,’ the reason is that Allah is the only Provider. If He makes a creature the means of giving you daily feed, do not regard that creature, but consider that the daily bread which Allah has caused to come to you does not belong to him but Allah. But if the invitee thinks that it is his, and that he is thereby conferring a favor on you, do not accept it. In the matter of daily bread no one confers on another any favor, because, according to the opinion of the Sunnis, daily bread is food, whereas the Mutazilites hold it to be property. Allah is nourishing his creature with food not the creature is nourishing creature. This saying may be explained otherwise, if it be taken in a profane sense.
12. Abu Yazid al-Bastami (may Allah have mercy on him)
The firmament of marifat (knowledge of Allah) and king of love Abu Yazid Tayfur b. Isa al-Bastami is one of the greatest saints of all times. The Sufi Sheikhs considers him of so high stature in state and dignity that Junaid had to say that Abu Yazid held the same rank among them as Gabriel among the angels. His grandfather was a Magian, but his father was one of the notables of Bastam. He is the author of many trustworthy recounts concerning the Traditions of the prophet (peace be upon him). He is one of the ten celebrated Imams of Sufism. No one before him penetrated so deeply into the mysteries of this knowledge. In all circumstances he was a lover of theology and venerator of the Shariat, in spite of the fact that some persons with the object of supporting their own interests imposed false doctrine on him. From the beginning, his life was based on self-mortification, abstinence and the practice of devotion. He said:
"For thirty years I engaged in self-mortification, and found nothing harder than to learn divinity and follow its precepts. But, had the Ulama not on disagreement I should have utterly failed in my endeavor. The disagreement of Ulama is a mercy but save on the point of Unification.”
This is true indeed, for human nature is more prone to ignorance than to knowledge. While many things can be done easily and fearlessly with ignorance, but not a single step can be made easily with knowledge. The path of the Shariat is much narrower and more dangerous than the Bridge Sirat. Therefore it behooves on you to act in all circumstances that, if you do not attain a high degree and an eminent station, and gets drop, you must fall within the field of the Shariat. So, even if you lose all states and stations, your practices of devotion will remain with you. Neglect of Shariat is the worst mischief that can happen to a novice.
الجنة لا خطر لها عند اهل المحبة و اهل المحبة محجوبون بمحبتهم
"Paradise has no value in the eyes of lovers, and lovers are veiled (from Allah) by their love."
Paradise though is of great magnitude but is a creation, whereas love is an uncreated and attribute of Allah. Whoever is got involved by a created thing from that which is uncreated, is a loser. Created things are worthless in the eyes of lovers. Lovers are veiled by love, because the existence of love involves duality, which is incompatible with Unification. The way of lovers is from oneness to Oneness, but friendship is tested by the friendship and there is a desirer and an object of desire, therefore, either Allah must be the desirer and Man the desired, or vice versa. If Man is the desirer and Allah the object of desire, the creature’s search and desire can find no way unto Him, in either case the evil of being remains in the lover. Accordingly, the annihilation of the lover in the everlastingness of love is more perfect than his subsistence through the everlastingness of love. Yazid said:
Once I went to Mecca and saw a house standing apart. I thought that my pilgrimage was not accepted, for I had seen many stones of this sort. Second time I went there, and saw the house and also the Lord of the house. I thought that this was not yet real unification. When I went there third time, I saw only the Lord of the house. A voice in my heart whispered,
“O Bayazid, if you had not seen yourself, you would not have been involved in polytheism though you had seen the whole universe; but if you have closed your eyes to whole universe but see to yourself, it is polytheism.”
Thereupon I repented, and once more I repented of my repentance, and yet once more I repented of seeing my own existence."
This is a subtle tale concerning the soundness of his state, and an excellent indication to spiritualists.
13. Harith b. Asad al-Muhasibi (may Allah have mercy on him)
Imam of crafts, knower of the inward Abu Abdullah al-Harith b. Asad al-Muhasibi was well learned in the principal and derivative sciences, and his authority was recognized by all the theologians of his day. He was author of many works but his book, entitled “Ridyat li-huquq Allah, (The observance of what is due to Allah) and on the principles of Sufism is very famous. In every branch of learning he was a man of lofty sentiments and noble mind. He was the chief Sheikh of Baghdad in his time. He said:
العلم بحركات القلوب في مطالعة الغيوب اشرف من العمل بحركات الجوارح
“Who is aware with the secret motions of the heart is better than he who merely acts with the motions of limbs.”
It means that knowledge is the palace of perfection, whereas ignorance is the palace of exploration, and knowledge in the Court of the Truth is better than ignorance. Knowledge raises one to the degrees of excellence but ignorance hinders him to enter to the proximity of the Truth. In reality knowledge is better than action, because it makes possible to know Allah. It is not possible to attain Him by only means of action. Had it been possible that only by actions one could reach to Him, then the Christians and their monks with their self-mortification would have attained to His presence and sinful believers would have remained in the degree of veil (to Allah). Knowledge is an attribute of Divine and action is an attribute of human. Some relaters of this saying have fallen into error by reading العمل بحركات القلوب which is bizarre, since human actions have nothing to do with the motions of the heart. However, if the author uses this expression to denote meditation and contemplation of the inward feelings then it is not impossible. The prophet (peace be upon him) said,
تفكرساهات خير من عبادةَ ستين سنة
“a moment’s meditation is better than sixty years of devotion.”
In fact the spiritual actions are more excellent than body actions, and the effects produced by inward feelings and actions are better than the effects produced by outward actions. Hence it is said,
نوم العالم عبادةَ و سهرالجاهل معصيةَ
the sleep of the sage is an act of devotion and the wakefulness of the fool is a sin,”
because under both the conditions (sleep and wakefulness) the inward of the ignorant is overpowered and when inward is subdued, the outward is also overpowered. Accordingly, the heart that is controlled by the sway of Allah is better than the sensual part of man which controls his outward motions and acts of self-mortification.
Once he said to a dervish that كن لله و الا فلا تكن (be of Allah or parish) i.e. either be subsistence through Allah or perish to your own existence; either be united with the Purity or get separated by Poverty; either try for the state described by the Quran اسْجُدُواْ لآدَمَ (Bow down to Adam, (Q 2:34) or create that attribute in yourself as described in Quran:
هَلْ أَتَى عَلَى الْإِنسَانِ حِينٌ مِّنَ الدَّهْرِ لَمْ يَكُن شَيْئًا مَّذْكُورًا
“Has there not been over Man a long period of Time, when he was nothing – (not even) mentioned?” (Q 76:1).
If you will be of your own free choice, your resurrection will be through yourself, and if you are not with your free choice then your resurrection will be through Allah. It is very subtle point.
14. Dawud al-Tai (may Allah have mercy on him)
Independent from the desire of states, status and retired and reluctant from creature Abu Suleiman Dawud b. Nusair al-Tai was amongst the eminent Sheikhs and Imams. He was a unique personality of his time. He was pupil of Abu Hanifa and a contemporary of Fudayl b. Iyad and Ibrahim b. Adham. In Sufism he was disciple of Habib Rai. He was deeply versed in all the sciences and unrivalled in jurisprudence. He had adopted solitude and had forsaken the authority and the world. He took the path of asceticism and piety. He has many virtues and literary attainments. He was knowledgeable on matters dealing with community and was accomplished on reality of marifat.
He said to one of his disciples:
ان اردت السلامةَ سلم علي الدنيا و ان اردت الكرامََةَ كبرعلي الا خرةَ
"If you desire peace, bid farewell to this world and if you desire grace, pronounce the Takbir over the next world,”
Both these are the palaces of veils (places which prevent you from the vision of the Truth). Every kind of tranquility depends on them. Who wants tranquility of the body should ignore the world and one who desires tranquility of heart, should clear his heart of all the desires of the next world.
Dawud used to have frequent associations with Muhammad b. al-Hasan, but would never receive Qadi Abu Yusaf. On being asked why he honored one of these equally eminent divines but refused to admit the other to his presence, he replied that Muhammad b. al-Hasan had become a theologian after being rich and wealthy, and theology was the cause of his religious advancement and worldly abasement, whereas Abu Yusaf had become a theologian after being poor and despised, and had made theology the means of gaining wealth and power. How both can be equal?
Maruf Karkhi said that he had never seen anyone who held worldly goods in less account than Dawud Tai. The world and its occupants had no value, not even equal to the weight of the wings of a gnat. He used to regard dervishes although he might himself be in affliction.
15. Sari Saqati (may Allah have mercy on him)
Sheikh of the aspirants of Sufism Abu al-Hasan Sari b. al-Mufhlis al-Saqati was the maternal uncle of Junaid. He was well versed in all the sciences and an eminent Sufi. He was the first who devoted his attention to arrange the maqamat (stations) and explanations of spiritual states (احوال ahwal). Most of the Sheikhs of Iraq were his disciples. He had seen Habib Rai and benefited from his association but was disciple of Maruf Karkhi. He had huckster’s shop in the bazaar of Baghdad. Once the bazaar caught fire, and he was told that his shop was also burnt. His instant reply was, “then I am freed from the care of it.” Later on it was discovered that his shop had not been burnt, although all the shops surrounding it were destroyed. On seeing this, Sari gave all that he possessed to the poor and took the path of Sufism. On asking that how the change in him began, he replied:
“One day Habib Rai passed my shop, and I gave him a piece of bread, so he might give that to the dervish. He said to me, `May Allah reward thee!` Since I heard this prayer, the love of the world vanished from my heart.”
اللهم مهما عذبتني بشييء فلا تعذبني بذل الحجاب
“O Allah, whatever punishment Thou may inflict upon me but do not punish me with the humiliation of being veiled from Thee,”
because, if I am not veiled from Thee, my suffering and affliction will be lightened by the remembrance and contemplation of Thee. But if I am veiled from Thee, even Thy bounty will be deadly to me.
Whatever affliction one faces during contemplation is not suffering rather the bounty, but what one attains in veiled condition is an affliction. There is no punishment in Hell more painful and hard to bear than that of being veiled. If Allah were revealed in Hell to the people of Hell, sinful believers would never think of Paradise, since the vision of Allah would so fill them with joy that they would not feel any affliction or pain. And in Paradise there is no pleasure more perfect than the unveiling of the Beloved. If the people there enjoyed all the pleasures of that place and other pleasures a hundred fold, but were veiled from Allah, their hearts would be utterly broken. Therefore it is the Sunnah (custom) of Allah to let the hearts of those who love Him have vision of Him always, in order that the delight thereof may enable them to endure every tribulation. And their prayer is always:
“We deem all torments more desirable than to be veiled from Thee. When Thy Beauty is revealed to our hearts, we take no thought of affliction.”
16. Shaqiq b. Ibrahim (may Allah have mercy on him)
The leader of the afflicted Abu Ali Shaqiq b. Ibrahim al-Balkhi has been leader and Imam of Sufis. He was well versed in all the branches of religious sciences and composed many works on various subjects. He consorted with Ibrahim b. Adham and many other Sheikhs. He said:
جعل الله اهل طاعته احياء في مماتهم واهل المعاصي امواتا في حياتهم
“Allah keeps pious living in their death, and the immoral dead during their lives,” i.e. the pious, though they be dead, yet alive, since the angels utter blessings on their piety, therefore, their reward keeps on increasing. Hence, in the annihilation wrought by death they subsist through the everlastingness of retribution.
Once an old man came to Shaqiq and said to him, “O Sheikh, I have sinned much and now wish to repent.”
Shaqiq said: “You have come late.”
The old man answered: “No, I have come early. Whoever makes repentance before he dies has come soon.”
Once there was famine at Balkh, and the people had started eating flesh of each others. While all the Muslims were bitterly distressed, Shaqiq saw a youth laughing and making merry in the bazaar. The people asked him why he was laughing. Were you not ashamed to rejoice when everyone else was mourning? The youth said that he had no sorrow as he was the servant of a man who owned big property and he had relieved him of all care for his livelihood. Shaqiq exclaimed:
“O Lord Allah, this youth rejoices so much in having a master who owns minor property, but Thou are the King of kings, and Thou hast promised to give us our daily bread; and nevertheless we have filled our hearts with all this sorrow because we are engrossed with worldly things.”
He turned to Allah and adopted the Path of the Truth, and never troubled himself again about his daily bread. Afterwards he used to say that he was the pupil of a youth; all that he had learned was from him. His humility led him to say this.
17. Abu Suleiman al-Durani (may Allah have mercy on him)
Sheikh of his time, unique on the path of Sufism Sheikh Abu Suleiman Abd al-Rahman b. Atiyya al-Durani was held in honor by the Sufis as he was (called) the sweet basil of hearts. He was distinguished by his severe austerities and act of self-mortification. He was versed in the science of “waqt وقت” (time) and a specialist in the knowledge of the cankers of the soul and had a keen eye for its hidden snares. He spoke in subtle terms concerning the practice of devotion and the guard that should be kept over the heart and the limbs. He said:
اذا غلب الرجا علي الخوف فسد الوقت
“When hope predominates over fear, one's waqt وقت (time) is spoilt,” because waqt (time) is the guard of one's state, and one only guards it so long as one is possessed by fear. And when fear is vanquished, he stops guarding his state and his time is spoilt. And if fear predominates over hope, belief in tawhid توحيد (Unity of Allah) is lost; because fear springs from despair, and despair from Allah is shirk شرك (polytheism). Therefore, safety of tawhid is only possible by keeping right hope and waqt (time) can only be guarded by developing right fear and when both fear and hope are equal, the waqt and tawhid would also be safe. Maintenance of belief in tawhid makes one a believer while maintenance of waqt makes one pious.
Hope is connected entirely with contemplation which is the basic root of belief and fear is connected with purgation, which involves an anxious uncertainty. Contemplation is the fruit of purgation. This means that all hopes get life from despair. Whenever a man, on account of his actions, despairs of his future salvation, that despair shows him the way to salvation and welfare and Divine mercy, and opens to him the doors of gladness, and clears away sensual corruptions from his heart, and reveals to him the Divine mysteries.
Ahmad b. Abi al-Hawari relates that one night, he said prayer in privacy, and felt great pleasure therein. Next day I told this to Abu Suleiman, who replied:
“You are weak in the way of Path, for you still have mankind in your mind, so that you have one attitude in private and another in public. There is nothing in the two worlds that is sufficiently important to hold man back from Allah. Have you not seen that when a bride is unveiled to the people, the reason is that everyone may see her that she may be honored the more through being seen, but it is not proper that she should see anyone except the bridegroom, because it will be disgraceful act on her part to see others. If all mankind should see the glory of a pious man’s piety, he would suffer no harm, but if he sees the excellence of his own piety he is lost.”
18. Maruf Karkhi (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu Mahfuz Maruf b. Firuz al-Karkhi was brought up by Ali b Musa al-Raza (may Allah have mercy on him) and was counted amongst the Imams of ancient Sufis. He was famed for his humility, generosity and devoutness.
The mention of him should have come earlier in the book, but I have placed it here in accordance with two venerable persons who wrote before me, one of them a relater of traditions and the other an independent authority. Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Salami, who in his work adopted the arrangement which I have followed, and the other is Imam Abu al-Qasim Qushayri, who has put the mention of Maruf in the same order in the introductory portion of his book.
Maruf was the master of Sari Saqati and the disciple of Dawud Tai. At his early age Maruf was a non-Muslim, Ali b. Musa al-Raza, converted him to Islam. He held him in the highest esteem. He has many virtues and literary attainments and is recognized as a guide and leader in many branches of the knowledge of the Shariat. He said:
للفتيان ثلاث علامات وفا بلا خلاف و مدح بلا جود و عطا بلاء سوال
“There are three signs of generosity;
- to keep faith without resistance,
- to praise without being incited thereto by liberality, and
- to give without being asked.”
To keep faith without resistance is that one in devotion should deny all evil acts and anything which astray him from the path of Truth.
And to praise without being incited thereto by liberality is one must extend the kindest attitude even towards him also who never have done any good to him.
And to give without being asked is that if resources permit one should not make any discrimination in giving charity and if he comes to know about a needy, he must fulfill his need without bringing him to begging state.
These are the ethics set by mankind, and all these qualities are temporarily given to them, whereas in reality these belong to Allah, Who acts thus towards His servants. Allah keeps unresisting faith with those who love Him, and although they show resistance in keeping faith with Him, He continues with His kindness towards them. The sign of Allah’s keeping faith is that in eternity past He called His servants to His presence without any good action on their part, and that today He does not banish His servants on account of evil actions. He alone praises without the incitement of liberality, for He has no need of His servant’s actions, and nevertheless extols him for a minor act that he has performed. And similarly He alone gives without being asked, for He is generous and knows the state of everyone and fulfils his desire unasked.
Accordingly, when Allah graces a man with honor, makes him noble, and distinguishes him by His favor, and acts towards him in the three ways mentioned above, and when that man, as far as lies in his power, acts in the same way towards his fellow creatures, then he is called generous and gets a reputation for generosity. Abraham (may blessings of Allah be on him) possessed these three qualities in very truth, as I shall explain it at the proper place.
19. Hatim al-Asam (may Allah have mercy on him)
The beauty of servants, elegance of nobles Abu Abd al-Rahman Hatim b. Unwan al-Asam was the noblest man of Balkh and one of the ancient Sheikhs of Khurasan. He was a disciple of Shaqiq and Sheikh of Ahmad Khadruya. In all his circumstances, from beginning to end, he never once acted untruthfully, so that Junaid said, “Hatim is the Siddiq (veracious) of our time.” He has lofty sayings on the subtleties of discerning the cankers of the soul and the weaknesses of human nature, and is the author of famous works on ethics. He said:
الشهوات ثلاث شهوةَ في الا كل و شهوةَ في الكلام و شهوةَ في النظر فاحفظ الا كل في التقته و اللسان بالصدق و النظر بالعبرةَ
“Lust is of three kinds,
- lust in eating,
- lust in speaking and
- lust in looking.
- your food by trust in gnosis,
- your tongue by speaking the truth, and
- thine eye by taking reprimand (ibrat).”
One who adheres to tawakul توكل (trust in Allah) for his food, he is saved from the lust of eating. One who speaks the truth, he is saved from the lust of speaking, and one who keeps his eyes under control he gets rid of from the lust of looking.
Real tawakul (trust in Allah) proceeds from right knowledge that Allah is the real provider of subsistence. One should straighten his intellect and should know Him aright and should speak and look with right knowledge, so that his food and drink is only love, and his speech is only ecstasy, and his looking is only contemplation. Accordingly, when he knows aright he eats what is lawful, and when he speaks aright he utter praises (of Allah), and when he look aright he beholds Him, because no food is lawful except what He has given and permits to be eaten, and no praise is rightly offered to anyone in the eighteen thousand worlds except to Him, and it is not allowable to look on anything in the universe except His Beauty and Majesty. It is not lust when you receive food from Him and eat by His leave, or when you speak of Him by His leave, or when you see His actions by His leave. On the other hand, it is lust when you eat with your own desire, may it be lawful food or you speak with your own will, even may it be praise of Him, or of your own will you look even for the purpose of seeking guidance.
20. Imam Shafii (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Idris al-Shafii was an eminent Imam of his time and was well versed in all the branches of religious knowledge. He was famed for his high mindedness and abstinence. He has many virtues and literary attainments and his sayings are highly appreciated.
During his stay in Medina he acquired knowledge from Imam Malik and when he came to Iraq he was associated with Muhammad b. al-Hasan. He from the very beginning had a natural desire for seclusion, and used to seek an intimate comprehension of the Sufism. Slowly and steadily people gathered around him and followed his authority. Ahmad b. Hanbal was one of them. When Shafii became Imam, he got occupied by his position and started exercising his authority. At first he was not favorably disposed towards aspirants to Sufism, but after seeing Habib b. Salim Rai and obtaining his association, he continued to seek the truth wherever he went. He said:
اذا رايت العالم يشتغل بالرخص فليس يجيء منه شيء
“When you see a Religious Scholar indulging to bring ease in Shariat, no good thing will come from him,”
Ulama (Religious Scholars) are the leaders of all classes of men, and no one may take priority over them in any matter, and the way of Truth cannot be traversed without precaution and the utmost self-mortification. To seek indulgences in divinity is the act of those who flee from self-mortification and prefer easing for themselves. To seek indulgences is the work of ordinary people and that too preserving themselves within the bounds of Shariat, but the elects practice self-mortification to feel the fruit thereof in their hearts. Ulama are among the elects, and if they are satisfied to behave like ordinary people, nothing good will come from them. Moreover, to seek indulgences is to think lightly of Allah’s commandment, and Ulama are the friends of Allah, and a friend does not think lightly and try to seek easiness in the command of a friend neither he under estimates the command of a friend and show any relaxation in executing it.
One of the Sufi Sheikh related that one night he dreamed of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him: “O Apostle of Allah, a tradition has come down to me from thee that Allah hath upon the earth saints of diverse rank.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the relater of the tradition had transmitted it correctly, and in response to the Sheikh’s request that he might see one of these holy men, he said: “Muhammad b. Idris is one of them.”
21. Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal (may Allah have mercy on him)
Sheikh of Sunnah, vanquisher of the religious innovations Abu Abdullah Ahmad b. Hanbal was distinguished by devoutness and piety, and was the guardian of the Traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Both Ulama and Sufis of all sects regard him as blessed. He was associated with great Sheikhs, such as Dhu al-Nun, Bashr Hafi, Sari Saqati, Maruf Karkhi, and others. His karamat (miracles) were manifest and his intelligence sound. The doctrines attributed to him today by certain anthropomorphist are inventions and forgeries. He was above from all such distortions. He had a firm belief in the principles of religion, and his faith was approved by all the religious scholars.
When the Mutazilites came into power at Baghdad, they wished to obtain (under duress) from him a confession that the Quran was a creation. He was a feeble old man at that time, but they tightened his hands on the back, put him to the rack and flogged him one thousand lashes. In spite of all that he did not say that the Quran was a creation. While he was undergoing punishment his izar (trouser string) got untied. His hands were fettered, but miraculously two hands appeared and tied his izar. Seeing this miraculous evidence, they let him go. He died of the wounds inflicted on that occasion. Shortly before his death people asked what he had to say about those who flogged him. He answered:
“What should I have to say? They flogged me for Allah’s sake, thinking that I was wrong and that they were right. I will not claim redress from them for mere blows at the Resurrection.”
He is the author of lofty sayings on ethics. When questioned on any point relating to practice he would answer the question himself, but if it was a point of mystical theory he would refer the questioner to Bashr Hafi. One day a person questioned him about ikhlas (sincerity). He replied:
“Ikhlas (sincerity) to escape from the cankers of one's actions,” i.e. let your actions be free from ostentation and hypocrisy and self-interest.
The questioner then asked about tawakul (trust in Allah). Ahmad replied:
“To have confidence in Allah, that He will provide your daily bread.”
The man then asked about rida (acquiescence). He replied:
“Rida (acquiescence) is to commit your affairs to Allah.”
Finally he asked about mahabat (love). Ahmad said that questioner might ask that from Bashr Hafi, for he would not answer while Bashr was alive.
Ahmad b. Hanbal throughout remained exposed to persecution. During his life, he faced the attacks of Mutazilites and after his death by the suspicion of sharing the views of the anthropomorphist. Even Sunnis (orthodox Muslims) were ignorant of his true state and held him suspect. But he is clear of all that is alleged against him.
22. Ahmad b. Abi Hawari (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu al-Hasan Ahmad b. Abi al-Hawari was like a sun of his time and a triumphant over affliction of nafs (lower soul). He was one of the most eminent of the Syrian Sheikhs and was praised by all the leading Sufis. Junaid said that Ahmad was the sweet basil of Syria. His discourses on different topics of Sufism are of very high quality, fine and subtle. He is referrer of many Hadith. He was the resort of all and people used to seek his guidance on many issues. He was the disciple of Abu Suleiman Durani, and associate of Sufyan b. Uyayna, Marwan b. Muawiya and Abu Abdullah Binaji. He spiritually benefited from all of them. He had been a wandering devotee. He said:
الدنيا مذبلة و مجمع الكلاب و اقل من الكلاب من عكف عليها فان الكلب ياخذ منها حاجة و ينصرف عنها و المحب لا يذ ول عنها ولا يتركها بحال
“This world is a heap of rubbish and a place of dogs and one who lingers there is worse than a dog, for a dog takes what he wants from it and goes, but the lover of the world never gets satisfied and neither he likes leaving it at any time.”
Highly esteemed Sheikh named the world as heap of rubbish and its inhabitants worse than dogs, for dogs leave the heap once they have fulfilled their desire but lovers of the world always remain in the process of accumulating worldly gains and keep on sitting over them like a snake and remain dipped in its love. Renunciation of the world is the delight of the friends of Allah.
Initially he learned religious doctrines and achieved the highest rank of Imam, but afterwards he threw all his books into the river and said,
نعم الدليل انت واما الاشتغال بالدليل بعد الوصول محال
“you were excellent logics, but it is impossible to occupy one's self with logic after one has reached the goal.”
The logic is needed only so long as the disciple is on the way to reach his goal. When he is admitted in the presence of the Truth then methods and routes are worthless. The Sheikhs have said that Ahmad did this in the state of sukr سكر (intoxication). In the mystic Path he who says that he has reached to his destination, has gone astray. Since reaching to destination is to refrain from reaching; occupation is (superfluous) trouble, and freedom from occupation is idleness, and in either case the principle of union is non-existence, for both occupation and its opposite are human attributes. Union depends on the Eternal Will and providence of Allah, by which Allah blesses the Man with righteousness and it is not attainable in one’s occupation and idleness. Therefore, there are no principles laid down and rules to get His union and terms like nearness and neighborhood have no link with him. A man is united to Allah when He holds him in honor, and is separated from Him when He holds him in contempt.
I, Ali b. Uthman al- Jullabi, say that possibly that eminent Sheikh in using the word “وصول wusul” (union) might have meant “discovery of the way to Allah”, for the way to Allah is not found in books and when the way is clear before one no bookish explanation is necessary. There is no need of any expression or speech when one gets obvious way. It is only needed until the desired object is hidden, but when the object is manifest then expression loses its worth. He who attains true knowledge has no use of speech, and even less of books. Sheikhs such like Abu Said b. Fadl b. Muhammad al-Mehni and some formal Sufis also acted in the similar manner. Some formal Sufis followed their suit whose only object was to gratify their insolence and ignorance, whereas, the aim of those noble Sheikhs was nothing else but the desire of severing all worldly ties and making their hearts empty of all save Allah. This however, is the initial stage of sukr (intoxication) and in Sufism, is just a childish fervor. Those in state of fixity are not veiled (from Allah) by the whole universe, how then few pieces of paper be veil for them. When heart has pronounced the world then what value paper carries before them? It may be said that the destruction of a book signifies the impossibility of expressing the real meaning (of an idea). In that case the same impossibility should be predicted of the tongue, because spoken words are no better than written ones. I imagine that Ahmad b. Abi al-Hawari, finding no corroborator in his fit of ecstasy, wrote down an explanation of his feelings on pieces of paper, and having amassed a large quantity, did not regard them as suitable to be divulged and accordingly cast them into the water. It is also possible that he had collected many books, which diverted him from his devotional practices, and that he got rid of them for this reason.
23. Abu Hamid Ahmad b. Khadruya al-Balkhi (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was leader of Sufis and an eminent Sheikh of Khurasan. He was famed for his excellent state, nobility and honor. He adopted the path of blame and used to wear soldier’s dress. His wife Fatima, daughter of the Amir of Balkh, was also of lofty standing on the path of Sufism. When she desired to repent (of her former life), she sent a message to Ahmad bidding him to ask her in marriage from her father. Ahmad did not pay any heed to the message. After some time, she sent another message admonishing him that she did not consider him that type who closes the way of the Truth; be a guide and not a creator of hurdles for those who are the seekers of the way of Truth. Ahmad asked her father for marriage with her. He married Fatima to him with a hope that marriage might be blessed one. After marriage, she totally renounced the world and along with her husband adopted seclusion.
She accompanied Ahmad when he went to visit Bayazid. When they reached to him Fatima removed her veil and talked to Bayazid without any embarrassment. It looked very odd to Ahmad and he ridiculously asked her that why she had behaved so disrespectfully before the Sheikh. She replied:
“Because you are my natural spouse, but Bayazid is my religious consort; I have worldly relations with you but with Bayazid relation is of the way to Allah and the proof is that he has no need of my society, whereas to you it is necessary.”
She continued to discuss with Bayazid with same boldness, until one day Bayazid observed that her hands were stained with henna. He asked her why she had applied henna on her hands. She replied:
“O Bayazid, so long as you did not see my hands and the henna I was at my ease with you, but now your eye has fallen on my hands therefore, our companionship has become unlawful.”
Then Ahmad and Fatima came to Nishapur and abode there. The people of Nishapur were well pleased with Ahmad. When Yahya b. Maud al-Razi passed through Nishapur on his way from Rayy to Balkh, Ahmad wished to give him a banquet. He consulted with his wife Fatima as to what all would be required for the feast. She told him to procure some quantity of oxen and sheep, sweet herbs, condiments, candles, and perfumes, and added twenty donkeys. Ahmad asked the reason for including donkeys. She said when a noble comes as guest to the house of a noble the dogs of the area have also the right to the feast; therefore, these donkeys will be slaughtered for them. Bayazid said of her:
“Whoever wishes to see a man disguised in women’s clothes should have a look at Fatima!”
About Ahmad Abu Hafs Haddad said, “But for Ahmad b. Khadruya generosity would not have been displayed.”
He has lofty sayings and faultless utterances to his credit. He is the author of famous works in every branch of ethics and of brilliant discourses on mysticism. He said:
الطريق واضح والحق لا ءحٌ والداعي قداسمع فيما التحيربعدها الامن العمي
“The way is manifest and the truth is clear, and the caller has uttered his call; after this astonishment and distraction is what else than blindness,”
It is wrong to seek the way, since the way to Allah is like the blazing sun; rather find thyself that where are thou, when thou have found thyself, thou have found the way. The Truth is too manifest to admit His being sought.
He said, “استرعز فقرك hide the glory of thy poverty,” do not say to people that you are a dervish, lest your secret be discovered, for it is a great grace bestowed on you by Allah.
A dervish invited a rich man to a repast in the month of Ramadan. Incidentally there was nothing in his house except a loaf of dry bread. On returning home the rich man sent to him a purse of gold coins but the dervish did not accept it and sent it back, saying, that this serves me right for revealing my secret to one like you. The genuineness of his poverty led him to act thus.
24. Abu Turab Askar b. al-Hussein al-Nasfi (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was the most eminent and chief Sheikh of Khurasan. He was celebrated for his generosity, asceticism, and devoutness. He performed many miracles, and experienced marvelous adventures in the desert and elsewhere. He was one of the most noted travelers among the Sufis, and used to cross the deserts in complete disengagement from worldly things. His death took place in the desert of Basra. After many years had elapsed he was found standing erect with his face towards the Qibla, shriveled up, with a bucket in front of him and a staff in his hand; and the wild beasts had not come near him.
It is related that he said:
الفقيرقوته ما وجد ولباسه ماسترومسكنه حيث نزل
“The food of the dervish is what he finds, and his clothing is what covers him, and his dwelling place is wherever he stops.”
To have self desire for these three things is a state of distraction while the whole world is slave of these things. This is the practical aspect of the matter, but in a mystical sense the food of the dervish is ecstasy, his clothing is piety, and his dwelling place is Unseen, for Allah hath said,
وَأَلَّوِ اسْتَقَامُوا عَلَى الطَّرِيقَةِ لَأَسْقَيْنَاهُم مَّاء غَدَقًا
“(And Allah’s Message is): If they (the Pagans) had (only) remained on the (right) Way, We should certainly have bestowed on them Rain in abundance.” (Q 72:16),
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْءَاتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا وَلِبَاسُ التَّقْوَىَ ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ
“O ye children of Adam! We have bestowed upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness - that is the best.” (Q 7:26).
And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“الفقر وطن الغيب
poverty is to dwell in the Unseen.”
Therefore, the food of aspirant following the path of Faqr (poverty) is ecstasy, his clothing piety and mortification, and his dwelling is with the Unseen (Truth). Faqr (poverty) has a straight Path, and its devotions are clear and this is the ultimate highest degree.
25. Yahya b. Maud al-Razi (may Allah have mercy on him)
Eloquent orator of love and sincerity, elegance of Sufism Abu Zakarriya Yahya b. Maud al-Razi was man of good nature and lofty state. He was perfectly grounded in the true theory of hope in Allah (raja), so that Husri said:
“Allah created two Yahya, one a prophet and the other a saint. Yahya b. Zakarriya (may blessings of Allah be on him) trod the path of fear in such a way that all seekers of the Truth seeing his state of fear got despaired of their salvation, while Yahya b. Maud trod the path of raja رجا (hope) so that he surpassed all the seekers of the Path of hope.”
On a question that the state of Yahya b. Zakarriya (may blessings of Allah be on him) was well known, but what was the state of Yahya b. Maud. Husri said that to his knowledge, he never came across with the state of ignorance, and he never committed any greater sin. In the practice of devotion he showed an intense perseverance which was beyond the power of anyone else.
One of his disciples said to him: “O Sheikh, thy maqam (station) is the maqam of raja (hope), but thy practice is the practice of those who fear.” Yahya answered: “Know, my son, that to abandon the service of Allah is to go astray.”
Fear and hope are two pillars of Faith. It is impossible that by following either pillar of Faith, one should fall into error because the seeker of the Path of Fear carryout devotion for the fear that he might not go astray from his maqam (station) and the seeker of the Path of raja carryout devotion with an hope of attaining union (with Allah). Without devotion neither fear nor hope can be truly felt, but when degree of devotion is achieved then fear and hope would be called devotion and metaphors are useless where devotion is required.
Yahya is the author of many books, fine sayings, and original precepts. He was the first of the Sheikhs to mount the pulpit after the first four Caliphs. I am very found of his sayings, which are delicately molded and pleasant to the ear and subtle in substance and profitable in devotion. He said:
الدنيا دارالاشغال والاخرةَ دار الاهوال ولا يذال العبد بين الاشغال و الاحوال حتي يستقربه القرار اما الي الجنةَ و اما الي النار
“This world is an abode of occupation and activities and the next world is an abode of fear, and man always remains amidst activities and fear, until he finds rest either in Paradise or in Hell-fire.”
Blessed are the souls who save themselves from the worldly activities and fear of the next world by renouncing both and attain union (with Allah)!
He preferred wealth over poverty. Having laden with heavy debts at Rayy, he set out for Khurasan. When he arrived at Balkh, the people of that city detained him. For some time he entertained the people with his discourses and when he set to leave them they gave him hundred thousand dirham. On his way back to Rayy he was attacked by brigands, who seized the whole money. He came in a destitute condition to Nishapur, where he died. He was always honored and held in respect by the people.
26. Abu Hafs Umar b. Muslimat al-Nishapuri al-Hadad (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was the grand Sheikh of Khurasan, and a wonderful person of Sufism. He was guide and leader of Sufis and is praised by all the Sheikhs. He was associated with Abu Abdullah Bawardi and Ahmad b. Khadruya. Shah Shuja came from Kirman to visit him but he had already left for Baghdad to meet the Sheikhs there. Since he did not know Arabic, and when he reached Baghdad his disciples said to one another that it would be great awkwardness for the grand Sheikh of Khurasan to use an interpreter to exchange views with the Sheikhs of Baghdad. They came to Shuniziyya Mosque. All the Sheikhs of Baghdad including Junaid gathered there. He conversed with them in such elegant Arabic that they felt amazed of his eloquence. They questioned him about generosity. He asked that each one present there should declare what it was. Junaid said, “الفتوةَ عندي ترك الرويةَ واسقاط النسبةَ in my opinion generosity consists in not regarding your generosity and in not referring it to yourself.”
Abu Hafs replied that outwardly well Sheikh has spoken! But in my opinion generosity, “اداء الانصاف و ترك مطالبةَ الانصاف consists in doing justice and in not demanding justice.”
Junaid said to his disciples: “Rise! For Abu Hafs has surpassed Adam and all his descendants (in generosity).”
He had an interesting tale about his conversion. His heart was captivated by a slave girl. His friends suggested him to seek help from a Jew magician. He went to see him at his dwelling place Nishapur and sought his help in winning the heart of that girl. The Jew suggested him not to perform prayer for forty days, and refrain from praising God or do any good deed or form any good intention; he would then devise a magical mean whereby Abu Hafs would gain his desire. Abu Hafs complied with these instructions, and after forty days the Jew made a talisman as he had promised, but it proved ineffectual. He pointed out to Hafs that undoubtedly he had done some good deed during these last forty days. Abu Hafs replied that he remembered no good deed which he committed inwardly or outwardly during those past forty days except that one day he had removed a stone lying on the road lest some one might stumble on it. The Jew said to him, “do not offend that God who has not let such a small act of yours be wasted though you have neglected His commands for forty days.” Abu Hafs repented, and the Jew also became a Muslim.
After repentance, Abu Hafs adopted the profession of blacksmith until he went to Baward and took the vows of discipleship to Abu Abdullah Bawardi. One day, after his return to Nishapur, when he was sitting in his shop, he saw a blind man reciting Quran in the bazaar. Hafs became so absorbed in listening recitation that he put his hand into the fire and without using the pincer, drew out a piece of molten iron from the furnace. On seeing that, the shocked apprentice shouted on him to look for his hand. When Abu Hafs got recovered to himself he left that profession and never returned to that shop. He said that he left work and when he returned to it the work left him and then he never returned to that again.
Because when anyone leaves a thing by one's own act and effort, the leaving of it is no better than the taking of it. The basis of this is that all effortful acts are cause of calamity, and the acts which flows from the Unseen without effort carries value. When one conceives that the act takes place because of his own effort, he loses the subtlety of reality. Man has not been empowered to take or deny anything, but only rest with Allah. When man possesses something, in fact it is given by Allah and when he loses something its Allah Who gets wasted that thing from him. Therefore man only takes what Allah has given or leaves what Allah has taken away. Though a devotee should strive a thousand years to win the favor of Allah, it would not be equal to that single moment when Allah blesses His favors on him, for, everlasting prosperity is bound with the Eternity and everlasting delight is bound with felicity of the past, and man has no means of escape except by the unalloyed bounty of Allah. Blessed is the one then from whose state the Causer has removed all secondary causes.
27. Abu Saleh Hamdun b. Ahmad b. Umara al-Qassar (may Allah have mercy on him)
He belonged to the ancient Sheikhs, and was one of those who were scrupulously devout. He attained the highest rank in jurisprudence and divinity, in which he was a follower of Thawri. In Sufism he was a disciple of Abu Turab Nakhshabi and Ali Nasrabadi. His writings on ethical practices consist of symbols and concealment and on mortification delicate phrases. When he became renowned as a theologian, the Imams and notables of Nishapur urged him to mount the pulpit and preach to the people. He said that it was not appropriate for him to preach. The people asked the reason for his refusal on which he said:
“My heart has not yet been got rid of the desire of the world and its honor, therefore, my sermon will not be beneficial to the audience and will mark no good impression on their hearts. To speak unprofitable words is to despise theology and ridicule the Shariat (religious law). Speech is permissible to him alone whose silence is injurious to religion, and whose speaking would remove the injury.”
On being asked why the sermons of the early Muslims were more effective and appealing to men’s hearts than those of his contemporaries, he replied:
“Because they discoursed for the glory of Islam and the salvation of souls and the satisfaction of the Merciful Allah, whereas we discourse for the glory of ourselves and the quest of worldly gain and the favor of mankind.”
Whoever speaks in accordance with Allah’s will and by Divine impulsion, his words have a force and vigor that makes an impression on the heart of the listener. And one who sermons to meet selfish desires, his words would be weak and tame and audience will get no benefit from him. To remain silent for such person is better than to deliver sermon. It is better for the man of Truth to refrain from the jugglery of the words.
To my opinion, the Sheikh uttered all this to keep the people unaware of his state and to deny worldly honor.
28. Mansur b. Ammar (may Allah have mercy on him)
Abu Alsari Mansur b. Ammar al-Marori was an honored Sufi who was well acquainted with the hazards of heart. He was a reputed Sheikh and a leader of Sufis. He belonged to the school of Iraq, but was approved by the people of Khurasan. His sermons were unequalled for beauty of language and elegance of exposition. He was learned in all the branches of divinity, traditions, sciences, principles, and practices. Some aspirants to Sufism exaggerate his merits beyond measure.
سبحان من جعل قلوب العارفين اوعية الذكر و قلوب الذاهدين اوعية التوكل و قلوب المتوكلين اوعية الرضا و قلوب الفقراء
اوعية القناعة و قلوب اهل الدنيا اوعية الطمع
“Glory be to Him who have made the
- hearts of Gnostic vessels of dikrذكر (remembrance of Allah),
- and the hearts of ascetics vessels of tawakul توكل (trust in Allah),
- and the hearts of mutawakkilin متوكلين (who keeps trust on Allah) vessels of acquiescence,
- and the hearts of dervishes palace of contentment,
- and the hearts of worldlings vessels of covetousness!”
It is worth considering that Allah has placed in every limb of the body and in every sense, a homogeneous quality, e.g. quality of holding in hands, quality of walking in feet, in eyes quality of seeing and in ear quality of hearing, but He has placed diverse qualities and different desires in the hearts of each individual. Therefore, some hearts are the seats of knowledge, some of error, some of contentment, while some of covetousness, and so on. Hence the marvels of Divine actions are manifested in none more clearly than in human hearts.
الناس ر جلان عارف بنفسه فشغله في المجاهدة والرياضة و عارف بربه فشغله بخدمة وعبادة ومرضاة
“All mankind is of two types; the man who knows himself, and who is occupied in self-mortification and discipline, and the man who knows his Lord, and keeps him busy to serve, worship and please Him.” Accordingly, the worship of the former is abstinence, while the worship of the latter is sovereignty. The former practices devotion in order that he may attain a high degree, but the practice of latter is far above than such desires. What a vast difference between the two! One subsists in self-mortification, the other in contemplation.
He also said:
الناس ر جلان مفتقرالي الله فهو في اعلي الدرجات علي لسان الشريعةَ
واخر لا يري الافتقار لما علم من فراغ الله من الخلق والرزق والاجل والحياةَ والسعادةَ والشقاوةَ فهو في افتقاره اليه واستغناءه به
“There are two classes of men:
- those who have need of Allah and they hold the highest rank from the standpoint of the Shariat – and
- those who has not witnessed indigence, for they know that Allah has predestined their creation, livelihood, death, life, happiness and misery: they need Allah alone, and having Him are independent of all else.”
The former through seeing their own need, are veiled from seeing the Divine providence, whereas the latter, through not seeing their own need, are unveiled and independent. The former enjoys felicity, but the latter enjoys the Giver of felicity. The former are seeker of booty and they are poor although worldly they look rich. The later who are the lover of the Giver, are rich in His presence although worldly they might be poor.
29. Abu Abdullah Ahmad b. al-Asim al-Antaki (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was Imam of those following the path of acquiescence and was lauded by all the Sufis. He is counted among the pillars and Imams of Sufism. He was well versed on knowledge of Shariat and an expert on principals and derivatives, and ethics. He lived to a great age and associated with the ancient Sheikhs, and was acquainted with those who belonged to the third generation after the Prophet (peace be upon him). He was a contemporary of Bashr and Sari, and a disciple of Harith Muhasibi. He had seen Fudayl and consorted with him. He was praised by all. His work on Sufism and its different branches was of immense stature and his sayings and signs are of very subtle nature. He said:
انفع الفقرما كنت به متجملا و به راضيا
“The most beneficial poverty is that which you regard as honorable, and with which you are well pleased.”
The honor of the creature consists in the ownership of causes, but the honor of the dervish consists in denying causes and affirming the Causer, and in referring everything to Him, and in being well pleased with His decrees. Poverty is the non-existence of causes, whereas wealth is the existence of it. The one independent of causes is with Allah, and one who is attached to causes is with himself. Therefore, causes involve the state of being veiled (from Allah), while their absence involves the state of unveiledness and wealth of both the world lies in unveiledness and acquiescence and the evil of the universe lies in veiledness. This indicates superiority of poverty over wealth.
30. Abu Muhammad Abdullah b. Khubaiq (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was an ascetic and scrupulously devout. He has related trustworthy traditions. He followed the doctrine of Thawri in jurisprudence, as well as in the practice and theory of divinity. He consorted with many associates of Thawri. His discourses on Sufism were of colossal value. He said:
من ارادان يكون حيا في حياته فلا يسكن الطمع في قلبه
“Whoever desires to live hearty life, let him not admit covetousness to dwell in his heart,”
because the covetous man is dead in the toils of his covetousness, which is like a seal on his heart, and the sealed heart is dead. Blessed are the hearts that are dead to all save Allah and lives through Him. The reason is that Allah created disgrace and covetousness is disgrace and He created glory and His dikr (praise) is the glory of men’s hearts. He said:
خلق الله تعالي القلوب مساكن الذكر فصارت مساكن الشهوات ولا يمحو الشهوات من القلوب الاخوف مزعج اوشوق مقلق
“Allah honored the men’s hearts to be the palace of His praise, but they having association of nafs (lower soul) became the resting place of lust. Now nothing can clear them of lust except an agitating fear or a restless passion.”
Fear and passion are the two pillars of faith and when heart is the palace of dikr, and faith is settled there, praise and contentment accompany it, not covetousness and heedlessness. That’s why, neither the pious is attracted to lust, nor does he follow the selfish desires. Lust and covetousness are the result of fear and heart is stranger from fear of Allah and faith. The faith has intimacy with the Truth and is fearful of all other than Truth. It is said, “الطماع مستوحش منه كل واحد everyone shuns away from covetous”
31. Junaid Baghdadi (may Allah have mercy on him)
Sheikh of Sheikhs of Sufism and Imam of Imams of Shariat Abu al-Qasim al-Junaid b. Muhammad b. al-Junaid al-Qawarari al-Baghdadi was celebrity of externalists and spiritualist Sufis. He was perfect in every branch of science, and spoke with authority on theology, jurisprudence, and ethics. He was a follower of Thawri. His sayings are lofty and his inwardly state perfect, so that all Sufis unanimously acknowledged his leadership. Junaid was disciple of Sari Saqati who was his maternal uncle.
One day Sari was asked whether the rank of a disciple is ever higher than that of his spiritual Sheikh. He replied in affirmation and said there was manifest proof of that as rank of Junaid was above him. It was the humility and insight of Sari that caused him to say that, as no one can have insight of the one who is higher in rank than him but he may have the insight of one who is lower in rank than him. Such utterance on his part clearly indicates that he saw Junaid in higher rank than him but when he saw him, he saw him at a higher rank but in reality it was a lower rank.
It is well known that when disciples requested Junaid to discourse them so their hearts were benefited and gain tranquility, but Junaid refused saying that as long as his Sheikh (Sari) was alive, he would not discourse. One night he dreamed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him,
“O Junaid, speak to the people, your discourse would be means of delight and tranquility for the people. Allah hath made your words the means of saving a multitude of mankind.”
When he awoke the thought occurred to him that his rank was superior to that of Sari, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) had commanded him to discourse. At day break Sari sent a disciple to Junaid with the following message:
“You would not discourse to your disciples when they urged you to do so, and you rejected the intercession of the Sheikhs of Baghdad and my personal entreaty. Now that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has commanded you, obey his orders.”
Junaid said that the fancy immediately went out of his head and he perceived that Sari was acquainted with his outwardly and inwardly thoughts in all circumstances, and his rank was higher than his, since he was familiar with his secret thoughts, whereas he was ignorant of his state. He went to Sari and repented and begged his pardon. He asked him how he knew that he had dreamed of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Sari answered that he dreamed of Allah, who told him that he had sent the Apostle to bid you to preach.
This anecdote contains a clear indication that spiritual Sheikhs are in every case acquainted with the inwardly experiences of their disciples.
كلام الانبياء نباء عن الحضور و كلام الصديقين اشارةَ عن المشاهدات
“The speech of the prophets gives information concerning presence (حضور), while the speech of the siddiqin (saints) mentions contemplation (مشاهدات).”
The information is confirmed by sight and contemplation by meditation. Information is disseminated of actual event, whereas allusion involves reference to another thing. Hence the perfection and ultimate goal of the saints is the beginning of the state of the prophets. The distinction between prophet and saint, and the superiority of the former to the latter, is clear, except that two heretical sects declare the saints above the prophets in excellence.
Junaid said that once he desired to see Iblis (Satan). One day, when he was standing in the mosque, he saw an old man came through the door and turned his face towards him. When he saw him, horror seized Junaid. When he came near Junaid asked him: “Who are you? I cannot bear to look at you, or think of you.”
He answered, “I am he whom you desired to see.”
Junaid exclaimed, “O accursed one! What hindered you from bowing down to Adam?”
He answered, “O Junaid, how can you imagine that I should have bowed down to other than Allah?”
I was amazed at his saying this, but a secret voice whispered: “Say to him, you are a liar. Had you considered yourself His servant you would not have transgressed His command.”
Iblis heard the voice in my heart. He cried out and said, “by God, you have burnt me!” and vanished.
This narration proves of the safety and piety of Junaid as Allah preserves His saints in all circumstances from the guile of Satan.
One of Junaid’s disciples got annoyed with him. He thought that he had achieved some rank and had no need of Junaid’s teaching anymore. One day he came to Junaid with the intention of testing him. Junaid through insight got aware of his intention. In reply to his question Junaid said: “Do you want a formal or spiritual answer?”
The disciple said: “Both”
Junaid said: “The formal answer is that if you had tested yourself you would not have needed to test me. The spiritual answer is that I depose you from your saintship.”
The disciple’s face immediately turned black. He cried, “the delight of faith is gone from my heart,” and got busy in repentance and abandoned his foolish self-conceit. Junaid said to him, “did not you know that Allah’s saint possess mysterious powers? You cannot endure their blows.”
He cast a breath at the disciple, who forthwith resumed his former rank and repented of criticizing the Sheikhs.
32. Abu al-Hasan Nuri (may Allah have mercy on him)
The king of Sufis, innocent of affliction of extravagance Abu al-Hasan Ahmad b. Muhammad al-Nuri was excellent in his conduct, eloquent in his speech and holder of an eminent position in mortification. He is the founder of a particular doctrine in Sufism and group of Sufis known as Nuris is his followers.
The whole body of aspirants to Sufism is composed of twelve sects, of which ten are approved while the remaining two are condemned. The approved are:
All these assert the truth and belong to the mass of orthodox Muslims. The two condemned sects are,
- Firstly, the Hululis, who derive their name from the doctrine of incarnation and incorporation? The Salami and Mushiah sects are also connected with them.
- Secondly, the Hallajis, who have abandoned the Shariat and have adopted heresy. Ibahatis and Farisis are closely related to them.
I shall include in this book a chapter on the twelve sects and shall explain their different doctrines and will highlight difference among them, so that one is fully acquainted about them.
Nuri took a praiseworthy course in rejecting the flattery and indulgence and in being diligent in self-mortification. Nuri related that he went to Junaid and found him presiding the gathering. He said to him, “O Abu al-Qasim, you have concealed the truth from them and they have put you in the place of honor; but I gave them the advise and they have pelted me with stones.” Because flattery is in compliance with one's desire and advice is averse to it. It is the tendency of mankind to dislike all which is against their wishes and like whatever is in accord to their desires.
Nuri was the companion of Junaid and the disciple of Sari. He had been associated with many Sheikhs, and had met Ahmad b. Abi al-Hawari. He is the author of subtle precepts and fine sayings on various branches of the mystical knowledge. He said:
الجمع بالحق تفرقة عن غيره و التفرقة عن غيره جمع به
“Union with the Truth is separation from all else, and separation from all else is union with Him,”
One gets independent of the care and thoughts of the world by associating one’s heart and mind to Allah. Once man’s separation from creation is fully grounded then he attains association with the Truth and once he is fully associated with the Truth, the dependability of the creation is straightened, as two opposites can not exist side by side.
Once, Nuri stood in his house at one place for three days and nights. During this period he never moved away from his place or ceased to wail. Junaid went to see him and said, “O Abu al-Hasan, if you have seen that crying aloud to Allah is of any benefit, tell me, in order that I too might cry aloud but if you know that it benefits naught, surrender yourself to acquiescence in Allah’s will, in order that your heart may rejoice.” Nuri stopped his practice and wailing and said to Junaid that he was a good teacher.
اعزالاشياء في زماننا شيان عالم يعمل بعلمه وعارف ينطق عن حقيقة
“The two rarest things in our time are learned man who practices what he knows and a Gnostic who speaks from the reality of his state,” i.e. both learning and gnosis are appreciable, since knowledge without practice is not learning, and gnosis is not gnosis unless it has reality. Although Sheikh referred to his own age, but these things are rare at all times, and they are rare even today also. Anyone who should occupy himself in seeking for learned men and Gnostics would waste his time and would not find them. Therefore, he should get engaged to search himself in order that he might see learning everywhere, and should turn to Allah in order that he might see gnosis everywhere. The learned and Gnostics are a rare phenomena and rare is achievable only with determined efforts. It is mere wasting of time to look for that thing, which is difficult to be conceived. Learning and gnosis should be sought from ownself and similarly one should create practice and reality by ownself.
Nuri also said:
من عقل الاشياء بالله فرجوعه في كل شيء الي الله
“Who regards things as determined by Allah and sees His splendor in everything, his focus remains towards Allah, for existence of ownership lies with Owner.” Therefore, Gnostic finds rest in regarding the Creator, not from creation, whereas they would always be in tribulation if they considered things to be the causes of actions. To look at the created things is polytheism, for a cause is not self-subsistent, but depends on the Causer. When they turn to Him they are escaped from trouble.
33. Abu Uthman Said Hairi (may Allah have mercy on him)
The leader of the ancients and successor of his predecessors Abu Uthman Said b. Ismail al-Hairi is one of the most eminent Sufis of past time and possessed a unique personality and was respected by everyone. At first he was associated with Yahya b. Maud, and then he consorted for some time with Shah Shuja Kirmani, and accompanied him to Nishapur on a visit to Abu Hafs. He remained with Abu Hafs till end of his life. He related his own account as follow:
Since childhood I was seeking the Truth, and the externalists inspired me with a feeling of abhorrence. I perceived that there beside outward practice of Shariat which people were commonly following, it had an inward mystery concealed under its superficial forms. On reaching adult age, one day I happened to hear a discourse by Yahya b. Maud and I found out that I was right in my thoughts and have got my objective. I got associated with him. But in the mean time I heard a lot from my friends about Shah Shuja Kirmani and I felt a desire to visit him. Accordingly, I left Rayy and set out for Kirman. Shah Shuja, however, would not admit me to his associates and said:
“You have been nursed in the doctrine of hope (raja رجا), as you have been associated with Yahya who occupies the Maqam (station) of hope. No one who has imbibed this doctrine can tread the path of purgation, because belief in hope produces sluggishness.”
I besought him earnestly, and lamented and stayed at his door for twenty days. At last he admitted me, and I remained in his society until he took me with him to visit Abu Hafs at Nishapur. On this occasion Shah Shuja was wearing a quba (coat). When Abu Hafs saw him he rose from his feet and advanced to meet him, saying, that what he sought in the cloak (aba), he had found that in the quba.
During our stay at Nishapur I strongly desired to get associated with Abu Hafs, but Shah Shuja’s dignity and pomp restrained me from devoting my self to attendance of Abu Hafs. I prayed to Allah to make it possible for me to enjoy the society of Abu Hafs without hurting the feelings of Shah Shuja. Abu Hafs was aware of my wishes. When Shah Shuja decided to leave for Kirman, I also dressed myself for the journey, although I was leaving my heart with Abu Hafs. At the time of departure Abu Hafs said intimately to Shah Shuja, that he was pleased with that youth (referring me), let him stay here. Shah Shuja turned to me and said, “Do as the Sheikh bids thee.” So I stayed with Abu Hafs and experienced many wonderful things in his company.
Allah caused Abu Uthman to pass through three maqam (stations) by means of three Sheikhs and these stations which have been indicated were part of his self. He achieved them through:
- “station” of raja (hope) through association with Yahya,
- the “station” of Ghairat (jealousy) through association with Shah Shuja, and
- the “station” of shafqat (affection) through association with Abu Hafs.
At times an aspirant may need the association of five to six Sheikhs to get to his goal. This sort of association leads to revealing of different spiritual stations by each one of the Sheikhs. But it is better that he should not compare them with his own state and never should measure their station with his own. He should think of their perfection in that station and say that he gained that by having association with them, but they are superior to him. This is more in accord with good manners, for spiritual adepts have nothing to do with “stations” and “states”.
Due to Abu Uthman Sufism flourished in Nishapur and Khurasan. He consorted with Junaid, Ruwaym, Yusaf b. al-Hussein, and Muhammad b. Fadl al-Balkhi. No Sheikh ever benefited as much spiritual advantage from his spiritual guides as he did. The people of Nishapur set up a pulpit that he might discourse to them on Sufism. He is the author of sublime treatises on various branches of Sufism. He said:
حق لمن اعزه الله بالمعرفة ان لا يذله بالمعصية
“It behooves on whom Allah have honored with gnosis not to dishonor himself by disobedience to Allah.”
This refers to actions acquired by man to his continual effort to keep the commandments of Allah. If we consider other meanings, it is worthy of Allah not to dishonor by disobedience anyone whom He has honored with gnosis. Gnosis is Allah’s gift and disobedience is man’s act. It is impossible that one who is honored with Allah’s gift should be dishonored by his own act. Allah honored Adam with His Marifat (knowledge) and He did not dishonor him on account of his sin.
34. Abu Abdullah Ahmad b. Yahya (may Allah have mercy on him)
The star of the Path, the lord of love Abu Abdullah Ahmad b. Yahya b. al-Jalla was leader of the path and guide of his age. He had possessed excellent nature and laud conduct. He was companion of Junaid and was also associated with Abu al-Hasan Nuri and many other great Sheikhs. His sayings and signs on reality and Sufism are of very subtle nature. He said:
همة العارف الي مولاه فلم يعطف علي شيء سواه
“The mind of the Gnostic is fixed on his Lord; he does not pay attention to anything else,” because the Gnostic possesses nothing except gnosis, and since gnosis is the whole capital of his heart, his thoughts are entirely bent on vision (of Allah), for distraction of thought is the cause of sorrowfulness which keeps one back from Allah.
He said that one day he saw a beautiful Magian boy. He was amazed by his beauty and stood still before him. In the mean time Junaid passed by me. He said to him, “O master, will Allah burn a face like this in Hell-fire?” Junaid answered:
“O my son, this is a trick of the nafs (lower soul), which has engrossed you in this thought. If you look with due consideration, the same marvel is existent in every atom of the universe. You will soon be punished for this negligence.”
As soon as Junaid turned away from him, he immediately forgot the Quran. And it did not come back to his memory until for years he had implored Allah to help him and had repented of his sin. Now he dare not pay heed to any created object or waste his time by looking at things.
35. Abu Muhammad Ruwaym b. Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him)
The non-parallel of his age, Imam of his time Abu Muhammad Ruwaym b. Ahmad was Sheikh and Imam of Sufis. He was an intimate friend of Junaid but in Jurisprudence he followed Dawud. He was deeply versed in the interpretation and reciting of the Quran. He was famed for the loftiness of his state and the exaltedness of his station, and for his journeys in detachment from the world and for his severe austerities.
Towards the end of his life he (to hide his state) accepted the post of Qadi, but such was the perfection of his spiritual rank that he was not thereby veiled from Allah. Hence Junaid said, “we are claiming to be free from the world but still occupied (with the world), and Ruwaym is a man occupied (with the world) and still free of it.” He wrote several books on Sufism, one of which, entitled Ghalat al-Wajidin, deserves particular mention. I am exceedingly fond of it.
One day he was asked that how did he do?” He replied:
كيف حال من دينك هواه وصمته دنياه ليس بصالح تقي ولا بعارف ثقي
“What could be the state of that whose religion is his lust and whose thought is (fixed on) on worldly affairs, he is neither a pious man free from people, nor a Gnostic one of Allah’s elect?”
He referred to the ills of his nafs (lower soul) that is subject to passion and regarded lust as its religion, for nafs gives name of faith to personal desires. Sensual people consider faith as following of desires, and for them following of nafs is Shariat and one who complies with their inclinations, even though he be a heretic, he is a religious person and one who thwarts their desires is irreligious, even though he be the most pious. This is widely spread disease of present time. May Allah save us from associating with any such person!
Ruwaym doubtlessly gave this answer in the light of prevailing conditions at that time or in reference to the inwardly state of the questioner, which he truly diagnosed, or it might be that for the purpose of diagnosing the questioner he referred the state to himself which is a good method of correcting.
36. Abu Yaqub Yusaf b. al-Hussein al-Razi (may Allah have mercy on him)
An unparallel, of high nobility Abu Yaqub Yusaf b. al-Hussein al-Razi was one of the ancient Sheikhs. He was a disciple of Dhu al-Nun, and consorted with a large number of Sheikhs and performed service to all of them.
اذل الناس الفقيرالطموع واعزهم المحب المحبوبه
“The meanest of mankind is the covetous dervish and the most honored is he who loves his beloved.”
Covetousness renders embarrassment to the dervish in both the worlds, because faqir (poor) are already contemptible in the eyes of worldlings, and becomes more disgraceful if they develop any hope on them. Therefore, wealth with honor is far more perfect than poverty with dishonor. Covetousness and lust causes the dervish to incur the charge of sheer falsehood. The lover in the eyes of his beloved considers himself to be the meanest of mankind, since the lover acknowledges himself to be very despicable in comparison with his beloved. This all is because of covetousness and lust and if one refrains from them, repute takes the place of contemptuousness.
So long as Zulaikha desired Yusaf, she became everyday more mean and when she cast desire away, Allah gave beauty and youth back to her. It is an established law that when the lover advances, the beloved retires. If the lover is satisfied with friendship alone, and considers it enough and gets carefree of his beloved, then the beloved would try to get his attraction. In truth, the lover has honor only while he has no desire for union. When the lover desires for union and is unable to achieve, he loses all respect. His love would remain based on mere self desire, unless his love diverts him from all thought of union or separation.
37. Abu al-Hasan Sumnun (may Allah have mercy on him)
The sun of the lovers Abu al-Hasan Sumnun b. Abdullah al-Khawwas was held in great esteem by all the Sheikhs. They called him Sumnun al-Muhibb (the Lover), but he called himself Sumnun al-Kadhdhab (the Liar). He suffered much persecution from the hands of Ghulam al-Khalil. He provided false evidences against him, so that all the Sheikhs were annoyed with him. He was a wicked person who pretended piety and Sufism. He had made himself known to the Caliph and courtiers by his wickedness. He had sold out the religion for worldly gains. Such types of people are present today also. This hypocrite used to speak evil of the Sheikhs and dervishes, to establish his own power in the court and hoping to keep the king away from them so that he might not get blessings from them. Fortunate indeed was Sumnun and his contemporaries of having only one Ghulam Khalil against them whereas in our age there are thousands of such characters for every true spiritualist. There is nothing to worry as vultures have more rights on carrions.
When Sumnun gained eminence and popularity in Baghdad, Ghulam al-Khalil could not digest all that and started intriguing against Sumnun. Incidentally at that time one woman got fallen in love with Sumnun and made marriage proposal to him, which he refused. She went to Junaid, begging him to intervene and force Sumnun to marry her. Junaid also returned her empty handed. Then somehow she reached to Ghulam Khalil and accused Sumnun of having attempted her virtue. He listened eagerly to her slanders, and induced the Caliph to command that Sumnun should be put to death. When the Caliph was about to give the word to the executioner his tongue stuck in his throat. The same night he was told in the dream that his empire would last no longer than Sumnun’s life. Next day he asked his pardon and restored him to favor.
Sumnun is the author of lofty sayings, and subtle indications concerning the real nature of love. Once while on his way back from Hijaz, the people of Fayd requested him to discourse to them about this subject. He mounted the pulpit, but while he was speaking he found that people were not much attentive to his discourse. Sumnun turned to the lamps and said: “I am speaking to you.” Immediately all the lamps collapsed and broke into small bits. He said:
لا يعبرعن شيء الا بما هوارق منه و لا شيء ارق من المحبة فيما يعبرعنها
“A thing can be explained only by what is more subtle than itself: there is nothing subtler than love: by what, then, shall love be explained?” It means that love cannot be explained because explanation is an attribute of the explainer whereas love is an attribute of the Beloved, therefore no explanation of its real nature is possible.
38. Shah Shuja al-Kirmani (may Allah have mercy on him)
The king of the Sheikhs, independent from change of states Abu al-Fawaris Shah b. Shuja al-Kirmani was of royal descent and unparallel. He was among the associates of Abu Turab Nakhshabi and he also consorted with many other Sheikhs. Some mention has been made of him in the notice of Abu Uthman al-Hairi. He composed a celebrated treatise on Sufism as well as a book entitled Mirat al-Hukama (The mirror of Sages). His sayings are of immense value. He said:
لا هل الفضل فضل مالم يروه فاذا راوه فلا فضل لهم و لاهل الولاية ولاية مالم يروها فاذا راوها فلا ولاية لهم
“The eminent have eminence until they see it, and the saints have saintship until they see it,” i.e. whoever regards his eminence loses its reality, and whoever regards his saintship loses its reality, for eminence and saintship are such attributes which cannot be seen and expressed respectively. No one can personally claim eminence or saintship.
His biographers relate that for forty years he never slept; then he fell asleep and dreamed of Allah. He asked:
“O Lord, I was seeking Thee in nightly vigils, but I have found Thee in sleep.”
“O Shah, you have found Me by means of those nightly vigils: if you had not sought Me there, you would not have found Me here.”
39. Umru b. Uthman Makki (may Allah have mercy on him)
The pleasure of hearts, the Nur (light) of inward Umru b. Uthman al-Makki was one of the principal Sufis, and author of celebrated works on the mystical sciences. He became a disciple of Junaid after he had seen Abu Said Kharraz. For short while he was associated with Nibaji also. He was the Imam of his age in theology.
لا يقع علي كيفية الوجد عبارة لا نه سر الله عند المومنين
“Ecstasy does not admit explanation, because it is a secret between Allah and the true believers.”
Since it is a secret of Allah with the True Believer and it will be no more a secret if he tries to explain it to others. All human power and effort is divorced from the Divine mysteries.
When Umru came to Isfahan, a young boy associated with him. His father was not happy with this union and he made strenuous efforts to stop him which resulted into sickness of young boy. One day the Sheikh along with a party of dervishes came to visit him. The boy begged the Sheikh to bid the qawal (singer) to chant a few verses. Sheikh asked the qawal who started chanting the following verse:
مالي مرضت فلم يعدني عايد منكم ويمرض عبد كم فا عود
What I care that when I fell ill none of you visited me,
Though I visit your slave when he falls ill?
On hearing this boy got up and suddenly he felt much recovery from his disease and he bid for more chant. So the singer chanted:-
واشد من مرضي علي صدور كم و صدود عبد كم علي شديد
Hindrance from you is graver to me than my sickness;
And for me this hindrance from you is very painful.
The boy felt active and sickness departed from him.
His father permitted him to get associated with the Sheikh and repented of the suspicion which he had harbored in his heart. The young boy became an eminent Sufi.
40. Abu Muhammad Sahl b. Abdullah al-Tustari (may Allah have mercy on him)
The owner of the hearts, Abu Muhammad Sahl b. Abdullah al-Tustari was Imam of his time and beloved of all. His austerities were great and his devotions excellent. He has fine sayings on sincerity and the defects of human actions. The formal Ulama say that he was whole of Shariat and the Truth. This statement is erroneous, for the two things have never been divided. The Shariat without Truth and the Truth without Shariat are meaningless. Their assertion is founded on the fact that the explanations of this Sheikh are more intelligible and easy to apprehend. As Allah enjoined the Shariat and Truth one thing, how is it possible that saints should separate them? If they be taken to separate from each other, one must inevitably be rejected and the other accepted. Rejection of the Shariat is heresy, and rejection of the Truth is infidelity and polytheism. When separation between them is made, it not to establish a difference of meaning, but to affirm the Truth, as when it is said: “The words لا اله الا الله there is no God but Allah,” are Truth, and the words “ محمد رسول الله Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah” are Shariat. No one can separate the one from the other without impairing his faith, and it is vain wish to do so.
In short, the Shariat is a branch of the Truth and knowledge of Allah is Truth, and obedience to His command is Shariat. These formalists deny whatever does not suit their fancy, and it is dangerous to deny one of the fundamental principles of the Way to Allah. Praise be to Allah for the faith which He has given us! Tustari said:
ما طلعت الشمس ولا غربت علي وجه الارض الا و هم جهال بالله الا من يوثر الله علي نفسه وروحه و دنياه و اخرة
“The sun does not rise or sets upon anyone on the face of the earth who is ignorant of the marifat (knowledge) of Allah, unless he prefers Allah to his own soul and spirit and to his present and future life,”
If anyone adheres to self-interest, that would be a proof of his ignorance of Allah, because knowledge of Allah demands abandonment of forethought. Abandonment of forethought is resignation, whereas perseverance in forethought arises from ignorance of predestination.
41. Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Fadl al-Balkhi (may Allah have mercy on him)
The light of the eyes of Sheikhs Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Fadl al-Balkhi was very popular among the people of Iraq and Khurasan. He was disciple of Ahmad b. Khadruya. Abu Uthman Hairi had a great affection for him. The religious fanatics forced him to quit Balkh. He went to Samarqand and spent rest of his life there. He said:
اعرف الناس بالله اشد هم مجاهدًا في اومراه واتبعهم لسنة نبيه
“Among the people, one who has most knowledge of Allah is the one who strive the hardest to fulfill His commandments, and follows most closely the Sunnah of His Prophet.” The nearer is to Allah the more eager is one to fulfill His commandments. And the farther is from Allah the more reluctant one is to follow the Sunnah of His Prophet.
عجبت لمن يقطع البوادي والقفار والمفاوزحتي يصل الي بيته و حرمه لان فيه اثار انبياءه كيف لا يقطع نفسه وهواه حتي يصل الي قلبه لان فيه اثارمولاه
“I wonder at that man who crosses deserts and wilderness to reach His House and Sanctuary, because the traces of His prophets are to be found there: but he does not cross his own passions and lusts to reach to his heart, which is the palace of the traces of Lord?”
The heart which is the seat of knowledge of Allah, is more sacred than the Kaba, to which men turn in devotion. Men are ever looking towards the Kaba, but Allah is ever looking towards the heart. Wherever the heart is, my Beloved is there; wherever His decree is, my desire is there, wherever the traces of my prophets are, the eyes of those whom I love are directed there.
42. Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Ali al-Tirmidhi (may Allah have mercy on him)
A mystic who was free of all attributes of humanity. He was perfect in divine knowledge and an Imam of his time. He enjoyed an eminent position amongst the Sheikhs of Sufism. He composed many excellent books which, by their eloquence, declare the miracles vouchsafed to him, e.g., the Khatm al-Wilayat, the Kitab al-Nahj, the Nawadir al-Usul, and many more books. I adore these works and regard them of very high standard. I hold him in great veneration and am entirely devoted to him. My Sheikh used to praise that Muhammad was a unique jewel that had no like in the whole world.
He has also written many books on the formal sciences, and is a trustworthy authority for the traditions of the Prophet. He began a commentary on the Quran, but did not live long enough to finish it. The completed portion is widely circulated among the theologians. He studied jurisprudence from Muhammad Hakim who was an intimate friend of Abu Hanifa and the Hakimis a Sufi sect in that region are his followers. He is said to have been associated with the Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him). His disciple, Abu Bakr Warraq, relates that Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him) used to visit him every Sunday, and they used to converse with each other.
من جهل اوصاف العبودية فهو بنعوت الربودية ا جهل
“Anyone who is ignorant of the nature of servantship, is yet more ignorant of the nature of lordship,”
One who is not aware of the way to his own nafs (lower soul), how can he get aware of the marifat (knowledge) of Allah. Whoever is ignorant of contamination of human qualities, how could he recognize the purity of the Divine attributes, as the outward is connected with the inward, and he who wants to possess the former without the later and later without the former, makes an absurd assertion. Therefore, knowledge of the nature of lordship is coupled with the soundness and rightness of reverent servantship and without mending them, knowledge of the nature of lordship is unattainable. This is very profound and instructive saying. It will be fully explained at the proper place.
43. Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Umar al-Warraq (may Allah have mercy on him)
The leader of the follower of the path of poverty and purity Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Umar al-Warraq is counted among the great Sheikhs and ascetics. He benefited from the association of Muhammad b. Ali and also met Ahmad b. Khadruya. He is author of many books on rules of discipline and ethics. The Sufi Sheikhs have called him “Mu'addib al-awliya” (one who educates the saints on ethical matters).
He related that once Muhammad b. Ali handed him over some of his writings with the instructions that those were to be thrown in river Oxus. Since he had not the heart to do so, therefore, he kept them at his house and lied to Sheikh that he had obeyed his instructions. Sheikh inquired if he had observed anything at the time of obeying his instruction. He had no answer except to say that he had observed nothing. Then the Sheikh said that he had not obeyed him and commanded him to go back and throw them into the river. Overwhelmed with Sheikh’s insight, he went back and threw the papers into the river. Suddenly, the water parted and a chest with it lid open appeared. As soon as the papers fell into it, the lid closed and the waters joined again and the chest vanished. He went back to him and told him what had occurred. He acknowledged and said, “Now you have thrown them in the river.” On his request to unveil the mystery the Sheikh said, “I had composed a work on theology and mysticism which could hardly be comprehended by the intellect. My brother Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him) desired it of me, and Allah bade the water to take it to him.”
Abu Bakr Warraq said:
الناس ثلاثة العلماء والفقراء والامراء, فاذا فسد العلماء فسد الطاعة و الشريعة, واذا فسد الفقراء فسد الاخلاق, واذا فسد الامراء فسد المعاش
“There are three classes of men; Ulama (divines), Dervishes (poor), and rich. When the Ulama are corrupt, obedience and Shariat are vitiated; when the dervishes are corrupt, men’s morals are depraved; and when the Rich are corrupt, men’s means of livelihood are spoiled.”
The decline of the divines consists in covetousness, that of the dervishes in hypocrisy and that of the rulers and wealthy in injustice. The Monarch do not become corrupt until they turn their backs on Ulama, and Ulama do not become corrupt until they associate with monarchy, and dervishes do not become corrupt until they seek ostentation, because the injustice by monarch is due to ignorance, covetousness of Ulama is due to dishonesty, and the hypocrisy of dervishes is due to lack of trust in Allah.
44. Abu Said Ahmad b. Isa (may Allah have mercy on him)
The fountain of tawakul (trust on Allah) and rida (acquiescence), aspirant of the path of annihilation Abu Said Ahmad b. Isa al-Kharraz had the insight of the disciples’ auqat (time) and full awareness of their inwardly states. He was the first who explained the doctrine of fana (annihilation) and baqa (subsistence). He is the author of brilliant compositions and famous for sublime sayings and allegories. He had met Dhu al-Nun, and had association with Bashr Hafi and Sari.
In response to the following saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that “جبلت القلوب علي حب من احسن اليها hearts are naturally incline to love him who acts compassionately towards them,” he said:
واعجبا لمن لم يرمحسنا غير الله كيف لا يميل بكليته الي الله
“One wonders at him who sees none other extending benevolence towards him except Allah, still he does not incline to Allah with his whole being.”
In reality true beneficence is that which is bestowed by the Lord and it is conferred upon those who have need of it. How can he who needs beneficence from others bestow it upon anyone? All that exists belongs to Allah, and He is the Lord of all and hath need of none. The entire creation is dependent on Him. The Saints (friends of Allah) recognizing this, observe in every reward and beneficence the Giver and the Benefactor. Their hearts are wholly taken captive by love of Him and they turn away from everything else.
45. Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad Isfahani (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was a great Sheikh and is also known as Ali b. Sahl. Junaid and he exchanged exquisite letters to one another. Umru b. Uthman who had consorted with Abu Turab and Junaid, visited Isfahan to meet him. His theology on Sufism based on rida (acquiescence) and self-discipline is likened and considered to be safe from mischief and contamination. He spoke eloquently on the theory and practice of mysticism, and lucidly explained its difficulties and symbolical allusions. He said:
الحضور افضل من اليقين لان الحضور وطنات و اليقين خطرات
“Presence (حضور) with the Truth is better than faith, because presence is an abiding state in the heart and forgetfulness has no access there.”
The faith is a transitory state that comes and goes. The present are in attendance whereas possessors of faith remain at the door. The subject of absence and presence will be discussed in a separate chapter of this book.
He also said:
من وقت ادم الي قيام الساعة الناس يقولون القلب! القلب! وانا احب ان اري رجلا يصف ايش القلب او كيف القلب فلااري
“From the time of Adam to till the Resurrection Day people will keep on crying, my heart, my heart! I am in search of a person who may be able to describe that what the heart is, or how it is, but I find none.”
People generally give the name of heart to that flesh of meat palpitating in our body, which is existent in every living human, may he be a child, a madman or an ecstatic but they can not be called “Possessor of Heart”. What, then, is this heart, of which we hear only the name? If we call intellect the heart, it is wrong, and if we call spirit the heart, it is not the heart. Similarly, if we call knowledge the heart, it is also not the heart whereas all the evidences of the Truth subsist in the heart, yet we only find the name of it.
46. Abu al-Hasan Muhammad b. Ismail Khair al-Nassaj (may Allah have mercy on him)
The straight on the Path of love Abu al-Hasan Muhammad b. Ismail Khair al-Nassaj was a great Sheikh of his time, and discoursed with eloquence on ethics and preached excellent sermons. He died at an advanced age. Both Shibli and Ibrahim Khawwas repented on his hand and took the Path of Truth. He sent Shibli to Junaid, wishing to observe the respect due to the latter. He was the disciple of Sari Saqati, and was contemporary of Junaid and Abu al-Hasan Nuri. Junaid held him in high regard, and Abu Hamza Baghdadi also acknowledged his high stature. He obtained the name Khair al-Nassaj due to the following event.
Once he left his native town Samara with the intention of performing the pilgrimage. When he reached Kufa, which was on his route, he was seized by a silk weaver who claimed that he was his slave and his name was Khair. Believing it to be an ordeal from Allah, he did not deny the weaver’s claim, and remained in his service for many years. Whenever anybody called him Khair, he used to immediately respond saying, “labbayk” (At thy service), until one day the weaver repented of what he had done to him and said to Khair: “I made a mistake, you are not my slave.” Then he continued his journey for pilgrimage and reached Mecca. He attained to such a degree that Junaid said, Khair was the best amongst them. He always felt happy when somebody called him Khair, saying that it was not right that he should alter a name which was given to him by a Muslim.
It is said, that when the hour of his death approached, it was time for evening prayer. From the senselessness of death, he opened his eyes and looked towards the door and addressed to the angel of death:
“Allah saves thee! Stop for a while! You are Allah’s deputed servant, and so am I. And to what you are commanded to do (viz. to take my life) will not escape thee, but that which I am commanded to do (viz. to perform the evening prayer) will escape me, therefore, give me few moments, so I do as I am bidden, and then do as you are bidden.”
He then called for water, performed ablution, said the evening prayer and gave up his life. On the same night he was seen in a dream and was asked: “What has Allah done to you?”
He answered: “Do not ask me of this, but I have gained better comfort than your world.”
Once he said in his place of meeting:
شوح الله صدور المتقين بنود اليقين وكشف بصاءر الموقنين بنورحقاءق الا يمان
“The pious can not live without faith and their breasts are expanded with the Nur (light) of faith. The true believers can not live without accepting the realities of faith, so their insight of intellect is shining with the Nur (light) of belief.”
So, where there is belief, faith would also be there and where there is faith, piety would be there, for they are inseparable from each other.
47. Abu Hamza Khurasani (may Allah have mercy on him)
A unique preacher of his time Abu Hamza al-Khurasani was one of the ancient Sheikhs of Khurasan. He was associated with Abu Turab, and had seen Kharraz. He was firmly grounded in tawakul (trust in Allah).
Once he fell down into a dry well. He spent three days and nights in the well. Incidentally on forth day, some people from a caravan passed by. He thought of calling them for help but then he rejected the idea thinking that it was inappropriate to seek help from anyone save Allah. It would be a complaint of Allah if he told them that He had cast him in the well and they would rescue him. When they reached there and saw an open well in the middle of the path, they consulted amongst them and decided to cover the well lest anyone might fall in to that. Hearing that, Abu Hamza became deeply agitated and abandoned hope of life. The people from caravan blocked the opening of the well and departed. He had no contact with mankind anymore and being despaired of his life, he started imploring Allah. When the night fell he heard some movement near the top of the well. On looking attentively he found that some part of the mouth of the well had opened and a dragon was pushing its tail downward. He knew that Allah had sent the dragon for his help and perceived that he would be saved through him. He got hold of its tail and it raised him out. A heavenly voice came to him,
“O Abu Hamza, this is an excellent escape of thine, We have saved thee from death by means of a death.”
He was asked that who was poor (gharib)?
المستوحش من الا لفت
he who shuns intimacy.”
Who shuns intimacy of all desires, is poor because the dervish has no home or society either in this world or the next, and when he is dissociated from phenomenal existence he shuns everything, and then he is poor; and this is a very lofty grade of the path of Truth.
48. Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Masruq (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was one of the most eminent Sheikhs of Khurasan, and the Saints of Allah are unanimous that he was one of the Autad (noble saints) of the land and he had association with the Qutb, who is the pivot of the universe. On quest of someone that who was Qutb, he did not declare his name but hinted that Junaid was that personage. He served forty Sheikhs who had attained the rank of fixity (sahib-i tamkin) and benefited from them. He said:
من كان سروره بغيرالحق فسروره يورث الهموم و من لم يكن انسه في خدمة ربه فانسه يورث الوحشة
“If anyone takes joy from others save Allah, his whole joy is actually sorrow, and one who is not found of devotion to Allah, he is ruptured by loneliness.”
All save Allah is perishable, and whoever rejoices in what is perishable, when that passes away will cause him to stricken with sorrow and all else except His service is useless. When the baseness of created objects is made manifest, one’s intimacy (with them) is turned to loneliness and abhorrence. Hence, the sorrow and loneliness of the entire universe consist in regarding that which is other (than Allah).
49. Abu Abdullah b. Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him)
The guide of the keepers of trust on Allah, Sheikh of the philosophers Abu Abdullah b. Ahmad b. Ismail al-Maghrabi was a popular Sheikh of his time and a watchful protector of his disciples. Both, Ibrahim Khawwas and Ibrahim Shaiban were his disciples. He has lofty sayings and shining evidences, and he had a very high rank on the path of solitude. He said:
ما رايت انصف من الدنيا ان خد متها خد متك و الا تركتها تركت
“I have never seen anything more just than the world: if you serve her she will serve you, and if you leave her she will leave you.” As long as you seek her she will seek you, but when you turn away from her and seek Allah she will flee from you and worldly thoughts will no more cling to your heart. Therefore, one who renounces the world he rescues himself from her evils and ordeals.
50. Abu Ali al-Hasan b. Ali Jurjani (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was a unique personality of his time. He wrote brilliant works on the science of ethics and detection of spiritual cankers. He was a disciple of Muhammad b. Ali al-Tirmidhi, and a contemporary of Abu Bakr Warraq. Ibrahim Samarqandi was his disciple. He said:
الخلق كلهم في ميادين الغفلة يركضون و علي الظنون يعتمدون و عندهم انهم في الحقيقة ينقلوبون و عن المكاشفة ينظقون
“The whole mankind is occupying the ground of heedlessness, relying upon idle fancies, while they perceive themselves to be on the path of Truth and to be speaking from Divine revelation.”
This saying refers to self-conceit and pride of the soul. Men, though they are ignorant, have a firm belief in their ignorance, especially ignorant Sufis are more affected by this. As wise Sufis are the noblest creature of Allah, so are the ignorant Sufis vilest creatures of Allah.
The former possess the Truth and are without conceit, whereas the later possess conceit and are without the Truth. They remain entrapped in the sphere of heedlessness and perceive that they are wandering through the valleys of saintship. They rely on fancies and suppose them to be certainty. They go along with the formal practices and think it is reality. They speak from their own lust and think it is a Divine revelation. One can not get rid of conceit until and unless one is set to the Vision and Beauty of His Majesty, for in the manifestation of His Beauty one see Him alone, and their conceit is annihilated, while in the revelation of His majesty they do not see themselves, and their conceit does not intrude.
51. Abu Muhammad Ahmad b. al-Hussein al-Jurairi (may Allah have mercy on him)
The donor of the pleasure of knowledge, a mediator of the formal practices Abu Muhammad Ahmad b. al-Hussein al-Jurairi was a confidant friend of Junaid, and among the associates of Sahl b. Abdullah. He was learned in every branch of religious knowledge and was the Imam of his time in jurisprudence. He was also well acquainted in theology. His rank in Sufism was such that Junaid requested him to educate his disciples on principles of ethics and abstinence. After the death of Junaid he succeeded him.
دوام الايمان و قوام الاديان وصلاح الابدان في خصال ثلاث الاكتفاء والاتقاء والاحتماء,
فمن اكتفي بالله صلحت سريرته ومن اتقي ما نهي الله عنه استقامت سريرته ومن احتمي مالم يوافقه ارتاضت طبيعة,
فثمرة الاكتفاء صفوالمعرفة وعاقبة الاتقاء حسن الخليقه وغاية الاحتماء اعتدال الطبيعة
“The safety of faith, the subsistence of religions and the health of bodies depend on three qualities, i.e.
- satisfaction (iktifa),
- piety (ittiqa) and
- abstinence from illegal feed (ihtima).
- If one is satisfied with Allah, his conscious become good;
- if one guards himself from what Allah has forbidden, his character becomes upright; and
- if one abstain from eating what does not agree with him, his body constitution is brought into good order.
- the fruit of satisfaction is pure knowledge of Allah, and
- the result of piety is excellence of moral character, and
- the abstinence from unlawful feed, brings equilibrium to the nature of the body.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
من كثرصلوته بالليل حسن وجهه بالنهار
“One who prays much by night, his face will be bright and shining by day,”
and the Prophet (peace be upon him) also said that the pious shall come at the Resurrection with dazzling faces on thrones of light.
One who is careful in his diet, his body would remain save from diseases and his soul from lust. This saying is delicate and complete in itself.
52. Abu al-Abbas Ahmad b. Sahl al-Arimi (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was always held in great respect by his contemporaries. He was versed in the sciences of Quranic exegesis and commentary, and expounded the subtleties of the Quran with an eloquence and insight peculiar to himself. He was an eminent disciple of Junaid. He had associated with Ibrahim Maristani. Abu Said Kharraz regarded him with the utmost veneration and did not recognize anyone except him as established Sheikh of Sufism.
السكون الي مالوفات الطباءع يقطع صاحبه عن بلوغ درجات الحقاءق
“Submission to natural habits prevents a man from attaining the exalted degrees of spirituality.”
Who submits himself to self desires remains veiled from the Truth, because natural dispositions are the instruments and organs of the nafs (lower soul), which is the centre of veiling; whereas the spirit is the centre of revelation, and a veiled and resident desirer never becomes a man of revelation. One can only attain the Truth by restraining him from natural temperament. Natural dispositions become attached to two things:
- to this world and its accessories, or
- to the next world and its circumstances:
Therefore, one who is attached to the world is attracted to its homogeneous things and to the latter through imagination and in virtue of heterogeneousness and non-cognition. Therefore they are attached to the notion of the next world not to its idea, for if they knew its reality, they would have abandoned the mortal world. And if they would have abandoned the world, they would have trodden the path of the saintship and reality would have manifested on them that this disposition of temporary abode is nothing but perishable. There can be no harmony between the next world and human nature until the latter is annihilated, because in the next world is that which the heart of man has never conceived.
The way to the next world is full of danger. A thing that comes into one's thoughts has no worth, since imagination is incapable of knowing the reality of the next world, therefore, how can human nature become familiar with the truth thereof? It is certain that our natural faculties can be acquainted only with the notion of the next world.
53. Mansur Hallaj (may Allah have mercy on him)
Absorbed in veracity, martyr of love Abu al-Mughith al-Hussein b. Mansur al-Hallaj was an enamored and intoxicated votary of Sufism. He had a strong ecstasy and a lofty spirit. The Sufi Sheikhs are at variance concerning him. Some reject him, while others accept him. Among the latter class are Umru b. Uthman, Abu Yaqub Nahrajuri, Abu Yaqub Aqta, Ali b. Sahl Isfahani, and others. Those who reject him are Ibn Ata, Muhammad b. Khafif, and Abu al-Qasim Nasrabadi. But all the moderns accept his eminence and spiritual stature and include him among the Auliya (saint). Some such like Junaid, Shibli, Jurairi, and Husri have suspended their judgment about him. Some accuse him of magic. In our days the Grand Sheikh Abu Said, Sheikh Abu al-Qasim Gurgani and Sheikh Abu al-Abbas Shaqani looked upon him favorably, and in their eyes he was a great Sufi.
Abu al-Qasim Qushayri remarks that if Hallaj was a genuine spiritualist he is not to be rejected from Allah on the ground of peoples’ condemnation and if he was rejected by the Truth, his popularity with the people was of no use to him. Therefore we leave him to the Judgment of Allah, and honor him according to the signs of the Truth which we have found him to possess.
But of all the Sheikhs only a few deny the perfection of his merit, the purity of his spiritual state, and abundance of his ascetic practices. It would be an act of dishonesty to omit his biography from this book because only few have pronounced his outwardly behavior to be that of an infidel, and disbelieved in him and charged him with trickery and magic. They suppose that Hussein b. Mansur Hallaj is that Hasan b. Mansur Hallaj heretic of Baghdad who was the master of the famous infidel of Baghdad, Muhammad b. Zakarriya and the companion of Abu Said Qarmati. But the Hussein whom we are discussing here was resident of village Bayda of Faris. The reluctance or rejection shown by some Sheikhs was not due to any dispute on his religious conduct but was due to his prevailed conduct and behavior.
At first he became a disciple of Sahl b. Abdullah, whom he left without obtaining his permission. Then he attached himself to Umru b. Uthman to whom also he left without seeking his permission. Then he sought to associate himself with Junaid, but he did not admit him. This led to his non-acceptance by other Sheikhs also and this was all because of conduct and not due to any other reason.
Shibli said about him,
انا والحلاج شيء واحد فخلصتي جنوني واهلكه عقله
Hallaj and I are one; my madness saved me, while his intelligence destroyed him?”
Had his religion been suspected, Shibli would not have said: “Hallaj and I are one.”
And Muhammad b. Khafif said, “هوعالم رباني he is divinely learned man.
There are many such praises uttered by Sheikhs. The annoyance and abhorrence on part of Sufi Sheikhs led him to solitude. He is the author of brilliant compositions and allegories and polished sayings in theology and jurisprudence.
I have seen about fifty works by him at Baghdad and its neighboring districts, and some in Khuzestan, Faris and Khurasan. I found his writings like as the novices talks at the initial stage of the path. Some of them are of high caliber, some pathetic, some easier, and some more unseemly than others.
When Allah bestows His splendor on anyone, he endeavors to describe what he has seen with the power of ecstasy and help of Divine grace, his words are obscure, especially if he expresses himself with haste and self-admiration then they are more disgusting to the imaginations, and incomprehensible to the minds of those who hear them, and they appreciate the utterance. At such stage because of ignorance some deny it and some follow it but their following is also such like denial. On the other hand, persons of true spirituality and insight visions, make no effort to describe such states and do not occupy themselves with self-admiration on that account, and are careless of praise and blame alike, and are undisturbed by denial and acceptance.
It is absurd to charge Hallaj as a magician. According to the Sunnites, magic is real just as miracles are real. The manifestation of magic in the state of perfection is infidelity, whereas the manifestation of miracles in the state of perfection is excellence of Marifat, because the former is the result of Allah’s anger, while the later is outcome of His being pleased. I will explain this more fully in the chapter on affirmation of miracles. By consent of all Sunnites who are gifted with wisdom, no Muslim can be a magician and no infidel can be held in honor, for contraries never meet.
Hussein, as long as he lived, remained virtuous and pious. He always showed humility in his prayers, diligence in devotion and dikr (praise of Allah) and continual fasting. His sayings on the subject of Unification are of excellent nature. If his actions were magic, all this could not possibly have ensued from him. Consequently, they must have been karamat (miracles), and karamat are vouchsafed only to a true saint.
Some theologians reject him on the ground that his sayings refer to transmigration and union. But the fault lies with the expression, not in the meaning. A person overcome with ecstasy has not the power of expressing himself correctly. Besides, the meaning of the expression may be difficult to apprehend, so that people mistake the writer’s intention, and repudiate not his real meaning but a notion which they have formed for themselves.
I have seen in Baghdad and its surroundings a number of heretics who pretend to be followers of Hallaj and make his sayings an argument for their profanity and call themselves Hallajis. They spoke of him in the same terms of exaggeration as the Shiites apply to Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). I will refute their doctrines in the chapter concerning the different Sufi sects.
Since Hallaj was an ecstatic and not firmly settled, therefore, it is not recommended to follow his sayings. A man needs to be firmly settled before his sayings can be considered authoritative. Although Hallaj is dear to me and I have lot of love for him in my heart, yet his path is not soundly established on any principle, and his state is not fixed in any position and his experiences leads to fear of evil. When my own visions began I derived much support from him, that is to say, in the way of argument and evidence. I have already composed a book in explanation of his sayings and demonstrated their sublimity by proofs and arguments. Furthermore, in another work, entitled Minhaj al-din, I have given some detail of his life from beginning to end and now I have given some account of him in this place. How can a doctrine whose principles require to be confirmed with so much caution be followed and imitated? But Truth and idle fancy never agree. The followers of desires are continually seeking to fasten upon some erroneous theory. As he said:
الالسنته مستنطقات تحت نطقها مستهلكات
“Tongues are eager to speak, but there is destruction in their speaking.”
Such expressions are entirely harmful and futile in their meaning. If the meaning exists it is not lost by expression, and if it is non-existent it is not created by expression. Expression only produces an unreal notion and leads the student mortally astray by causing him to imagine that the expression is the real meaning.
54. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Ahmad al-Khawwas (may Allah have mercy on him)
The leader of the custodians of trust on Allah, Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Ahmad al-Khawwas attained a high degree in the doctrine of tawakul (trust in Allah). He met with many Sheikhs and benefited from their association. Many signs of saintship and miracles were vouchsafed to him. He is the author of excellent works on the ethics of Sufism. He said:
العلم كله في كلمتين لا تتكلف ما كفيت و لا تضيع ما اسكفيت
“All knowledge is comprised in two sentences, do not trouble yourself with that whose fear has been expelled from you by Allah, and do not lack in anything which is mandatory on you to do.”
Do not trouble yourself with destiny, for what is destined from eternity will not be changed by your efforts, and do not neglect his commandments, for you will be punished if you neglect it.
On asking that what wonders he had seen, he replied:
“Many wonders, but the most wondrous was that the Khidr (may blessings of Allah be on him) desired to let him associate with me, but I refused. Not that I desired any better companion, but I feared that I would depend on him rather than on Allah, and my trust in Allah would weaken by consorting with him, and that in consequence of performing a work of supererogation, I should fail to perform a duty incumbent on me. This is the degree of perfection.
55. Abu Hamza Baghdadi (may Allah have mercy on him)
The confidant of the steadfast, the foundation of the believers of faith Abu Hamza al-Baghdadi al-Bazzaz was one of the principal Sufi scholastic theologians. He was a disciple of Harith Muhasibi, and had association with Sari. He was contemporary of Nuri and Khair Nassaj and enjoyed the company of many eminent Sheikhs. He used to preach in the Rusafa mosque at Baghdad. He was versed in Quranic exegesis and commentary, and related traditions of Prophet (peace be upon him) on trustworthy authority. He was with Nuri at the time of his persecution. Allah delivered all of them from that calamity. I will tell this story in the place where doctrine Nuri is explained. He said:
اذاسلمت منك نفسك فقدا ديت حقها واذاسلم منك الخلق قضيت حقوقهم
“If your nafs (lower soul) is safe from you, you have rendered its due; and if mankind is safe from you, you have paid that is due to them.”
There are two obligations; one which you owe to yourself and the other which you owe to others. If you have refrained yourself from sin and have sought the path of future salvation for it, you have fulfilled your obligation towards it and if you have made others secure from your evils and have wished no injury to them, you have fulfilled your obligation towards them. Remember that neither you blow any harm to others nor to yourself and then fulfill the obligation to Allah.
56. Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Musa al-Wasti (may Allah have mercy on him)
Imam of the path, holder of high states and eloquent in his speech Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Musa al-Wasti was a profound theosophist. He attained excellent state in realities of marifat and was praiseworthy in the eyes of all the Sheikhs. He was one of the early disciples of Junaid. His sayings and expressions were so complex and deep that formalists were unable to comprehend their depth. He remained agitated wherever he lived until he came to Merv. The inhabitants of Merv welcomed him on account of his amiable disposition and benefited from his discourses. He passed rest of his life there. He said:
الذاكرون في ذكره اكثر غفلة من الناسين لذكره
“Probability of those who remember Allah is more to get into heedlessness than those who do not remember Him.”
The heedlessness of one who remembers Allah in his heart and does not praise His dikr is less harmful to that who is forgetful of Him but regular in his dikr (praise).
Praise is not the same thing as the object of praise and neglect of the object of praise combined with thought of the praise leads to heedlessness more intimately than neglect of the praise without thought. He who fails to remember His praise, due to forgetfulness and absence, does not think that he is present (with Allah), but he who remembers, in his remembrance and absence from the object of praise, thinks that he is present (with Allah). Therefore, in the state of absence, to consider presence (with Allah) without any assumption is closer to heedfulness than being in absence (from Allah), for conceit is the destruction of the devotee. Where there is more conceit, reality would be extinct and where the reality is less, the conceit would be more. Conceit springs from the suspiciousness of the intellect which leads intellect to more conceits.
Actually dikr (remembrance of Allah) is either in absence or in presence and when devotee is absent from himself and present with Allah, that state is not presence but contemplation, and when one is absent from Allah and present with himself, that state is not of dikr (remembrance of Allah) but absence from Him. And absence is the result of heedlessness.
57. Abu Bakr Shibli (may Allah have mercy on him)
The ship of discourse Abu Bakr b. Dalaf b. Hujdar al-Shibli was a great and celebrated Sheikh. He had excellent state and spent a pure life. He was subtle in the use of symbolism which was so highly applauded that one of the moderns says that there are three wonders of the world, i.e. the symbolical utterance of Shibli, the mystical sayings of Murtaish, and the anecdotes of Jafar.
He was Imam of the followers of the Path and guide to the adherents of Shariat. At first he was chief chamberlain to the Caliph. He repented in the hands of Khair al-Nassaj but became a disciple of Junaid. He remained acquainted with large number of Sheikhs. It is related that he explained the verse of Quran قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze,” (Q 24:30) as follows:
اي ابصارالرءوس عن المحارم وابصار القلوب عما سوي الله
“Refrain their bodily eyes from what is unlawful, and refrain their spiritual eyes from everything except Allah,” i.e. do not look at lasciviousness and have no thought except the vision of Allah. It is a mark of heedlessness to follow one's lusts and to regard unlawful things, and the greatest calamity that befalls on heedless is that they remain ignorant of their own faults. Who is ignorant here shall also be ignorant hereafter:
مَن كَانَ فِي هَـذِهِ أَعْمَى فَهُوَ فِي الآخِرَةِ أَعْمَى
“Those who were blind in this world will be blind in the Hereafter,” (Q 17:72).
Actually, until Allah clears one’s heart from lusty desires the physical eyes are not safe from its hidden dangers, and until Allah establishes the desire of Himself in a man’s heart the spiritual eye is not safe from looking at others than Him.
Once when Shibli was passing through the bazaar, the people called him an insane. He replied:
“You think I am mad, and I think you are sensible. My insanity is the result of intense love of Allah, while your sense is the result of great heedlessness. May Allah increase my madness so that I become nearer to Him, and may He increase your sense so that you get farther from Him.”
This he uttered because of modesty, considering that why anyone should be so beside one's self as not to separate love of Allah from insanity and not to distinguish between them.
58. Abu Muhammad b. Jafar b. Nusair al-Khuldi (may Allah have mercy on him)
He is a well-known biographer who eloquently portrayed the life sketches of the Saints. He was one of the most eminent and oldest disciples of Junaid. He was an expansive ocean of the knowledge of Sufism. He was trustee of the liberalities and blessings of the Sheikhs and watchman of their rights. He has sublime sayings in each branch of the religion. In order to avoid spiritual conceit, he attributed to different persons the anecdotes which he composed in illustration of each topic. He said:
التوكل استواء القلب عند الوجود و العدم
“Tawakul (Trust in Allah) is composure of the heart whether you get anything or not.”
One may not feel pleasure on having something, or feel sorrow by not having something, because body is the property of the Lord, Who has a better right than you either to preserve or to destroy it. You need not to interfere, hand over the ownership to the Owner and you should have no control or right on it.
Once he went to Junaid and found him suffering from fever. He asked him to pray Allah so he might restore his health. Junaid replied that last night he was about to tell Him, but a voice whispered in his heart,
“Thy body belongs to Me: I keep it well or ill, as I please. Who are thou, that thou shouldst interfere with My property. Refrain thyself from excessiveness, so thou mayst become a true slave.”
59. Abu Ali b. Muhammad al-Qasim al-Rudbari (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was the devotee of the Path and leader of the followers of Sufism. He was of royal descent. He attained very high stature in ethical sciences. Many signs and virtues were vouchsafed to him. He discoursed lucidly on the mysteries of Sufism.
المريدلا يريد لنفسه الا ما اراد الله له والمراد لا يريد من الكونين شيءا غيره
“Murid (desirous) is the one who does not desire anything for himself except what Allah desires for him, and Murad is he who does not desire anything in this world or the next except Allah.”
Who is satisfied with the will of Allah, if abandons his desire and will, be His murid (desirous). The lover has no will of his own, so that only Beloved should be his Murad (desire). And who desires Allah, desires only what Allah desires for him, and what Allah desires, he also desires the same. Hence rida (satisfaction) is one of the initial maqamat (stations) whereas muhabat (love) is one of the last states. The maqamat are connected with the realization of worship while the degrees of states (ecstasy) are attained by corroboration of Lordship. This being so, the murid (desirer) subsists in himself, and the murad (desired) subsists in Allah.
60. Abu al-Abbas Qasim b. Mehdi Sayyari (may Allah have mercy on him)
The treasure of unity, gainer of celibacy Abu al-Abbas al-Qasim b. Mehdi al-Sayyari was Imam of his time and was well versed in the inward and outward knowledge. He was associated with Abu Bakr Wasti and also got benefited from many other Sheikhs. He was the most accomplished in companionship and was the most venerable ascetic in cankers of nafs (lower soul). He is author of lofty sayings and praiseworthy compositions. He said:
التوحيد ان لا يخطر بقلبك ما دونه
“Tawhid (Unity of Allah) is that nothing should occur to ones mind except Allah.”
One’s secrets should not pass through the hearts of creature and there should not be any impurity in one’s acts because thought of other (than Allah) proves its existence and when other is established then Tawhid will be non existent?
He belonged to a learned and influential family. There was no family in Merv who could stand equal to his family. Having inherited a large fortune from his father, he gave the whole of it in return for two of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) hairs. Through the blessing of those hairs Allah bestowed on him a sincere repentance. He found the company of Abu Bakr Wasti, and attained such a high status that he was counted among the Imams of Sufism. He made a precept that after his death, the hairs of the Prophet (peace be upon him) should be placed in his mouth. His tomb at Merv is visited by the people who go there to seek their desires. The prayers are granted there.
61. Abu Abdullah Muhammad b. Khafif (may Allah have mercy on him)
He was the Imam of his age and Sheikh in different religious sciences. He was renowned for abstinence and mortifications and for his convincing elucidation of mystical truth. His spiritual attainments are clearly evident from his compositions. He had the honor to meet Ibn Ata, Shibli, Hussein b. Mansur and Jurairi, and while at Mecca he was associated with Abu Yaqub Nahrajuri. He traveled the path of tajreed تجريد (detachment from the world) to its depth. He was a royal descent, but when Allah bestowed on him repentance, he turned his back on the glories of this world. He is held in high esteem by spiritualists. He said:
التوحيد الاعراض عن الطبيعة
“Unification consists in turning away from disposition,”
The disposition of mankind is veiled from the bounties and is blind to the beneficence of Allah. Hence no one can turn to Allah until he has turned away from disposition, and the possessor of disposition is ignorant of the truth. When you see the corruption of your own nature, you will get to know the reality of the Truth. He has lot of sayings and proofs on Marifat and Divine.
62. Abu Uthman Said b. Salam Maghrabi (may Allah have mercy on him)
The sword of leadership, the sun of auspiciousness Abu Uthman Said b. Salam al-Maghrabi was an eminent spiritualists of the class ahl-i tamkin (those who attained the state of fixity), and was profoundly versed in various departments of knowledge. He practiced austerities, and is the author of many notable sayings and excellent proofs concerning the observation of spiritual blemishes. He said:
من اثرصحبة الاغنياء علي مجالسة الفقراء ا بتلاه الله بموت القلب
“One who prefers the association of the rich over sitting with the dervishes, Allah afflicts him with spiritual death.”
The terms “association” and “sitting with” are used, because only that man turns away from the dervishes who has sat with them, not one who has associated with them, for there is no turning away in association. Since the result of preferring the association of rich over sitting with the dervishes is spiritual death, what would be the result of turning away from the association of dervishes? The two terms are clearly distinguished from each other in this saying.
63. Abu al-Qasim Ibrahim b. Mahmud Nasrabadi (may Allah be pleased with him)
A resident of Nishapur where he was like a king, save that the glory of kings is in the materialistic world, while his was in the spiritual world. Many original sayings and exalted signs were vouchsafed to him. He was a disciple of Shibli and master of the later Sheikhs of Khurasan. He was the most learned and ascetic venerable of his age.
انت بين النسبتين الي ادم ونسبة الي ادم ونسبة الي الحق فا ذا اتنسبت الي ادم دخلت في ميادين الشهوات و مواضع الافات و الزلات وهي نسبة تحقق البشرية
“You are between two relationships: one to Adam, and the other to Allah. If you claim relationship to Adam, you enter in the arenas of lust, error, evils and indignity. Since physical relationship has no value and this is a proof of your relationship with humanity, for Allah has said,
إِنَّهُ كَانَ ظَلُومًا جَهُولًا
he was indeed unjust and foolish” (Q 33:72),“
If, however, you claim relationship to Allah, you enter the stations of revelation, evidence, chastity and saintship. The first relationship is connected with the affliction of mankind and the second relationship is the devotion to Allah.” Allah hath said:
وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا
“And the servants of (Allah) most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility,” (Q 25:63).
The first relationship pertains to the calamities of humanity and the second to the realization of devotion to Allah. The Relationship to Adam will end at the Resurrection, whereas the relationship of being a servant of Allah will subsist always and is unalterable. The excellence of relationship when a man refers him to himself or to Adam is
إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي
I have indeed wronged my soul” (Q 28:16),
but when he refers himself to Allah, his state should be such that as Allah says,
يَا عِبَادِ لَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ
My devotees! No fear shall be on you that day,” (Q 43:68).
64. Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Ibrahim al-Husri (may Allah have mercy on him)
The delight of the aspirants, noble of the Court of the Truth Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Ibrahim al-Husri was one of the great Imams of the Sufis and was unrivalled in his time. He has lofty sayings and admirable explanations on all spiritual matters. He said:
دعوني في بلاءي هاتوا مالكم الستم
من اولاد ادم الذي خلقه بيده ونفح فيه من روحه و اسجدله ملاءكته '
ثم امره فخالف فاذا كان اول الدون ورويًا كيف يكون اخره
“Leave me alone in my affliction and listen! Are you not the children of Adam, whom Allah without any intermediary formed with His own hand and breathed a spirit into him and caused the angels to bow down to him?
Then He commanded him to do something, and he disobeyed. If the first of the goblet has dregs, what will its last be? When a man is left to himself he is all disobedience, but when Divine favor comes to his help he is all love. Therefore, regard the beauty of Divine favor and continue to compare ugliness of your character with it, and pass your whole life in this way.”
I have mentioned some of the ancient Sufis whose example is authoritative. If I had mentioned them all and had set forth their lives in detail and had included the anecdotes respecting them, my purpose would have relegated to secondary position, and this book would have run to great length. Now I will add some accounts of the modern Sufis so that you are benefited the maximum.
 Abu Muhammad al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf al-Saqfi, Governor of Iraq, died 95 A.H.
 Abu al-Abbas Al Fadl b. Rabi, d. 208 A.H.
 Abu Jafar Haroon Rashid, the Caliph, d. 193 A.H.
 Abu Bakr Abd al-Razzaq b. Hamam Saqat, d. 211 A.H.
 Abu Muhammad Sufyan b. Uyayna, d. 198 A.H.
 died 101 A.H.
 died 106 A.H.
 died 112 A.H.
 died 117 A.H.
 Hafiz Abu al-Hasan Ali b. Khashram b. Abd al-Rehman al-Mervasi died 257 A.H.
 Died 189 A.H.
 Died 182 A.H.
 Abu Abdallah Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Ghalib b. Khalid al-Basri al-Bahili, generally known as Ghulam Khalil died in 275 A.H.
 The famous physician Abu Bakr Muhammad b. Zakarriya al-Razi, died 320 A.H