Abu Bakr al-Kattani Radi Allahu anhu

Abu Bakr Mohammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Ja’far al- Kattani radi allahu anhu, a native of Baghdad, belonged to the circle of al-Jonaid radi allahu anhu. He proceeded to Mecca on the pilgrimage, and took up residence there until his death in 322 (934).

One day a luminous elder majestically wrapped in a cloak entered by the Gate of the Banu Shaiba and went up to Kattani radi allahu anhu, who was standing with head bowed.

“Why,” he asked after the exchange of greetings, “do you not go to the Station of  Abraham Alayhi Sallam? A great teacher has come and is relating noble traditions. Come and listen to him.”

“On whose authority is he relating, sir?” Kattani radi allahu anhu asked.

“On the authority of Abd Allah ibn Ma’mar radi allahu anhu, from Zohri, from Abu Horaira radi allahu anhu, from the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam,” the elder replied.

“Master, you have produced a long chain of authorities,” Kattani radi allahu anhu remarked. “Whatever they are reporting there by authoritative chain of transmission, we are hearing here without any chain.”

“From whom are you hearing?” asked the elder.

“My heart reported to me direct from my Lord . . .” said Kattani radi allahu anhu.

“Do you have any proof of your assertion?” demanded the elder.

“My proof,” replied Kattani radi allahu anhu, “is that my heart is telling me that you are Khezr Alayhi sallam.”

“Till then,” Khezr Alayhi Sallam remarked, “I had always thought that there was no friend of ALLAH Azzawajal whom I did not know. That was until I saw Abu Bakr-e Kattani radi allahu anhu. I did not know him, but he knew me. Then I realized that ALLAH Azzawajal has friends who know me but whom I do not know.”

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’
(Memorial of the Saints)
by Farid al-Din Attar

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Book of Love

Amr ibn ‘Othman radi allahu anhu on Love

Amr ibn ‘Othman radi allahu anhu stated the following in his Book of Love.

Almighty ALLAH Azzawajal created the hearts seven thousand years before the souls, and He kept them in the Garden of Intimacy. He created the Secrets seven thousand years before the hearts, and kept them in the Degree of Union.

Every day God caused the souls to receive three hundred and sixty glances of Grace and to hear three hundred and sixty words of Love. Every day He manifested to the hearts three hundred and sixty delights of Intimacy. Every day He revealed Beauty three hundred
and sixty times to the Secrets.

So they beheld every thing in the world of being, and saw none more precious than themselves. A vainglory and conceit manifested amongst them.

ALLAH Azzawajal therefore put them to the trial. He imprisoned the Secret in the soul. He confined the soul in the heart. He detained the heart in the body. Then He compounded
in them reason.

ALLAH Azzawajal sent the Prophets Alaihi Sallam with commandments. Then every one of them set about searching for his proper station. God commanded them to pray. So the body went into prayer; the heart attained Love; the soul achieved Propinquity; the Secret was at rest in Union.

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’
(Memorial of the Saints)
by Farid al-Din Attar

Abo ‘l-Qasem al-Jonaid al-Baghdadi Radi Allahu anhu

Abo ‘l-Qasem al-Jonaid ibn Mohammad al- Khazzaz al-Nehawandi radi allahu anhu, son of a glass-merchant and nephew of Sari al-Saqati radi allahu anhu, close associate of al-Mohasebi radi allahu anhu, was the greatest exponent of the ‘sober’ school of Sufism and elaborated a theosophical doctrine which determined the whole course of orthodox mysticism in Islam. He expounded his theories in his teachings, and in a series of letters written to various contemporaries which have survived. The head of a large and influential school, he died in Baghdad in 298 (910).

Jonaid radi allahu anhu preaches

When Jonaid radi allahu anhu’s tongue was loosened to utter great words, Sari-e Saqati radi allahu anhu urged him that it was his duty to  preach in public. Jonaid radi allahu anhu was hesitant, not desiring to do so.

“While the master is there, it is not seemly for the disciple to preach,” he demurred.

Then one night Jonaid radi allahu anhu saw the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam in a dream.

“Preach,” the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam said.

Next morning he arose to go and report to Sari radi allahu anhu, but he found Sari radi allahu anhu standing at the door.

“Hitherto,” Sari radi allahu anhu told him, “you were inhibited, waiting for others to tell you to preach. Now you must speak, because your words have been made the means of a whole world’s salvation. You would not speak when the disciples asked you to. You did not speak when the shaikhs of Baghdad interceded with you. You did not speak at my urging. Now that the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam has commanded you, you must speak.”

“ALLAH Azzawajal forgive me,” Jonaid radi allahu anhu replied. “How did you know that I saw the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam in a dream?”

“I saw ALLAH Azzawajal in a dream,” Sari radi allahu anhu explained. “ALLAH Azzawajal said,

‘I have sent the Messenger Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam to tell Jonaid radi allahu anhu to preach from the pulpit.’ “

“I will preach then,” consented Jonaid radi allahu anhu. “Only on one condition, that it be to no more than forty persons.”

One day Jonaid radi allahu anhu was preaching, and forty persons were present. Of these eighteen expired, and twentytwo fell to the ground unconscious. They were lifted up and carried to their homes.

Another day Jonaid was preaching in the cathedral. In the congregation there was a Christian lad, but no one knew that he was a Christian. He approached Jonaid radi allahu anhu and said, “According to the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam’s saying, ‘Beware of the insight of the believer, for he sees by the light of ALLAH Azzawajal.’ “

“The pronouncement is,” replied Jonaid radi allahu anhu, “that you should become a Muslim and cut your Christian girdle, for this is the time of Muslimdom.”

The boy immediately became a Muslim.

After Jonaid radi allahu anhu had preached a number of times, the people cried out against him. He gave up preaching, and retired to his room. For all that he was urged to resume, he would not do so.

“I am content,” he replied. ‘I cannot contrive my own destruction.”

Some time later he mounted the pulpit and began to preach without any prompting.

“What was the inner wisdom in this?” he was asked.

“I came upon a Tradition,” he replied, “according to which the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam said, ‘In the last days the spokesman of the people will be he that is the worst of them. He will preach to them.’ I know that I am the worst of the people. I am preaching because of what the Prophet Salla allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam said, so that I may not oppose his words.”

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’
(Memorial of the Saints)
by Farid al-Din Attar

Abu Hafs al-Haddad Radi Allahu anhu

Abu Hafs ‘Amr ibn Salama al-Haddad radi allahu anhu, a blacksmith of Nishapur, visited Baghdad and met al- Jonaid radi allahu anhu who admired his devotion; he also encountered al-Shebli radi allahu anhu and other mystics of the Baghdad school. Returning to Nishapur, he resumed his trade and died there in 265 (879).

Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu and Shebli radi allahu anhu

Shebli radi allahu anhu gave hospitality to Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu for four months. Every day he produced a different kind of dish and several sorts of sweetmeat.

When Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu came to bid him farewell, he said,“Shebli radi allahu anhu, when you come to Nishapur I will teach youtrue entertainment and generosity.”

“Why, what have I done, Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu?” asked Shebli radi allahu anhu.“You took too great pains. Extravagance is not the same as generosity,” said Abu Hafs. radi allahu anhu “One should treat a guest exactly as oneself. That way, his coming will not be a burden to you, and his departure will not be an occasion of gladness. When you go to extravagant lengths, his coming is burdensome to you and his departure a relief. No man who feels like that towards a guest is truly generous.”

When Shebli radi allahu anhu came to Nishapur he stayed with Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu.  Forty persons were in the party, and at night Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu lit forty-one lamps.

“Did you not say one should not act extravagantly?” remarked Shebli radi allahu anhu.

“Then get up and put them out,” answered Abu Hafs radi allahu anhu.

Shebli radi allahu anhu got up, but for all his efforts he could not extinguish more than one lamp.

“Shaikh, how is this?” he asked.

“You were forty persons, emissaries of ALLAH Azzawajal. For the guest is an emissary of ALLAH Azzawajal. Naturally I lit a lamp in the name of each one, for the sake of ALLAH Azzawajal, and one for myself. Those forty which I lit for Allah Azzawajal you were unable to put out, but the one lit for myself you extin- guished. All that you did in Baghdad you did for my sake; I did what I did for ALLAH Azzawajal’s sake. So the former was extravagance, the latter not.”

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’

(Memorial of the Saints)

by Farid al-Din Attar

Yahya ibn Mo‘adh Radi Allahu anhu

Abu Zakariya’ Yahya ibn Mo‘adh al-Razi Radi Allahu anhu, a disciple of Ibn Karram Radi Allahu anhu, left his native town of Rayy and lived for a time in Balkh, afterwards proceeding to Nishapur where he died in 258 (871). A certain number of poems are attributed to him.

Yahya-e Mo‘adh-e :Razi Radi Allahu anhu and his debt

Yahya-e Mo‘adh Radi Allahu anhu had incurred a debt of a hundred thousand dirhams. He had borrowed all this money and expended it on gifts to holy warriors, pilgrims, poor men, scholars and Sufis. His creditors were pressing him for repayment, and his heart was much preoccupied thereby.

One night he dreamed that the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam spoke to him.

“Yahya, be not over-anxious, for I am pained on account of your anxiety. Arise, go to Khorasan. There a woman has set aside three hundred thousand dirhams to meet the hundred thousand you have borrowed.”

“Messenger of ALLAH,” cried Yahya, “which is that city, and who is that person?” ‘ “Go from city to city and preach,” said the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam. “Your words bring healing to men’s hearts. Just as I have come to you in a dream, so now I will visit that person in a dream.”

So Yahya Radi Allahu anhu came to Nishapur. They set up a pulpit for him before the cupola. “Men of Nishapur,” he cried, “I have come here at the direction of the Prophet, on him be peace. The Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam declared, ‘One will discharge the debt you owe.’ I have a debt of a hundred thousand silver dirhams. Know that always my words possessed a beauty, but now this debt has come as a veil over that beauty.”

“I will give fifty thousand dirhams,” one man volunteered.
“I will give forty thousand,” offered another.
Yahya Radi Allahu anhu declined to accept their gifts.
“The Master, peace be upon him, indicated one person,”he said.

He then began to preach. On the first day seven corpses were removed from the gathering. Then, seeing that his debt was not discharged in Nishapur, Yahya set out for Balkh. There he was detained for a while to preach. He extolled riches over poverty. They gave him a hundred thousand dirhams. But his words did not please a certain shaikh living in those parts, seeing that he had preferred riches.

“May ALLAH Azzawajal not bless him!” he exclaimed.

When Yahya Radi Allahu anhu left Balkh he was set on by highwaymen and robbed of all the money.“That is the result of that shaikh’s prayer,” they said.

So he proceeded to Herat, some say by way of Merv. There he related his dream. The daughter of the Prince of Herat was in the audience. She sent him a message.
“Imam, cease worrying about the debt. The night the Prophet spoke to you in a dream, he also spoke to me.
I said, ‘Messenger of ALLAH, Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam I will go to him.’ ‘No,’ the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala’alayhi wa sallam replied, ‘he will come to you.’ I have therefore been waiting for you. When my father gave me in marriage, the things others receive in copper and brass he made for me of silver and gold. The silver things are worth three hundred thousand dirhams. I bestow them on you. But I have one requirement, that you preach here for four days more.”

Yahya Radi Allahu anhu held forth for four days longer. On the first day ten corpses were taken up, on the second twentyfive, on the third forty, and on the fourth seventy. Then on the fifth day Yahya Radi Allahu anhu left Herat with seven camels’ loads of silver.

When he reached Balham, being accompanied by his son, transporting all that wealth, his son demurred.
“When he enters the town, he must not give it all immediately to the creditors and the poor and leave me with nothing of it.”

At dawn Yahya Radi Allahu anhu was communing with ALLAH Azzawajal, his head bowed to the ground. Suddenly a rock fell on his head.
“Give the money to the creditors,” he cried. Then he expired.
The men of the Way lifted him on their shoulders and bore him to Nishapur, where they laid him in the grave.

Yahya-e Mo‘adh-e Razi Radi Allahu anhu and his brother

Yahya-e Mo‘adh Radi Allahu anhu had a brother who went to Mecca and took up residence near the Kaaba Shareef. From there he wrote a letter to Yahya Radi Allahu anhu.

“Three things I desired. Two have been realized. Now one remains. Pray to ALLAH Azzawajal that He may graciously grant that one desire as well. I desired that I might pass my last years in the noblest place on earth. Now I have come to the Sacred Territory, which is the noblest of all places. My second desire was to have a servant to wait on me and make ready my ablution water. ALLAH Azzawajal has given me a seemly servant-girl. My third desire is to see you before I die. Pray to ALLAH Azzawajal that he may vouchsafe this desire.”

Yahya Radi Allahu anhu replied to his brother as follows.

“As for your saying that you desired the best place on earth, be yourself the best of men, then live in whatever place you wish. A place is noble by reason of its inhabitants, not vice versa.

“Then as for your saying that you desired a servant and have now got one, if you were really a true and chivalrous man, you would never have made ALLAH Azzawajal’s servant your own servant, detaining her from serving ALLAH Azzawajal and diverting her to serve yourself. You should yourself be a servant. You desire to be a master, but mastership is an attribute of ALLAH Azzawajal. Servanthood is an attribute of man. ALLAH Azzawajal’s servant must be a servant. When ALLAH Azzawajal’s servant desires a station proper to ALLAH Azzawajal, he makes himself a Pharaoh.

“Finally, as to your saying that you desire to see me, if you were truly aware of ALLAH Azzawajal, you would never remember me. So associate with ALLAH Azzawajal, that no memory of your brother ever comes into your mind. There one must be ready to sacrifice one’s son; how much more a brother! If you have found Him, what am I to you? And if you have not found Him, what profit will you gain from me?”

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’
(Memorial of the Saints)
by Farid al-Din Attar

Ahmad ibn Khazruya al-Balkhi Radi Allahu anhu

Abu Hamid Ahmad ibn Khazruya al-Balkhi Radi Allahu anhu, a prominent citizen of Balkh married to the pious daughter of the governor of that city, associated with Hatem al-Asamm Radi Allahu anhu and Abu Yazid al- Bestami Radi Allahu anhu. He visited Nishapur, and died in 240 (864) at the age of 95.

Anecdotes of Ahmad-e Khazruya Radi Allahu anhu

A thief broke into Ahmad-e Khazruya Radi Allahu anhu’s house. He searched everywhere but could not find anything. He was about to leave disappointed when Ahmad Radi Allahu anhu called out to him.

“Young fellow, take the bucket and draw water from the well and purify yourself, then attend to your prayers. When something comes I will give it to you, so that you shall not leave my house empty-handed.”

The youth did as Ahmad Radi Allahu anhu bade him. When daylight returned, a gentleman brought a hundred dinars and gave them to the shaikh.

“Take this as a reward for your night of prayer,” he said to the thief.

The thief suddenly trembled all over. He burst into tears.

“I had mistaken the road,” he cried. “I worked for ALLAH Azzawajal just one night, and He has favoured me so.”

Repenting, he returned to ALLAH Azzawajal. He refused to take the gold, and became one of Ahmad Radi Allahu anhu’s disciples.

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’
(Memorial of the Saints)
by Farid al-Din Attar

Beshr ibn al-Hareth Radi Allahu anhu

Abu Nasr Beshr ibn al-Hareth al-Hafi was born near Merv c. 150(767) and was converted from a life of dissipation, studied Traditions in Baghdad, then abandoned formal learning for the life of a mendicant, destitute, starving and barefoot. He died in Baghdad in 227 (841). He was admired by Ahmad ibn Hanbal and respected by the caliph al-Ma’mun.

The conversion of Beshr the Barefoot

Beshr the Barefoot was born in Merv and settled at Baghdad. The beginning of his conversion happened as follows. He had lived a life of dissipation, and one day as he was staggering along the road drunk he found a piece of paper on which was written,

“In the Name of ALLAH, the Merciful, the Compassionate.”

He bought some attar of roses and perfumed the paper with it, and deposited it reverently in his house. That night a certain holy man had a dream in which he was bidden to tell Beshr:

“Thou hast perfumed my Name, so I have perfumed thee. Thou hast exalted my Name, so I have exalted thee. Thou hast purified my Name, so I have purified thee. By my Majesty, I will surely perfume thy name in this world and the world to come.”

“He is a dissolute fellow,” thought the saint. “Perhaps I am seeing erroneously.”

So he made ablution, prayed and returned to sleep. He saw the selfsame dream a second and a third time. In the morning he arose and went in search of Beshr.

“He is at a wine-party,” he was told.

He went to the house where Beshr was.

“Was Beshr here?” he enquired.

“He was,” they said. “But he is drunk and incapable.”

“Tell him I have a message for him,” said the saint.

“A message from whom?” demanded Beshr when he was told.

“A message from ALLAH,” replied the saint.

“Alas!” cried Beshr, bursting into tears. “Is it a message of chiding or of chastisement? Wait, till I tell my friends. Friends,” he addressed his drinking-companions, “I have had a call. I am going. I bid you farewell. You will never see me again at this business.”

And from that day onward he lived so saintly, that none heard his name mentioned without heavenly peace invaded his heart. He took to the way of selfdenial, and so overwhelmed was he by the vision of God that he never put shoes on his feet. For that reason he was called Beshr the Barefoot.

Tadhkirat al-Auliya’
(Memorial of the Saints)
by Farid al-Din Attar

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