The Caravan to Mecca

Around the turn of the century, Shaykh Mahboob was on his way to the pilgrimage in Mecca, on a camel caravan from Syria. He was accompanying his teacher, Shaykh Ahmed Mekki. The journey took three months and along the way, there were many difficulties, non-the least desert robbers.

On one afternoon, they came across another caravan heading east to China. They shared camp that evening exchanged stories of their lands and experiences. The leader of the caravan warned the pilgrims to be very careful in the next few days, as there were reports of the presence of an infamous thief in the area. His infamy was on the fact that he was a ruthless man, not caring whom he robbed or killed and not even sparing the caravans of pilgrims.

The next day, while having traveled for many miles, the Shaykh's caravan stopped to perform the afternoon prayer of Asr. As they were doing their ablutions, shouts were heard from all quarters of the caravan. Soon there were shots heard and the caravan was under siege by the band of thieves under the leadership of the infamous marauder, who they had been warned about the night before.

The thieves were relentless in their appetite for blood. Many Hajjis' were killed and the caravan was ransacked. Shaykh Mahboob could see the chief thief in the distance. Like a proud king or landowner, he remained away from the camp, until most of the damage was done. Then he entered the camp to survey the booty his men had collected. As he moved through the crowds of the vanquished Hajji's, all heads bowed in fear of catching his eye and disfavor, risking death or a beating.

As he came closer, Shaykh Mahboob lifted his head and challenged the chief thief. He admonished him for laying siege on a caravan of helpless Hajji's on their way to the holy pilgrimage. Most were astonished at the courage and bold stance the Shaykh had taken. Fear ran through most though; fear that this would be the invitation of their deaths. The thief addressed the Shaykh, saying, "Do you know who I am? Do you know that I have killed men for less than what you have done today!' The Shaykh answered, "I only fear Allah, my life is in His hands and in His hands only. If it be that I should die today having challenged evil, than let it be so."

The thief dismounted his camel and approached the Shaykh. He addressed the Shaykh saying: "I fear no man or God, but I am the one feared by all" The Shaykh answered "Then I pity your illusion, and I will pray for you to repent". The thief was so impressed with the Shaykh's courage, that he had all his men gather around Shaykh Mahboob to introduce him as an equal to himself. He extolled the Shaykh's courage in standing up, and speaking to himself. In respect to Shaykh Mahboob, he let him live and brought to him a gift of three camels, gladdened with gold and silver. Shaykh Mahboob asked his Shaykh if he could accept the three camels of gold and silver from the infamous thief.  His Shaykh was clear and direct in his response. He could not accept these gifts, as they were surely, stolen from others. It would be haram, or forbidden.

As Shaykh Mahboob returned to where the thief was to refuse the gifts, the Shaykh surprised everyone when he in fact, accepted the gifts. The thief was gratified and with his men disappeared into the desert. Shaykh Mahboob had now become an outcast. His Shaykh refused to see him and he was sent with his camels to the end of the caravan, forbidden to eat, or fraternize with the rest of the caravan's Hajji's. He even was stoned and spat on several occasions.

After many days, the Shaykh's caravan came across the royal caravan from the Khalifa of Turkey. There was blood everywhere. The infamous thief had laid them siege to several days before. He had stolen all the gift supplies that the Khalifa had sent to Mecca and Medina to help for the Hajj. There were also three camels of gold and silver taken. This was a special gift from the Khalifa, intended to feed and clothe the poor Hajji's on pilgrimage. From the back of the caravan, Shaykh Mahboob came forward with the three camels of gold and silver, and placed their reins on the hands of their rightful guardians.  A roar and cheer went up throughout the two caravans. Shaykh Mahboob was now a hero.  As the roar and shouts praising his insight and courage died down, his own Shaykh emerged from the crowd. As he approached Shaykh Mahboob he bowed slightly, taking Shaykh Mahboob's hand and kissing it, saying from this day forward you are a Shaykh of Tariqa.

From, expired link

Eight Things to Learn

Once a scholar asked one of his students, "You have spent a long time with me, what have you learned?"

He said I learned eight things:

First, I looked to the creation. Everyone has a loved one. When he goes to the grave, he leaves his loved one. Therefore, I made my loved one my good deeds; that way, they will be with me in the grave.

Second, I looked to the verse, "But as for him who feared to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from lust," therefore, I struggled against my desires so I could stay obeying Allah.

Third, I saw that if anyone has something with him that is worth something, he will protect it. Then I thought about the verse,"That which you have is wasted away; and that which is with Allah remains," therefore, everything worth something with me I devoted to Him so it would be with Him for me.

Fourth, I saw the people seeking wealth, honor and positions and it was not worth anything to me. Then I thought about Allah's words, "Lo, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most aware of Allah, so I did my best to become aware of Allah in order to gain nobility in his sight.

Fifth, I saw the people being jealous towards each other and I looked at the verse, "We have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of the world", so I left jealousy.

Sixth, I saw the people having enmity and I thought about the verse, "Lo, the devil is an enemy for you, so take him as an enemy", so I left enmity and I took the Satan as my only enemy.

Seventh, I saw them debasing themselves in search of sustenance and I thought about the verse, "And there is not a beast in the earth but the sustenance thereof depends on Allah", so I kept myself busy with my responsibilities toward Him and I left my property with Him.

Eighth, I found them relying on their business, buildings and health and I thought about the verse, "And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him", therefore, I put my trust only on Allah.

Translated by: Jamal Zarabozo

If you want the Rainbow, you got to put up with the rain....

Poem of the End

It was early in the morning at four,
When death knocked upon a bedroom door,
Who is there? the sleeping one cried.
I'm Azrael, let me inside.

At once, the man began to shiver,
As one sweating in deadly fever,
He shouted to his sleeping wife,
Don't let him take away my life.

Please go away, O Angel of Death!
Leave me alone, I'm not ready yet.
My family on me depends,
Give me a chance, O please prepense!

The angel knocked again and again,
Friend! I'll take your life without a pain,
Tis your soul Allah requires,
I come not with my own desire.

Bewildered, the man began to cry,
O Angel I'm so afraid to die,
I'll give you gold and be your slave,
Don't send me to the unlit grave.

Let me in, O Friend! The Angel said,
Open the door, get up from your bed,
If you do not allow me in,
I will walk through it, like a jinn.

The man held a gun in his right hand,
Ready to defy the Angel's stand.
I'll point my gun, towards your head,
You dare come in, I'll shoot you dead.

By now the Angel was in the room,
Saying, O Friend! prepare for you doom.
Foolish man, Angels never die,
Put down your gun and do not sigh.

Why are you afraid! Tell me O man,
To die according to Allah's plan?
Come smile at me, do not be grim,
Be Happy to return to Him.

O Angel! I bow my head in shame,
I had no time to take Allah's Name.
From morning till dusk, I made my wealth,
Not even caring for my health.

Allah's command I never obeyed,
Nor five times a day I ever prayed.
A Ramadan came and a Ramadan went,
But no time had I to repent.

The Hajj was already FARD on me,
But I would not part with my money.
All charities I did ignore,
Taking usury more and more.

Sometimes I sipped my favourite wine,
With flirting women I sat to dine.
O Angel! I appeal to you,
Spare my life for a year or two.

The Laws of Quran I will obey,
I'll begin SALAT this very day.
My Fast and Hajj, I will complete,
And keep away from self conceit.

I will refrain from usury,
And give all my wealth to charity,
Wine and wenches I will detest,
Allah's Oneness I will attest.

We Angels do what Allah demands,
We cannot go against His commands.
Death is ordained for everyone,
Father, mother, daughter or son.

I'm afraid this moment is your last,
Now be reminded, of your past,
I do understand your fears,
But it is now too late for tears.

You lived in this world, two score and more,
Never did you, your people, adore.
Your parents, you did not obey,
Hungry beggars, you turned away.

Your two ill-gotten, female offspring,
In night-clubs, for livelihood they sing.
Instead of making more Muslims,
You made your children non-Muslims.

You ignored the Mua'dhin Adhaan,
Nor did you read the Holy Quran.
Breaking promises all your life,
Backbiting friends, and causing strife.

From hoarded goods, great profits you made,
And your poor workers, you underpaid.
Horses and cards were your leisure,
Money-making was your pleasure.

You ate vitamins and grew more fat,
With the very sick, you never sat.
A pint of blood you never gave,
Which could a little baby save.

O Human, you have done enough wrong,
You bought good properties for a song.
When the farmers appealed to you,
You did not have mercy, tis true.

Paradise for you? I cannot tell,
Undoubtedly you will dwell in hell.
There is no time for you to repent,
I'll take your soul for which I am sent.

The ending however, is very sad,
Eventually the man became mad
With a cry, he jumped out of bed,
And suddenly, he fell down dead.

O Reader! Take moral from here,
you never know, your end may be near
change your living and make amends
For heaven, on your deeds depends.

If this poem inspires you,
it can help someone too.


The Idiot, The Wise Man And The Jug

An idiot may be the name given to the ordinary man, who consistently misinterprets what happens to him, what he does, or what is brought about by others. He does this so completely plausibly that - for himself and his peers - large areas of life and thought seem logical and true.

An idiot of this kind was sent one day with a pitcher to a wise man, to collect some wine.

On the way the idiot, through his own heedlessness, smashed the jar against a rock.

When he arrived at the house of the wise man, he presented him with the handle of the pitcher, and said:

"So-and-so sent you this pitcher, but a horrid stone stole it from me."

Amused and wishing to test his coherence, the wise man asked:

"Since the pitcher is stolen, why do you offer me the handle?"

"I am not such a fool as people say," the idiot told him, "and therefore I have brought the handle to prove my story."

Source: Idries Shah in Tales of the Dervishes

Society's Ills

Once there were two students walking along a river. One of them just so happened to glance over at something floating in the river. It did not take long for him to realize that it was a baby! Without hesitation he jumped into the river to save the infant from drowning. When he jumped in he realized that there were at least ten more in his immediate area, all of them screaming and crying as they bobbed by.

Quite naturally he started screaming to the other student. "Help! C'mon man! Get in here! Look at all of these babies! We gotta help 'em!" The other student, however, kept walking upstream, despite noticing a river full of babies, with more and more floating downstream.

For every one that the first student saved, eight passed him. There were just too many."C'mon man! Don't you have a heart?! I can't grab all of these babies alone!"

The second student replied, "I'm going upstream to find out who's throwing all of these babies in the river."

The point of this short story is to demonstrate the importance of going to the source of the problem to have a greater impact. Many people address each of society's social ailments as separate entities. Thus we find numerous organizations that target a specific poison; The solution to racism, spouse abuse, child abuse, crime, pollution, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and other social ills is one.

Each problem does not require its own organizations and groups to eliminate it. The solutions for all of these is one. That one, is Islam.


Shaqeeq Balkhi before Harun al-Rashid

When Shaqeeq set out on the Mecca pilgrimage and reached Bagdad, Harun al-Rashid summoned him.

"Are you Shaqeeq the Ascetic?" Harun demanded when he came into his presence.

"I am Shaqeeq," he replied, "but not the Aesthetic."

"Counsel me," Harun commanded.

"Then attend," Shaqeeq proceeded. "Almighty God has set you in the place of Abu Bakr the Trusty, and requires trustiness from us from him. He has set you in the place of Omar the Discriminator, and requires from you as from him discrimination between truth and falsehood. He has set you in the place of Osman of the Two Lights, and requires from you as from him modesty and nobility. He has set you in the place of Ali the Well-Approved, and requires from you as from him knowledge and justice."

"Say more," Harun cried.

"God has a lodging place called Hell," Shaqeeq said. "He has appointed you it's doorkeeper, and has equipped you with three things - wealth, sword, and whip. ’With these three things,’ He commands, ’keep the people away from Hell. If any man comes to you in need, do not grudge him money. If any man opposes God's commandment, school him with this whip. If any man slays another, lawfully exact retaliation on him with his sword.’ If you do not do these things, you will be the leader of those that enter Hell."

"Say more," Harun repeated.

"You are the fountain, and your agents are the rivulets," said Shaqeeq. "If the fountain is bright, it is not impaired by the darkness of the rivulets. But if the fountain is dark, what hope is there that the rivulets will be bright?"

"Say more," Harun said again.

"Suppose you are thirsting in the desert, so that you are about to perish," Shaqeeq went on. "If in that moment you come upon a drought of water, how much would you be willing to give for it?"

"As much as the man demands," said Harun.

"And if you would not sell you save for half of your kingdom?"

"I would give him that," Harun replied.

"And suppose you drink the water and then it will not come out of you, so that you are in danger of perishing," Shaqeeq persued. "Then someone tells you, ’I will cure you, but I demand half of your kingdom.’ What would you do?"

"I would give it," answered Harun.

"Then why do you vaunt [boast] yourself of a kingdom," said Shaqeeq, "the value of which is one draught of water which you drink, and then it comes out of you?"

Harun wept, and send Shaqeeq away with all honor.

Muslim Saints and Mystics, Tadhkirat al-Awliya’; Farid al-Din Attar

The Triple Filter Test

During the golden Abbasid period, one of the scholars in Baghdad, the capital of Muslim caliphate at that time, was reputed to hold knowledge in high esteem.

One day an acquaintance met the great scholar and said, "Do you know what I just heard about your friend?"

"Hold on a minute," the scholar replied. "Before telling me anything I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Triple Filter Test."

"Triple filter?"

"That's right," the scholar continued. "Before you talk to me about my friend it might be a good idea to take a moment and filter what you're going to say.

That's why I call it the triple filter test.

The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"

"No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it and.."

"All right," said the scholar. "So you don't really know if it's true or not.

Now let's try the second filter, the filter of goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my friend something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"So," the scholar continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him, but you're not certain it's true. You may still pass the test though, because there's one filter left: the filter of usefulness.

Is what you want to tell me about my friend going to be useful to me?"

"No, not really."

"Well," concluded the scholar, "if what you want to tell me is neither true nor good nor even useful, why tell it to me at all?"

"O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former)" ... (to end of Surah Hujurat 49.12

"And spy not on each other behind their backs..." (to end of Surah Hujurat 49.13)

Praise be to Allah that we are Muslims...

How Ma´ruf Al-Karkhi Chose Islam

Ma´ruf al-Karkhi's parents were both Christians. When they sent him to school, his teacher said to him, "Say, God is the third of three."

"No" answered Ma´ruf. "On the contrary, He is God, the One."

The teacher beat him up, but to no avail. One day the teacher beat him severely, and Ma´ruf ran away and could not be found.

"If only he would come back" his mother and father said. "Whichever religion he wished to follow, we would agree with him."

Ma´ruf came to Ali ibn Musa al-Reza and accepted Islam at his hands. Some time past. Then one day he made his way home and knocked at the door of his father's house.

"Who is there?" They asked.

"Ma´ruf" he replied.

"What faith have you adopted?"

"The religion of Muhammad, the Messenger of God."

His mother and father immediately accepted Islam and became Muslims.

Source: Muslim Saints and Mystics, Farid al-Din Attar

A Lot of Learning, But Little Understanding…

A student had spent thirty years acquiring knowledge. His teacher said to him: ”Let me ask you a question. If you know the answer, I shall give you your diploma. The question I am going to put to you is not about the Qur”an or Traditions, yet it is not unconnected with these. If you have understood just a little of what you have learned, if your studies have been at all fruitful, you will be able to answer. But not if you have learned without understanding.”

The teacher then asked his student this question: ”How many days” journey is your home country from here?”

“It takes three months,” the student replied.

“If Allah wills, you will receive your diploma and make that long journey.”

”Yes, if Allah has so destined.”

“On your way, will you pass nomad encampments with flocks of sheep, and will they have sheepdogs to guard the flocks?”

“Of course! I will pass all of these on the way.”

”Well then, suppose you were to be set upon suddenly by five or six of those sheepdogs as you were passing by on your way home. What would you do? If you have understood your lessons, if you have got anything from the blessed Qur”an and Traditions and if history has taught you anything, then you will answer the questions correctly, pass this examination, receive your diploma, go back home and become a preacher whose sermons will benefit the people in this world and the Hereafter.”

The student gave this reply: ”My respected teacher! If I encounter savage dogs along the way I shall fight them off with the staff I carry.”

“It is no easy matter to contend with half a dozen savage dogs. You may beat off three, but the other three will bite you meanwhile. That is no answer.”

“I shall drive them off with stones.”

”That is not possible either.”

”Then I shall use a gun.”

”In that case you will not escape the owner of the dog. Sheepdogs are very valuable.”

The student had failed the exam. He had not been able to give the right answer to the question.

”My son,” said his teacher, ”you have learned a lot, but you have not understood. Think things over for a while, then come back to me.” After reflecting for some days, the student approached the teacher again. ”Have you found the answer to my question?” the teacher asked him. ”No sir,” he said. ‘I confess my ignorance. Please teach me what I should do.”

The teacher then explained:
”My son, if you should run into such a situation, do not try to fight the dogs! Leave them alone and call the shepherd at once. The shepherd will tell the dogs not to attack you. You should understand that tyrants are Allah”s savage dogs. In the life ahead of you, in your own country, you may at any time encounter such tyrants. If you try and fight them, they will bite you and tear you apart. If you kill them, their master will call you to account and you will be condemned. The best course is to appeal to Allah, the dogs” true Owner. Only by His grace can you hope to be delivered from such tyrants. What a fine Helper is He!”

In order to escape from tyrants and their wickedness, we must turn back to Allah, put our trust and reliance in Him and seek His help. For not a leaf in tl yle universe can stir without His noble permission.

From (IR) Irshad, Wisdom of a Sufi Master; Sh Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi; 1988 Amity House, p.373
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