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Hazrat Khwaja Fuzail Ibn Ayaz r.a

Far too long the pages of my heart been sealed.

Illuminate it now-as shine the gardens-

Heads prostrate are the dwellers of the gardens.

Salutations to you, Oh Fuzail Ibn Ayaz !

Do grant me devotion and abstinence,

Hazrat Khwaja Fuzail Ibn Ayaz began his career somewhat ignominiously as a highwayman, playing the prosperous trade route between Bavard and Merv. As the chief of a group of bandits, he would wear the woolen garb of a dervish and tie a tasbih around his neck, while dividing the spoils of his gang amongst themselves. He was the epitome of the chivalrous highwayman; women in the caravan he would leave with dignity and belongings intact, he would never steal from one of small means, and he always left the merchants with some portion of their goods. Once a rich caravan was headed for the region, and its leader decided to hide a bad of gold with Fuzail r.a who looked for all the world to be a holy man.

“I entrusted you with my money,” he told the highwayman, “If we do get robbed, at least I will have something to fall back on.” The caravan proceeded and sure enough was waylaid by the robbers. The merchant then returned to the tent of Fuzail r.a, only to see him casually dividing up the spoils ! However, his astonishment redoubled when the highwayman told him to claim his gold, which was where he left it. “ Ah!” Fuzail’s peers,” we did not find one gold dhiram in the caravan, and there you go and return ten thousand to him!”

“ He had a good opinion of me” Fuzail r.a replied, “ I have always had a good opinion of Allah, that he will cause me to repent my ways one day.” And such proved to be the case; for Allah accepts sincere prayers, even the prayers of a sinner. That day came, when, approaching a caravan, he heard a man reciting the following verse from the Holy Quran,

“ Has the time not come for the healers of those who believe to be humbled in the remembrance of God?”

Those words pierced him like an arrow, and he fell to the ground in tears of repentance. Immediately he discarded his evil ways and, by means of absoloution, he sought out every single one of his vicitims, repaying each them what he had taken from them. He then went to the court of the sultan, confessing his crimes and begging that judgement be meted out of him. However, the sultan, seeing upon him the marks of righteousness, refused to punish him.

Hazrat Khwaja Fuzail r.a then took his family and departed for the holy lands, working as a water-carrier to earn a living. He settled for a while in Kufah, where he spent time in the company of Imam Abu Hanifa r.a. Hearing the tremendous reputation of Imam al-Hassan Basri, he travelled to Basra hoping to become his murid. However, when he arrived, he found that the Imam ahd already passed away, and he took Baya’h with his Khalifa, Hazrat Khwaja Imam Abd al-Wahid.

The gates of oratory were opened to him, and he began to preach in a manner that soon the entire Islamic world knew of him. One of his most famous pupils was Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal. He becale the greates disciple of his murshid, and also acquired Khilafat from Abu Iyadh ibn Mansur, whose silsilah reaches Sayyidina Abu Bakar r.a. Thus, through Hazrat Khwaja Fuzail, the chain of the Chishtiya order arises from both the great Sahaba Imams of Tasawwuf, Prince of faithful Hazrat Imam Ali and Hazrat Abu Bakar r.a

Khwaja Fuzail was one of the greatest of the early Sufis, who in that formative period of Islam, were distinguished not specialized action or formal designation, but by the loftiness of their characters and their closeness to Allah. It was about one of Khwaja Fuzail’s Khalifa, Hazrat Bashr al-Hafi, that Imam Ahmed Hanbal said, “ I know fiqh, tafsir, logic, Hadith and linguistics better than he, but he knows my Lord better than I.” What was true fo the pupil was even more true for the master. The Sufis were held in awe by all around them by virtue of their tremendous piety, even though their peers were the greatest of Imams of religion. It was said of Imam Abu Hanifah, “ how could he possibly have lapsed into error or impiety, with a companion like al-Fuzail to guide and correct him?”

Many stories are told of his extreme discipline. He used to perform the continous fast that became a hallmark of the zahidin (ascetics), eating only after several days. He also used to perform up to 500 nawafil salah in a day and night. One of the titles afforded to Hazrat Khwaja Fuzail and his contemporaries was ‘al-Bakkaa’in—the Weepers—for they used to spend nights awake weeping out of fear of displeasing Allah. Such was his adherence to the Sunnah that, when he once forgetfully washed his arm twice instead of three times in wuduh, Rasulullah swm himself came to remind him of his lapse. He achieved wide repute also as an authority on hadith, and in the biographical dictionaries he is noted as narrator of the highest reliability and trustworthiness.

Once the Caliph Harun al-Rasheed came to him for advice. His words left the emperor beside himself with sorrow. Harun declared, “ it is Fuzail (not I) which is a king among men. His boldness is extreme, and the very world is contemptible in his eyes.”

Aphorism

· Imam bin Hanbal heard Khwaja Fuzail say, ‘whoever pursues leadership will be disgraced. Remain insignificant, and do not live as though you are a great man.’

· He who acquires masifah billah ( true knowledge of Allah) without love will be destroyed by pride. He who acquires Khauf ( fear of Allah) without love, terror and despondency will stop him attaining closeness to his Lord.

· More surprising than seeing a person crying in paradise, is the sight of a person laughing on earth.

· One day Hazrat Khwaja Fuzail was standing at Arafat, witnessing all the thousands of pilgrims weeping and calling upon God for mercy. “ Subhanallah !” he exclaimed. “ if all these thousand went to one man and asked him together for a single penny, do you think he would refuse? “ No,” came the response. “ Well, it is easier for Almighty Allah to forgive them all, than for that man to give them a penny. Surely he is most bountiful.”

Hazrat Khwaja Fuzailibn Ayaz r.a attained unity with Beloved in 187 AH in Makkah whilst listening to the recitation of Surah al-Qariah , he gave a fearful cry and died. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak r.a reported that, at the moment of his death, a cry was heard from ehaven and silence settled over the earth. He is buried in Janaat al-Maala, near the resting place of Hazrat Khatija al-Kubra r.a. The most famous of his Khulfa were Hazrat Bashr Hafi and Hazrat Khwaja Ibrahim bin Adham.

IMAM AL HASSAN OF BASRA

IMAM AL HASSAN OF BASRA

Imam Al-Hassan ubn Yasar Abu Saed al-Basri, the great faqih of Basra, leader of the ascetics and scholars of his time. He became known for his strict and encompassing embodiment of the Sunnah; famous for his immense knowledge, asceticism , fearless remonstration of the authorities, and his power of attraction both in discourse and appearance. One of the early formal Sufis in both the general and the literal sense, he wore all his life a cloak of wool. (Suf).

Upbringing

Both his parents were freed slaves, yet his lineage and childhood could not possibly have been more exalted. He was raised in the household of Zayd ibn Thabit r.a, who was not only one of the seven sahaba fuqaha (jurists), but also the one to whom the compilation of the Quran was entrusted. He was nursed by Umm Salamah r.a, the wisdom filled wife of Rasulullah swm, who played a crucial role in his upbringing and moral instruction. At his birth, Sayyidna Umar r.a blessed him, saying ‘Oh Allah ! Make him wise in religion and beloved to the people.’ Furthermore, he became the murid of Sayyidina Ali r.a at the age of fourteen. A childhood surrounded by such titanic figures unsurprisingly left and indelible impression upon the great Imam. He one remarked,

“ By Allah ! I have met seventy veterans of Badar. Most of their garments were wool. Had you seen them you would have said they were insane. Had they seen the best among you they would have said, ‘these people will have no part in the Hereafter;’ and had they seen the worst among you they would have said, ‘these people do not believe in the Day of Reckoning,’”

Knowledge and Piety

In his uncompromising search for Allah, he became one of the greatest saints of his era and was named “ Bab al Wilayah” ( the gateway of sainthood).

He was a hadith narrator of the highest grading, and over 1400 hadith in the nine books have chains running through him. He was also one of the authorized fuqaha among the taabain, having learnt in the household of Zayd bin Thabit, as well as others. His links to Sayyidna Ali r.a , are evident in all his fields of mastery; hadith, fiqh and tasawwuf. Some hadith masters assert that he related hadith directly from Hazrat Ali r.a ; according to Abd ar-Razzaq r.a , the great Khalifah once accepted his recommendation in a judicial case. Finally, of course, it is the consensus judgment of the great Imams of the Way that Sayyidna Ali r.a transmitted the knowledge of tasawwuf to him with a single look.

He lived most of his life in Basra (Southern Iraq), which was at that time the cultural and intellectual center of the Islamic world. It was also here that many theological and metaphysical controversies raged. It was al-Hassan r.a , a staunch defender of Orthodox Islam, who first mounted a systematic and comprehensive rebuttal of Persian and Greek beliefs. This defense was later continued by such men as the Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Hanbal r,.a, and al-Ashari r.a. Infact , his interpretation of Allah attributes from key components of the aqidah ( doctrinal belief) of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l Jamaah.

He developed a wide circle of disciples and students and became renowned as a brilliant orator. Arab scholars have preserved many of his speeches, letters and aphorisms. He made, during his time, the acquaintance of many Sufi saints. To some he was a guide, to others a fellow-traveler, and to very few, a pupil. Perhaps the most revered of these was the legendary Hazrat Bibi Rabia of Basra, a female saint whose sanctity and love for God reached mythical dimension.

He was famed and respected not only for his knowledge and wisdom, but also for his tremendous humility and piety. It is reported that for forty years he did not laugh, so completely was he consumed by fear of Allah. Once a man mockingly asked him whether he (al-Hassan) was better or worse than a dog. He replied, “if I am saved from Allah’s punishment, then I am better than the dog; but if His punishment overtakes me, then the dog is thousand times better.” When he saw a dog, he used to supplicate, “ Oh Allah ! Forgive me through the wasilah of this dog.”

Aphorisms

· We laugh and yet-who knows? –perhaps Allah has looked at some of our works and said: “ I will not accept anything from you.” Woe to you, son of Adam ! Can you fight Allah? Whoever disobeys Allah is fighting Him.

· Two thoughts roam over soul, one from Allah and one from the enemy. Allah shoes mercy on a servant who settles at the thought that comes from Him.

· Whoever knows his Lord loves Him, and whoever knows the world does without it.

· Humility is to consider everyone nobler than you.

· The world is a vehicle for you. If you drive it, it will deliver you to your destination. If it drives you, it will lead you to destruction.

Once the great Imam visited his dying neighbor, a Magian Fire worshipper named Simeon. Al-Hassan r.a approached his deathbed and advised him to become Muslim, but the man replied that there were three things stopping him.

“Firstly,” he said, “Muslims speak ill of the world, but day and night pursue worldly things. Secondly, you say death is a inevitability, but yet make no preparations for it. Thirdly, you say that God’s face shall be seen, but you do everything contrary to his good pleasure.”

Al-Hassan r.a conceded the fact, but replied that at least Muslims worship God, and not fire. “Fire is but a servant of Allah,” said the saint. “ and if Allah wishes it will not burn one particle of my body.” So saying, he thrust his hand directly into the burning flame. There it remained, unaffected by the heat, and true knowledge dawned upon Simeon. He converted to Islam, and later died. Al-Hassan r.a saw him in dream walking through the gardens of Paradise wearing a cloak of light. “Lord God!” he cried, “such is your mercy! If you can forgive and unbeliever of seventy years because of one utterance, how will you exclude a believer?”

He attained unity with Beloved in Basra in 110 AH, leaving five Khalifa, one of whom was Hazrat Imam Abd Al-Wahid ibn Zayd.