Abu Hamid Ahmad ibn Khazruya al-Balkhi, a prominent citizen of Balkh married to the pious daughter of the governor of that city, associated with Hatem al-Asamm and Abu Yazid al- Bestami. He visited Nishapur, and died in 240 (864) at the age of 95.
Ahmad-e Khazruya and his wife
Ahmad-e Khazruya had a thousand disciples, every one of whom walked on the water and flew in the air. Ahmad dressed himself in soldier’s uniform. Fatema,
his wife, was a portent in the Sufi way. She was a daughter of the Prince of Balkh. Having repented, she sent a messenger to Ahmad.
“Ask my hand from my father.” Ahmad did not respond. So she sent a second envoy.
“Ahmad, I thought you were manlier than this. Be a
guide, not a highwayman!”
Ahmad then sent an emissary to ask her father for
her hand. Her father, seeking God’s blessing thereby,
gave her to Ahmad. Fatema bade farewell to worldly
concerns and found repose dwelling in solitude with Ahmad.
So matters continued, until one day Ahmad resolved
to visit Abu Yazid. Fatema accompanied him, and
when they entered Abu Yazid’s presence she lifted her
veil from her face and engaged Abu Yazid in conversation.
Ahmad was dismayed by this, jealousy overmastering
“Fatema, what boldness was this you showed with
Abu Yazid?” he cried.
“You are intimate with my natural self. Abu Yazid is
intimate with my spiritual way. You rouse my passion,
but he brings me to God,” Fatema replied. “The proof
of this is that he can dispense with my company, whereas
you need me.”
Abu Yazid was bold with Fatema, until one day his
eyes fell upon her hands and he noticed that they were
stained with henna.
“Fatema, why have you put on henna?” he asked.
“Abu Yazid, until now you have never looked at my
hands and noticed the henna,” Fatema replied.
“Hitherto I have been at ease with you. Now that your
eyes have fallen on my hands, it is unlawful for me to
keep your company.”
“I have petitioned God,” said Abu Yazid, “to make
women in my eyes no more noticeable than a wall, and
so He has made them in my sight.”
After that Ahmad and Fatema proceeded to
Nishapur, where they were warmly received. When
Yahya-e Mo’adh-e Razi passed through Nishapur on
his way to Balkh, Ahmad wished to arrange a party for
him. He consulted Fatema.
“What do we need for a party for Yahya?” he asked
“So many oxen and sheep,” she told him.
“Accessories too—so many candles and so much attar
of roses. Besides all this, we need several asses.”
“Why, what is the reason for killing asses?” asked
“When a nobleman comes to dine,” explained
Fatema, “the dogs of the quarter must get a share of
Such was the spirit of true chivalry that imbued
Fatema that Abu Yazid declared, “If any man desires to
see a true man hidden in women’s clothes, let him look
Ahmad-e Khazruya wrestles with his soul
Ahmad-e Khazruya related the following.
For a long time I had repressed my carnal soul. Then
one day a party set out for the wars, and a great desire
to accompany them arose within me. My soul reminded
me of a number of Traditions concerning the
rewards in Heaven for fighting in the cause of God. I
“My soul is not always so eager to obey,” I said.
“Perhaps this is because I always keep my soul fasting.
My soul cannot endure hunger any longer, and wishes
to break its fast.” So I said, “I do not break the fast on
“I quite agree,” replied my soul.
“Perhaps my soul says that because I command it to
pray by night. It wishes to go on this journey so as to
sleep at night and find rest.” So I said, “I will keep you
awake till dawn.”
“I quite agree,” said my soul.
I was still more amazed. Then I reflected that perhaps
my soul said that because it wanted to mix with
people, being weary of solitude and hoping to find
solace in company. So I said, “Wherever I carry you, I
will put you down in a place apart and will not sit with
“I quite agree,” my soul repeated.
Reduced to impotence, I had resort to humble petition
to God, praying that He might disclose to me the
cunning machinations of my soul, or make my soul
confess. Then my soul spoke.
“Every day you slay me a hundred times by opposing
my desires, and other men are not aware. There at
least in the wars I shall be killed once and for all and
get deliverance, and the report will be noised through
all the world, ‘Bravo, Ahmad-e Khazruya! They killed
him, and he achieved the martyr’s crown.’”
“Glory be to Him,” I cried, “who created a soul to
be a hypocrite while alive, and a hypocrite still after
death. It will never be a true Muslim, either in this
world or the next. I thought that you were seeking to
obey God. I did not realize that you were tying the girdle.”
Thereafter I redoubled my struggle against my soul.
Anecdotes of Ahmad-e Khazruya
A thief broke into Ahmad-e Khazruya’s house. He
searched everywhere but could not find anything. He
was about to leave disappointed when Ahmad called
out to him.
“Young fellow, take the bucket and draw water from
the well and purify yourself, then attend to your
prayers. When something comes I will give it to you, so
that you shall not leave my house empty-handed.”
The youth did as Ahmad bade him. When daylight
returned, a gentleman brought a hundred dinars and
gave them to the shaikh.
“Take this as a reward for your night of prayer,” he
said to the thief.
The thief suddenly trembled all over. He burst into
“I had mistaken the road,” he cried. “I worked for
God just one night, and He has favoured me so.”
Repenting, he returned to God. He refused to take
the gold, and became one of Ahmad’s disciples.
On one occasion Ahmad came to a Sufi hospice
wearing ragged clothes. In Sufi fashion he devoted him
self wholly to spiritual tasks. The brethren of that hospice
inwardly doubted his sincerity.
“He does not belong to this hospice,” they whispered
to their shaikh.
Then one day Ahmad went to the well and his bucket
fell in. The other Sufis upbraided him. Ahmad came
to the Superior.
“Recite the Fateba, that the bucket may come up
from the well,” he begged.
“What kind of demand is this?” said the astounded
“If you will not recite it,” said Ahmad, “then give me
permission to do so.”
The shaikh gave him leave, and Ahmad recited the
Fateba. The bucket immediately rose to the surface.
When the Superior saw this, he put his cap off his head.
“Young man, who are you, that my threshing-floor
is but chaff in comparison with your grain?” he asked.
“Tell your companions,” answered Ahmad, “to look
on travellers with less disrespect.”
Once a man came to Ahmad-e Khazruya and said, “I
am sick and poor. Teach me a way whereby I may be
delivered out of this trial.”
“Write the name of each trade there is on a piece of
paper,” replied Ahmad. “Put the papers in a pouch,
and bring them to me.”
The man wrote down all the trades and brought the
papers to Ahmad. Ahmad thrust his hand in the pouch
and drew out one paper. The name “thief” was written on it.
“You must become a thief,” he told the man.
The man was astounded. For all that he rose up and
betook himself to a gang of highway robbers.
“I have a fancy for this job,” he told them. “How do
I do it?”
“There is one rule governing this work,” they told
him. “Whatever we order you to do, you must do it.”
“I will do exactly as you order,” he assured the
He was with them for a number of days. Then one
day a caravan arrived. The thieves waylaid the caravan,
and brought to their new colleague one of the travellers
who was a man of great wealth.
“Cut his throat,” they told him.
The man hesitated.
“This prince of the thieves has killed so many people.
It is better,” he said to himself, “that I should slay
him rather than this merchant.”
“If you have come to do a job, you must do as we
order,” said the head of the gang. “Otherwise, go and
find other work.”
“If I must carry out orders,” said the man, “I will
carry out God’s orders, not this thief’s.”
Drawing his sword, he let the merchant go and
struck off the head of the prince of the thieves. Seeing
this, the other bandits fled. The goods remained intact,
and the merchant escaped with his life. He gave the
man much gold and silver, so that he became independent.
Once a dervish was received by Ahmad in hospitality.
Ahmad lit seventy candles.
“This is not pleasing to me,” said the dervish.
“Making a fuss bears no relation to Sufism.”
“Go then,” said Ahmad, “and extinguish every candle
I have not lit for the sake of God.”
All that night the dervish was pouring water and
earth, but could not extinguish even one of the candles.
“Why so surprised?” Ahmad addressed the dervish
next morning. “Come with me, and you will see things
really to wonder at.”
They went off and came to the door of a church.
When the Christian deacons saw Ahmad and his companions,
the archdeacon invited them to enter. He laid
a table and bade Ahmad to eat.
“Friends do not eat with foes,” Ahmad observed.
“Offer us Islam,” said the archdeacon.
So Ahmad offered them Islam, and seventy of his retinue
accepted conversion. That night Ahmad had a
dream in which God spoke to him.
“Ahmad, you lit seventy candles for Me. I have lit
for you seventy hearts with the light of the Faith.”