Hazrat Al-Fozail ibn Iyaz r.a

Hazrat Khwaja Abdul Fuzail Bin Ayaz (rahmatullah alayh)

Hazrat Khwaja Abdul Fuzail Bin Ayaz (RA) was a thief who renounced his crimes and became a Muslim ascetic. A number of birthplaces have been attributed to Fuḍayl, including Samarkand, Merv, Mosul and Balkh; meaning he could be identified as a Turkomen, Iraqi , Azeri etc.

Prior to his conversion, Fuḍayl led a group of bandits, or highwayman, in Syria and Khorasan, raiding caravans and robbing travelers. Even during this time, he was a Muslim, keeping his five daily salat prayers, fasting as required and forbidding his men to uncover any women found among the victims. During this time, he was deeply in love with a woman, and would often send her tokens from his stolen treasures.

He operated in the desert attacking and looting passing caravans. Even while a bandit he wore simple garments of sackcloth and a woollen cap. A tasbeeh was always strung around his neck. When his band of dacoits brought their plunder, he would take whatever he desired and distribute the remainder among them.

Although his profession was dacoity, he always performed Salaat in Jamaat. He would expel any member of his band, who did not participate in Jamaat Salaat.

Another noble trait in him was that he had strict instructions for observing the Purdah of the female travellers in the caravans. Sufficient means for continuance of the caravan’s journey were also left with the people. Fuzail Bin Iyaaz would also keep account of the persons and the amounts he robbed. (Allah Ta’ala had wonderful plans for Hadhrat Fuzail, hence these noble characteristics were in him despite him being the leader of dacoits.)

One story of his banditry has a rich merchant, fearful of running into bandits, mistake Fuḍayl for an honest man and ask him to hide the majority of his wealth lest bandits find him. As the merchant continued on his way, he was robbed of his remaining wealth by Fuḍayl’s men. When the merchant returned to Fuḍayl to recover the majority of his wealth, he was dismayed to find the bandits who had robbed him there surrounding the man he had trusted; however Fuḍayl indicated that he was a god-fearing man, and would not betray his trust, therefore motioning the merchant to reclaim the wealth he had left in trust with him.

Fuḍayl was climbing a wall simply watching a passing caravan;[4] when Fuḍayl heard someone reciting the Quranic chapter of Al-Hadid, and when he heard 57:16, which reads “Has not the Time arrived for the Believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah and of the Truth which has been revealed (to them), and that they should not become like those to whom was given Revelation aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors”, he realised that he was a hypocrite to claim both submission to God, and banditry.

With his new found piety, Fuḍayl left his criminal ways and wandered through the desert where he found a caravan camping – and overheard two men warning each other to be wary lest the bandit Fuḍayl ibn Iyad find them. Fuḍayl stepped out and introduced himself, acknowledging that he had repented and was no longer a danger.

After this, Fuḍayl tried to visit each of his known victims to repay them what he had stolen from them, and when he ran out of available goods, he visited them to beg their forgiveness. However one Jew refused to forgive him until he had been repaid, and ordered Fuḍayl to move a pile of dirt in front of his house to work off his debt. After several days of work, a hurricane blew away the pile of dirt, and Fuḍayl explained to the Jew that God had aided him. The Jew then placed a bag of dirt on his bed and asked Fuḍayl to bring it to him, and remarked upon discovering that the dirt had turned to gold that he now believed in the religion of Fuḍayl, and asked to become a Muslim.

After his conversion, Fuḍayl moved to Kufa, in modern-day Iraq, and studied under Ja’far al-Sadiq and Abdul Waahid Bin Zaid and taught Ibrahim ibn Adham, Bishr the Barefoot and Sari Sakti. When Fuḍayl determined to make the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, he approached his wife and told her that he had to leave on the long and dangerous journey, but that he was willing to grant her a divorce if she wished to remarry in his absence. She refused, and said she would prefer to accompany him on the trip. He remained in Mecca for a long time, and studied under Abu Hanifa. He had at least one son, named Ali, and two daughters.

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.”

Fuḍayl was noted for his anti-social nature, and many examples exist of this. When crowds began to gather around his Meccan home, eager for the chance to see him, he would often dissuade them, one time standing on his roof to thank them all and tell them that he prayed God would give them meaningful employment for their time. He was rather noted for his preference for solitude, at one point saying he wished he would become ill so that he did not have meet people and could avoid going out to public prayers. Another quote that survives from him is that “I am grateful to a man who does not greet me when he sees me and does not visit me when I am sick”.

When Fuḍayl understood that his death may be near, he told his wife to take his daughters to Mount Abu Qais, in Mecca, and tell God that Fuḍayl had cared for them all his life and now they were in God’s hands

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 the heaven 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.

Following his wishes, his widow took their two daughters to Mount Abu Qais, where they were greeted by the King of Yemen who was travelling with his two sons, and two marriages were thus arranged.

Fudhayl bin Iyaadh (rah) are amongst the Rijaal of all major hadith works and they are unanimously agreed upon to be “THIQA (RELIABLE)” “SUDUQ (TRUTHFUL)” “THIQA THABIT (UTTERLY RELIABLE) “SALIH (RIGHTEOUS)” etc.hence the hadith science itself reaches us through eminent Sufis.

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.

 

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