The story of Habib the Persian
Taken from Tadhikurut al-Awliya, by Abu Nu`aym al-Isfahani
Habib ibn Mohammad al-‘Ajami al-Basri, a Persian settled at Basra, was a noted traditionist who transmitted from al-Hasan al-Basri, Ibn Sirrin, and other authorities. His conversion from a life of ease and self-indulgence was brought about by al-Hasan’s eloquence; he was a frequent attendant at his lectures, and became one of his closest associates.
Habib to begin with was a man of property and a usurer. He dwelt in Basra, and every day he made the rounds to collect from his clients. If he got no money, he would demand payment for his shoe leather. In this manner he covered his daily expenditure.
One day he had gone to look for a certain debtor. The man was not at home; so failing to find him; he demanded shoe leather payment. “My husband is not at home,” the debtor’s wife told him. “I myself have nothing to give you. We had slaughtered a sheep, but only the neck is left. If you like I will give you that.” “That is something,” the usurer replied, thinking that he might at least take the sheep’s neck off her and carry it home. “Put a pot on the fire.” “I have neither bread nor fuel,” the woman answered. “Very well,” the man said. “I will go and fetch fuel and bread, and it can be charged to shoe leather.” So he went off and fetched these things, and the woman set the pot. When the pot was cooked the woman was about to pour its contents into a bowl when a beggar knocked at the door.
“If we give you what we have got,” Habib shouted at him, you will not become rich, and we will become poor ourselves.”
The beggar, despairing, petitioned the woman to put something in the bowl. She lifted the lid of the saucepan, and found that its contents had all turned to black blood. Turning pale, she hurried back and taking Habib by the hand, led him towards the pot. “Look what has happened to us because of your cursed usury, and your shouting at the beggar!” she cried. “What will become of us now in-this world, not to mention the next?” On seeing this, Habib felt a fire within him which never afterwards subsided.
“Woman,” he said, “I repent of all I have done.” Next day he went out to look for his clients. It happened to be a Friday, and the children were playing in the street. When they sighted Habib they started to shout. “Here comes Habib the usurer. Run away, lest his dust settles on us and we become as cursed as he!” These words hurt Habib very much. He took his way to the meeting ball, and there certain phrases passed Hasan of Basra’s lips which struck Habib straight to the heart, so that be fainted. Then he repented. Realizing what had happened, Hasan of Basra took him by the hand and calmed him. As he returned from the meeting he was spotted by one of his debtors, who made to run away. “Do not run away,” Habib called to him. “Till now it was for you to flee from me; now I must run away from you.” He passed on. The children were still playing. When they sighted Habib they shouted again. “Here comes Habib the penitent. Run away, lest our dust settles on him, for we are sinners against God.” “My God and Master!” cried Habib. “Because of this one day that I have made my peace with Thee, Thou hast beaten the drums of men’s hearts for me and noised my name abroad for virtue.”
Habib then issued a proclamation. “Whoever wants anything from Habib, come and take it!” The people gathered together, and he gave away all his possessions so that he was left penniless. Another man came with a demand. Having nothing left, Habib gave him his wife’s chaddur. To another claimant he gave his own shirt, and remained naked.1
He repaired to a hermitage on the banks of the Euphrates, and there gave himself up to the worship of God. Every night and day he studied under Hasan, but he could not learn the Quran, for which reason he was nicknamed the Barbarian (al-`Ajami).2 Time passed, and he was completely destitute. His wife asked him for housekeeping money constantly. So Habib left his house and made for the hermitage to resume his devotions.
When night came he returned to his wife. “Where have you been working, not to bring anything home?” his wife demanded. “The one I have been working for is extremely generous,” Habib replied. “He is so generous that I am ashamed to ask him for anything. When the proper time comes, he will give. For he says, ‘Every ten days I pay the wages.’ ” So Habib repaired daily to the hermitage to worship, till ten days were up.
On the tenth day at the time of the midday prayer a thought entered his mind. “What can I take home tonight, and what am I to tell my Wife?” And he pondered this deeply. Straightway Almighty God sent a porter to the door of his house with an ass-load of flour, another with a skinned sheep, and another with oil, honey, herbs, and seasonings. The porters loaded up all this. A handsome young man accompanied them with a purse of three hundred silver dirhams. Coming to Habib’s house, he knocked on the door. “What do you want?” asked Habib’s wife, opening the door. “The Master has sent all this,” the handsome youth replied. “Tell Habib, ‘You increase your output, and we will increase your wages.”‘ So saying, he departed. At nightfall Habib proceeded homeward, ashamed and sorrowful. As he approached his house, the aroma of bread and cooking assailed his nostrils. His wife ran to greet him and wiped his face and was gentle with him as she had never been before. “Husband,” she cried, “the man you are working for is a very fine gentleman, generous and full of loving kindness. See what he sent by the hand of a handsome young man! And the young man said, ‘When Habib comes home, tell him, You increase your output, and we will increase your wages.’ Habib was amazed. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed. “I worked for ten days, and he did me all this kindness. If I work harder, who knows what he will do?” And he turned his face wholly away from worldly things and gave himself up to God’s service.
The miracles of Habib
One day an old woman came to Habib and, falling at his feet, wept bitterly. “I have a son who has been absent from me a long time. I can no longer endure to be parted from him. Say a prayer to God,” she begged Habib. “It may be that by the blessing of your prayer God will send him back to me.”
“Have you any money?” Habib asked her. “Yes, two dirhams,” she replied. “Bring them, and give them to the poor.” And Habib recited a prayer, then he said to the old woman, “Be gone. Your son has returned to you.”
The old woman had not yet reached the door of her house, when she beheld her son.
“Why, here is my son!” she shouted, and she brought him to Habib.
“What happened?” Habib enquired of him.
“I was in Kerman,” the son replied. “My teacher had sent me to look for some meat. I obtained the meat and was just returning to him, when the wind seized hold of me. I heard a voice saying,
” ‘Wind, carry him to his own home, by the blessing of Habib’s prayer and the two dirhams given in alms.’ “
Once a famine was raging in Basra. Habib purchased many provisions on credit and gave them away as alms. He fastened his purse and placed it under his pillow. When the tradesmen came to demand payment, he would take out his purse and it was full of dirhams, which he gave away as loans.4
Habib had a house in Basra on the crossroads. He also had a fur coat which he wore summer and winter. Once, needing to perform the ritual washing, he arose and left his coat on the ground. Hasan of Basra, happening on the scene, perceived the coat flung in the road. “This ‘barbarian’ does not know its value,” he commented. “This fur coat ought not to be left here. It may get lost.” So he stood there watching over it. Presently Habib returned. “Imam of the Muslims,” he cried after saluting Hasan, “why are you standing here?”
“Do you not know,” Hasan replied, “that this coat ought not to be left here? It may get lost. Say, in whose charge did you leave it?”
“In His charge,” Habib answered, “who appointed you to watch over it.”
One day Hasan came to call on Habib. Habib placed two rounds of barley bread and a little salt before Hasan. Hasan began to eat. A beggar came to the door, and Habib gave the two rounds and the salt to him.
“Habib,” remarked the astonished Hasan, “you are a worthy man. If only you had some knowledge, it would be better. You took the bread from under the nose of your guest and gave it all to the beggar. You ought to have given a part to the beggar and a part to the guest.” Habib said nothing. Presently a slave entered with a tray on his head. A roast lamb was on the tray, together with sweetmeat and fine bread, and five hundred silver dirhams. He set the tray before Habib. Habib gave the money to the poor, and placed the tray before Hasan. “Master,” he said when Hasan had eaten some of the roast, “you are a good man. If only you had a little faith, it would be better. Knowledge must be accompanied by faith.”
“Have you seen Hasan today?” the officers demanded of Habib.
“I have seen him,” he answered. “Where was he?” “In this hermitage.” The officers entered the hermitage, but for all their searching they did not find Hasan. (“Seven times they laid their hands on me,” Hasan afterwards related, “but they did not see me.”)
“Habib,” Hasan remarked on leaving the hermitage, “you did not observe your duty to your master. You pointed me out.”
“Master,” Habib replied, “it was because I told the truth that you escaped. If I had lied, we would both have been arrested.” “What did you recite, that they did not see me?” Hasan asked. “I recited the Throne-verse ten times,” Habib answered. “Ten times I recited The Messenger believes, and ten times Say, He is God, One. Then I said, ‘O God, I have committed Hasan to Thee. Watch over him.”‘6
Hasan once wished to go to a certain place. He came down to the bank of the Tigris, and was pondering something to himself when Habib arrived on the scene. “Imam, why are you standing here?” he asked. “I wish to go to a certain place. The boat is late,” Hasan replied. “Master, what has happened to you?” Habib demanded. “I learned all that I know from you. Expel from your heart all envy of other men. Close your heart against worldly things. Know that suffering is a precious prize, and see that all affairs are of God. Then set foot on the water and walk.” With that Habib stepped on to the water and departed. Hasan swooned. When he recovered, the people asked him, “Imam of the Muslims, what happened to you?” “My pupil Habib just now reprimanded me,” he replied. “Then he stepped on the water and departed, whilst I remained impotent. If tomorrow a voice cries, ‘Pass over the fiery pathway’-if I remain impotent like this, what can I do?” “Habib,” Hasan asked later, “how did you discover this power?” “Because I make my heart white, whereas you make paper black,” Habib replied. “My learning profited another, but it did not profit me,” Hasan commented.
Abu Nu`aym, op. cit., VI, 149-55.
Ibn Hajar, o p. cit., II, 189. Notes on Anecdotes
Aap ke waalid ka naam Muhammad hai.
Aap Faarsi (Irani) the. Ghair e Arabi hone ki wajah se Aap ‘Ajami’ kehlaate hain.
Aap Basra (Iraq) me rehte the.
Ibtedaai daur me Aap bahot ameer the aur Ahle Basra ko sood par qarz diya karte the aur jab maqrooz par Qarz ka taqaaza karne jaate to us waqt tak waapas na hote jab tak qarz wasool na ho jaata. Aur agar kisi majboori se qarz wasool na hota to apne waqt ke zaaya hone ka maqrooz se jurmaana wasool karte aur us raqam se guzaara karte.
Ek din aap kisi ke yaha wasoolyaabi ke liye pahunche to wo ghar me maujood na tha. Us ki biwi ne kaha ke ‘Na to mera shohar ghar par maujood hai aur na mere paas tumhe dene ke liye koi cheez hai. Albatta maine aaj ek bhed zibah ki thi jis ka tamaam gosht to khatm ho chuka lekin sar baaqi reh gaya hai. Agar tum chaaho to wo me tum ko de sakti hu.’
Chunaanche Aap usi sar ko lekar ghar pahunche aur biwi se kaha ke ‘Ye sar sood me mila he is ko paka daalo.’ Biwi ne kaha ke ‘Ghar me na to lakdi hai na aata. Bhala me khaana kis tarah tayyaar karu?’ Aap ne kaha ke ‘Main in dono cheezo ka bhi intazaam maqrooz logo se sood lekar karta hu.’ Aur sood hi se ye dono cheeze khareed kar laaye.
Lekin jab khaana tayyaar ho chuka to ek saa’il ne aakar sawaal kiya. Aap ne kaha ke ‘Tujhe dene ke liye hamare paas kuchh nahi hai aur agar tujhe kuchh de bhi du to us se tu daulatmand na ho jaayega lekin hum muflis ho jaayenge.’
Saa’il jab maayoos ho kar waapas chala gaya to biwi ne saalan nikaalna chaaha to dekha ke wo handiya saalan ki bajaay khoon se bhari hui thi.
Biwi ne aap ko aawaaz dekar kaha ke ‘Dekho, Tumhari kanjoosi aur bad-akhlaaqi se kya ho gaya hai?’ Aap ko ye dekhkar ibrat haasil hui aur biwi ko gawaah banakar kaha ke ‘Aaj se me har bure kaam se taa’ib hota hu.’
Ye kehkar maqrooz logo se asl raqam lene aur sood khatm karne nikle. Raaste me kuchh ladke khel rahe the. aap ko dekh kar bacho ne aawaaz dena shuru kar diya ke ‘Door hat jaao, Habeeb sood khor aa raha hai kahi us ke qadmo ki khaak hum par na pad jaaye aur hum us jaise bad-bakht na ban jaayen.’ Ye sun kar aap bahot ranjeeda hue.
Aur Aap Hazrat Khwaja Hasan Basri rahmatullāhi alaihi ki baargaah me haazir hue. Unho ne aap ko aisi naseehat farmai ke be-chain hokar dobaara tauba ki aur jab waapsi me ek maqrooz shakhs Aap ko dekhkar bhaagne laga to farmaaya ke ‘Tum mujh se mat bhaago ab to mujh ko tum se bhaagna chaahiye taake ek gunaahgaar ka saaya tumhare upar na pad jaaye.’
Phir jab Aap aage badhe to un ladko se kehna shuru kiya ke ‘Raasta de do, Habeeb taa’ib hokar aa raha hai. Kahi aisa na ho ke humare pairo ki gard us par pad jaae aur ALLĀH ta’ala hamara naam gunaahgaaro me darj kar le.’ Aap ne bacho ki ye baat sunkar ALLĀH ta’ala se arz ki ‘Teri qudrat bhi ajeeb hai ke aaj hi maine tauba ki aur aaj hi tune logo ki zabaan se meri naame naami ka elaan kara diya.’
Us ke baad aap ne elaan kar diya ke ‘Jo shakhs mera maqrooz ho wo apni tehreer aur maal waapas le jaaye. Phir aap ne apni tamaam daulat raah e khuda me loota di aur jab kuchh baaqi na raha to aakhir me ek saa’il ko apna kurta tak utaar kar de diya.
Aap ne aur aap ki biwi saahiba ne Nehr e Furaat ke kinare ek ibadatkhaana taameer kiya. Aur ye maamool bana liya tha ke din me tehsil e ilm ke liye Hazrat Khwaja Hasan Basri rahmatullāhi alaihi ki khidmat me pahunch jaate aur raat bhar ibaadat me mashgool rehte.
Ek martaba biwi ne kaha ke ‘Khurdnosh ke liye kuchh na kuchh kaam karna chaahiye.’ To Aap mazdoori karne ke liye ghar se nikle lekin din bhar ibaadat me mashgool rehkar jab ghar pahunche to biwi ne sawaal kiya ke ‘kya laaye ho?’ Aap ne farmaya ‘Jis ki mazdoori ki he wo bahot karam waala hai aur us ke karam hi ki wajah se mujh se ujrat talab karne ki jur’at na ho saki. Lekin us ne khud hi ye keh diya he ke 10 din ke baad jab tum ko zaroorat hogi to puri ujrat de dunga’
Phir jab 10 din ke baad aap sochne lage ke Aaj ghar jaakar kya jawaab dunga. Magar jab ghar par pahunche to khaane ki khushboo aa rahi thi aap ne apni biwi se daryaaft kiya to us ne kaha ke ‘Ek shakhs aaya tha aur ek bori Aata, ek zibah shuda bakri, ghee, shahed aur 300 dirham de gaya hai aur Maalik ka paighaam dene ke liye kaha hai ke Apne kaam ko taraqqi do jis ke sile hum is se bhi zyada mazdoori denge.’
Ye sunkar aap ko khayaal aaya ke Jab 10 din ki be-tawajjoh riyaazat ka ALLĀH ne ye ne’amul badal ata farmaaya hai to agar zyada diljoi ke saath ibaadat karu to mera Rab na jaane kya in’aamaat ata farmega.’
Aap ka makaan Basra ke chauraahe par tha aur ek din Aap ne kapde nikaalkar chauraahe par rakh diye aur khud kahi nahaane ke liye tashreef le gaye. Ittefaaq se Khwaja Hasan al-Basri rahmatullāhi alaihi ka us taraf se guzre.
To unho ne aap ka libaas pahechaan liya aur socha ke Shaayad Habeeb Ajami apne kapde yaha chhodkar kahi chale gaye hain aur koi ise uthaakar chala na jaaye is liye kapdo ki hifaazat karne ke liye waha thehre rahe.
Aur jab Habeeb Ajami waapas aaye to Khwaja Hasan Basri se puchha ke ‘Aap yaha kyun khade hain?’ Unho ne puchha ke ‘Tum apna libaas kis ke bharose par chhod kar chal diye agar koi utha kar le jaata to kya hota?”
Aap ne jawaab diya ‘Usi ke bharose par chhod kar gaya tha jis ne hifaazat ke liye aap ko yaha tak pahuncha diya.’
Ek martaba Hazart Khwaja Hasan al-Basri rahmatullāhi alaihi aap ke yaha tashreef laaye. Aap ne 2 rotiya aur namak paish kiya. Hazart Khwaja Hasan al-Basri ne khaana shuru kiya. Itne me ek saa’il aaya. Hazrat Habeeb Ajmi ne rotiya aur namak us saa’il ko de diya. Khwaja Hasan al-Basri ne kaha ‘Tum khush-akhlaaq ho magar tumhe zyada ilm hota to behtar hota. Tum aadha khaana saa’il ko de sakte the aur aadha mehmaan ke liye rakh sakte the. Tum ne to saara khaana saa’il ko de diya.’ Aap khaamosh rahe. Itne me ek khaadim aaya jis ke sar par ek thaali thi jis me bhuna hua gosht, rotiya aur meethaai thi aur 5000 dirham the. Us ne ye sab Khwaja Habeeb Ajmi ke saamne rakh diya. Aap ne wo sab dirham ghurba ko de diye aur khaana Khwaja Hasan al-Basri ko pesh kiya. Hazrat jab khaana kha rahe the tab aap ne un se farmaaya ‘Huzoor! Aap bahot nek insaan hain. Magar aap zyada yaqeen rakhte to behtar hota. Ilm ke saath Tawakkal ka hona zaroori hai.’
(1) Ek baar ek aurat girya o zaari karti hui aap ki baargaah me haazir hui aur arz kiya ke ‘Huzoor! Mera bacha gum ho gaya hai. Jis ki wajah se me bahut ghamzada hu.’ Aap ne puchha ke ‘Tumhare paas aur kya hai?’ Us ne kaha ‘Do Dirham hain.’ Aap ne us se wo do dirham lekar khairaat kar diye aur dua karke farmaaya ke ‘Jaao, tumhara bachcha aa gaya hai.’
Jab wo aurat apne ghar pahunchi to us ne dekha ke waaqai us ka beta ghar par maujood tha. Us ko gale lagakar ke puchha ‘Tu kaha chala gaya tha?’ Ladke ne kaha ‘Maia to Kirmaan me tha aur mere ustaad ne gosht lene ke liye baazaar bheja tha. Raaste me achaanak tez hawa chalne lagi jo mujhe yaha tak udaa kar le aai. Aur maine kisi ko kehte hue suna ke ‘Aye hawa, Ise ghar pahuncha do.’
(2) Ek martaba Basra me qahet pada. Aap ne ek shakhs se khaane peene ka saamaan kharida aur logo me khairaat kar diya. Aap ne apna khaali batwa takiye ke neeche rakh diya. Jab wo shakhs saamaan ki raqam maangne aaya aur us ne jab takiye ke neeche se wo batwa nikaala to wo dirham se bhara hua tha.
(3) Ek martaba Hajjaaj ke sipaahi Khwaja Hasan Basri ko girftaar karne ke liye un ke pichhe lage the. Wo bhaagkar Hazrat Habeeb Ajami ke makaan me chhup gaye. Sipaahiyo ne aakar puchha ke ‘Tum ne Hasan Basri ko dekha hai?’ to aap ne farmaaya ‘Haan.’ Sipaahiyo ne puchha ‘Kaha hain?’ to aap ne makaan ki taraf ishaara kiya. Sipaahi makaan me daakhil hue. Bahut talaash kiya magar na Khwaja Hasan Basri nahi mile. Unho ne baahar aakar aap se sahi bataane ke liye kaha. Aap ne kaha ‘Makaan ke andar hi hain.’ Sipaahi phir se andar daakhil hue aur talaash kiya magar nahi mile. Khwaja Hasan Basri farmaate hain ke ‘Main waha maujood tha aur wo sipaahi mere bilkul qareeb aa jaate the magar main un ko dikhaai nahi deta tha.’ Kai baar aisa hone ke baad wo sipaahi waha se chale gaye.
Jab Khwaja Hasan Basri baahar aaye to aap se kaha ‘Tum ne sipaahiyo ko kyun bata diya? Shukr hai ke ALLĀH ne meri dua sun li aur mujhe bacha liya.’ Aap ne farmaaya ‘Ye sirf dua ka asar nahi hai balke sach bolne ki wajah se ALLĀH ne hume madad farmai hai.
Kisi ne Aap se puhha ‘ALLĀH ko raazi kaise kar sakte hain?’ Aap ne farmaaya ‘Apne dil ko Nifaaq se paak rakho kyun ki Nifaaq (Hypocricy) Wifaaq (Concord) ke khilaaf hai aur Nifaaq aur ALLĀH se mohabbat me koi ta’alluq nahi. ALLĀH se mohabbat ke liye Riza zaroori hai. Riza ya’ni ALLĀH ta’ala ki ata aur faisle par raazi rehna ye us ke muqarrab bando ki alaamat hai aur Nifaaq nafarmaano ki alaamat hai.’
(1) ALLĀH us ki hifaazat karta hai jo apna bojh Rab ta’ala ko supurd kar deta hai.
(2) Soofi wo hi jis ka dil Hasad aur Dunya ki mohabbat se paak ho.
Aap Hazrat Khwaja Hasan al-Basri rahmatullāhi alaihi ke mureed aur khalifa hain.
Aap se tareeqat ka ‘Ajamiya’ silsila jaari hai.
Aap ke khalifa Hazrat Khwaja Daawūd al-Taai rahmatullāhi alaihi hain.
Aap ka wisaal 3 Rabi uṡ Ṡaani 120 Hijri (March 738 A.D.) ko hua.
Aap ka mazaar Baghdad (Iraq) me hai.
ALLĀH ta’ala us ke Habeeb sallallāhu alaihi wa sallam ke sadqe me
Aur Hazrat Khwaja Habeeb al-Ajami rahmatullāhi alaihi aur tamaam Auliya Allāh ke waseele se
Sab ko mukammal ishqe Rasool ata farmae aur Sab ke Eimaan ki hifaazat farmae aur Sab ko nek amal karne ki taufiq ata farmae.
Aur Sab ko dunya wa aakhirat me kaamyaabi ata farmae aur Sab ki nek jaa’iz muraado ko puri farmae.