A Story from Baghdad
Junaid al Baghdadi (d 910) was a great Awliya. He was honored by scholars for his piety as “sultan ul awliya” of his time and the “qutub”, the spiritual pole around whom the spirituality of his age revolved. Students flocked to his Zawiya from as far away as Central Asia and Egypt to learn at the feet of the master. They quenched their thirst for knowledge from his immense reservoir of spirituality and showered upon him their gratitude and love for his guidance.
One of his students had a dream one day in which he saw the Shaikh burning in hell. The student was horrified and woke up sweating. He got up, washed, offered two rakats of prayer and implored the Almighty: “O Allah! O Forgiver of forgivers! O Merciful of the merciful! Forgive my Shaikh. I beseech you to take him out of the fire of hell and admit him to the blessings of paradise”.
A day went by. The student was so horrified at the dream that he did not consider it appropriate to report it to Shaikh Junaid al Baghdadi.
The following night, the dream repeated. The student got up and once again prayed, asking the Almighty to forgive his Shaikh and admit him to paradise.
This time again the student kept the dream to himself.
The dream repeated again on the third night. The student implored Divine mercy to intervene and get the Shaikh out of hell.
This time, the student could not contain himself. Shaikh Junaid al Baghdadi held a teaching session after morning prayers. When the session was over, the student hesitatingly approached him and asked permission to speak.
“Sire, do I have your permission to speak”.
The great Shaikh looked up, his radiant face glowing in the light of the morning sun. “Indeed, you may”, replied the Shaikh.
“I saw in my dream that you were burning in hell. I was horrified. I prayed that Allah may forgive you and admit you to Paradise”, said the student.
Shaikh Junaid’s face got red with anger. He was so upset that he was silent for quite some time. Then he chided his student:
“What Allah gives is the best. If He deems it appropriate that I burn in hell, it is His way of purifying me and taking me to a higher station.
Human beings should not interfere in Allah’s will. He shows us His Signs so that we learn from them. If he showed me burning in hell, it is His way of guiding me to ask for His forgiveness.
O my student! Forgiveness is a bounty and a blessing. Humankind is prone to error. Allah created humankind so that He can show how great His forgiveness is. If he had not created the human, He would have created another being, prone to error, so that He could show the greatness of His forgiveness and His immeasurable mercy.
Never miss an opportunity to ask for Divine forgiveness, my son”, concluded the Shaikh. “It is Sunnat ul Allah, a means offered by Allah to purify your heart and admit you to His Grace.”