Hazrat Abdul Wahid Bin Zaid (RA)

 Basra,Basra Governorate, Iraq


Hazrat Abdul Wahid Bin Zaid (RA) was an early day Sufi Saint, a successor to Hasan al-Basri, second link in the Sufi Silsilah of Chishti Order, and the Master of Fudhail Bin Iyadh. Abdul Waahid Bin Zaid has been quoted in Fazail-e-Sadaqat as receiving advice from a Christian monk. He is also reported to have received education from Imam Abu Hanifah, before being initiated full-time as a Sufi by Khwaja Hasan al-Basri.

He was among the senior khulafaa of Hadhrat Hasan Basri (rahmatullah alayh). He would fast the whole year and stay awake in ibaadat the entire night. He would eat three or four morsels only after three days.

Zuhd had overwhelmed him totally. He gave in the Path of Allah whatever he possessed. If he had to hold money in his hands to even give to others, he would wash his hands.

He is a student of the illustrious Refuge of the Fuqaha, viz. Imaam A’zam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh). Before becoming bay’t, he engaged in mujaahadaat for forty years. He is also the student of Hadhrat Hasan Basri in Uloom-e-Zaahiriyyah (Knowledge of the external dimension of the Shariah, e.g. Fiqh, Hadith, Tafseer). He was fortunate to be honoured with the companionship of Hadhrat Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) as well.

His initiation into Sulook was occasioned by the following episode.

He had a slave whom he had exempted from him from night service on the condition of a payment of one dinar per night. Someone complained to him that the slave was stealing the kafans of dead bodies.

One night Abdul Wahid stealthily followed the slave who went into a qabrustaan. Here the slave engaged himself in Namaaz until Fajr time. Then he made dua and petitioned Allah Ta’ala:

“O my Great Master! Give the wage of my small master.”

A dinar miraculously appeared and settled in the slave’s hand. While the slave left, Abdul Wahid remained concealed.

After the departure of the slave, Hadhrat Abdul Wahid made wudhu, performed two raka’ts Salaatut Taubah and repented for the baseless suspicion he had entertained of his slave. He resolved to set the slave free.

A further astonishing revelation shocked Hadhrat Abdul Wahid in the morning. He was lost, searching for the direction of his home. When he enquired from the people around, they informed him that the place of his home (mentioned by him) was a two-year journey away. He sat down in bewilderment. A passing horse-rider soon stopped and asked: ‘Abdul Wahid, why are you sitting here?’ Abdul Wahid narrated his story. The horse-rider said:

“Don’t leave. With a swift horse it will take two years to reach your home. The same slave will come at night. Go with him.”

Abdul Wahid was left no option, but to wait.

During the night the slave appeared with a variety of food. He presented the food to Abdul Wahid, saying: “Eat and don’t ever do so again.” While Hadhrat Abdul Wahid was eating, the slave engaged himself in ibaadat. In the morning as usual, the dinar arrived. He presented both dinars to his master who walked only a few steps with the slave and miraculously reached home. The slave said: ‘You had intended to free me.’ Hadhrat Abdul Wahid immediately emancipated the slave who expressed his profound gratitude. In return for his freedom the slave gave Hadhrat Abdul Wahid a few pebbles and disappeared.

In the morning he discovered that the ‘pebbles’ were priceless gems which he sold and distributed the money to the fuqara. He thus commenced the journey of renouncing the world.

Shaikh Abdul Wahid said that once on account of pain in his leg, he experienced considerable difficulty in Salaat. One night when he woke up, the pain was intense and he performed Salaat with the greatest difficulty. After completing the Salaat, he went to sleep. In a dream he sees a girl in the company of other girls coming to him. She sat down close to him. The other girls sat behind her. She instructed one of the girls to lift me and warned: ‘Don’t wake him up.’ All the girls together lifted me. He continues:

“They placed me on the most luxurious and comfortable bed. Never in my life had I seen such a beautiful bed. I was looking at her and listening to her instructions. She instructed: ‘Put flowers around the bed.’
The girls complied with her order. She then approached me and placing her hand on my painful leg said: ‘Stand and perform Salaat. Allah Ta’ala has cured you.’
My eyes suddenly opened. The pain was gone. From that day until today I never became ill. To this day the sweetness of her instruction: ‘Stand and perform Salaat. Allah has cured you.’, is in my heart.”

He also narrates the following episode:

“One night I was overcome with sleep and I missed all my auraad and wazaa-if. In a dream I saw the most beautiful girl approaching me. Never had I seen such beauty. She was dressed in silk garments. Her shoes were reciting Tasbeeh and her shoe laces Taqdees (proclaiming Allah’s holiness). She said to me: ‘O Ibn Zaid! Strive in my pursuit. I am in search of you.’ She then recited a verse, the translation of which is:
‘He who purchases me and becomes the comfort and rest of my heart, his trade is profitable.’

I asked: ‘What is your price?’
She said: ‘My price is love for Allah and along with love, obedience to Allah. And, my price is deep contemplation blended with sadness.’
I asked: ‘Girl! Who is your master?’
She said: ‘My Master is He Who does not refuse my price offered by one who desires me.’ (i.e. Allah is the Master.)

Hearing this answer, Shaikh Abdul Wahid (rahmatullah alayh) woke up and took an oath that he would never again sleep. Thus, he performed Fajr Salaat with Isha’s wudhu for forty years.

He narrates the following episode:

“I arrived at the monastery of a monk in Chi???. I called out: ‘O Raahib (monk)! O Raahib!’ But he did not respond. I called a second time. Again there was no response. After I called him the third time, he appeared and said:

“I am not a Raahib. A Raahib is one who fears The Allah Who is in the heavens; he honours His greatness; he has patience in the calamities of Allah, he is contented with Allah’s decree; he praises Allah for His forgiveness; he expresses gratitude for His bounties; he is humble in the presence of His Glory; he accepts His Power; he fasts during the day; he performs Salaat at night; the mention of Jahannum keeps him awake. Such a person is a Raahib. On the contrary, I am a wild dog which preys on other animals. I have imprisoned myself here for fear of devouring people with my tongue.”
I asked: ‘O Raahib! What has misled people from Allah Ta’ala?’
He said: ‘O brother! After having recognised Allah, it is
the love of the world which has led people away from Allah. Love of the world is the root of transgression. An intelligent person is he who expels this love from his heart and repents for his sins. He focuses his attention on things which bring about nearness to Allah.”

Narrating another episode, Hadhrat Abdul Wahid (rahmatullah alayh) said:

“Ay?b Sakhtiyani and myself were journeying along the road leading to the land of Shaam. We met a Habshi man carrying a load of wood on his head. We asked: ‘O Habshi! Who is your Rabb?’ He said: ‘You ask a man like me.’ He placed his load on the ground and turning his face towards the heaven said:

“O Allah! Transform this load into gold.”

The load turned into gold. He said to us: ‘Watch it.’ He again supplicated:

‘O Allah! Transform it into wood.’

The gold became wood. Then he added:

‘You may ask the Aarifeen. Their wonders will not cease.’

Hadhrat Ay?b says that he was astonished and dumbstruck by the condition of the Habshi. I felt greatly ashamed. We then asked if he had some food. The Habshi made a sign with his hand and a dish of honey appeared. The honey was clearer than ice and its fragrance sweeter than musk. He told us to eat it, adding that it is not the honey of bees. There was nothing more delicious than this honey. When he saw our surprise and bewilderment, he said:

“A person who is surprised by such miracles is not an Aarif. He who expresses surprise is far from Allah. He who worships after seeing miracles is ignorant of Allah Ta’ala.”

Although Khwaja Abd al-Wahid r.a was one of the great early Sufis, he remains far less famous than the other major figure of Sufism in this era. This might be because he spent most of his time not in the cities and major centers, but in the wilderness of the frontier regions. His travels took him as far as China. Indeed, he has achieved fame as the founder of the first Sufi Khanqah, on the island of Abbadan. This was a former military outpost that he converted into a training station for the mystics of Iraq. Addadan became a major attraction for those wishing to become mujahidin. The post was manned by ghazis who combined military service with religious worship in the form of dhikr. They practiced the constant recitation of Allah, whether in battle or peace-time, movement or rest. In this , Imam Abd al-Wahid pre-empted the Sufi military orders of Futuwwah-themselves the inspiration for medieval ideals of chivalry and nobility in warfare-by several hundred years.

In his lectures, Hazrat Abd al-Wahid r.a provided vivid images of the Day of Judgment to his followers; he used to admonish them to prepare for the meeting with their creator. He also informed his disciples that Allah bestows secret knowledge on His righteous friends.

Like many of the early Sufis, He admired monks and holy men of other religions for their disdain of the world and the sincerity of their search for Allah; though they differed with them in matters of faith. This was a common understanding of the time, as borne out by the following hadith of Abu Bakr as-Sadiq r.a (as he explained the rules of Jihad to his armies) "and you may come across monks and holy men searching for Allah. Let them alone and do not destroy their sanctuaries".
Once, upon his travels, Khwaja Abd al-Wahid arrived at a monastery in China. When he greeted the monk, though, the latter did not reply until he had called repeatedly. The monk than said, "I am not a monk (rahib). A monk is one who fears Allah who is in the heavens. He honors Allah's greatness; he is patient in the face of the calamities He sends, and he is contented with His decree. He praises Him for his forgiveness;he is thankful for his bounties, and he is humble in the presence of His glory. He accepts His power; he fasts during the day; and he performs salah during the night, when the mention of Hell keeps him awake. I, however, am not such a raahib-I am but a wild dog that preys on others. I have imprisoned myself here for fear of devouring other people with my tongue." Khwaja asked, " Oh Monk! What has misled people from their Lord?" He replied," Oh Brother ! After recognizing Allah, it is the love of this world that has led people astray. Love of the world is the root of transgression. An intelligent person is one who expels this love from his heart, repent for his sins and focuses on that which brings him the nearness of Allah."

His Karaamaat

He had displayed numerous karaamaat (miracles). Once he was at the river bank. The boatman allowed only those onto the boat who could pay the fee. Those unable to pay were not allowed onto the boat. Addressing the fuqara, he said: ‘Convey to the river from Abdul Wahid the message: ‘Become dry!’

The fuqara conveyed this message to the river. Consequently, the water decreased so much, that the fuqara crossed with ease. • Once a group of fuqara was seated by him. He had nothing to offer. Hunger forced them to make a request to Hadhrat Abdul Wahid. He made dua and dinars began to shower down on them. Food was bought. Everyone except Shaikh Abdul Wahid ate.
• Once the boat in which he was, was driven to a remote island by strong winds. There he found an idol-worshipper. When Hadhrat Abdul Wahid asked: ‘Who do you worship?’, the idolater showed the idol. Hadhrat Abdul Wahid invited him to accept Islam, saying that only the Creator of all things deserves to be worshipped.

Idolater: ‘How does one know of the existence of such a Creator?’

Abdul Wahid: ‘By the news conveyed by the Rasool.’
Idolater: ‘Where is the Rasool?’

Abdul Wahid: ‘After delivering his message and completing his mission he has departed from this world.’

Idolater: ‘Did he leave any sign of his truth with you?’
Abdul Wahid: ‘The Book of Allah.’

After Hadhrat Abdul Wahid recited the Qur’aan to him, the idolater said:
‘Truly, this is the speech of a Being Who cannot be disobeyed.’

He then accepted Islam with a sincere heart. When Shaikh Abdul Wahid left, this person also left the island and accompanied the Shaikh. When they arrived at a certain place, the Shaikh collected some money from his friends and presented it to the island-dweller. But he declined to accept and said:
“When I was worshipping an idol and did not know Allah, He did not destroy me. Will He now forsake me while I am worshipping Him?”

At night when everyone went to sleep after Salaat, he said: “Does Allah too sleep at night?”
All said: “He is the Living One Who neither sleeps nor slumbers.”
The island-dweller said: ‘What type of slaves are you? While your Master is awake, you are asleep.’

This island-dweller was engaged in ibaadat all the time. After a few days he died. Hadhrat Abdul Wahid in a dream saw this person occupying lofty stations in Jannat.

• Towards the end of his life Hadhrat Abdul Wahid became severely ill. It is said that he was paralysed, hence unable to make wudhu. Once when it was time for Salaat, no one was present to assist him with wudhu. He became extremely restless. He made dua and immediately he was cured. Thus he performed his Salaat very calmly. After the Salaat, the sickness returned.
• Hadhrat Abdul Wahid says that for three nights he asked Allah Ta’ala to reveal to him here on earth who will be his companion in Jannat. After three days it was revealed to him that his companion will be Maim?nah Sauda’ who was an intensely black woman, hence the name Sauda’. After he asked for her whereabouts, it was revealed to him that she was living with a certain tribe in Kufa. He continues the narration as follows:
“On reaching Kufa I made enquiries about her whereabouts. I was informed that she was a shepherdess and could be found in a certain forest tending to the goats. When I reached there, I found her wrapped in a cloak engaging in Namaaz. The goats were grazing while wolves were mingling with the flock without causing any harm to the goats. As I came closer she shortened her Namaaz. After ending the Namaaz she said: ‘Abdul Wahid! Not today. Go today. The promise of meeting is tomorrow (i.e. Qiyaamah).’
I said: ‘May Allah have mercy on you. How did you know I am Abdul Wahid?’
Maim?nah: ‘Don’t you know that in eternity all souls were gathered like an army. Those who had recognised one another there, recognise one another here. (This what Maim?nah said is in fact mentioned in a highly authentic hadith).

Abdul Wahid: ‘Give me some naseehat.’ Maim?nah: ‘It is surprising that such a great lecturer like you asking others for naseehat. It has reached me from the pious ones that Allah Ta’ala eliminates the love of communing with Him in solitude from a person who engrosses in the pursuit of such worldly bounties which Allah Ta’ala has already bestowed to him. Instead of nearness to Allah, he is made to drift far from Allah Ta’ala. Instead of enjoying love with Allah, terror is instilled in him.’

Thereafter she recited five verses. The gist of which is as follows:
‘O Lecturer! You counsel and admonish others. You prevent others from transgressions while you, yourself are involved in such transgression. If you reform yourself and repent, your speech will penetrate their hearts. But being yourself trapped in sins, you doubt what you are saying to others.’

I asked her to explain why the goats and wolves are together. She said: ‘Go and concern yourself with your work. I have made peace with my Master. He has created peace between the goats and the wolves.’

His Demise

Some say that he died on 27 Safar 170 Hijri while others say 177 or 176 or 186 Hijri. His grave is in Basrah. Khwajah Fudhail Bin Iyadh, Khwajah Abul Fadl Bin Razeen and Khwajah Abu Yaq?b S?si are his three senior khulafaa.

Additional Info

Like many of the early Sufis, He admired monks and holy men of other religions for their disdain of the world and the sincerity of their search for Allah; though they differed with them in matters of faith. This was a common understanding of the time, as borne out by the following hadith of Abu Bakr as-Sadiq r.a (as he explained the rules of Jihad to his armies) "and you may come across monks and holy men searching for Allah. Let them alone and do not destroy their sanctuaries".

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