The Adab amongst Shuyukh

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Shaykh Shems Friedlander’s ‘When You Hear Hoof Beats, Think of a Zebra.

There is a special adab, proper spiritual behaviour, between shuyukh of dervish orders.  A man wanted to be a dervish.  He went to see Sulthan Walad (q.s.), the son of Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi (q.s.), in Konya, who was then the head of the Mawlawi Order.  Sulthan Walad (q.s.) said, "al-Hamdulillah, all praise is for Allah.  Come, bring a sheep, and we will make a feast."  The man left, and the next Thursday he was supposed to bring a sheep.  He was a thief.  That was his job, so he stole a sheep.  He threw the sheep over his shoulders and walked up to the door of the tekke.  Sulthan Walad (q.s.) stopped him and said, "Wait!  That sheep cannot be cooked in our pots.  You cannot be a dervish with our Order."

The man was upset.  He wandered the streets of Konya, until he met a friend, who, seeing his state, asked, "What is the matter?"

"Oh" he said, "I was going to be a dervish.  Then I stole a sheep.  How did he know I stole this sheep?  I mean, he told me that a stolen sheep could not be cooked in their pots.  But how did he know?  I did not tell him.  He knew.  Now I cannot be a dervish."

His friend said, "Don't worry.  Go to the next town.  No problem.  There is a shaykh there, and he will accept you as his dervish."

Again, he stole a sheep, flung it over his shoulders, and went to the next town.  The shaykh there was named Haji Bayram Wali (q.s.).  He went to see the shaykh, who said, "Come.  Come to my tekke.  We cook everything in our tekke.”  He also knew that this was a stolen sheep.  But he accepted it.  He invited him into the tekke.  They had a big feast, and the thief was made a dervish.

Soon the man getting a little smug and began thinking I will go back to Konya and see Sulthan Walad (q.s.), and show him that this great shaykh, Haji Bayram (q.s.), accepted me when he would not.  He went to the door of the Mawlawi tekke, and asked, "Do you remember me?"

Sulthan Walad (q.s.) replied, “Yes.”

"You wouldn't make me a dervish," he said, "but Haji Bayram Wali, the great shaykh; he made me his dervish."

And Sulthan Walad (q.s.) said, "Haji Bayram Wali is like a huge ocean, and one drop of dirt in the ocean can't be seen."

When he went back and saw Haji Bayrom Wali (q.s.) again, he asked him, "You accepted me.  Why you accept me when Sulthan Walad didn't."

"Ah, well," Haji Bayrom Wali (q.s.) said, "You see, Sulthan Walad is so pure that even one speck of dirt can spoil his purity."


  1. Im struggling a bit to see the lesson here. Are you saying that both Sheikhs were complimenting each other?

  2. Assalamu'Alaykum,

    The first lesson is the interpretation of the Law. The first shaykh believes in the purity of actions and intentions. The second shaykh recognised the inadequacy of the aspirant. It is like our relationship with God. By Shari'ah, to approach Him, we must have the purest intention and the purest actions with nothing of the taint of Self and worldliness. But sadly, it is impossible. Nothing we have is ours. Not even our worship since the time, the ability, the knowledge, everything is His. We are giving Him, our stolen sheep. By ihsan, God is Kind. And He allows it and takes what is inadequate and makes it adequate and so our worship and our supplications are accepted.

    The second lesson is that we must always speak well of others and believe they are better than us. It is the duty of a Muslim to cover the faults of another. It would be better to not see these as faults but simply a different and perhaps better understanding.

    I hope this helps.



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