Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Story of Majud

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

There was once a man named Majud.  He lived in a town where he had obtained a post as a small official, and it seemed likely that he would end his days as inspector of weights and measures.

One day, when he was walking through the gardens of an ancient building near his home, Khidhr (a.s.), the mysterious guide of the Sufis, appeared to him, dressed in shimmering green.  Khidhr (a.s.) said, “Man of bright prospects!  Leave your work and meet me at the riverside in three days’ time.”  Then he disappeared.

Majud went to his superior in trepidation and said that he had to leave.  Everyone in the town soon heard of this and they said, “Poor Majud!  He has gone mad.”  But, as there were many candidates for his job, they soon forgot him.

On the appointed day, Majud met Khidhr (a.s.), who said to him, “Tear your clothes and throw yourself into the stream.  Perhaps someone will save you.”  Majud did so, even though he wondered if he were mad.

Since he could swim, he did not drown, but drifted a long way before a fisherman hauled him into his boat, saying, “Foolish man!  The current is strong.  What are you trying to do?”

Majud said, “I don’t really know.”

“You are mad,” said the fisherman, “But I will take you into my reed-hut by the river yonder, and we shall see what can be done for you.”

When he discovered that Majud was well-spoken, he learned from him how to read and write.  In exchange, Majud was given food and helped the fisherman with his work.  After a few months, Khidhr (a.s.) again appeared, this time at the foot of Majud’s bed, and said, “Get up now and leave this fisherman.  You will be provided for.”  Majud immediately quit the hut, dressed as a fisherman, and wandered about until he came to a highway.

As dawn was breaking he saw a farmer on a donkey on his way to market.  “Do you seek work?” asked the farmer, “because I need a man to help me bring back some purchases.”  Majud followed him.  He worked for the farmer for nearly two years, by which time he had learned a great deal about agriculture but little else.

One afternoon when he was baling wool, Khidhr (a.s.) appeared to him and said, “Leave that work, walk to the city of Mosul, and use your savings to become a skin-merchant.”  Majud obeyed.

In Mosul, he became known as a skin-merchant, never seeing Khidhr (a.s.) while he plied his trade for three years.  He had saved quite a large sum of money, and was thinking of buying a house, when Khidhr (a.s.) appeared and said, “Give me your money, walk out of this town as far as the distant Samarkand, and work for a grocer there.”  Majud did so.

Presently he began to show undoubted signs of illumination.  He healed the sick, served his fellow men in the shop during his spare time, and his knowledge of the mysteries became deeper and deeper.  Clerics, philosophers and others visited him and asked, “Under whom did you study?”

“It is difficult to say,” said Majud.

His disciples asked, “How did you start your career?”

He said, “As a small official.”

“And you gave it up to devote yourself to self-mortification?”

“No, I just gave it up.”

They did not understand him.  People approached him to write the story of his life.  “What have you been in your life?” they asked.

“I jumped into a river, became a fisherman, then walked out of his reed-hut in the middle of the night.  After that, I became a farmhand.  While I was baling wool, I changed and went to Mosul, where I became a skin-merchant.  I saved some money there, but gave it away.  Then I walked to Samarkand where I worked for a grocer.  And this is where I am now.”

“But this inexplicable behaviour throws no light upon your strange gifts and wonderful examples,” said the biographers.

“That is so,” said Majud.

So the biographers constructed for Majud a wonderful and exciting story, because all saints must have their story, and the story must be in accordance with the appetite of the listener, not with the realities of life.  And nobody is allowed to speak of Khidhr (a.s.) directly.  This is why this story is not true.  It is a representation of a life.  This is the real life of one of the greatest Sufis.


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