The Perfume of a Saint

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from Signs on the Horizons by Shaykh Michael Sugich.

Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.), author of al-Hikam, Taj al-‘Arus and other seminal Sufi treatises, is one of the greatest Sufi saints in history.  He is buried in the City of the Dead, the vast cemetery that stretches for miles along the Northern edge of Cairo embracing the tombs of some of the most illustrious saints and scholars of Islam, including Imam ash-Shafi’i (r.a.), Shaykh Dzu an-Nun al-Miswri (q.s.), Imam ibn al-Farid (r.a.), Shaykh Muhammad Wafa’ (r.a.), Shaykh ‘Ali Wafa’ (r.a.), and many, many others.  As with so many of the tombs in this awesome burial ground, Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah’s (q.s.) grave site had deteriorated almost to the point of being lost.  There was a broken down marker in the general area where the saint was supposed to be buried but no indication of an actual tomb.

During his tenure as Shaykh al-Azhar, Dr. Abdul Halim Mahmud (r.a.) dispatched a search party to the general area where the shaykh was interred to try to re-locate the exact grave site and erect a proper memorial for the great saint.  The area was a scene of total desolation, forgotten and neglected for many decades, if not centuries.  The group spread out and began sifting through the rubble and ruins without success until, suddenly they caught the scent of a unique, unworldly fragrance.  They followed the perfume until it was overpowering and began to clear the stones and debris and dug down until they found the body of Shaykh ibn ‘Atha’illah as-Sakandari (q.s.) perfectly preserved, as if he were asleep, wreathed in an intoxicating celestial perfume.


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