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Saints and Miracles
by Annemarie Schimmel
from Vol. 1, No. 3

Shari'a, Tariqa & Haqiqa
by Seyedeh Sahar Kianfar

from Vol. 9, No. 2

by Titus Burckhardt

from Vol. 3, No. 2

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Abu Ishaq
Ibrahim Adham

by Seyedeh Sahar Kianfar

Abu Ishaq Ibrahim Adham, a ninth century Sufi of Khorasan, was the Prince of Balkh who governed a large northeastern province in Persia. He lived in a luxurious palace, and his soldiers carried swords and shields made of pure gold. The biography of Ibrahim Adham is one of the most interesting historical stories in
Sufism. Besides meeting Sufi Sheikhs such as Imam Jaffar Sadegh (the teacher of al-Jaber, who invented algebra), Habib ra'aee, and Abu Hanifeh (the founder of the Hanaffi Sect in Islam), Ibrahim had many notable experiences that contributed to his becoming a renowned and dedicated Sufi. Many stories tell about warnings Ibrahim received to change his way of living. One relates a significant experience hat converted his life of luxury to a life devoted to God. The following is a summary of this story:

One night, while he was sleeping in his palace in a room decorated with silk, gold, and gemstones, Ibrahim heard footsteps on the roof. He called for his guards and soldiers, but received no reply. He then called to the man who was walking upon the roof, "Who is there? What are you doing on the roof of my palace?"
"I am a friend looking for my camel!" the man responded.
"You fool! Ibrahim replied, "How do you expect to find a camel on the top of a palace?"
"My action is as strange as yours. You think that I am crazy to search for a lost camel on the top of a palace, and yet you consider yourself sane when you search for divinity in the depth of your luxurious attachments!"

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Ibrahim realized that this was a sign, and understood that so long as he prayed in his elaborate room, and remained deeply attached to these luxuries, his hopes of finding Allah were as futile as searching for a camel upon the palace's rooftops.
When he awoke the next morning, he found that he was still upset about his experience of the night before. Nonetheless, he went to the audience room of his palace and carried on with his usual schedule. A poor man barged into the palace with such force that the guards were afraid to throw him out. The man addressed Ibrahim abruptly, "Who lives in this inn?"

Insulted, Ibrahim angrily retorted, "This is not an inn, this is my palace." Seeming not to notice the remark, the man asked, "Who lived in this house before you?" Ibrahm answered, "My father." The man continued to question Ibrahim: "And before him, and before him, and so forth?" Ibrahim replied, "My father, and his father, and so forth for a few generations." The man then asked, "Where are they now?" to which Ibrahim answered, "They have all died." Then the man said, "So is this not an inn, where one comes and goes, and leaves his place for another to come and go? Why are you holding so tightly to something that will not remain in your possession forever?" The man, who was said to be Kezr (also spelled Keizr), the hidden prophet, seemed to disappear after he made this statement.
Ibrahim knew that these were divine teachings, yet he still couldn't believe that these signs were happening to him. So he sent for his horse and decided to go hunting. As he approached an antelope, it began to speak to him in a pleasant manner, saying "Wast thou created for this, or wast thou commanded to do this?"

The more he searched for Allah, the stronger his devotion became. He left his palace and life of luxury so that he could search for his true God. His life story is very much like that of Buddha, who also left the world of luxury for the realm of sprituality. Ibrahim sought help from two distinguished Sufis, Imam Jaffar Sadegh and Habib Ra'aee. . .

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