Abu Bakr ash-Shibli

Abu’l-Qasim al-Andalusi al-’Abid said, “I went out to seek ash-Shibli in Baghdad. When I arrived there, I said, ‘I will rest by entering the bath-house, and then (I will come to him).’ Its owner said to me, ‘O person! There is a man who is godfearing from among the people of Allah in it.’ I entered and there was a shaykh with a child in front of him. When I sat down, he said, ‘You are Abu’l-Qasim?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied. He said, ‘You have come to us from Andalusia?’ ‘Yes,’ I replied. Then I asked, ‘Are you Abu Bakr ash-Shibli?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied.’      ”He said, ‘Take this bucket. When the hot water is poured out, then fill it up.’ I did that. Then he laid down on his back and told me, ‘Pour it on my body.’ I did so. Then he began to wipe his face and he said, ‘Praise be to Allah who did not give you any power over us!’     ”Then they left the bath-house. There were some people waiting for him a this house. He sat down and called for fire. It was brought already kindled to him. He said, ‘Put it on my palm!’ It was put on his palm. He continued to put incense in it time after time. He would fumigate one after the other until twenty men had been given it. Then he threw it from his hand and wiped his palm. He said, “Praise be to Allah who did not give it any power over us!’”

Abu’l-Qasim al-Qushayri related in Kitab at-Tahbir, “A man asked ash-Shibli, ‘Abu Bakr, why do you say “Allah” and not “There is not god but Allah”?’ He replied, ‘I will not reject an opposite by Him.’ They said to him, ‘We mean higher than that.’ He said, ‘I fear that I will be taken while in the wilderness of rejection.’ They said, ‘We mean higher than that.’ He said, ‘Allah Almighty said, “Say: Allah, and then leave them diving in their plunging.” (6:91)’ The asker fainted and died. His friends demanded his blood money from ash-Shibli. They took him to the khalif. The herald came out to him to question him about the tale. Ash-Shibli stated, ‘A soul full of yearning which parted. It was called and it answered. What is my wrong action?’”The khalif cried out from behind the curtain, ‘Leave him! He has no wrong action!’”

Once ash-Shibli gave the adhan. When he reached the two shahadas, he said ,”If it had not been that You commanded me, I would not have mentioned other-than-You with You.”

He said, “In the house of ash-Shibli, a cock crowed at night. He took it at night and tied it up and threw it into a room. It did not crow. In the morning, he said to it, ‘Imposter! You used to remember Him in ease. When I put you into hardship, You do not remember Him!” It was silent.”

By the frequency of the states which overcamehim and his statements and behaviour at times, many people said, “He is mad.” Once he was thrown into the hospital. A group came to him, He asked, “Who are you?” “Your lovers,” they replied. He began to stone them. They fled. He said, “You claim to love, so be patient in my affliction!”

Al-Qushayri related that one of them said, “I was with ash-Shibli and he received an excellent kerchief. He passed by a dead dog thrown by the road. He said to me, ‘Carry this corpse and shroud it in this kerchief and then bury it.’ I went and took the dog in the kerchief. I threw it in a place. Then I washed the kerchief and returned it to him. He said, “Did you do what I commanded? ‘No,’ I said. He was silent. I said, ‘Shaykh, what is the reason for what you commanded me to do?’ He replied, ‘When I saw it, I thought it foul. There was a call in my secret: “Did We not create it?” Then I said what I said.’”

 

Fine points of his indication (isharat) and rare things he said

Ash-Shibli used to say, “May Allah blind an eye which sees me and does not look at the traces of power. I am one of the traces of power, and one of the testimonies of might, I was abased until He was mighty in my abasement and I was exalted until no one was exalted except by me and by the One I exalted.”

He said, “I sought knowledges until the sun rose. Then I said, ‘I want the fiqh of Allah.’ They said, ‘We do not know what you say.’”

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