Imam Junayd ibn Muhammad Abu al-

When his uncle asked him to speak from the pulpit he deprecated himself, but then saw the Prophet in his dream ordering him to speak.

Ibn Kullab once asked al-Junayd to dictate for him a comprehensive definition of tawhid he had just heard him say. He replied: “If I were reading from a record I would dictate it to you.”

The Mu`tazili al-Ka`bi said: “My eyes did not see his like. Writers came to hear him for his linguistic mastery, philosophers for the sharpness of his speech, poets for his eloquence, and kalam scholars for the contents of his speech.”

Al-Khuldi said: “We never saw, among our shaykhs, anyone in whom `ilm and hal came together except al-Junayd. If you saw his hal you would think that it took precedence over his `ilm, and if he spoke you would think that his `ilm took precedence over his hal.”

Like the Sunni imams of his generation, al-Junayd hated theological disputations about Allah and His Attributes: “The least [peril] that lies within kalam is the elimination of Allah’s awe from the heart. And when the heart is left devoid of Allah’s awe, it becomes devoid of belief.”

Once a young Christian asked him: “What is the meaning of the Prophet’s hadith: ‘Beware the vision of the believer for he sees with the light of Allah’?”2 Al-Junayd remained immersed in thought then lifted his head and said: “Submit, for the time has come for you to accept Islam.” The young man embraced Islam on the spot. Al-Junayd defined the Knower (al-`arif) as “He who addresses your secret although you are silent.” Ibn al-Jawzi cites another example of Junayd’s kashf in his Sifa al-Safwa:

Abu `Amr ibn `Alwan relates: I went out one day to the market of al-Ruhba for something I needed. I saw a funeral procession and I followed it in order to pray with the others. I stood among the people until they buried the dead man. My eyes unwittingly fell on a woman who was unveiled. I lingered looking at her. Then I held back and began to beg forgiveness of Allah the Exalted. On my way home an old woman told me: “My master, why is your face all darkened?” I took a mirror and behold! my face had turned dark. I examined my conscience and searched: Where did calamity befall me? I remembered the look I cast. Then I sat alone somewhere, asking Allah’s forgiveness assiduously. I decided to live austerely for forty days. [During that time] the thought came to my heart: “Visit your shaykh al-Junayd.” I travelled to Baghdad. When I reached the room where he lived I knocked at his door and heard him say: “Come in, O Abu `Amr! You sin in al-Ruhba and we ask forgiveness for you here in Baghdad.”3

About the Sufis al-Junayd said:

* “They are the members of a single household that none other than they can enter.”

* “The Sufi is like the earth: every kind of abomination is thrown upon it, but naught but every kind of goodness grows from it.”

* “The Sufi is like the earth: both the righteous and the sinners walk upon it. He is like the clouds: they give shade to all things. He is like the raindrop: it waters all things.”

* “If you see a Sufi caring for his outer appearance, then know that his inward being is corrupt.”

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya related from al-Sulami that al-Junayd said: “The truthful seeker (al-murid al-sadiq) has no need for the scholars of knowledge” and: “When Allah desires great goodness for the seeker, He makes him flock to the Sufis and prevents him from accompanying those who read books (al-qurra’).”4

This is similar to al-Junayd’s saying reported by al-Dhahabi: “We did not take tasawwuf from what So-and-So said and what So-and-So-said, but from hunger, abandonment of the world, and severance of comforts.”

Al-Junayd also said: “Among the marks of Allah’s wrath against a servant is that He makes him busy with that which is of no concern to him.”5

Ibn al-Qayyim in al-Fawa’id asserts the superiority of the struggle against the ego (jihad al-nafs) over all other struggles and quotes al-Junayd:

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