The Saint of His Time – Hazrat Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah)
Hazrat Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah) was a renowned saint of his era. On one occasion, a person asked him, “How did you attain the lofty position of piety and righteousness which we see?” In reply, Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah) mentioned the following:
Whatever I have been blessed with is purely out of the grace and favour of Allah Ta‘ala. My initial condition was that I was not committed to deen. One day, while walking, I saw a piece of paper on the floor. When I picked it up, I found the name of Allah Ta‘ala written on it. I raised my gaze to the sky and exclaimed, “O Allah! This is Your blessed name that has been thrown onto the floor!” I then cleaned the paper and placed it in my pocket with utmost respect.
At that time, I only possessed two dirhams (silver coins). I proceeded to the perfume shop, purchased perfume, and applied the perfume to the piece of paper. Thereafter, I went home, and placed it on a high shelf in the wall (niche). That night, I had a dream in which I was told, “O Bishr! You raised Our name, thus We will raise your name in this world and the next!” It was on account of this action that Allah Ta‘ala granted me this position. (Kitaabut Tawwaabeen – Ibnu Qudaamah pg. 216, Tahzeeb-ul-Kamaal 4/103)
From this incident, we understand that when Hazrat Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah) showed honour and respect to the name of Allah Ta‘ala, then Allah Ta‘ala blessed him with the tawfeeq of reforming his life. Apart from this, Allah Ta‘ala blessed him with the true understanding of the Qur’aan and Ahaadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Hence, he was counted among the Muhadditheen of his era. Such was his esteemed position that the great Imaam of his time, Imaam Ahmed bin Hambal (rahimahullah) narrated Ahaadith from him and benefited from his deep and profound knowledge.
The Ulama explain that showing respect to anything that is associated with deen (e.g. the Qur’aan Majeed, the Mubaarak Hadith, the Musjid, the Azaan, the Ulama, the Huffaaz, etc.) is the means of gaining great blessings and acceptance from Allah Ta‘ala.
The following incident sheds light on the deep understanding of deen and the ma’rifat (recognition) of Allah Ta‘ala which Allah Ta‘ala had blessed Hazrat Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah) with, on account of which Imaam Ahmed bin Hambal (rahimahullah) emulated him:
During the time of Imaam Ahmed bin Hambal (rahimahullah), there was a certain doctor who was referred to as Abdur Rahmaan At-Tabeeb. He would treat Imaam Ahmed bin Hambal (rahimahullah) and Hazrat Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah) when they were ill. He says:
On one occasion, Imaam Ahmed bin Hambal (rahimahullah) and Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah) were both sick. While treating both, I observed a difference in the response of both when I would ask them regarding their condition. Whenever I asked Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah) how he was feeling, he would first praise Allah Ta‘ala saying “Alhamdulillah”, and thereafter inform me of his condition. On the contrary, whenever I asked Imaam Ahmed bin Hambal (rahimahullah), how he was feeling, he would merely reply that he was well. He would not explain to me the actual difficulty which he was undergoing.
One day, I addressed Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah) and said, “Your brother, Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah), is sick, and when I ask him of his condition, he commences by praising Allah Ta‘ala and thereafter informs me of his condition. However, when I ask you regarding your condition, then you merely say that you are well.” When Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah) heard this, he said, “Enquire from Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah) as to who he learnt this from.” I responded, “I feel difficult to ask him such a question.” Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah) thus said to me, “Tell him ‘your brother, Abu ‘Abdillah (Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah)), wishes to enquire from you as to who you learnt this from.’”
When I thereafter went to Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah), I conveyed to him the question of Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah). Hearing the question, he said, “The way of Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah) is that he does not practice on any knowledge without verifying its source. Azhar (rahimahullah) narrates from Ibnu ‘Awn (rahimahullah), who narrates that ibnu Seereen (rahimahullah) said, ‘When a servant praises Allah Ta‘ala before expressing his difficulty and condition, then his expression is not regarded as a complaint.’” Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah) then said, “Whenever you ask me regarding my condition, and I inform you of the difficulty that I am undergoing, then I only do so in order to express my weakness and show you the power that Allah Ta‘ala has over me.”
After receiving this answer, I proceeded to Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah) and informed him of what Hazrat Bishr (rahimahullah) had said. From that day onwards, whenever I would go to Imaam Ahmed (rahimahullah) and ask him regarding his condition, he would first praise Allah Ta‘ala and thereafter inform me of his condition. (Manaaqib Imaam Ahmed libnil Jowzi pg. 245)
From this incident, we understand the following:
- The knowledge of deen should be verified from the rightly-guided Ulama before one practices upon it.
- When one is going through any difficulty, he should praise Allah Ta‘ala by saying ‘Alhamdulillah’, showing Allah Ta‘ala that he is pleased with Allah Ta‘ala and His decree, despite the difficulty he experiences.
- At the time of difficulty, one should say ‘Alhamdulillah, thereby remembering the countless favours of Alah Ta‘ala upon him and expressing gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala, even at this time.
- When one says ‘Alhamdulillah’ before expressing one’s difficulty, it is clear that one is not complaining against the decree of Allah Ta‘ala .
- It is sunnah for one to adopt the halaal means in treating one’s illness.
May Allah Ta‘ala bless us with the true understanding of deen and the tawfeeq of treading in the footsteps of our pious predecessors.