By Sadia Dehlvi
Jul 10, 2018
Bishr al Haafi is one of the famous early
Sufis of the ninth century. His real name was Bishr ibn Harris. He came from
what is today called Turkmenistan, and lived most of his life in Baghdad. The
story of his journey to becoming a true servant of God is a well-known one.
It is said that one night a drunken
staggering Bishr al Haafi was walking on the street. His eyes fell upon a piece of paper on which
the words “Bismilla hir Rahman nir Rahim” ( In the name of God, the most
merciful most compassionate) were inscribed. He picked it up, cleaned and
perfumed it with the essence of roses and brought it home, placing the paper on
a high pedestal.
That night, he dreamt that God had spoken
to him, “O Bishr, You have made my name sweet, I swear by my glory that I will
make your name sweet both in this world and the next world.”
In the morning, Bishr asked God for
forgiveness and swore to lead a life of piety and devoted to God. He resolved
to become an ascetic. At the moment of making sincere repentance and turn
towards God alone, Bishr was barefoot and never put on shoes again. Some say,
this was to remind him of that great moment in his life that his heart opened
to the knowledge of God.
Haafi means barefoot, so he became known
Bishr al Haafi, which means Bishr the barefooted. When asked of his
barefootedness, Bishr al Haafi would sometimes say, “The earth is God’s carpet
and I think it wrong to tread on His carpet while there is anything between me
and His carpet.”
Bishr al Haafi became one of the leading
Sufis of his time. The well known jurist Imam Hanbal who founded the Hanbali
school of Jurisprudence was among those who studied under his guidance.
On renunciation of the world, Bishar al
Haafi said, “Renunciation is a king who dwells only in a free and empty heart.”
He also said, “Whosoever desires to be honoured in this world and exalted in
the next world, let him not seek a boon from anyone nor speak ill of anyone. No
man who knows the way to God will ask a boon of human beings, since to do so is
a proof of his ignorance as God is the giver of all boons. The man who speaks
ill of anyone is criticising the decree of God, for both the individual himself
and his actions are created by God, and on whom can the blame for an action be
thrown at except on the agent? The great Sufi master died in 840 and is buried
Bishr al-Hafi belonging to hanafi school
of thought was truly a real and great Sufi. It will be very interesting to read more about him.