Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak RAH was an Imam, Faqih, Muhaddis, Sufi, and Mujahid. He is one of those saints of our Ummah on hearing whose name a current of affection and deference runs through our hearts. He was probably born in the beginning of the second century – Hijri. That is, he belonged to the period when about one hundred years had passed since the sad demise of the Holy Prophet &. He is senior to and more reverent than the compilers of the six renowned books of Hadith known as Sihah Sittah from sacred Imam Bukhari to Imam Ibn Majah.
He is also a contemporary and a student of Imam Abu Hanifah RAH. He lived in a period when the Islamic world was glittering with prominent personalities of knowledge and science. In those days peerless personalities were present almost in evely corner of the Islamic world. Abdullah bin Mubarak +&I-) was born in the city of Merv in Khurasan, but later on he migrated to Baghdad and settled there.
A Unique event that reformed his life
Queer are the conditions of his life. The biographies of such saints are full of light and blessings. Evety detail of these biographies have the effect of revolutionizing the trend of hearts, by the grace of Allah He hailed from a well-to-do family. In his book “Bustanul-Muhaddiseen” Hazrat Shah Abdul Aziz, Muhaddis Dehlavi has written an incident about him. He owned a very large and flourishing garden of apple trees. Like the sons of rich men of those days he had become a spoilt boy, away from school and learning, enjoying full freedom to lead a life of revelry and merry-making, with no interest in Deen and its practices. In one apple season he and his family shifted to the garden to enjoy the delicious apples and create the scene of a picnic party. He also invited to the party his friends. At nightfall a full-fledged merry-making party commenced with drinking and singing. He himself was an expert violin-player and a meritorious singer. Affected by the
musical melody and the intoxicating wine, he fell into sleep, with the musical instrument in his lap. When he awoke-from the nap and touched the instrument it was totally dead. He did his best to repair it, but in vain-no tune, no music. He once again tried to repair the instrument by re-setting its strings. When he played upon it, then instead of music, a voice was heard, but it was the voice of the Quranic verse:
Is not the time ripe for those who have
believed (in Allah) that their hearts should
submit to the remembrance of Allah and t the
truth which has been revealed? (57 : 16)
What an effective way of addressing a man drowned in sins inducing him to take to the path of righteousness!
According to a narrative this voice of recitation of the Quranic verse was coming out of the same violin. According to another narrative it was emanating from the beak of a bird. Any way, it was a miraculous incident from Almighty Allah which indicated His Mercy. This voice touched his heart to the core and he irresistibly fell to the thought that he had wasted his life in wrongs and sins only. At once he replied saying:
Why not 0 my lord: The time is now ripe (for that)
“Now I give up all my sinful activities and turn to Almighty Allah.” He was true to his pledge. After relinquishing all these foolish and harmful engagements he decided to devote himself whole-heartedly to Deen. Now compare his previous life of revelry and merry -making with this tremendous revolution that he became the compiler of this book to guide humanity and he died in this honoured capacity. Today the necks of the entire
Muslim Ummah are bent before his favours and kindness shown to them. (Bustamul Hadith p-155)
His status in the science of Hadith
Almighty Allah had bestowed upon him a very high status in the science of Hadith. Very grand Ulama of Hadith have fallen victim to adverse comments. Even Imam Bukhari, Imam Abu Hanifa and Imam Shafi could not be spared from such comments. I have, however, not come across anyone who has made any comment on the narratives and Ahadith of Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak. So high-ranking a Muhaddith he is!
His lack of interest in and retirement from the world
As mentioned earlier, he belonged to a noble dynasty and was himself a rich man. Even in the changed conditions of his life he used to have on his dining table from ten to fifteen delicious dishes which were shared by a large number of guests. While the guests were eating the food and he was playing host to them, he himself was fasting.
His occupation with the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet PBUH
It is recorded about his ancestral house in the city of .Merv in Khurasan that its courtyard was fifty yards square. The entire yard remained filled with the needy. Some called upon him to ask some questions in Deen, some to take lessons and some for their personal needs. Later on when he migrated to Baghdad, he purchased for himself a small house where he lived in seclusion and obscurity. Someone asked him how he lived in such a small house in Bughdad after having left his palatial building in Merv. In reply he said that he lived more comfortably and happily in the small house in Baghdad, because in Baghdad he had a more peaceful and secluded life which was not available in Merv. In Baghdad he went to the mosque for praying and came back to his house to busy himself with the study of the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet PBUH. He said that a life of seclusion like that was more pleasant to him.
Respect and love for him in the hearts of the people
In those days there was a city named Ruqqa which is now a sector of Baghdad. During his caliphate once Haroon Rashid was sitting in the royal tower with his mother or wife, when he heard a huge noise rising from the boundary walls of the city. Haroon Rashid thought that perhaps some enemy had attacked the city. He at once sent his men to inquire about the matter. He was informed that the noise was due to the people’s clamour who had gone out of the city to receive. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, who was coming to the city of Ruqqa. I heard from my father, Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi RAH that during the reception Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak happened to sneeze he said “Alhamdulillah”. In reply to this the people uttered (May Allah have mercy on you) . This was the cause of the noise. Seeing this scene the wife of Rashid said to her husband: You are a great king, ruling over about half the world, but it is these godly men who deserve to rule over land. A real king is he who rules over the hearts of the people. It was not Police but the love of the saint which had brought so many people at the place, this was the high station at which. Almighty Allah had placed him. (History of Baghdad 1/156)
A strange event of his generosity
Almighty Allah had granted him, huge wealth and luxuries of the world, but his heart was not at all occupied with the love of the world. His condition was a full demonstration of the common proverb “the world is in the hand not in the heart”. while living in Khorasan, he
intended to proceed on the Hajj pilgrimage, when the people of the town came to know this, they called upon him in a delegation and desired to go for Hajj’ with him, so that they may benefit by his company during the journey. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, agreed with them on the condition that they should deposit their provisions and money with him, so that he may spend the amount joinitly for all of them. The people deposited their purses with him, and he kept them in box, and set off on the Hajj journey. He himself arranged for the conveyance and food , till on the completion of the Hajj he took them
with him to Madinah Munawwarah. Here he asked his companions what their families had desired them to bring home for them from Madinah Munawwareh. He took
them to the market and purchased for them what they desired. On coming back to Makkah Mukarramah, he repeated the same question and purchased for them from
Makkah Mukarramah their needs. On coming back to Khorasan he arranged for a sumptuous feast for all. He also presented to every one some costly present. In the end
he opened the box in which he had kept their purses and returned to every one his purse. Such was his unique generosity: (Siar- llaa un- nubala 8/385)
His generosity and help to the poor
There is another similar story about him. Once he was going an a Hajj journey with a Caravan. On the way a hen of a member of the caravan died. They threw away the dead hen on the dust heap. Hazrt Abdullah bin Mubarak, was comming behind the caravan. He saw that a girl from the neighbouring village came out, rushed to the dead hen, wrapped if with a cloth and took it home quietly and quickly. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, was
observing all this and was at a loss to understand what the girl would do with that dead hen. Hazrat Abdullah Bin Mubarak, followed that girl to her house. He asked her who she was and what she was going to do with that dead hen. The girl said to Hazrat Abdullah Mubarak, with some reluctance: I am an orphan girl and my mother is a widow. Today there is nothing in the house to eat. For many days we have been passing a wretched state in which the Shariah has made it lawful for us to eat dead meat. Thus, we keep ourselves alive by picking up from this heap dead animals.
Hearing this Hazrat AbduIlah bin Mubarak’s heart was awfully shocked. He thought what a pity that these servants of Allah are living on the meat of dead animals and he was going on the Hajj Pilgrimage! he inquired from his assistant about the money with him. The assistant replied that it was perhaps two thousand Dinars. He asked him that after deducting twenty Dinars for their Journey back home he should hand over the entire money to that girl. He would not go on the Hajj Pilgrimage that year. He thought that the reward Allah would give him for helping the poor family of the girl would be much more than the reward for Hajj. Not only had Allah favoured him with one opportunity but many for doing righteous and good turns the extent of which we can hardly comprehend.
Another example of his generosity
Whenever Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, visited the city of Ruqqa a young man called upon him to ask him some religious problems and other matters. On one of his visits the saint did not see the young man and inquired the people about him. They informed the saint that he was heavily in debt which he could not pay. His creditor had, therefore got him arrested and imprisoned. The saint was very much pained to know this. He found
out the amount of the debt which was ten thousand Dinars. He also found out the name of the creditor. He went in search of the creditor and at last met him. He offered to pay off the debt on the condition that the creditor would make a solemn promise not to tell the
debtor who paid the debt. The creditor made such a promise. The saint, therefore, at once paid the amount of ten thousand Dinars to the creditor and the latter got the
debtor released from the prison. When after being released from the prison the young
man came to the city, he came to know that Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, had recently been in the city but had left it just then. The young man ran after him and overtook him. Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, said to him: I was told that you are in prison. The young
man replied in the affirmative and said that he had been released, by the grace of Allah. The saint asked the young man how he was released. The man said: Allah sent from
the unseen world an angel who paid off his debt and brought about his release. Hearing this, Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, said: Now thank Allah for this favour. I too was praying to Allah for your release. The young man told his friends that while Hazrat
Abdullah bin Mubarak, was alive he could not know who had paid off his debt. The creditor had made a solemn promise to the saint not to disclose the secret, After the death of Hazrat Abdullah bin Mubarak, the creditor told the debtor that it was really the saint himself who got him released from the prison by paying off the the debt. (History of Baghdad 10/159)