Sufi Lives: Adhem (Sufi and the Shriner)

With a sense of urgency, Ben Adhem saddled his horse and rode out of the palace, his guards scrambling behind him. He soon outrode the guards and was, for the first time in his life, on the highways and the byways of his kingdom all by himself.
He rode all day through the town and nearby villages. As the day drew to a close, he came upon a shepherd whom he recognized to be a slave he had freed a few months earlier. By this time Ben Adhem, in his pursuit of the ultimate Truth, had decided upon abandonment of luxury. He stopped his former slave and offered his silken robe for the shepherd’s robe of coarse felt, his bejeweled crown for the shepherd’s crook. Thus metamorphosed a sultan into a zahid, an ascetic.
While Ben Adhem renounced luxury, he embraced work. He did not expect food, shelter and clothing to appear miraculously or for others to provide for him. In labor he found fulfilment. He traveled to many towns and cities in Central Asia and the Middle East. Sometimes he was a hewer of wood, sometimes a carrier of water. Some places he worked as a carpenter, others as a mason. If he ever made money in excess of threadbare necessity, he gave it away. Days he spent in work, evenings in contemplation, and nights in dreams that brought answers.
Contentment was his lot and he imparted it to others. Once he came up a man lamenting his abject poverty.
“Be happy that you got your poverty for nothing?” said Ben Adhem to the man.
“So, even poverty is something that you buy?” said the man sarcastically.
“Indeed,” answered Ben Adhem, “I paid for it with the kingdom of Balkh.”

Haste to renounce thy kingdom, like Ibrahim bin Adham,
To obtain, like him, the kingdom of eternity…(Rumi)

Continued on the next page

This entry was posted in Ali Hammad, Original Essays, Original Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s