Card 8. Sh. Ahmad Zarruq’s first Shaykh, and his resque by Sh. Abul ´Abbas al-Hadrami


From the tabaqat:

Sufism became endeared to Sayyiduna sh. Ahmad Zarrq, and he joined the path of the Sufis at the hand of the guide in spiritual wayfaring, our master ‘Abdullah al-Makki. From him he took the spiritual way, serving him continuously for some time.

While in his service, it so happened that one day when visiting his guide [‘Abdullah al-Makki] during the latter’s solitary retreat, he beheld two women of beautiful form in his guide’s company, one on his right and the other on his left. The wide appeared to turn now to this one and then to that one.

Upon seeing this, our master Zarruq whispered to himself: ‘This man is a heretic’, whereupon the teacher retorted: `Go away, you jew!’

Sidi Ahmad Zarruq thus went away, and it was as if his teacher had cast the descriptive attribute of a jew upon him. He wept on account of this, and beseeched Allah Most High, setting out for one of his beloved companions and requesting that he go to the teacher and seek to win his favour. His dear friend accompanied him to the teacher and tried to attract his sympathetic compassion back towards Zarruq. Al-Makki pardoned and accepted him, saying: ‘On condition you do not sit with us in a country where I happen to be in.’ Thereafter, al-Makki turned to him and said: ‘O Zarruq, the two women who appeared to be ambiguously unclear to you, and who resembled one another in your perception, are this world and the Next. This world desires my advancement towards it, and the Hereafter requires from me that I should approach it, but I do not turn attentively to the utterance of either of them.’

After this incident, our master Zarruq left the city of Fez and set out for Cairo, where he met up with our liege and master, Abu’l-‘Abbas al-Hadrami.

Sh. Zarrq met with our master Abu’l-‘Abbas al-Hadrami when he came to Cairo. He informed the latter of what had occured to him in the company pf ‘Abdullah al-Makki. Our master Abu’l-‘Abbas said to him: ‘What you received from him was fine; there is no harm in that.’ He then took Sidi Ahmad Zarruq with him to Cairo, instructed him in knowledge of Sufi covenants and litanies, and entered him into the solitary retreat [khalwa].

Sidi Ahmad Zarruq remained therein for a number of days until our master Abu’l-‘Abbas, while sitting in a circle of instruction with his disciples, stretched our his hand and screamed. He then instructed his students, saying, ‘Go to your Moroccan brother, since the blind serpent has caused the solitary retreat to crush down on him.’ (He said this is a reference to ‘Abdullah al-Makki, who was a blind man.)

His students hastened to the place our master Zarruq’s retreat, and found the debris [of the building] upon him. They took him out safely from under the building, with nothing harmful befalling him by the permission of Allah Most High.

The hand of our master Abu’l-‘Abbas, however, broke in the process. He said to Zarruq, ‘Allah rescued you from this blind bane, and he no longer has any authority ober you.’ Our master ‘Abdullah al-Makki had in fact stretched out his hand to dispose of our master Ahamad Zarruq from the city of Fez, out of his jealous attachment [ghayra] to him, and consequently wrecked the solitary retreat for him. Allah, however, delivered him through the blessing of our liege Abu’l-‘Abbas, and guarded him from his former guide.

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