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Biography of Shah Abdul Qadir Jilani:
Long ago there lived a youth who was fond of reading and writing. Unfortunately, there was no large school of learning where he lived. His father had died and the boy lived with his mother. One day he asked his mother if he could travel to Baghdad (Iraq) and seek knowledge there.
Baghdad was a very big city. There were many famous schools and colleges where great Sufis and people who were very close to Allah stayed. The youth said to his mother, "My dear mother, let me learn as much as possible because an unread person is called ignorant and useless. He is not respected. He is like a blind person who does not know what is happening in the world around him and in the life hereafter. Ignorance is death on earth and leads to gloom and despair. To know many things brings light into a persons life. A knowledgeable person is well-known and well-liked amongst those who are Allahs chosen ones. Without knowledge, one doesnt even know how to pray."
The mother was a good lady. She worshipped Allah day and night. Recitation of the Holy Quran was her hobby. She was delighted to hear that her son wished for learning. She thanked Allah that her son had no bad habits.
This pious lady had only managed to save forty Ashrafis (Persian coins) but these she gladly gave to her son. She prepared some food for him to eat during his journey and sewed the money into the lining of his coat under the armpit, thus hiding it away.
When everything was ready, she said to her son, "I must tell you one thing. Listen to it carefully, remember it always and do it. Whenever you speak, speak only the truth. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, Truth is Salvation. You can save yourself from great worry by telling the truth. Truth will save your life."
In those days there were no motors, buses or trains and the only means of travel was by camel, horse or on foot. It was often very dangerous because travellers were attacked by robbers. So they travelled together in large groups called caravans.
Luckily, there was a caravan going to Baghdad. The youth went with it. They travelled for some time until one day a band of robbers came down from the hills. The robbers began to steal all they could. One of the robbers took everything from the youth and asked him roughly if he had anything else. The boy calmly answered, "Yes, I have forty Ashrafis." The robber said, "You must be joking!" The youth replied, "No, I am not." Indeed, had his mother not told him to speak the truth! The robber stared at him as the boy carried on speaking, "I am travelling for a good cause. Those who go out to look for learning are walking towards Heaven. The angels will help them on their journey. I am going to be a learned man. I am a descendant of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). Telling lies does not befit me. What are forty Ashrafis that I should tell a lie in order to keep them? Not even if I were to be killed would I do this. A Muslim does not tell a lie but speaks the truth even in the face of fear and danger."
While the youth was talking, another robber came up to him. He pushed him and said, "What have you got?" The boy replied, "Forty Ashrafis." This prompt reply made the robber stop and think. Everyone except the boy, who remained completely unmoved, seemed to be lost in amazement or terror-stricken. Indeed he must not be joking. Puzzled, the robber took him to his leader.
"What is your name and town?" the leader asked.
"My name is Abdul Qadir and I come from Jilan," the boy said.
"And where are you going?"
"What will you do in Baghdad?"
"I am going to be educated."
"Well, well! Have you any money?"
"Yes sir, I have forty Ashrafis. Havent I already said so?"
"Where are they?" enquired the leader. He looked closely at the boy.
"Here, under my armpit," the boy answered as he pointed to the lining in his sleeve. "My mother sewed them inside my coat."
The leader laughed. "You must be very simple. You dont tell people such things."
"Muslims dont tell lies," the youth replied.
The leader raised his eyebrows. "The boy is not so simple after all," he thought. "What great faith in Islam has this young lad! Without it he would not have told the truth. We make our children into clever liars, we tell lies ourselves day and night and destroy Allahs creatures by making them hide the truth. This life is not worth living. This boy knows more of Allahs wisdom than I, a grown man."
He bent his head in shame. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He stood up, embraced the youth and asked his forgiveness.
Greatly surprised, the youth exclaimed, "Pray to Allah for forgiveness, for he expects His creatures to ask Him alone for His mercy."
There, before him, the leader and his companions repented of all their sins and promised to live the lives of noble people, their first good action being that of returning all the stolen loot to the travellers.