A sufi on his deathbed


Sîdî al-‘Arbî was one of the friends of God. When he was on his deathbed he called for a certain man and his wife and he told them, pointing to a cap and a pair of black trousers: “This is a trust of God which will remain with you until your son ‘Abd al-‘Azîz will be born. You then give these clothes to him”.

Some time later ‘Abd al-‘Azîz was born and when he reached puberty God inspired his mother to give him the clothes received as a trust. ‘Abd al-‘Azîz then put on his trousers as well as his cap. He then felt a great heat, so much so that tears appeared in his eyes. ‘Abd al-‘Azîz has said this about it: “I then understood what Sîdî al-‘Arbî had said and his allusion was clear to me, thanks to God, the Lord of the worlds.”

‘Abd al-‘Azîz has said this: “From the day I had received the trust (the cap and the pair of trousers) which had been legated to me by Sîdî al-‘Arbî and when I understood his message, God placed an aspiration in my heart for complete servanthood to God. That is why I started to search in an intense way. In case someone told me about a certain shaykh who accepted disciples I immediately went to him in order to have him as my master. But after some time, during which I performed the spiritual practices received from him, my breast became constricted and no longer I thought it to be necessary to stay with him. I then went to another and took him as a shaykh. After some time the same thing happened as in the case of the first shaykh and I went to a third one. And then the same took place once again”.

This period lasted for 12 years. In those days he went every Thursday to the shrine of the Sufi Sîdî ‘Alî ibn Hirzihim and he read al-Burda (the Mantle, a poem written by a Sufi in praise of the Prophet). One day, after reading al-Burda, he left the shrine. ‘Abd al-‘Azîz then met a stranger who sat under a tree near the door of the Sufi shrine. The stranger started to speak to him about the inner experiences of ‘Abd al-‘Azîz.

‘Abd al-‘Azîz understood that this stranger has to be one of the unknown friends of God. He asked him: “Give me one of the sacred formulas to recite and initiate me into the way of spiritual recollection!”

The stranger ignored this request and started to talk about completely different things. Sîdî ‘Umar repeated his request several times, but the stranger refused to guide him as he had in mind to test the determination of ‘Abd al-‘Azîz. He stayed with the stranger until dawn. The call to prayer any moment was going to be heard.

The stranger then turned to him and told ‘Abd al-‘Azîz: “I will not prescribe any sacred formula to you if you do not accept the pact of God never to stop reciting it”.

‘Abd al-‘Azîz then gave this solemn promise. He then expected to receive a formula similar to the ones he had received from his former shaykhs. To his surprise the stranger told him: “You have to recite every day the following sentence: ‘O Lord! Because of the grace of our sayyed Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allâh unify me with our sayyed Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allâh in this world before the next one’.”

They then performed the ablutions and Sîdî ‘Umar, the guardian of the Sufi shrine, joined us. The stranger told Sîdî ‘Umar to keep an eye on ‘Abd al-‘Azîz.

Time passed and when Sîdî ‘Umar was on his deathbed he asked ‘Abd al-‘Azîz: “Do you know who was the stranger who sat under the tree near the shrine and who gave you something to recite? It was Khidr!”

‘Abd al-‘Azîz has said: “Later on, when I attained illumination by the grace of God, I understood the message of Sîdî ‘Umar. I continued reciting the formula of recollection. It was difficult to perform on the first day and only during the night I was able to finish my recitation. Little by little it became easier to do…”.