It is said that when NURI, a leading Sufi of Baghdad during the 9th century spoke, light radiated from his mouth. The name NURI comes from the Arabic word NUR, meaning LIGHT. Abul Hassan Nuri of Baghdad taught the philosophy of mohabbat, love of God. He preached that passionate fervour must accompany the practice of worship and spoke of being an ashiq, lover of God.
NURI defined a true mystic as, “One who belongs to no one and nothing belongs to him. He believed that Sufis gained knowledge through God and every action of the enlightened mystic is through Him.”
During the orthodox Baghdad Caliphate under Ghulam Khalil, some mystic friends of Nuri’s, including the famed mystic Shibli, were to be executed on charges of heresy for preaching the Sufi doctrine. In a gesture of rare friendship, Nuri volunteered to go to the gallows in place of the accused. Hearing of Nuri’s gesture, the Caliph was moved, deferring the execution. The case was sent to the Ombudsman, who thought he would trap the Sufi by quizzing him on the legalities of Shariah Law. However, his heart softened on hearing Nuri response that reflected deep mystic wisdom.
To the legal questions Nuri replied, “You have asked all these questions, but nothing relevant. God has servants who stand through Him, and move and rest through Him and abide in contemplation of Him. If for a single instant they held back from contemplating Him, their souls would go out of them. Through Him they sleep, through Him they eat, through Him they take, through Him they go, through Him they see, through Him they hear and through Him they are. This is the true science, not that on which you put questions.” ]
Bewildered, the Ombudsman sent a message to the Caliph. “If these men are atheists and heretics, then I give judgement that on the whole face of the earth not one true believer exists.” The Caliph summoned the prisoners. “Is there anything you want ?” he asked them. The group of accused Sufis replied, “We want you to forget us. We want you neither to honour us with your approval, nor banish us with your rejection.” The Caliph wept bitterly, dismissing them all honourably.
Nuri’s death occurred in a peculiar way. One day a blind man was crying, “God, God.” Nuri went up to him saying, “What do you know of Him? If you know, you still live?” Nuri lost his senses and overpowered with a yearning for God, he walked into the freshly harvested reed beds. The reeds pierced Nuri’s feet and with every drop of blood that fell, the word ALLAH appeared. Unconscious of the pain, Nuri bled profusely, Some fellow Sufis brought Nuri home and realisinf he had little time, asked him to recite the SHAHDAH, declaration of Islamic Faith, Say, There is no god but God…… “Why, I am on my way there,” he replied. And thereupon he died.
———– Sadia Dehlvi.