The Judgment of God – A Sufi Tale

Not so long ago, as time is counted, there came to a certain oasis far in the western desert a faqir. He was a Qalandar, a wandering darvish, who had walked the deserts of Africa and Arabia for many years, seeking only solitude wherein he could remember his Creator and contemplate the Divine mysteries. His virtue and faith, his submission to the will of God, had been rewarded with tranquility of spirit, and his sincerity and devotion on the path of Love was such that the Hidden had been revealed to his heart, and he had become a Wali, a Friend of God.

Now it came to pass that the night the faqir wandered into this oasis and lay beneath a palm tree to rest before the midnight prayer, there was, unknown to him, another man under a nearby tree who was also making camp for the night.

But the other man was a notorious bandit, once the feared chieftain of a band of robbers who had for years plundered the spice caravans and waylaid rich merchants on their way from the coastal cities to the inland towns. The outcry against his merciless raids, however, had at last reached the ears of the Sultan and he had ordered his soldiers to hunt down the band and destroy them. Many were caught and beheaded. Many others deserted their chief out of fear that they would share the fate of their comrades.

Eventually, this evil man found himself alone. His purse was now empty, every last coin having been spent in escape, and he was a hunted criminal with a price on his head. Even his former allies, those dishonest merchants who had bought his stolen goods, closed their doors against him. They also feared, lest the wrath of the Sultan fall upon their necks. And so he had fled for many days across the desert and come at last to the oasis where, tired and hungry, he sat beneath a tree and cursed his wretched fate.

Now I ask you, which of these two men is the greater, and which the less? Whom has God blessed and whom has He cursed? No, do not answer! You do not know the answer, for you are not their judge. The Creator alone is the judge of His creation.

Munkir and Nakir, however, the angels who question the dead when they are assigned to the grave, looked upon the scene of the two men and sighed. ‘Surely,’ said Munkir ‘here at least the true gold may be seen from the false. These two may be judged, though their end is not yet come. God will have the greater, and Satan the less.’

‘Alas! It must be so,’ agreed Nakir. ‘True gold is the most rare, and therefore are the fields of heavens spacious indeed, while the halls of Hell are filled to bursting, overflowing even the deepest pits.’

Now God perceived the thoughts of His servants, and spoke to the hearts of the two angels. ‘Verily, thou hast pronounced their just fate,’ He said. ‘Yet woe unto mankind had I created the world by justice alone. Am I not the Merciful and Compassionate? Behold! I will visit them with sleep and visions that thou shalt know the truth of My creation.’

Thus the Lord sent sleep and mighty dreams to the faqir and the wretched thief. And lo, the Qalandar awoke in hell, even into the midst of the great fires of the pit. And the bandit chief arose in Paradise, where he stood among the saints before the very Throne of God.

The Master laid down his spent pipe and sipped his tea. His eyes searched our faces over the rim of the glass. “Is it mercy to send the worst of man to heaven?” he asked. “Or justice to send the best of man to hell?”

No one dared answer.

“Good!” he said soothingly. “To cleanse the heart of judgment is to discern the Way of Love. And such was the lesson of Munkir and Nakir. For they beheld the faqir awaken in the very midst of Hell, and saw that most worthy of men rise up naked as the fires burned his flesh and the cries of tormented souls pierced his ears. Yet he did not feel pain at the touch of the flames, and showed neither surprise nor fear. His thought was only of his Beloved, and no affliction was great enough to sway his love. He sat among the fires and the torment as a darvish sits, and in a voice clear and strong he began to sing.

‘La Illah illa Allah! La Illaha illa Allah!’

The fires blazed furiously as the song began and then dimmed to smoldering embers, and the burning mountains trembled at the Holy Name. Now the tormented souls ceased their wailing to listen, for the name of God is not uttered in the pits. Then there was no other sound to be heard but his, and the song went on and on until the very foundations of Hell were shaken, and the damned souls began to feel a spark of forbidden hope.

Surely Hell would have fallen into ruin had not Satan himself appeared, and begged the faqir to depart. But the old man would not move, for he had walked many years on the Path of Love, and the Beloved’s Will was his will, whether it be paradise or eternal fire.

The Master paused for a moment to again sip the tea beside him. He did not look at us until he began the tale again.

“And what of the thief?” he asked, when the glass was empty. “This chieftain of bandits who was once so feared and terrible, and who had fallen into wretchedness and misery, the fate of all such men in the end.”

God caused the two angels to perceive his vision also, and they saw him rise and stand robed in white, trembling amidst the host of heaven, before the Throne of Almighty God. And the angel Gabriel spoke unto him.

‘By the mercy of the Lord, thy Creator, thy earthly deeds are forgiven thee,’ he said. ‘Come now and be at peace.’
And now the truth filled his heart, and great wonder, and every veil fell from his eyes; and he saw with a clear sight the Majesty and Beauty of His Compassion, and he wept.

And the Lord God spoke unto him, and said: ‘O man, fear not. For thou canst not fall so low that I cannot raise thee up.’

And fear left the thief. He prostrated himself before his God and wept. On and on flowed the endless tears of his wasted life, until they became the very waters of mercy and would not cease; and the feet of the saints were washed by his tears.

He would have wept for eternity had not the vision ended and the two men abruptly awakened. Then the thief saw the faqir as he stood, and came to him still weeping from the dream. And the faqir perceived all that had befallen them and embraced him, and they prayed together at the midnight hour even unto the dawn. Much befell them afterwards, for the thief became the disciple of the faqir, but that is all of their tale I will tell.

And Munkir and Nakir, who had witnessed but the tiniest particle of the unending Mercy of God, bowed before their Creator in submission, and in shame of their rash condemnation. For surely beyond the comprehension of men and angels is the Judgment of God.

Excerpt from

33 Responses to The Judgment of God – A Sufi Tale

  1. musicalchef says:

    Thanks for posting these stories. They are a source of much inspiration.

  2. yasmine says:

    So beautifully written, and you nearly made me teary-eyed at work (where I shouldn’t be reading weblogs anyway, but we’ll ignore that point for the time being). I am indeed going to have to buy a copy of your book inshaAllah. =)

    He was a Qalandar, a wandering darvish

    ‘Til now, I’d only heard the term ‘qalandar’ in that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan qawwali where he sings ‘Dam masti qalandar.’ I never knew what it meant, though, so thank you for the clarification.

    PS: Was thinking of you and your book earlier today, so I stopped by your Master of the Jinn website again. And then, later, I saw your comment on some weblog, and followed the link, and was pleasantly surprised to see you blogging as well. =)

    Have beautiful days.

  3. Thank you for the kind and generous comments, dear friends. And may Allah guide our pens, for His pen is cut from the reedbed of the heart, and therein lies the Truth.

    Ya Haqq!

  4. saly says:

    Mashallah, so beautiful! Your words are full of wisdom and lesson. May Allah give more power to your pen, Ameen.

  5. Stranger says:

    awwww, Awesome story Alhamdulillah !! Like Yaz`O, i should’nt be reading this at work – But heck its a FridayYyyy :-)

  6. Stranger says:

    ahahah, This is funnny, I just about to order your book and this is what i see
    Price at a Glance
    RRP: £7.59
    New: from £9.09
    Used: from £40.98

    A Used book is alot more expensive, just goes to show how dear its become to ppl’s heart to let go of it :) – nah, its just that its dispatched from US to Uk and its more.
    anyhow i will must my order in soon Inshallah

  7. Maliha says:

    Mashaallah..this is such a gorgeous parable…i feel the weight of its beauty in my heart.

    I am getting your book too…today, enough with the procrastination.

    Jazaka Allah kheir for the beauty you weave.

  8. Salaam Alaikum Dear Brothers and Sisters:
    May Allah bless you all for your kindness and generosity. All that is good in the book came from Hu, the rest is my own doing. I hope you enjoy the book, inshallah.

    Ya Haqq!

  9. I really loved that! It will make for great reading on my trip, if I can get the book on time!

  10. Umm Sami says:

    May the Peace and Blessings of God Be Upon You:

    Wow! Alhamdullilah… what a lovely story. Not even sure how I wondered upon this site, must surely be Allah(swt) guiding me. Just what I needed to read today. Am off to buy the book as a Ramadan/Eid gift for myself. Insha’Allah, I will pass this on to others as well.


  11. Abdur Rahman says:

    Aaaaahhh, Irving…

    All I can do at reading this beautiful tale is sigh…. aaaaahhhh my Beloved!

    My thanks for this story, which feels as if you wrote it solely for me, in this very moment, for this very purpose!

    Ya Rahman! with one breath of Your mercy, the doors of my scared heart are blown open!

    How can I order the book itself? Can I order a signed copy?

    Abdur Rahman

  12. […] Irving Karchmar presents The Judgment of God – A Sufi Tale « Darvish posted at Darvish, saying, “Thank you for the Carnival […]

  13. mshahin says:

    Subhanallah! Allah has blessed a group of his creation with the ability to touch hearts and inspire!

    Beautiful parable, that really makes me think and fill my heart with a need to be near to Allah. May Allah grant us all nearness to Him.

    Blessings to your beautiful heart and beautiful pen!

  14. Abu Sahajj says:

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum,

    Excellent… masha’allah.

  15. Batyr says:


  16. abubakr says:

    subhanallah ! wal hamdulilah, wa Laila ha il lallah huwallah hu akbar.
    God bless you all here and there

  17. SK says:

    Subhan-Allah… Bro very beautiful indeed .. and uplifting.. May God bless you all…


    iam really inspired by thi sufi tale,and i pray that you shall be rewarded accordinly.please i would’nt mind if more of this sufi tales can be mailed to me. ma assalam.

  19. syed dawood says:

    Fazle moula

    i would lik to now abou the details of meeting god in this world.
    not after death , befor death
    hope u will help me in this regard

    thank you

    syed dawood

  20. irving says:

    Salaam Dear Brother Syed Dawood:
    To meet God in this world, there is only one step, though it is a long and difficult one, over an abyss of the self. It involves getting out of your own way, that is, getting past your ego, The way to do this, the Sufis say, is by love and service to all creation. This instills humility in the heart, and when you are nothing and God is everything, He reveals Himself.
    There are no shortcuts, unless He wills.
    Ya Haqq!

  21. sk says:

    Feel the Almighty & Almighty is there! here & everywhere. You see the winds flowing, waters moving, people saying. Allah Almighty is in there. You have to just think of Him & He is there. You are a living Miracle of Allah Almighty dear Mr. Syed Dawood! Why to look elsewhere. Just see through Yourself & You will find Him.

  22. becca says:

    then is sufism universalist? might all the damned be saved? i cannot love a god who will not make this so, and that has always been my stumbling block, preventing me (outwardly) from any theistic religion. i practice buddhism , and i love god in my secret heart. but not a god who makes free will a cursed trick, by which anyone might err into eternal torment. i am not so loving as i wish, and just a mortal woman, and i would not create a creature that could be so doomed. it would be a wicked and treacherous game. and god must be love itself, and dwarf my little love in manifestation. and so the doors of hell must be loosed in the end, or god has made an error. and that is impossible.
    it is a beautiful story.

  23. Irving says:

    Dear Becca:

    Indeed, Sufism is universal in the way you mean, as this quote illustrates:

    “My heart has become capable of every form; it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks, and a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Ka’ba, and the tablets of the Torah and the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take, that is my religion and my faith.”
    – Ibn al-Arabi

    Sufism is the path of Love, and indeed, it does not preclude any being from being saved. A careful reading of all monotheistic scripture and traditions say the same thing. That is part of the lesson in the Judgment of God tale, and also the theme of the book, Master of the Jinn, from which the tale is taken, that of God’s infinite love and mercy to all His creation.

    May God bless you, dear Becca, and all us mortal who love and struggle in His name.


    Ya Haqq!

  24. becca says:

    i thank you deeply for your beautiful reply. that is a wonderful quote, and i’ve embroidered it on my heart. may you walk in grace always, teacher.

  25. AstraNomical Chick says:

    Ibn Al Arabi knew exactly what he was saying. Allah Swt does not judge. It is man who has become the biggest judge. Read Lady Evelyn Cobbold’s life story. An extraordinary woman. Muslims need to focus on whats most important. Bringing unity through understanding. This is a most peaceful and beautiful religion if practised the way it is supposed to be. Love. Honour. Peace. Harmony. Eternal bliss. To Allah swt we all shall go. Except, many of us need to ease up on the vices. Tolerate mankind for what it is. Religious intolerance during a time when mothers sleep with their sons, intoxicant abuse. Poverty. Murder. Hunger. Come. We humans have lost the plot here. Tasnim

  26. Irving says:

    Greetings of Peace Dear Astronomical Chick:

    Thank you for the comment :) And I will indeed look up Evelyn Cobbold’s life story.

    Ya Haqq!

  27. AstraNomical Chick says:

    Dearest Irving
    Did you find Lady Cobbold’s story?

  28. Irving says:

    Salaam Dearest Tasnim:

    I did indeed find Lady Cobbold’s story, the first English noblewoman to make the Hajj, a fascinating story :) Looking through Google references, I even found this remarkable account of her funeral, for which she left instructions that it be strictly according to Islam, and that her head should face Mecca. Here is a link to it:

    Thank you for reminding me :)

    Ya Haqq!

  29. Sufizen says:

    Dear Irving,
    real inspiring stories. I would like to seek you permissions to republish them at my new blog on sufi and sen thought.

  30. darvish says:

    Dear Sufizen:

    You may have permission to republish the stories, as long as you add: Copyright Irving Karchmar, 2004, and a link back to the book’s website at

    Ya Haqq!

  31. Hashimhafsa says:

    Dear Irwing, Salaam and thank you, thank you, thank you. It’s a wonderful tale that will connect the heart of him/her, who “reflects”, to the Beloved’s “Irrational Number.”

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