A Sufi Tale of Hajj

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Abd Allah and the Cobbler

Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 797 AD) was living in Mecca. One year, having completed the rites of the pilgrimage, he fell asleep and had a dream wherein he saw two angels descend from heaven.

“How many have come this year?” one asked the other.

“Six hundred thousand,” the other replied.

“How many have had their pilgrimage accepted?”

“Not one.”

This report filled Abd Allah with trembling. “What?” I cried. “All these people have come from the distant ends of the earth, with great pain and weariness from every deep ravine, traversing wide deserts, and all their labor is in vain?”

“There is a cobbler in Damascus call Ali ibn Mowaffaq,” said the first angel. “He has not come on the pilgrimage, but his pilgrimage is accepted and all his sins have been forgiven.”

When I heard this, I awoke and resolved to go to Damascus and visit this person. So I went to Damascus and found where he lived. I shouted and a man came out. “What is your name and what work do you do?” I asked. “I am Ali ibn Mowaffaq, a cobbler by trade. What is your name?”

I told him it was Abd Allah ibn al-Mubarak. He uttered a cry and fell into a faint. When he recovered, I begged him to tell me his story. He said: “For thirty years now I have longed to make the pilgrimage. I had saved up three hundred and fifty dirhams from my cobbling. This year I resolved to go to Mecca, though my wife became pregnant. One day she smelled food being cooked next door, and begged me to fetch her a bit of it. I went and knocked on the neighbor’s door and explained the situation. My neighbor burst into tears. “My children have eaten nothing for three days,” she said. “Today I saw a donkey lying dead and cut off a piece and cooked it for them. It would not be lawful food for you.”  My heart burned within me when I heard her tale. I took out the three hundred and fifty dirhams and gave them to her. ‘Spend these on your children,’ I said. ‘This is my pilgrimage.’

“The angel spoke truly in my dream,” Abd Allah declared, “and the Heavenly King was true in His judgement.”

– From Attar’s Memorial of the Saints

Ya Haqq!

13 Responses to A Sufi Tale of Hajj

  1. nisa says:

    Brother Irving – Thanks for your comments on my blog. You continue to inspire me. May Allah swt bless you and your loved ones. Happy Belated Eid and New Years! :)

  2. saqi says:

    A moving story indeed!

  3. sf says:

    Salaams Br. Irving,
    Thank you for such a thought-provoking and inspiring post!
    It is profoundly moving!

    Jazaak Allah Khair, Brother

  4. Suroor says:

    Beautiful reminder! Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Sadiq says:


    its so beautiful. these days, thousands of people from poor countries go to Mecca for hajj, while neglecting their duty to their poor neighbors. even rich people go for a number of times while so many children die of hunger and mal-nutrition. only God knows how many person’s hajj are accepted!

    inshallah, as God wills, i will translate this post and put in one of the bengali or bangla language blog to call peoples attention. Jazakallah Khair for this beautiful sharing.

    may Allah give wisdom in the heart of muslims and open their eyes to true righteousness.

  6. pbsweeney says:

    Really sums it all up, doesn’t it? EVERYTHING! Is there even one among us who would do the same? Very inspiring post and thank you for all the prayers that will come from thinking about it!

  7. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Brothers and Sisters:

    Thank you all for the kind comments. This tale does indeed sum up both the Sufi path of loving-kindness and the true purpose of pilgrimage. Allah knows what is in our hearts.

    There is also the tale of Bayazid, who was going on Hajj. He encountered an old man in the desert who asked him where he was going. “On the Hajj,” Bayazid replied.

    “How much did you take for your travels?”

    “Two hundred dirhams,” Bayazid said.

    “I am a poor man with a family,” the old man replied. “Give me the two hundred dirhams, and circle around me seven times.”

    Bayazid did so, and went home.

    Ya Haqq!

  8. Maliha says:

    gorgeous heart lifting story…Jazaka Allah Kheir ya darvish! This is timely considering how much it cost to go to Hajj nowadays; and how many people in turn are dying to just eat.

  9. lulando says:


    And thank you :D

  10. Tasmiya says:

    MashaAllah. Excellent reminder. As always, brother you cause me to reflect and inspire me to be a better person. :)

  11. ayesha says:

    jazakallahu khairan for posting this. what a blessing, to be both funny and inspiring :) (yes i just came from suroor’s site)

  12. Ismail Rad says:


    So beautiful story. Thank you to share it also thanks brother Sadiq for Hazrat-i Bayazid story.

    Ya Haqq!

  13. Abdur Rahman says:

    Salaams Irving bhai,

    I missed this when it came out somehow! Allahu Ackbar! What a great story.

    Abdur Rahman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: