Famous Caravan Incident

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Sheikh Abdul Qadir’s journey to Baghdad took him to a vast forest where he and his caravan (Qafila) were attacked by a sixty man band of highwaymen. The travellers did not have the means to defend themselves against the bandits and were forced to surrender their belongings to them.

After looting the travellers, the bandits gathered what they had stolen and began to distribute it amongst themselves. While all this was happening, Sheikh Abdul Qadir was standing very calmly amongst the travellers. Unknown to the bandits, Sheikh Abdul Qadir was carrying the forty gold coins which his mother had sown to the inside of the garment he was wearing for safekeeping.

When one of the highwaymen approached him asking if he had anything valuable in his possession, Sheikh Abdul Qadir replied by saying that he had forty dinars sewn into his garment. The bandit did not believe him and walked away. A second bandit asked the same question, which was met with the same reply. He too dismissed Sheikh Abdul Qadir’s claim.

When the leader of the highwaymen heard of what Sheikh Abdul Qadir had said, he ordered that the stitching be undone and to his utter astonishment the coins were there. This great act of honesty reduced the leader of the highwaymen to a state of great humility and he asked Sheikh Abdul Qadir,

When your money was safe, what compelled you to insist that you had it and say where it was hidden?

The great Sheikh replied,

I must tell the truth under any circumstances, as I promised to my mother.

The leader was reduced to tears and in the spirit of repentance he said,

I reneged on my promise to the One Who created me. I stole and killed. What will happen to me?

Before the great Sheikh could reply the other highwaymen, filled with the fear of Allah, interjected and uttered the most unpredictable words,

You have been our leader all these years in sinning. Now also be our leader in repenting.

The highwaymen then took the hand of Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani and offered their bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) and sought the repentance of Almighty Allah. Here, it is necessary to pause for a moment and reflect upon a beautiful observation. Towards the end of the life of Sheikh Abdul Qadir, saints and friends of Allah would flock to him in great numbers so as to offer their allegiance to him yet the first people to offer their bay’ah at his blessed hand were sixty thieves and killers. Indeed almighty Allah’s Mercy knows no limit.

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