His ancestry through the medium of five predecessors links up with Hadhrat Umar (a). Some people claim that he was a Sayyid of the line of Hadhrat Husain (ra). He was born in the city of Balkh. His nickname was Abu Ishaq. Khwajah Fudhail Bin Iyadh (ra) had conferred the mantle of Khilaafate to him. Besides being the Khalifah of Hadhrat Fudhail, he was also the Khalifah of Khwajah Imran Ibn M?sa, Khwajah Imaam Baqir, Khwajah Shaikh Mans?r Salmi and Khwajah Uwais Qarni (ra).
It was his regular practice to remain hungry for four and five days at a time.
In the beginning he was the king of Balkh. First he was adopted as a son by the king of Balkh. Later he became the king. Allah ’s special grace was on him, hence the circumstances for adopting the Path of Renunciation went on unfolding for Hadhrat Ibrahim Bin Adham.
Once while his court was in full session a man of considerable reverence, awe and dignity entered. The awe-inspiring countenance of the man was so overwhelming that no one had the courage to question his identity. When he was close to the throne, the king asked:
‘Who are you?’ He replied:
‘A traveller searching for an inn.’
King: This is not an inn. It is my palace.
Traveller: Who was here before you?
King: The king before me.
Traveller: And before him?
King: His father. But never was this an inn.
Traveller: All are gone. Thus it means that this is an inn.
This conversation had a profound effect on the king who now developed the yearning to search for Allah .
Once while sleeping at night he heard footsteps on the roof of the palace. When he asked; ‘Who is there?’, a voice replied: ‘I am searching for my camel.’
King: ‘Who can be more ignorant than you, searching for a camel on the palace roof?’
Voice: The person who searches for Allah while sitting on a royal throne is more ignorant.
The arrow of Divine Love pierced Ibrahim Adham’s heart. All of a sudden he renounced the throne and set out into the wilderness. He took up residence in a mountain. On Thursdays, he would descend from the mountain, gather firewood and sell it. Whatever he acquired from the sale of the wood, half would he spent in the path of Allah . The other half was used to buy food for the following 7 days. After spending a considerable time in the wilderness, he was divinely instructed to go to Makkah Mukarramah where he entered into the spiritual companionship of Hadhrat Fudhail (rahmatullah alayh). As a result, Hadhrat Ibrahim Bin Adham gained spiritual distinction and great spiritual heights. Hadhrat Junaid Baghdadi (rahmatullah alayh) observed:
“The key of spiritual knowledge which is bestowed to the Auliya is Ibrahim.”
After he had abandoned the throne, the leaders and rulers of Balkh repeatedly appealed to him to return. However, Hadhrat Ibrahim Bin Adham never again accepted the throne.
Once along the river banks Hadhrat Ibrahim was sewing his tattered² shawl when some royal courtiers appeared and appealed to him to come back. They were saddened by his forlorn and tattered state and wondered what he had gained by having sacrificed the throne of Balkh. Hadhrat Ibrahim threw his needle into the river and said:
‘You are ministers (of a country) and rulers. Retrieve my needle.’
When they obviously were unable, he addressed the fishes in the river and commanded them to bring his needle. Innumerable fishes simultaneously appeared on the surface of the water, each with a needle of gold in its mouth. None of the fish had his original needle. He commanded that his original needle be retrieved. A tiny fish surfaced with his needle in its mouth. Hadhrat Ibrahim took the needle and said:
‘My kingdom now extends over the whole world. What can I do with your insignificant kingdom?’
Once while sitting on Mount Abu Qubais with a companion, he said² that there are some servants of Allah whose command causes a mountain to move. As he said this, the mountain shook. Hadhrat Ibrahim commanded:
‘Be stationery. I was narrating an episode, not issuing an instruction.’
The mountain became calm.
² Once he asked a buzrug who was a master of karaamat:
“What profession have you adopted for your livelihood?”
Buzrug: ‘I eat whatever comes my way. If there is nothing, I adopt patience.’
Ibrahim: ‘This is what the city dogs too do. The proper attitude is to sacrifice what you obtain and adopt sabr.’
² Once someone asked Hadhrat Ibrahim:
“Whose worshipper are you?”
On hearing this, Hadhrat Ibrahim shuddered and fell down unconscious. When he regained conscious, he recited the aayat:
“Everything in the heavens and earth will come to Rahmaan as a slave.”
When the man asked why he did not answer in the beginning, Hadhrat Ibrahim said:
“If I say that I am Allah ’s slave, I fear because of my inability to fulfil the rights of serving Him. How can I then claim to be a slave? If I say that I am not His slave, I fear the danger of kufr.”
For many years he lived in the wilderness and for 9 years he lived² in the Cave of Nishaapur engaging himself in rigorous spiritual training. He ate always from his own earnings. Sometimes he sold firewood and sometimes he worked in someone’s orchard.
Once a policeman approached him while he was employed in an² orchard and demanded a fruit. Hadhrat Ibrahim Adham refused. The policeman struck him with a whip on the head. Hadhrat Ibrahim lowered his head and said:
“The head which has disobeyed Allah Azza wa Jal deserved to be thrashed.”
Hearing this expression, the policeman apologised. Hadhrat Ibrahim said:
“The head for which apologies would be offered has been left in Balkh.”
² Once at the time of tawaaf while giving naseehat to a man, he said:
“Until five valleys have not been traversed, the rank of the Saaliheen cannot be attained. First: Close the door of ni’mat and open the door of hardship. Second: Close the door of respect and open the door of disgrace. Third: Close the door of comfort and open the door of difficulty. Fourth: Close the door of sleep and open the door of wakefulness. Fifth: Close the door of wealth and open the door of poverty.”
² Some people came and complained that a lion was blocking the road. Hadhrat Ibrahim went to the lion and said:
“O Abul Harith! If you have been commanded by Allah , then act accordingly, otherwise clear off.”
The lion immediately went away.
Once after Isha Salaat, the Imaam ordered Hadhrat Ibrahim out of² the Musjid as he wanted to close up. Since it was extremely cold outside, Hadhrat Ibrahim requested permission to spend the night inside the Musjid. However, the Imaam refused permission, saying that travellers steal the Musjid’s items. When Hadhrat Ibrahim insisted, the Imaam said that even if Ibrahim Bin Adham comes, he too will not be allowed to sleep in the Musjid. When Hadhrat said: “I am Ibrahim Bin Adham”, the Imaam became furious accusing him of speaking lies. The Imaam dragged him and pushed him out of the Musjid.
Hadhrat Ibrahim then went towards a hammaam (public bathroom). A man was lighting a lantern at the hammaam. Hadhrat Ibrahim greeted, but the man did not reply. He was engrossed in his work and was glancing fearfully in all directions. After having done his work, he replied to the Salaam. When Ibrahim asked the reason for the delay in answering, he said:
“I am working for someone. I thought that I will be abusing his trust if I became involved in replying to you as his work will be delayed.”
Hadhrat Ibrahim asked about his glancing this way and that way. He said:
“I fear the Angel of Death may come.”
After a short discussion, he said:
“For the past 20 years I am making dua:
‘O Allah ! Don’t let me die before meeting Ibrahim Bin Adham.’
This wish has not yet been fulfilled.”
Hadhrat Ibrahim then revealed himself, saying:
‘I have been sent to you rolling on my head.’
This was a reference to the Imaam having pushed him out violently from the Musjid. The man sighed with relief and said:
“Al-hamdulillah! My wish has been granted.”
He embraced Hadhrat Ibrahim and said:
‘Now I have no more wishes. O Allah ! Now grant me union with You.’
Allah Ta’ala accepted this wish. The man died immediately.
² People asked: ‘Why does Allah not accept our dua?’ Hadhrat Ibrahim said:
“You know Allah , but you don’t worship Him. You know His Rasool and the Qur’aan, but you do not obey. You eat his bounties, but you are not grateful. You do not make preparations to acquire Jannat nor to abstain from Jahannum. You know Shaitaan is your enemy, but you do not hate him. You know Maut will be coming, but you are not concerned. You bury your parents in their graves, but you derive no lesson. You know that you have defects, yet you search for the faults of others. How then can your dua be accepted?”
He said: “The people of the world pursue peace and comfort on² earth, but fail to find these. If they know of the kingdom we have, they will fight with swords to acquire it.”
² Once someone presented 10,000 dirhams to Hadhrat Ibrahim. Refusing it, he said:
“Do you wish me to accept this money and have my name struck off the roll of the fuqara? Never shall I do so.”
Once Hadhrat Ibrahim saw an intoxicated man laying unconscious in² the road. His mouth was frothing. Hadhrat Ibrahim washed his mouth and tongue and commented:
“This tongue should engage in the thikr of Allah . Alas! What a calamity has befallen it!”
When the man came to his senses, people told him what had happened. He was greatly ashamed of himself. He repented and promised never again to consume liquor.
After this incident, Hadhrat Ibrahim heard in a dream someone saying:
“You had purified his tongue for My Sake. I have purified his heart for your sake.”
² Someone wanted to know at what time people could come to Hadhrat Ibrahim to listen to his talks. He said:
“I am engrossed in four activities. When I have completed them, you may come.
1) In eternity when Allah Ta’ala took the Pledge from all, he divided mankind into two groups – one for Jannat and one for Jahannum. At all times I am occupied with this worry because I do not know to which group I belong.
2) When the baby is formed in its mother’s womb, an Angel asks Allah Ta’ala: ‘Should I record him fortunate or unfortunate.’
My constant worry is: Have I been recorded fortunate or unfortunate.
3) When the Angel takes possession of man’s rooh, he asks: ‘Should I assign this soul to the group of Muslim or Kaafir souls?’
I do not know what answer the Angel will receive regarding my rooh.
This is my constant fear.
4) It will be commanded in Qiyaamat:
“Become separated (from the pious ones) today, O transgressors!”
I constantly worry in this regard because I do not know into which group I shall be assigned.”
² He said:
“The heaviest deed in the Scale on the day of Qiyaamah will be the deed which was most difficult on earth.”
² Once a man stayed for some time in the company of Hadhrat Ibrahim. When the man was about to depart he said:
“If there is any fault in me, tell me.”
Hadhrat Ibrahim said:
“I did not see any fault in you because I had always viewed you with love. You should therefore put this question to someone else.”
² An Aalim requested some advice. Hadhrat Ibrahim said:
“Stay like a tail. Don’t be like a head. The head is cut off and the tail is left.”
² A man complained of inability to rise for Tahajjud Salaat. Hadhrat Ibrahim said:
“Don’t disobey Allah Ta’ala during the day. To stand in the presence of Allah at night is a great honour. A disobedient man does not qualify for this honour.”
A well-known claim of the S?fiyah is that a person is deprived of Tahajjud Salaat because of committing sins.
There are different views regarding the year of his death. According to Hafiz Bin Hajar, Hadhrat Ibrahim passed away in the year 162 Hijri; according to Sam-ani, in 161 Hijri. From this it appears that he died in Shaam 25 or 26 years before his Shaikh, Hadhrat Fudhail Bin Iyadh. His age was 102 years.
On the occasion of his demise, a voice was heard exclaiming:
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“Now the Imaam of the world has died.”
His grave is said to be in Shaam (Syria). Some say that it is in Madinah Munawwarah.
Hadhrat Shaikh Ibrahim Bin Adham (rahmatullah alayh) had two Khulafaa – Khwajah Shaqeeq Balkhi and Huzaifah Al-Mur’ashi