1. Prior to his renunciation of the world, Zunnoon Misri (rahmatullah alayh) was told of an Aabid (worshipper) who had imposed severe penances on himself. When Zunnoon Misri located the Aabid, he found the latter hanging upside down from a tree. The Aabid was addressing himself, saying: “O nafs! As long as you do not comply with my wishes in worshipping Allah, I shall keep you in this suffering until you perish.”
This sight reduced Zunnoon to tears. The Aabid said: “Who is weeping for a shameless sinner?” After exchanging salaams, Zunnoon went in front of the Aabid who said: “My body is not co-operating in the Ibaadat of Allah. I am therefore punishing it.”
Zunnoon: “I was under the impression that you had committed murder or some other major sin, hence this server self-imposed punishment.”
Aabid: “There is no greater sin than association with people. All sins stem from this sin.”
Zunnoon: “Truly, you are a great Zaahid.”
Aabid: “If you want to see a great Zaahid, go onto that mountain.”
Zunnoon Misri climbed the mountain. When he reached the top he saw in the distance a hut, as he approached the hut, he saw a decomposed human leg laying nearby. From inside the hut emerged a buzrug with one leg. Obviously, the cut-off leg had belonged to him. When Zunnoon asked for an explanation, the buzrug said: “One day while sitting in my place of Ibaadat, a beautiful woman passed nearby. In a moment of weakness my nafs urged me to get up to take a look. As I got up and took a step forward, I heard a Voice rebuking: ‘Have you no shame! For 30 years you have been worshipping Allah Ta’ala, but today you are obeying shaitaan!”
Overcome with fear, shame and remorse, I cut off the leg which had taken the first step in the direction of transgression. Why have you come to this evil sinner? If you wish to meet a great Aabid, go to the peak of that mountain.” (He pointed in the direction of the mountain.)
The height of the mountain deterred Zunnoon Misri from making an attempt to climb it. The buzrug then narrated the following account of the Aabid:
“He has been worshipping on that mountain for a considerable period of time. Once when someone said to him that a person obtains food only by working and earning a living, he vowed not to eat any food earned by a human being. He passed his time in Ibaadat. After undergoing the rigours of hunger for some time. Allah Ta’ala sent a swarm of bees. He lived on the honey prepared by these bees.”
The meetings and talks of these saints made a profound impact on Zunnoon Misri. He repented and resolved to spend his life in the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala. As he came down the mountain he observed a blind bird on a tree. While he was reflecting on the source of the blind bird’s sustenance, he saw the bird settling on the ground and pecking the soil with its beak. Miraculously a tray filled with seeds, emerged. Then there emerged a second container filled with water having the fragrance of roses. After satisfying itself, the bird returned to the tree-top and the utensils miraculously disappeared. Zunnoon’s Tawakkul and Yaqeen were solidified by this episode.
As he walked in the forest he met a few of his old friends who had discovered a trunk of treasure. They were busy sharing the treasure. A board on which was inscribed the Name of Allah Ta’ala was also with the treasure. When they offered Zunnoon a share of the treasure, he declined and took the board and kissed the Name of Allah Ta’ala. That night in a dream a Voice said to him: “The others chose the wealth of the world. You chose Our Name. We have opened the doors of knowledge and wisdom for you.
2. Soon after his reformation, Zunnoon Misri was making wudhu at the river. Nearby was a mansion. A beautiful woman was standing on the veranda. Zunnoon approached and greeted. The woman said: “O Zunnoon, at first I thought you were a mad man. As I took a closer look and reflected, I thought you were an Aalim. As I examined you more, I thought you were an Aarif. Now that you have approached me, I have realised that you are none of the three.”
Zunnoon asked for an explanation. The woman said: “If you were a madman, you would not have made wudhu. If you were an Aalim, you would not have looked at a ghair mahram female. If you were an Aarif, your mind would not have been occupied with anyone besides Allah Ta’ala.”
The woman then miraculously became invisible, disappearing from sight. It was then that Zunnoon understood that the figure was not a woman, but a being appointed by Allah Ta’ala for his admonition.