(Sultaan Mahmood Ghaznawi – Part Four)

Sultaan Mahmood once travelled to the land of Khuraasaan. On his arrival, he felt a great desire to visit the renowned Shaikh, Abul Hasan Kharqaani (rahimahullah). However, since the primary purpose for this journey was of a political nature, Sultaan Mahmood felt it inappropriate to visit the Shaikh on the same journey as this would imply that his visiting the Shaikh was only because he happened to be in the area. The level of respect and honour shown by Sultaan Mahmood to the pious friends of Allah Ta‘ala was such that he felt it necessary to undertake a separate, special journey in order to visit the Shaikh.

With this frame of mind, Sultaan Mahmood left Khuraasaan and returned to India where he continued his jihaad and conquests and thereafter returned to Ghazni. Sultaan Mahmood now made fresh arrangements and set out from Ghazni on his special journey to visit Shaikh Abul Hasan Kharqaani (rahimahullah).

When he entered Kharqaan, Sultaan Mahmood sent a messenger to Shaikh Abul Hasan (rahimahullah) with the following message: “The King has come out from Ghazni and travelled all the way to visit you. Character demands that since the King has come out to meet you, you should also come out to meet him.” Sultaan Mahmood also instructed the messenger saying, “If he refuses to come out to meet me, recite the following verse of the Quraan Majeed to him: “O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you.”

The messenger accordingly went to the Shaikh and delivered the message as instructed. However, the Shaikh refused to come out and told the messenger to explain to the King that he could not come to receive him. The messenger, following the instructions of Sultaan Mahmood, therefore recited the above verse of the Quraan Majeed.

When the Shaikh heard the verse, he said, “Tell the King that I am so involved in trying to obey Allah Ta‘ala that, regretfully, I have been unable to obey the Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) as he ought to be obeyed. When I am still failing to adequately obey the Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), how can I turn my attention to obeying the ruler?”

The messenger returned to Sultaan Mahmood and relayed the Shaikh’s response. Hearing his response, Sultaan Mahmood began to weep and said, “Let us ourselves go to meet the Shaikh.” Before entering, however, Sultaan Mahmood exchanged his clothing with that of his close advisor, Iyaaz. He also had ten slave girls accompany him who he dressed as slave boys. They thereafter entered into the presence of the Shaikh and greeted him.

The Shaikh replied to their salaam but did not rise in honour of the King, nor did he pay any attention to Sultaan Mahmood (who was dressed as Iyaaz) and instead turned to Iyaaz (who was dressed as Sultaan Mahmood) and began to address him. Noticing this, Sultaan Mahmood immediately spoke up and said, “Why have you neither stood to receive the King nor given him any attention? Has your ego trapped you into ignoring and overlooking the King?”

The Shaikh turned to Sultaan Mahmood and calmly replied, “The trap is exactly as you have described. However, you are the victim, not me. Your ego cannot tolerate that I have ignored you.” Sultaan Mahmood immediately realized that the Shaikh had seen through his disguise and had identified him as the King, but had deliberately treated him in this manner in order to correct him. He thus humbled himself by coming and sitting with utmost respect before the Shaikh, who next indicated towards the slave girls dressed as boys and instructed, “Take these non-mahram girls out of here.”

Sultaan Mahmood thereafter asked the Shaikh to give him some advice. The Shaikh replied, “I advise you to hold firm to four things; abstinence, performing all salaah with jamaat, generosity and compassion.”

Sultaan Mahmood then asked the Shaikh to make du‘aa for him to which the Shaikh said, “I make du‘aa for all Muslims after every salaah.” Sultaan Mahmood, however, insisted that the Shaikh make a special du‘aa which was exclusively for him. The Shaikh relented and made du‘aa saying, “May your end be mahmood (praiseworthy)”.

Sultaan Mahmood thereafter presented a bag of coins to the Shaikh as a gift. The Shaikh placed the coins aside and instructed that dry bread be brought which he requested Sultaan Mahmood to eat.

When Sultaan Mahmood placed the first morsel in his mouth, he found the bread to be so coarse that he was unable to chew and swallow it. The Shaikh noticed him gagging and asked, “What is the matter? Is it sticking in your throat?” When Sultaan Mahmood replied in the affirmative, the Shaikh said, “That is exactly how your money would stick in my throat. Take it back as I have divorced wealth a long time ago.”

When Sultaan Mahmood stood to leave, the Shaikh also stood and saw him out with honour. Sultaan Mahmood was surprised and asked the Shaikh, “When I arrived, you did not stand to receive me. Why is it that you now stand to see me off?” The Shaikh replied, “When you arrived, you were filled with the arrogance and pride of a King and wished to test me. However, you are now returning with humility and meekness and I thus honour you.”

(Taareekh-e-Farishtah vol. 1, pg. 90)


1. Rulers may be kings on earth, but the pious are the ‘kings’ in the spiritual world. They should thus be afforded the highest levels of respect, honour and courtesy. Thus, if a person wishes to benefit from the pious, he should be humble and respectful and realize that he is in need of them. Accordingly, if he needs to meet them or speak to them, he should make the effort to come to them or phone them (not ask them to come to him or ask them to phone him).

2. The Shaikh showed indifference to Sultaan Mahmood when he first arrived. One of the reasons was that Sultaan Mahmood had made the mistake of trying to test the Shaikh. We should understand that it is always the teacher who tests the student. A person who wishes to benefit from an ‘Aalim or pious person is going as a seeker and student. Hence, he does not have the right to test the ‘Aalim. Furthermore, testing the pious is an extremely disrespectful action.

3. The true pious servants of Allah Ta‘ala will not tolerate remaining in the company of non-mahrams for any amount of time. If a person is casual with non-mahram women, we must keep our distance from him.