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The Story of Aziz Mahmud Hudayi

During the time of the Ottoman Empire, there was a respected scholar called Aziz Mahmud Hudayi, who was appointed as the judge by the Sultan in Bursa. Renowned for his extensive knowledge of Islamic teachings and the Quran, his wisdom was soon challenged in a unique case.

One day, he faced an unusual event in his courtroom; a woman came to him demanding a divorce from her husband. The judge replied, "You must have concrete evidence against your husband to support your claim to divorce." She complained that her husband had made a yearly vow to divorce her if he failed to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, despite failing that year, he had not divorced her.

"There were three days left until the Hajj," she explained. "He disappeared and reappeared again after three days. He came to me and said he had performed the Hajj and returned in three days. Based on his story, I find him to be a liar; it is impossible to travel from Istanbul to Makka in three days!"

The judge withheld his judgment and summoned the husband to the courtroom to hear his side of the story. After admitting that his wife had spoken truthfully, he added, "This year, after intending the pilgrimage, I found that I was unable to go, so I sought the advice of my shaykh, who said, “My son, don’t worry, we will send you to Hajj.” He then instructed me to go to the cemetery and described a man who would be there; he told me to inform him that my shaykh had requested him to send me to Hajj.

When I went to the cemetery and approached the man, he got angry and said, “I came to the cemetery to get away from everyone; now you are bothering me here! What is it that you want from me?” I then told him my problem and that my shaykh had sent me. The man understood and took my hand, and said, “Close your eyes and only open them when I tell you to do so.” When I opened my eyes, I found myself standing in front of the Ka’ba with the other pilgrims. Pointing towards a group of pilgrims, the man said, “This group has come from your hometown; stay with them, and I will come and get you.”

"Do you have any proof for what you are saying?" asked the judge. "Yes" the husband replied, "The group of pilgrims from Bursa know who I am. In fact, I found money in my pocket that I used to buy gifts, which they carried back for me."

Aziz Mahmud refrained from making a final verdict until the husband's story was confirmed by the group of pilgrims. When the pilgrims were questioned, they confirmed that they knew the husband, as he had accompanied them at the Hajj, and they had brought back his gifts.

Aziz Mahmud, despite his vast knowledge, found himself confused by this case, so he decided to visit the Shaykh mentioned in the husband's story. After inquiring about the Shaykh, he mounted his horse and arrived at the Sufi lodge. Aziz Mahmud struggled to cross the threshold of the lodge, as his horse's hooves were trapped between the stones.

Aziz Mahmud’s recalls:

I understood something was stopping me, so I dismounted my horse and walked into the lodge. I opened the door and saw people working and gardening, I stopped one of the gardeners and asked, "Where is your Shaykh?" He looked me in the eye and said, "Why do you want the Shaykh?" "I have to ask him something," I replied. "I don’t think so," said the gardener, "You look very arrogant; you have entered here with pride; you should go back." I said, "Don’t you know who I am? I am the judge of Bursa, appointed by the Sultan. Where is the Shaykh?" "He must be in the lodge," said the gardener, "Go inside." I went inside and found a man sitting in the Shaykh's position, praying. My heart, hands, and feet started trembling. He said, "O son, don’t you see, your horse got stuck and was unable to move, but you still persisted and came in."

As he lifted his head to look at me, I saw that it was the same man that was gardening outside. "Why have you come here?" asked the Shaykh, "What is it that you want to know?" "I feel as though I have lost all my knowledge, and my world has turned upside down," I replied. "My son," said the shaykh, "Go back, this road is very difficult." "O Shaykh," I pleaded, "How can I go back to being a judge after witnessing all of this, how can I judge this matter?" "How can I enter Allah's Presence on the Day of Judgement and say I gave a verdict on this case without knowledge?" "I refuse to leave. I will stay here, and you must accept me as your disciple."

Eventually, the Shaykh initiated me and said, "From now on, you will not leave this lodge. Your only job is to buy liver from the butcher every morning, wearing your judge clothes. You will stand where you would give verdicts and call out, "I am selling liver, I am selling liver!” You will return to the lodge, and I will give you another job." I agreed.

The next morning, Aziz Mahmud did exactly as he was told, he donned his nice garments and put the liver around his neck. Everyone looked in shock as he had been missing and suddenly reappeared in this state, doing the lowest job at that time. People passed by saying, "This is the judge! He has lost his mind; he has gone crazy!" Aziz Mahmud was from a wealthy family; news of this reached his brothers, who came right away asking, "Brother, have you lost your mind? If you need any money, we will give you whatever you need; how can you shame our family like this?" He replied, "No, I must do this and learn; I have no knowledge." The brothers protested, "You are better than us all; we chased the world; you chased the Afterlife by being a judge!" He was beaten by his brothers for refusing to listen, yet he persisted with his task.

His Shaykh was pleased with his efforts and gave him a new task. He said, "Now, you will clean the toilets in the lodge every day. Take the stones that people use to clean themselves to the river, wash them and bring them back." Aziz Mahmud obeyed and took to his new job. He said, "One day, I was cleaning the toilets and heard the street crier outside announcing, "O people of Bursa, don’t say you didn’t hear, our judge Aziz Mahmud Hudayi who lost his mind, and is now going crazy in the Sufi lodge, the Sultan has relinquished his position and replaced him with someone else!" Satan then whispered to him, "O Aziz Mahmud Hudayi, what did you do? You left your position to clean toilets! You were a good man, following Allah’s orders, praying five times a day, fulfilling every Sunnah, and performing every good deed. How foolish you are! I thought you had some intelligence."

Aziz Mahmud said, "O Satan, you are trying to fool me! I know where I am and what I am looking for," whereupon he grabbed his beard to clean the toilet. His teacher then grabbed his head and said, "My son, the beard is sacred. You have passed this test, come with me." The Shaykh then said, "I am old, from now on, you will heat and prepare my water for ablution every morning."

Aziz Mahmud relates:

It was a winter's day, and I was overwhelmed with severe drowsiness and awoke to the sound of my teacher’s footsteps. I quickly got up and realised that I had overslept. The fire wasn’t ready, and I didn’t have time to warm the water; I didn’t know what to do. I was burning with fear inside.

He was overcome with great sadness and tears fell from his eyes. He was so helpless, so he just held the water jug, pressing it close to his chest and said, "O Lord, what have I done? The water was not prepared; how will I face my Shaykh?" At that moment, his Shaykh appeared at the door. He asked him to bring the water and pour it, so that he could perform ablution. Aziz Mahmud hesitated, but his Shaykh insisted. He tried to explain but his Shaykh said, "Come, pour the water." He slowly tilted the jug, pouring it into his Shaykh's hands. Just as the water touched his hands, the Shaykh pulled his hands away saying, "O my son, you almost burnt me with this hot water!" "I didn’t heat the water," explained Aziz Mahmud. The intensity of his regret was felt by the Shaykh, who said, "This water was not heated by fire; but by the intensity of love in your heart, that it almost burnt me." Then, his Shaykh prayed for him and said, “You have passed this test; there will come a day when the Ottoman Sultans will walk behind you.”

Sometime later, after the Shaykh had passed away, the reigning Sultan of the time needed a shaykh to be

his advisor; he chose Aziz Mahmud Hudayi, who had served as the Spiritual Guide to five generations of Ottoman Sultans. One day, while travelling, the Sultan greeted him at the port and offered him his horse, saying, "You are the true Sultan; I should walk behind you." The viziers watched in amazement as Aziz Mahmud mounted the horse; he sat on the horse for three steps, then dismounted. He turned to the Sultan and said, "O Sultan, you should sit on this horse; Allah gave you the status of ruler in the world. My shaykh foretold this event when he prayed for me, saying, "A day will come when the sultans will walk behind me. So I fulfilled his words, which have come to pass on this day."

On another occasion, Sultan Ahmad Khan was pouring water for Aziz Mahmud Hudayi to perform his ablution while his wife held the towel. A thought crossed the Sultan's mind: "Here I am doing this, but if this man’s rank is not higher than mine in the Hereafter, I will be held accountable. How will I know? I need to see a miracle from him to prove his worth." At that same time, the Sultan's wife thought, "This Aziz Mahmud Hudayi is so high that the Sultan is serving him for his ablution, I wish I could see a miracle." Aziz Mahmud finished his ablution and looked at them, saying, "The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire believes I should show him a miracle and the Sultan's wife, holding the towel, wants to see a miracle. Can there be a greater miracle than this: the Sultan serving me for my ablution and the Sultan's wife holding the towel!"

Then the Sultan said: "There are rumors that Shaykh Abd ul Qadir Jilani will intercede for his disciples and the sinful believers on the Day of Resurrection. What do you say about the truth of these narrations?"

Azîz Mahmud Hudayi did not respond immediately. After a state of contemplation, he replied:

"Yes, it is true. Shaykh Abd ul-Qadir Jilani will intercede for many sinners among his followers!"

The Sultan continued: "Your excellency, do you also have a promise and good news for us?" Then Aziz Mahmud Hudayi raised his hands and prayed:

O Lord! Those who are on our path until the Day of Resurrection, those who love us, and those who come to our tomb once in their lifetime and recite the Fatiha to our soul are ours. Let not those who belong to us drown in the sea; let them not see poverty in their Hereafter; let death come to them on faith; and protect them from sudden death.

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