Dhul-Nun al-Misri: Why Caliph imprisoned the Egyptian Sufi?

Dhul-Nun al-Misri lived in Egypt and gained fame for this devotion to God, which became an hindrance of his path to towards Allah as people from far and wide would come to witness his extraordinary state of spiritual bliss.

The caliph, had heard tales of this mystic and was skeptical of his behavior. The caliph’s advisors whispered in his ear, accusing Hazrat Zulnoon of being insane, a madman who had no place in their orderly society. Concerned that the mystic’s actions might disrupt the peace of the city, the caliph decided to imprison him.

Word quickly spread through the city, and a few of Hazrat Zulnoon’s friends and disciples were devastated by the news of his incarceration. They knew the truth about their beloved mystic, that he was not mad, but rather lost in the intoxication of divine love. They were determined to stand by him, support him, and demonstrate their unwavering faith.

One day,  this small group of Hazrat Zulnoon’s closest friends approached the prison gates. They were allowed to visit him, and as they entered the dimly lit cell, they saw their beloved mystic sitting peacefully in a corner, lost in Zikr.

“We know the accusations against you are false,” one of them said softly. “We are here to support you, to stand by your side in this difficult time. We have faith in your sanity and your divine connection.”

Hazrat Zulnoon smiled, his eyes filled with love and gratitude for his loyal friends. He appreciated their devotion but also understood that faith and love were not mere words but a profound test of one’s commitment to the spiritual path.

To test them, Hazrat Zulnoon picked up a handful of small pebbles that lay scattered on the floor. He held them up for his friends to see. “If you are truly faithful to me and possess the love and courage that I speak of,” he said, “then you should have no fear of these small stones.”

As he let out a hearty laugh, Hazrat Zulnoon began tossing the pebbles toward his friends. To his surprise, instead of standing their ground and embracing the test, his friends panicked. They scrambled to avoid the pebbles, running out of the cell.

Hazrat Zulnoon laughed at his friends.

“What do you know about true faith and love,” he said, “when you run away from small pebbles? True faith is unwavering, unshakeable, and unafraid of the trials of life. It is the strength to endure, to persevere, and to stand firm in the face of adversity. This is the faith that sustains me in my divine love, even behind these prison walls.”


Sultan and Sufi: Miniature by A.R. Chughtai

Sultan and Sufi: Miniature by A.R. Chughtai


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