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September 24, 2005

Story Time #5

Nizamul Mulk, the Grand Vizier of the Abbasid Caliphate and the founder
of the prestigious Nizamiyyah university, went to visit the university
one day. He wished to find out why the students and scholars were
present at the state institution for in those days, institutes for the
teaching of sacred knowledge were funded by the state. The Nizamiyyah
was the Harvard of its time; unlike the $40,000 that students have to
shell out to get a diploma that they learn a few years later has no
meaning, the state took responsibility for the tuition and housing of
all the students.

During his visit, Nizamul Mulk went to every scholar and student at the
university, asking him why he was at the university. Each person gave
him a different answer:

“I want to learn knowledge to teach those who don’t know.”

“I want to learn the wisdom of the great scholars of the past.”

“I want to defend Islam from those who would wish to attack it.”

“I want to learn in order to earn my daily bread.”

And so on down the line, each student and scholar alike gave a
different reason for why he was at the university. Most were noble
intentions; some were less scrupulous than others. Yet, Nizamul Mulk
was dejected because he had not found one person reply to his question
correctly. Distraught and troubled, he considered shutting down the
university as it was not fulfilling its intended purpose, evident in
the answers he received to his simple question.

As he was contemplating his decision, Nizamul Mulk saw a young boy
emerge from the kitchens, engaged in his daily chores. The youth was
perhaps only eleven or twelve years old, yet Nizamul Mulk reasoned that
he should pose the same question to the boy. Perhaps the boy might give
him the answer that the other students and scholars could not. There
was something magical about this boy, so he called the lad over and
asked him:

“My dear boy, why are you studying at this university?”

The boy smiled and looked the Grand Vizier directly in his eyes.

“I am studying here for the sake of pleasing God.”

The face of the founder of the Nizamiyyah shone with a smile of
contentment. Finally, he thought, here is someone who is studying here
for the correct reasons. He gave me the answer that all of the other
students and scholars could not. I thought about closing this
university, but for his sake, I will not. He thanked the boy and let
him continue with his daily chores.

As Nizamul Mulk walked away, little did he know that this young lad
would grow up to become one Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, the Proof of Islam.

As the poet wrote of the Imam:
Because of him the lame walked briskly,
And the songless through him burst into melody

Subhanallah…

Wa ma yudreeka man Imam al-Ghazali?
And what will explain to you who is Imam al-Ghazali?

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17 Comments
  1. mashallah great story. about your comment, i don’t know if there is an e-mail sent like this daily, but i saw something similar and decided to use the same format.

  2. That story never siezes to amaze me, subhanAllah.

  3. Awww….that was beautiful KamKam. 
    It reminds me of one of my patient’s in the psych ward.  All of those guys are there, some of them are just merely homeless crack addicts and not really depressed or suicidal—basically they come to the psych ward to get a roof over their head.  But there is this one young guy, totally borderline intellect (IQ around 70), not the sharpest cookie in the bunch but who is just so genuine and driven.  He came into the psych ward catatonic and no touch with reality, hearing voices in the television or radio.  He calmed down after two or three days with some risperidone and lorazepam.  When he got better, he would totally read his bible all day.  When I asked him what he wanted to do with life, he said that “I want to be a servant of God”.   He always speaks about fulfilling this role and always quotes verses from the bible.  When I suggested to him that he might be eligible for disability from the Government, he was like, no maam…I don’t want to be a burden to the government…there are other guys who need that money much more than I do.  Its beautiful. 

  4. You can’t understand the greatness of Imam Ghazali until you read his writings. Even the translations of his writings blow you away. Simply amazing.

  5. that was a good story, motivating~Flaim

  6. p.s. I am in no way implying that Imam Ghazali was a mental patient.  What I meant to say was that children and those who are like children (severely mentally retarded) are much closer to God than us…

  7. beautiful story and reminder about intentions, subhanAllah.

  8. jazak Allah khayr for that awesome story….

  9. Anonymous permalink

    Makes one reflect about life and what we want to attain from it

  10. Anonymous permalink

    man, not one but TWO great stories here. what a bargain. thx kr/rooji.

  11. its been a long time since ive propped you.

    this entry was worth it.

  12. God Bless Imam al-Ghazali. he’s my hero, and no one else’s.peace,IJB

  13. Anonymous permalink

    salami love that story… as kwkkz said his writings simply blow you away mAw’salam

  14. Anonymous permalink

    wow Subhan’Allah

  15. great story yaar, Subhan’Allah, ur reading redwall? man that used to be my fav book backwhen i was like 9

  16. Ghazali. I hardly know anything about this great person. Maybe I should read up on him. yess yessss. better than reading about connective tissue. The student who wanted to learn in order to defend Islam…it’s indirectly for the sake of Allah yea yea? come onnn we can give him/her some credit. come on now. hehe.
    asalamu alaikum.

  17. these are belated, but nonetheless, props are due unto ghazali.

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