Discussion between Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari and Shaytan


Saturday, 27 October 2007 12:03

Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari was a great aarif (one who gained the recognition of Allah Ta`ala) of the past and a contemporary of Imam Abu Dawood رحمة الله عليه. Once he met Shaytan on the way to salaah who said to him:

"Hadrat! I have a question to ask..."

He recognized that this was Shaytan. Shaytan also realized that he had recognized him.
Shaytan asked: "You say that the curse of Allah is on me and not His rahmat (mercy), whereas it appears in the Qur'an:

ورحمتى وسعت كل شئ
My mercy encompasses everything. [7: 156]

and I am also shay (a thing). I am not la shay (nothing.)This is a mujiba kulliyya.

Sahl Bin Abdullah said that I was so confounded by his question that my mouth dried up and I gasped for breath, worrying as to what answer must I give. The following ayah came to mind:

فسأكتبها للذين يتقون ويؤتون الزكوة
I will show mercy to those who fear me and discharge their zakah. [7: 156]

Hence, I said to him: "The rahmat (mercy) is for those who possess the quality of taqwa (fear of Allah) and you are not from amongst them."

Shaytan said: "O Sahl! Your description is limiting. Allah Ta`ala's description is unlimited. You have based the description of Allah upon your description. Upon this Shaytan fled saying: "If only you had remained silent!"

Shaikh Muhyiddeen ibne Arabi has mentioned this incident in Futoohaat-e-Makkiyyah and Imam Sha`arani has related it in Al-Yawaaqeet wal Jawaahir. Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri رحمة الله عليه comments on the incident and says, "I cannot understand why Shaikh Sahl bin Abdullah was silenced despite being such a great scholar. The meaning of the rahmat (mercy) encompassing everything is that it has the ability to accommodate everything. Whoever wishes can be accommodated in it. There is no shortage in the mercy of Allah Ta`ala. Like how it is said : This room can accommodate a hundred people. Will there be any harm if only fifty people come into the room and fifty don't?

Similar is the mercy of Allah Ta`ala. It can accommodate everything, but Shaytan himself did not want to enter it. How will the rahmat (mercy) then accommodate him?

انلزمكموها وانتم لها كارهون
What! Should we force it down your throats whereas you dislike it? [11: 28]

This is how Shah Sahib answered this.