Junayd of Baghdad

Junayd of Baghdad (835-910) was a persian mystic and one of the most famous of the early Saints of Islam. He is a central figure in the spiritual lineage of many Sufi orders.

Abu ‘l-Qasim ibn Muhammad al-Junayd al-Baghdadi
Title Sayyid at-Taifa
Born 220 AH
Died 28th Rajab 297/298 AH
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) Sufism, Tassawuf, ishq, theology, philosophy, logic, fiqh
Notable idea(s) Ishq

Junayd taught in Baghdad throughout his lifetime and was an important figure in the development of Sufi doctrine. Junayd, like Hasan of Basra before him, was widely revered by his students and disciples as well as quoted by other mystics. Because of his importance in Sufi theology, Junayd was often referred to as the “Sultan”.

Hagiography (the writing of the lives of saints)

According to a traditional hagiography by Attar of Nishapur, the Tazkirat al-Awliya, Junayd felt the pain of divine separation since childhood. Regardless of spiritual sorrow, he was known for his quick understanding and discipline. When Sirri Saqti accepted him, it was because he presented a purely theological statement as he insisted Sirri Saqti to take the alms given by his father. Since Junayd had a special place in the heart of Sirri Saqti, he would take him along in the religious discussions he would have.

According to Attar,

 When he (hazrat junaid baghdadi) was seven years old, he went to Haramain Sharifain in the company of Hazrat Sirri Saqti (radi Allaho anhu). When they reached the Haram Shareef, four hundred Ulama were seated there, discussing the topic of Shukr (Gratefulness). All of the Ulama presented their views during this sitting. Hazrat Sirri Saqti (radi Allaho anhu) then turned to Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) and said, “O Junaid! You too should say something.” He lowered his sight for a few moments, and then said, “Shukr (gratefulness) is this, that you should not be disobedient through whatever bounties Allah has blessed you with, and you should not use it as a means of disobedience and causing distress.” On hearing this, all the Ulama said together, “O Coolness of our Eyes. Whatever you have said, is the truth and you are honest in your words, and we cannot say better than what you have said.” Hazrat Sirri Saqti (radi Allaho anhu) said, “O My Dear Son! From where did you learn such exemplary words?” Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) said,”This is through the blessing of your esteem companionship.” [Masaalikus Saalikeen

Spiritual journey

His traditional hagiography continues by stating that Junayd went back to Baghdad and took up selling glasses. However, he spent most of the time in prayer. Hence, he retired to the porch of Sirri Saqti’s house and kept himself away from worldly matters devoting his thoughts only to God. People need to “relinquish natural desires, to wipe out human attributes, to discard selfish motives, to cultivate spiritual qualities, to devote oneself to true knowledge, to do what is best in the context of eternity, to wish good for the entire community, to be truly faithful to God, and to follow the Prophet in the matters of the Shari’a.”,This starts with the practice of asceticism (zuhd) and continues with withdrawal from society, intensive concentration on devotion (ibadah) and remembrance (dhikr) of God, sincerity (ikhlas), and contemplation (muraqaba) respectively; contemplation produces fana.

Junayd spend 40 years in his mystic course praying while sacrificing his sleep and any other worldly desires but then a conceit in his heart arose that he has achieved his goal. By then he inspired by God that “He who is not worthy of union, all his good works are but sins.” This meant that the prayers which become a source of pride are useless as true prayer makes a person more humble and devoted to God. His name became famous in many parts of the world despite the persecution he faced and the tongues of slander shot at him. Even then, he did not start preaching until 30 of the great saints indicated to him that he should now call men to God. However, he chose not to preach as yet saying, “While the master is there, it is not seemingly for the disciple to preach.” After witnessing Muhammad in his dream commanding him to preach, he had to listen to Sirri Saqti. The intensity of ishq poured out of speech of Junayd such that out of the 40 people he first preached, 18 died and 22 fainted. His caliph and most dear disciple was Abu Bakr Shibli.

Spiritual chain

  • Muhammad
  • Ali
  • Hussain
  • Imam zainul abedin
  • Imam Baquer
  • Imam Zafer sadiq
  • Imam Moosa kazim
  • Imam Ali Moosa
  • Maruf Karkhi
  • Sirri Saqti
  • Junayd of Baghdad
  • Abu Bakr Shibli then continued the teachings of his master.


Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) initially did business, and used to sell mirrors. His manner was, that he used to enter his shop, and then read four hundred rakaats of nafil salaah. This, he continue for many years. He then left his shop, and then sat in the khidmat of his Peer-o-Murshid. He took a room in the house of his Peer and then spent his time their cleansing his heart. When he used to enter the state of Muraqiba, he would remove the musalla from under him as he did not wish to concentrate on anything. He only engrossed himself in the love of Allah and His Rasool (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam).? He spent forty years in Muraqiba (spiritual ecstasy). For thirty years, he stood after Esha until Fajr and make Zikrullah. He used to make his Fajr Salaah with the wudhu of Esha. He says, “For twenty years, I did not miss the Takbeer-e-Oola (First Takbeer of Namaaz in Jamaat), and if the thought of any worldly thing during Namaaz, then I would repeat my Salaah, and if? I thought of Jannat or the Hereafter in my Salaah, then I used to make Sajdah-e-Sahw.”

HIS EXCELLENCE IN THE COURT OF THE PROPHET (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam): One Buzroog narrates, that he dreamt of the Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) and Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) was also seated in the Mehfil of the Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam). He then saw that a person came and presented a query to the Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) and the Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) said, “Hand it over to Junaid. He will write the answer.” The person then said, “Ya Rasoolallah (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) May my parents be sacrificed at your feet. How can it be given to Junaid in your presence?” The Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) said, ?Just as the Prophets are proud of their entire Ummah, I am proud of Junaid.? [Khazinatul Asfiyah vol.1 pg.86]

Once a Sayyid who lived in Jilan, left home with the intention of Hajj. On his journey, he passed through Baghdad Shareef. He thus presented himself in the Darbaar of Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu). Hazrat asked him where he had come from. He said that he was from Jilan, and was a descendant of Hazrat Ali (radi Allaho anhu). Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) then said, “Your forefather Hazrat Ali (radi Allaho anhu) used to draw two swords. One against the kufaar and Mushrikeen, and the other against his nafs. Which sword do you draw?” When the man heard this, he went into a spiritual state and began to roll on the ground. He then said, “This is my Hajj. Put me on to the path of Allah.” Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) said, “Your heart, is the special Haram of Allah, thus you should try to the best of your ability no to allow any non-mahram to enter it.” [Kashfuk Mahjoob pg.119]

HIS LECTURES: Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) spent his entire life, serving the Deen of Allah and His Beloved Rasool (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam). Once his Peer-o- Murshid, Hazrat Sirri Saqti (radi Allaho anhu) asked him to deliver a lecture, and he said that he did not find it ethical to lecture in the presence of his Peer. One night, he dreamt of the Holy Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam). Rasoolullah (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) commanded him to lecture. When morning came, he went to his Peer and found that his Peer was already awaiting his presence. As he entered the Khanqah, his Peer said, “W e have all been asking you to lecture. Now the Beloved Rasool (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) has given you the command to speak.” He asked his Peer how he had known of his dream, and he said, “Last night I made Deedar of Allah Subhaanahu Ta’aala and I heard a voice which said that the Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam) had already commanded Junaid to lecture.” He agreed to lecture on condition, that there were not more than forty people in his lectures. It as agreed and he delivered his first lecture. During his first lecture, eighteen people passed away. He then stopped his lecture and went back home. [Kashful Mahjoob pg 201]

A SINCERE MUREED : Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) had various mureeds, but there was one particular mureed, towards whom he paid special attention. A few disciples were not pleased with this and asked him why he gave preference to the mureed over others. Hazrat said that he is the most intelligent and wise amongst all of them, and it was for this reason that he gave preference to him. Hazrat then said, “Let me prove this to you.” He gave a chicken and a knife to each mureed, and asked them to sacrifice it where none would be able to see them. Each of the mureeds found a very quite and secluded area, and sacrificed the chicken. This one mureed, came back without slaughtering the chicken. Hazrat asked why he did not slaughter the chicken, and he said, “Huzoor! Where ever I went, I found the Qudrat of Allah present there, and I knew that He is All Seeing. It is for this reason that I had no option but to return without success.” Hazrat then said, “Now, did you hear his answer. This is the reason due to which he is so dear to me.”

HIS TRUST IN Allah: Once a man presented him with five hundred Ashrafis (coins). Hazrat asked if he had any other wealth with the exception of the five hundred Ashrafis. The man replied that he did. Hazrat said, “Will you ever need any more money in the future?” He said, “Why not Huzoor. There is always a need for money.” Hazrat said, “Then you should keep these Ashrafis for yourself, for you are more needy than I am, since I have nothing, and still, I have no need for anything more. Even though you have wealth, you are still in need of more. I would really appreciate it if you would please take back this money, as I do not take from those who are in need themselves and I believe that My Lord alone is the Ghani and the rest of the world are faqeers.”

HIS KARAAMATS : Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) says, “The greatest Karaamat is to remain firm on the Shariat-e-Mustafa (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam).” There is no doubt, that Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) was very firm on the Shariah, and his every action was the reflection of the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sall Allaho alaihi wasallam).

HAZRAT BEING AWARE OF HIS MUREEDS CONDITION : There was a mureed of Hazrat who used to live in Basra. He once intended to commit a sin. The moment this thought entered his heart, his entire face turned black. When he looked into the mirror, he was amazed to see his condition. He was very ashamed and stayed in doors. After three days, the blackness disappeared and his face returned to its original colour. On the same day, a person delivered a letter to him, which was from His Peer-o-Murshid, Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu).? When he opened the letter, he found the following written inside, “Keep your heart in control, and remain respectfully as a servant (of Allah). For three days and three nights, I had do to the job of a laundryman, so that I may wash away the blackness of your face.” [Masaalikus Saalikeen]

A FIRE WORSHIPPER: Once a Majoosi (fire worshipper) put on a Zanaar (a so-called sacred thread worn by fire worshippers), and then disguised himself as a Muslim, but putting on the arabian garb. He then presented himself before Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) and said, “I have come to ask the meaning of a Hadith Shareef, which says, “Itaqu bi firaasatil Mo’min Fa In?nahu yanzuroo bi Nooril’laahi” (Fear of the sight of a true believer, for he sees with the Noori of Allah). “Could you explain the meaning of this Hadith?” Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) heard his questioned and smiled. He said, “It means that you should break your zanaar, leave kufr and accept Islam.” When he heard Hazrat?s reply, he was astonished, and immediately recited the Kalima Shareef and accepted Islam. [Tazkiratul Awliyah pg.233]

PROTECTION FROM SHAITAAN : Once, there was a mureed of Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu), who felt that he had perfected himself (become Kaamil). He thus, began to live in total seclusion. At night, he used to dream an Angel, which used to present a camel for him. He used to then sit on the camel, and the Angel would take him on a journey of Jannat. He used to enter a place that was very beautiful. He used to partake in delicious food and drinks, and he saw the most handsome people there. After a while, he would return to his home. He reached such a state, that he began to tell people, “I am amongst those who visits Jannah daily.” The is message reached Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu). Hazrat then went to visit him, and found him sitting with great pomp and splendour. Hazrat asked him about his claims, and he explained everything in detail. Hazrat said, “Tonight, when you reach this place, you must read Laa Howla wa Laa Quwwata il?la Bil?laahil Aliyil Azeem” That night, when he had the dream and he reached the so-called Jannat, he read as Hazrat instructed him to. The moment he read this, all those in his dream began to shriek and flee from him. He then sees that he is on a horse, and there are skeletons in front of him. On seeing this, be became afraid, and realised his mistake. All that he was seeing was just an illusion of Shaitaan. He immediately rushed to Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) and repented for his behaviour. He also learnt, that for mureed to be by himself is like taking poison.

HIS JALAAL : Due to his piety and knowledge, Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) became very famous in Iraq. There were however those, who were jealous of his fame. They continuously made accusations against him, and also complained against him to the Khalifa. The Khalifa said that they could not do anything to him as long as there was no evidence against him. The Khalifa then said that he had a purchased a very beautiful slave girl, whose beauty outshone all the women of the city. He thus commanded that she be dressed in the most beautiful clothes and adorned with precious pearls and diamonds.

Once she had been dressed, he called her and said, “I want you to go to where Junaid is and remove your veil from over your face and tell him that you want to be his, and that you have become weary of the world. All that you want is to live with him, and for him to help you to gain closeness to Allah.” The Khalifa then appointed a servant to go with her, so that he may be witness to whatever may transpire. The woman presented herself before Hazrat and removed her veil, saying what the Khalifa had commanded.

Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) looked up at her once and said something. The woman, could not bear the sight of the Jalaal of Hazrat Junaid-e-Baghdadi (radi Allaho anhu) and fell to the ground and passed away. When this message reached the Khalifa, he was very sad. He said, “Some people say things about the Masha?ikh which they should not say. The Sheikh has reached a level that he is able to see that where our sight



A person lived in the company of Hadhrat Junaid Baghdadi (RA) for ten years but did not see any miracle taking place at his hands eg. flying in the air or walking on water etc. Disappointed, he decided to go away, explaining his reason to Hadhrat Junaid (RA). Hadhrat Junaid (RA) asked him if had ever seen him (Hadhrat Junaid) doing any action against the sunnat or shariat in those ten years. The man replied in the negative. Upon this Hadhrat Junaid (RA) sighed and said: “If a slave has not displeased his Master for even a moment in ten years, can there by a greater miracle than this?”


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