One of those grandfather tales around the dinner table again, he randomly kicks it off by introducing the name of a familiar buzurg, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani. A name we’ve been taught about in our Urdu school books, he remains the mystic he was even after his eternal union with love.
“Once upon a time, Sheikh Jilani was extremely hungry and was looking for a place where he could get some decent food. He walked and walked, having nothing around his own humble person. He came upon a stream and saw an apple floating in the water, moving with the currents. He picked it up before it could get away, and devoured it with relish.
But once he had finished eating it, he realized that the apple must have belonged to an orchard. And since he had not asked the owner of the orchard before eating the apple, the apple was therefore not allowed for him to eat. Think of how careful the man was! So constantly worried about getting his halals and harams right.
Anyway, he walked along the stream in the direction of where the apple had come from; he walked days and days looking for the source of the fruit which caused him such agony. Finally, he stumbled upon the branches of a big apple tree, the branches of which were bowed down over the clear stream. Resolving that to be the beginning of the apple’s adventure downstream, he walked across it to find himself indeed in an apple orchard.
After he had hunted down the owner, he ashamedly set forth to do what he had come for.
‘I must ask for punishment from you. To account for a sin I have committed’, he said.
‘Why?’ The owner was confused and surprised.
‘I ate an apple from your orchard without asking you, and now I must be punished for this wretched act of mine bears heavily on my heart.’
The owner thought for a minute, then said:
‘Okay, you must take care of my orchard for a year. That is the punishment due from you.’
So Sheikh Jilani looked after the orchard for a year, maintaining the gardens and trees, watering them, taking out weeds and wild flowers and making sure they remained in as perfect a condition as his capacity to do so.
After a year, he went to owner and told him his year of punishment was up. But the owner, although very happy with his work, had something else up his sleeve.
‘You must marry my daughter as the last act for your forgiveness. She is deaf in the ears, blind from the eyes and handicapped legs.’
The Sheikh was surprised at this, but seeing this was his way for forgiveness, he consented to the proposal.
After the marriage, the Sheikh went to see the woman he had married. He expected a handicapped woman, but almost jumped when he saw a beautiful young woman, who had not a single problem the owner had mentioned. The Sheikh then went to his new father-in-law, and told him his situation with a worried face.
‘Do not worry’, the owner said, ‘I shall tell you what I meant by what I said : she is deaf because she has heard no non-mahram’s voice, is blind because has seen no non-mahram’s face, and is handicapped from the legs as her legs have never walked towards a non-mahram. She is purely for you now, go for that woman is my daughter.’
The Sheikh’s journey took him from a state of heart where all he could feel was guilt, to a state of matrimony. And that too a pious one.”