Bahlool Dana, a Gem in Rags

01 Nov

Click here to read in Gujarati
As promised in my earlier post “A true story of an insane, but sane person!”, I am going to talk about Bahlool Dana (the Wise) today. Bahlool (real name – Wahab bin Amr) was a well known judge and scholar from a wealthy family in Iraq in the times of Haroun Al-Rashid (786 – 809 A.D), the Abbasid Caliph. He was the disciple of the Shi’ite Muslim’s 6th Imam Hajarat Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.) and he was alive also during the Imamate of the 7th Imam Hajart Musa Kazim (a.s.). Haroun Al-Rashid feared for the safety of his Khilaphat and kingdom from Hajarat Musa Kazim (a.s.) and he planned to destroy him. He put the blame of rebellion upon the Imam and appointed a batch of Jury from Chiefs of the capital to prove the charge. All of the Jury members were the ‘Yes-men’ of the Caliph except Bahlool. He did not vote against the Imam and thus became the enemy of Haroun. The Imam was imprisoned on ground of majority votes.

Here, Bahlool Dana was afraid of punishment of the Caliph and contacted the Imam in prison to seek guidance for what to do. The Imam told him to act insanely for life time, create an image of Lunatic among the people and be outspoken to carry on his mission of educating people to follow the virtuous path of truth. Bahlool, under the acting of insanity, fired the Caliph himself and his Courtiers also. The people acknowledged him for his superior wisdom and excellence. Even today, many of Bahlool’s stories are narrated in assemblies and valuable lessons of life are being taught to the listeners.

Before my presentation of some stories of Bahlool Dana, I would like to give below a poem which fits fully with Bahlool’s spiritual thoughts and super-human personality. It is as:

Those with kingly temperaments deserve respect from,

The Chiefs of the kingdom.

This is a ragged king whose slaves are great and powerful

Kings like Jamsheed and Khaqan.

Today, he overlooked the goodness of this world,

Tomorrow, he will not even give importance to Paradise!

Don’t look scornfully at these beggars with no shoes on their feet!

They are dearer to wisdom than eyes which shed tears from fear of Allah.

If Adam sold Paradise for two grains of wheat,

Then truly know that these people will not buy it for even one grain!

Here are the words of some narrator of Bahlool’s personality just to compare with the theme of the above poem to know Bahlool very well. They are as “Before becoming insane, Bohlool lived a life of influence and power, but after obeying the Imam’s order, he turned his face away from the majesty and splendor of the world. In reality, he became crazy over Allah. He dressed in rags, preferred desolate places over Haroun’s palaces, and lived on a bite of stale bread. He did not accept favors from or depend upon Haroun or those like him. Bohlool considered himself better than the Khalifa and his courtiers because of his way of life.”

Now, just to end the curiosity of my Readers, I give below three stories out of numerous of its kind from the life of Bahlool Dana :-


A Preacher was once teaching Islamic beliefs to his students. He was arguing and challenging the validity of some of the statements which had been proclaimed by Imam Ja’far Sadiq (a.s.). Bahlool happened to be present as well. He proclaimed that he could not agree with the three understated statements as made by the Imam.

The first one was that “Allah can never be seen.” According to the Preacher it was impossible for a thing to exist and yet be invisible!

The second thing that the Imam had stated was that “Satan (devil) will be thrown in the inferno of Hell which will scorch him bitterly.” The Preacher argued: “How was it possible for fire to hurt ‘fire’, the fact that Satan was created from fire itself!”

The third statement of the Imam was that “Man alone is responsible for his actions and Allah – the most powerful – has nothing to do with his actions.” “How is it possible, when Allah alone guides the destiny of man without Whose will nothing can happen?” This was the Preacher’s third challenge.

As soon as the speaker had made these three criticisms, Bahlool got up, took a piece of brick and aiming at him, let it go and be cracked the Preacher’s head.

Bahlool was caught and taken before the Caliph for punishment. In his defense, he pleaded that he had done nothing else except reply to the three criticisms which the Preacher had made against the Imam.

The Caliph asked him to explain as to how and why he chose to reply by hitting and injuring him. Bahlool said, “This man claims that if God is there, then he must be seen. He is now complaining of pain in his head due to the brick having hurt him. If the pain is definitely there, can he show me where it is? Well! Just as pain can be there without being seen Allah also exists without being seen.”

“Secondly, he says that fire cannot burn fire. It is a fact that man is made out of clay and this brick with which I hit his head is also made out of clay, if clay can inflict pain and hurt clay, why can’t fire do the same to fire?”

“The third thing he says is that man is not responsible for his own actions, but Allah does all things. If this is so, then why does he want justice from you and why does he want me to be punished for hurting him? He might as well transfer the punishment to Allah Who, according to him – is responsible for all the actions of man!”

Everyone in the court was stunned at this and the Preacher was dumb found – having nothing to say. So Bahlool was released without any punishment.


One day Bohlool went to the public bathhouse, but its servants acted carelessly and didn’t massage him with the sponge. In that regard, when coming out, Bohlool gave the bath’s servants all 10 Dinars he had. When the servants saw his generosity, they were ashamed of the thought why they showed such carelessness towards him.

The next week Bohlool again went to the hot bath. This time all the servants gave him a bath with extreme respect and honor, and showed open-heartedness, but besides all this hard work and effort, Bohlool gave only one Dinar when he came out.

The bath’s workers angrily asked, “Last week your unnecessary tip and what is the reason for today’s behavior?”

Bohlool replied, “I paid for today’s bath last week when I came and gave; I am paying for that bath today so that you people will behave respectfully with your customers.”


One day Haroun Al-Rashid went to the hot bath with Bohlool. The Khalifa jokingly asked, “If I am a slave then what would be my cost?”

Bohlool said, “Fifty Dinars.”

The Khalifa angrily said, “Lunatic! The low skirt that I am wearing is just fifty Dinars.”

“I only gave the cost of the skirt because the Khalifa has no value.”

Hopefully, my valued Readers would have enjoyed the three stories on Bahlool Dana related to the Preacher, Public servants and the Ruler.


– Valibhai Musa


The purpose of my non-profit blog-posts is solely to entertain my Readers with my secondary aim to touch such topics of my interest which might be benefited by them. If any text, in part or full, falls under breach of any copyright; the copyright holders might simply intimate me by mail and the same will be removed immediately.


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