Yet despite his lofty status, Muqaddas Ardabili was always concerned about the well-being of others. Once he was invited to visit Iran by Shah Abbas, who sent the esteemed Shaikh Bahai and an entourage of soldiers and dignitaries to accompany him in the journey. Muqaddas Ardabili knew that Shah Abbas might try to convince him to stay in Iran, so he was hesitant at first.
Muqaddas Ardabili is well-known through history for his piety and great character. Several events through his life testify to his high rank and position in the eyes of God.
Once he had a dream in which he saw the Holy Prophet and Prophet Musa (peace be upon them). Prophet Musa asked him his name. He replied, "My name Muhammad ibn Ahmad, and I am from a place called Ardabil. These days I am living in Najaf, and my house is situated in one of its streets." Musa asked, "I only asked for your name. Why did you give me such a lengthy introduction?" Muqaddas Ardabili replied, "O Prophet of Allah, in Sura Ta Ha, when you spoke with Allah, and he asked you about what was in your hand, you said, 'In my right hand is my staff. I take its support while I sit on the ground. With it I herd my sheep, and there are several other uses of this staff of mine.' When Allah asked you a simple question, why did you give such a lengthy answer?" Prophet Musa replied, "It is because I was in the presence of Allah for the first time, and I wanted to prolong it as much as I could." Muqaddas Ardabili replied, "O Prophet of Allah! This is the first time I am in your presence, so I wanted to prolong it as much as I could!" Prophet Musa turned to the Holy Prophet and said, "Truly the scholars of your nation are like the prophets of Bani Israel!"
At another time, there was a terrible famine in Iraq. Muqaddas Ardabili had turbans made of expensive material, and as he walked in the streets, he would cut out pieces of his turban and distribute them among the poor. In fact, he had nothing left for his family. When his wife complained about their children's hunger, he left to go meditate in the mosque. When he returned, his wife gratefully thanked for having sent such delicious food home. Muqaddas Ardabili had not sent any food home, and he immediately fell down in prostration to God for having intervened on his behalf and helped him in a time of need.
Once while he was preparing for prayers, Muqaddas Ardabili attempted drawing water from a well. Instead, the bucket came up full of pearls and jewels. He threw them back into the well and drew a second time. Again, the bucket came up full of precious metals. He tossed them back into the well, looked at the heavens, and cried, "O Allah, I do not wish for jewels. I only want water for my ablution!" This time when he drew the bucket, it returned with plain water for his ablution.
Yet despite his lofty status, Muqaddas Ardabili was always concerned about the well-being of others. Once he was invited to visit Iran by Shah Abbas, who sent the esteemed Shaikh Bahai and an entourage of soldiers and dignitaries to accompany him in the journey. Muqaddas Ardabili knew that Shah Abbas might try to convince him to stay in Iran, so he was hesitant at first. He eventually agreed, with the condition that he would travel on his own mule and not one of the royal horses. During the journey, Muqaddas Ardabili let the mule travel at its own pace. The royal entourage got irritated very soon, and Shaikh Bahai attempted to whip the mule to make it walk faster. Muqaddas Ardabili was enraged, and he said to Shaikh Bahai, "If you are a Mujtahid and yet you can be so heartless towards this animal, I cannot imagine how cruel the ruler of your country must be." Despite Shaikh Bahai's apology, he turned his mule around and came back to Najaf.
This beacon of knowledge and virtue departed from this world in 993 AH. He was interred in the shrine of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in Najaf, and the leadership of the Shia community was then assumed by the esteemed Shaikh Bahai.
EDITOR'S NOTE: These articles are adaptations of lectures delivered by Maulana Sadiq Hasan in Karachi, Pakistan, during the 1980s on the lives of the great scholars of Islam. The Urdu lectures can be accessed at Hussainiat.com. For previous articles in this series, please look under the History section.