Sultan Ibrahim Bin Adham r.ah, also known as Abu Ben Adhem or Abou Ben Adhem, was an Arab Muslim saint and Sufi mystic. His full name was Ibrahim bin Adham Bin Mansur al-Balkhi al-Ijli, Abu Ishaq. He was the King of Balkh but abandoned the throne to become a “zahid” – ascetic worshiper. According to Arabic and Persian sources like al-Bukhari and others, Ibrahim ibn Adham r.ah received a warning from Allah swt through Prophet Khidr a.s. who appeared to him twice, and as such, Ibrahim abdicated his throne to take up the ascetic life in Syria. He died in 790CE and is believed to be buried in this little town.
Divine love made Sultan Ibrahim Bin Adham r.ah. cast aside the Kingdom of Balkh after which for ten years he remained in ibaadat meditation and prayer in a cave at Nayshapur.
One night Sultan Ibrahim Bin Adham (ra) was lying asleep on the upper story of his palace, when he suddenly felt someone shaking his leg. He was immediately struck by surprise and wondered as to who could be so brave as to intrude into the upper story of the King’s palace. He asked: “0yyou, who are you?” They were a group of Angels in human form, who had come from Allah swt’s side with the aim of bringing about an upheaval in the heart of an unmindful one. The Angels answered: “We are here, seeking our lost camel.” The King replied: “I am surprised that you search for a lost camel in the upper story of the King’s palace.” They replied; “We are even more surprised that, in this atmosphere of pomp and comfort, you wish to find Allah swt.” “They inquired of him, how is it that you seek to meet Allah while sitting on the throne?”
The Angels disappeared, but they had left such an effect on the King’s heart that his heart became disenchanted with his Kingdom and his ruling over it.
Then in the latter part of the night, the King arose from his bed, put a blanket over him and walked out of his Kingdom. One sigh from the heart of burning Divine Love blew away the confined walls of the Kingdom which had imprisoned him and Divine madness removed the curtains from his mind.
Sultan Ibrahim Bin Adham’s (ra) most significant favor which he acquired was his closeness to Allah swt and it is this nearness which made him drunk with love and oblivious of everything else.
This is what happened to Sultan Ibrahim Bin Adham (ra) as a result of which his throne and Kingdom became insignificant in his heart. The saints of Allah swt felt His closeness in their inner selves and through this great favor became independent of the bounties of this world. You may ask those saints – what ecstatic pleasure they feel within themselves. One saintly person says:
“0 people, look not upon my pale face and think I am in trouble and in suffering.
Yes, I am weak of body, but through Allah’ swt’s Grace, no power on earth can move my feet from the path of steadfastness”.
His story teaches us that Allah swt ‘s Love and the bounties of the hereafter are so much more better and greater than the blessings of this world and all that lies in it.