The First Sheikh of Sheikhs
His Eminence Sheikh Marouf Karkhi
Spiritual guide of the Alavi Spiritual Order, the doorkeeper of the Razavi’s palace. His Eminence Maruf Karkhi (may his grave be sanctified), his spiritual title is Abu Mahfuz and he was well known as Maruf.
The birthplace of his father and His Eminence is Karkh, a reputed district of Baghdad. According to differences of opinion, his father’s name was Phirouz, Phirouzan or Ali. His father and mother were Christains. During his childhood, Maruf was entrusted to a Christian teacher who according to his own ways invited Maruf to worship the Trinity (the belief in the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost). Maruf denied his teacher’s beliefs and declared that GOD IS ONE.
His teacher severely beat him up and Maruf ran away from school, but did not return home and for a long time he was wandering around and could not be found. His parents were very sorry from his absence and wished that Maruf would return back home and said that they would allow him to choose whichever religion he wishes. They even said that, if Maruf return home, they would also accept and follow his chosen religion.
His Eminence, after being initiated to Islam by the blessed hands of Hazrat Reza (AS) returned to his father’s house and knocked at the door. After meeting and exchange of greetings, his father asked Maruf, what religion do you have? Maruf said, the religion of Islam. On hearing this, his parents, also accepted and converted to the religion of Islam.
His Eminence, in the beginning for sometime was a companion of Shaikh Dawood Ta’i and was engaged in mortification of his soul, till he was given the honor to be Hazrat Reza’s (AS) doorkeeper and remained so till he died on the blessed doorstep of Hazrat Reza’s (AS) house.
In the year 200 Hejri, a group of Shi’as from Khorasan with the intention of seeing and meeting His Holiness Hazrat Reza (AS) had gathered around Hazrat’s house and after having obtained permission from Hazrat Reza (AS) rushed towards Hazrat’s house in zeal and voracity.
Maruf that time was an old and feeble man and was standing at the doorstep of Hazrat’s house, the crowd rushed and pushed Maruf and he fractured his rib bone and after sometime died.
The burial place of His Eminence is in Baghdad.
The contemporaries during His Eminence’s time were Mystics such as:
Sheikh Dawood Ta’i, Sheikh Balkhi Shahgig, Beshr Hafi, Abu Torab Nakhshabi, Zonun Misree, Abu Hashem Sufi, Hatam Assam and with most of them he exchanged dialogues.
He lived during the time of Abdullah Mamun the Abassi Caliph, Fazl Ibn Sahl, the Iranian Minister to Mamun and Taher Ibn Hussain, known as Zolyaminain.
The Learned and Jurisprudents of his time were Yahya Ibn Aksam Kufi, Malek Ibn Annas, Vasil Ibn Atta Ibn Kasaie (the famous teacher of Arabic grammer).
Those who were authorized for guidance on behalf of His Eminence and had the permission to initiate was his vicegerent Sheikh Sari Saghati, Ibrahim Ibn Issa, Mohammad Ibn Savar and Abu Ishaq Sayad.
His predominance position was to such an extent that from him 14 Spiritual Orders branched out which were known as the Marufieh Orders and were named
14) Pir Hajat.
The Vicegerent of his Eminence was Sheikh Sari Saghati.
One asked Sheikh for advise. He said: be afraid that God sees you in a non
1) Faith without being a wrongdoer
2) praise without being egocentric
3) forgiveness without question
And he said, the sign of the Saints of God is that, their thinking is in God, their meeting is with God and their occupation in the way of God, and said, to seek Heaven without work is a sin and the hope for intercession, and not maintaining the traditions a sort of pride, and the hope for mercy in disobedience is ignorance and stupidity, and said, Sufism is to encompass the truth and to utter its fineness, and despair in those things, which are in the hands of the people, and said, keep from praising as well as from slandering.
They asked His Eminence what could be achieved by obedience? Said: know that, you should throw out from your heart the friendship of this world, and if there appears a theme in your heart, every prostration you make you will actually be prostrating to that theme.
A glimpse in the generosity of His Eminence will be mentioned, it is said in a Memoir. One day His Eminence was walking along the path with a group of his pupils, and reached a few young people engaged in frivolity and debaucher, as the pupils and Sheikh had reached the riverside of the River Dejleh, his pupils said: Oh Sheikh pray that God drowns these corrupted young people so that others can be safe from their foul acts. Sheikh said: raise your hands in prayer and he then turned towards the sky and said: My Lord, just as these young people are happy in this world, make them happy in the hereafter also. On hearing this, his pupils were surprised that, they did not understand the mystery of this prayer. Said, be patient, till the mystery is exposed to you, at the same time the young people broke the musical instrument (Rabab) and poured the wine on the ground and with tears in their eyes came towards the Sheikh and fell at his feet and repented. Sheikh said, did you see that everybody’s wish was answered without anyone drowning.
Sheikh Sari said: On a feast day I saw Sheikh Maruf gathering date seeds. I asked him: Oh Sheikh, why are you gathering these seeds? Sheikh said, I saw an orphan boy crying who said because he was an orphan, did not have a new dress to wear like other children, I am gathering date seeds to sell them and buy the orphan walnuts, so he can play (game of walnuts) and be happy. Sheikh Sari said: permit me to do this important task. Sheikh gave him permission.
Then Sheikh Sari took the orphan boy to his house and put on new clothes for him and made him happy. At that time a light was shining within my heart and it changed my feelings and I understood the secrets.