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Who is Junayd Baghdadi
Junayd was a great man of God whose rank was exalted by the Prophet ﷺ and placed amongst the Awliya (Friends of God). He became an orphan at an early age therefore was taken in by his uncle, Shaykh Sirri Saqti.
The Holy Lands Encounter
At 7 years old, he travelled with his uncle to the Holy Lands. When they reached Makkah and the Haramain, 400 scholars were present and were discussing the topic of “Shukar” (gratefulness).
His uncle turned to him and said “O Junaid, you should say something too.” He lowered his gaze for a few moments and then said, “Shukr is this, that you should not be disobedient through whatever bounties Allah has blessed you with, and you should not use it as a means of disobedience and causing distress.”
Upon hearing this, the scholars proclaimed in unison, “O coolness of our eyes, whatever you have said is the truth, and you are honest in your words, we cannot say better than what you have said.”
When asked by his uncle, “O dear son, where did you learn this?” He replied, “This is through the blessing of your esteem companionship.”
The Story of His Sainthood (Wilayah)
Prior to sainthood, Junayd was a skilled warrior and an undefeated world-renowned wrestling champion. One day the King of Baghdad issued a challenge, “Today, if any man defeats Junaid, I will give him whatever he asks.”
A man came forth and accepted the challenge. The crowd gasped in shock for the man was feeble and weak. So weak that his skin was hanging off his bones. The King remarked “It seems that death is calling him. How will he beat Junaid? He won’t withstand a slap.” The man remained firm in his call, he wanted to fight.
The fight became official and Junayd entered the arena. Just before the fight took place, the man whispered into Junayd's ear. He said “Everyone is right, I cannot withstand your strike but I have no choice. I have two daughters who are ready for marriage but I own nothing. In my shame, I wish to die. I either jump into the ocean or die by your hands.”
Junayd replied, “If you need wealth, go ask the King and he will help.” The man responded “I cannot ask anyone for anything. I am from the offspring of the Prophet ﷺ, a Sayyid, it is forbidden for me to ask. Now, you can lose and sacrifice your honour of the world but you will gain honour in the court of the Prophet ﷺ.”
Junayd pondered over the offer. If he lost, he would lose his fame and reputation. If he won, with what face would he face the Prophet ﷺ? The whistle blew and the fight commenced. To avoid suspicion, Junayd displayed some finesse in his manoeuvres but allowed himself to be pinned. The man mounted his chest and was victorious.
After succumbing to his first loss, the people disowned Junayd. When he arrived home, he began crying but his heart was content. That night, the Prophet ﷺ came to him in a dream and said, “O Junayd! You sacrificed your honour and kept the dignity of one of my sons. As of today, your name is raised amongst the Awliya.”
Response to the King
The next day, the King summoned Junayd and said, “O Junayd, we know you. No man can compete with you and yet yesterday you hardly fought. Tell me this, why did you fall and let the man beat you?”
Junayd responded, “I am not Shimr who stands on the chest of the offspring of the Prophet ﷺ. The man was a Sayyid so how could I stand upon his chest? Yes, I sacrificed my honour for the sake of the Prophet ﷺ and from today I need not wrestle. From today, I shall spend my life in the love of the Prophet ﷺ.”