Some Interesting Events from the Life of Bohlool
A Little about Bohlool
Bohlool was born in Kufa and his real name is Wahab bin Amr. Haroun Rashid feared for the safety of his Khalifate and kingdom from the 7th Imam Musa Kazim (A.S.); therefore, he tried to destroy the Imam. Haroun thought of a trick by which he could kill the Holy Imam. He put the blame of rebellion upon the Imam and demanded a judicial decree from the pious people of his time--which included Bohlool. Everyone gave the decree except Bohlool, who opposed the decision. He immediately went to the Imam and informed him of the circumstances, and asked for advice and guidance. Then and there the Imam told him to act insanely.
Because of the situation, Bohlool acted insanely by the Imam's order. By doing this, he was saved from Haroun's punishment. Now, without any fear of danger, and in amusing ways, Bohlool protected himself from tyrannies. He insulted the notorious Khalifa and his courtiers just by talking. Nevertheless, people acknowledged his superior wisdom and excellence. Even today many of his stories are narrated in assemblies and teach the listeners valuable lessons.
According to a more popular tradition, some of the Holy Imam's companions and special friends came to him because the Khalifa was angry with them, and asked him for advice. The Imam answered with the sole letter (jim) ; all of them understood that that was it and asked no further questions.
Each person understood the Holy Imam's advice in his own different way. One person took (jim) to mean (jala watan) --exile. Another thought of (jabl) --mountain. Bohlool took it to mean (jinoon) --insanity. This is how all of the Imam's companions were saved from calamity.
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, 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.
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.
Bohlool was sincerely devoted to Allah; he was an intelligent and virtuous scholar. He was the master of the mind and manners; he spoke with the best of answers ready on his lips; he protected his faith and the Shariah. Bohlool became insane at the Imam's command for the love of Ahlul Bayt, and so he could enforce the rights of which they had been wronged.
There was no other way for Bohlool to protect his life. For example, Haroun told his vizier, Yahya bin Khalid Barmaki, that listening to the words of Imam Jafar Sadiq's student Hisham bin Hikam --who proved Imam Musa Kazim's Imamate-- was more dangerous to him than 100,000 swords. Haroun said, "Even then it amazes me that Hisham is alive and I am in power."
Haroun planned to kill Hisham. Hisham learned of this and fled from Kufa, and hid in a friend's house, but after a short while he died.
Bohlool and the Khalifa's Food
It is said that Haroun Rashid sent some food to Bohlool. His servant brought the food to Bohlool, put it in front of him, and said, "This is the Khalifa's special food, he has sent it to you to eat."
Bohlool placed the food in front of the dog that was sitting in the ruins of the place. The servant screamed, "Why did you give the Khalifa's food to the dog!"
Bohlool said, "Be quiet! If the dog hears that the Khalifa sent this food, it won't eat it either."
Bohlool Sits on Haroun Rashid's Throne
One day Bohlool arrived at Haroun's palace and saw that the throne was empty. There was no one to stop him, so he unhesitatingly and fearlessly went and sat in Haroun's place. When the court slaves saw this, they immediately started whipping him and took him off the throne. Bohlool started crying. Haroun came and saw this; he asked those nearby why Bohlool was crying. A slave told him the whole story. Haroun scolded them and tried to cheer Bohlool up.
Bohlool said he wasn't crying at his condition, but at Haroun's condition. "I sat on the seat of Khalifate wrongfully for a few seconds and received such a beating and endured such misfortune; but you have been sitting on this throne all your life! What troubles you must receive, yet you still don't fear the consequence."
Bohlool and a Businessman
One day a Baghdadi businessman met Bohlool and said, "Sir Shaykh Bohlool! Give me advice as to what I should buy that would benefit me most."
Bohlool replied, "Iron and cotton."
The man went away and bought a lot of iron and cotton and stocked them. After a few months, he sold them and gained a lot of profit. Again he met Bohlool and said, "O Crazy Bohlool! What should I buy that would profit me?"
This time Bohlool told him to buy onions and watermelons. The businessman went and bought his entire savings worth of onions and watermelons. Just a few days later, they all rotted and caused a lot of harm. He immediately sought out Bohlool and said, " When I first asked you for advice, you said buy iron and cotton. I profited a lot from this, but the second time what kind of advice did you give me! All my wealth was destroyed!"
Bohlool said, "The first day you addressed me as Shaykh Bohlool, and since you addressed me as an intelligent person, I advised you according to my wisdom. The second time you called me Crazy Bohlool, so I advised you like a crazy person."
The businessman was ashamed of his behavior and understood Bohlool well.
Bohlool with His Friend
One day a friend of Bohlool's took some grains to grind at the mill. After grinding them, he loaded them on his donkey and started home. Near Bohlool's house, his donkey began limping and fell. He called Bohlool and said, " Give me your ass so I can take my bundle home."
Bohlool had taken an oath that he would not give his donkey to anyone, so he said, "I don't have a donkey." But then a donkey's bray was heard.
The man said to Bohlool, "You have a donkey but you said you didn't."
Bohlool replied, "You are a strange and stupid friend. Even though we have been friends for fifty years, you don't listen to me, but you listen to an ass."
Bohlool and the Sage in Haroun Rashid's Court
Haroun sent for a certain sage of Greece. When he came, Haroun greeted him with majesty, splendor, and respect. For a few days court rulers and the great men of Baghdad came to see this philosopher. On the third day Bohlool also went with some people. In the middle of the formal and petty talk, Bohlool suddenly asked him, " What kind of work do you do?"
The sage was aware of Bohlool's insanity, so he wanted to make him look like a fool. He answered, "I am a philosopher and I awaken the dead (people's minds)."
Bohlool replied, "Don't kill those (minds) that are alive (by giving wrong ideas). Reawakening the dead (people's minds) is your compensation for that."
Haroun and his courtiers laughed a lot at Bohlool's answer, and the sage shamefully left Baghdad.
Bohlool Criticizes Haroun
One day Bohlool was near Haroun. He said, "O Bohlool! Criticize me."
Bohlool said, "O Haroun! If there is no water in the desert, you are attacked by severe thirst, and near death; what would you give for one gulp of refreshing water?"
"What if the master of the water does not agree to give water for dinars? Then what will you give?"
"I will give half of my kingdom."
"After drinking the water, you get that illness in which you can't urinate. Now what will you give that One Who will cure this illness of yours?"
Haroun answered, " The remaining half of my kingdom."
Bohlool said, "Then don't give importance to this kingdom for it is not worth more than a drink of water. Isn't it proper that you do good with Allah's creations?"
Bohlool's Discussion with a Faqih
It is said that a famous Faqih of Khorasan came to Baghdad. When Haroun heard of this, he invited the Faqih to his court. He was respectfully welcomed and was seated next to Haroun and treated very importantly by Haroun. During their conversation, Bohlool arrived. Haroun told him to take a seat. The Faqih took one look at Bohlool and said to Haroun, "The Khalifa's favors and likes are strange that he likes an ordinary man and seats him close to himself."
Bohlool understood that the Faqih was talking about him, so with all his might he turned to that man and said, "Don't be arrogant about your worthless knowledge, and don't judge my looks. I am ready to debate with you and prove to the Khalifa that you don't know anything."
The Faqih replied, "I have heard you are insane and I won't have anything to do with crazy people."
"I confess my insanity, but you don't acknowledge your misunderstanding."
Haroun Rashid looked at Bohlool angrily and told him to be quiet, but Bohlool didn't listen to him and said, "If that person is so confident about his knowledge, then he should debate."
Haroun said to the Faqih, "What is the difficulty? Ask Bohlool some question."
He replied, "I am ready on one condition, which is that I will ask Bohlool something. If he gives a correct answer, I will give him 1,000 dinars (gold coins). If he can't answer, he will give me 1,000 dinars.
Bohlool said, "I don't have anything of worldly wealth, not even gold dinars, but I am ready; when I answer your question, I will take the money and distribute it among paupers. If I can't answer, then I will attend to you as a servant and slave."
The man accepted these conditions and asked Bohlool, "In a house a wife is sitting with her lawful husband. In that house one person is praying Namaz and another is fasting. Someone from outside enters the house. Because of his coming, the husband and wife become unlawful for each other, the prayers and fasts also become unlawful. Can you tell me who is the person that came?"
Bohlool immediately answered, "The man that entered the house was the woman's first husband, who had gone on a journey. When a very long time had passed since he left, and news was received that he had died; according to the permission of Shariah, the woman married the man sitting next to her. She hired two people; one to fulfill her dead husband's overdue, unfulfilled prayers, and another to fulfill tardy fasts. During this time the man who had gone on the journey returned, although news of his death was widespread. Therefore, the other husband becomes unlawful as do the prayers and fasts."
Haroun and those present became confident and praised Bohlool for solving the problem correctly. Then Bohlool said, "Now it's my turn to ask a question."
The Faqih said, "Ask."
Bohlool asked, "I have one jar of honey and a second full of vinegar. I want to prepare the refreshing drink Sikanjebeen. I fill one bowl with honey and another with vinegar. To make Sikanjebeen, I mix them both together. Afterwards I see that there is a mouse in it. Can you tell me if the mouse was in the honey or the vinegar jar?"
The Faqih thought for a long time, but was unsuccessful in answering.
Haroun said to Bohlool, "Now, you give the answer."
Bohlool replied, "If this person accepts his inferior knowledge I will answer the question."
Helpless, the Faqih confessed his inferiority.
Bohlool replied, "We should take the mouse out, wash it with water, and after it is cleaned of honey and vinegar, cut its stomach open. If the stomach contains vinegar, then believe that it fell in the vinegar jar. If it contains honey, accept that it fell in the honey."
The entire assembly was astonished at Bohlool's intelligence and knowledge, and praised him a lot. The Faqih bowed his head, and according to the deal, Bohlool distributed the 1,000 dinars amongst Baghdad's poor.
Bohlool and a Slave who was Scared of the Sea
A Baghdadi merchant was sitting in a ship with his slave, and they were going to Basra. Bohlool and some others were also in this ship. The slave started crying because he was afraid of the ship's turbulent movements. All the travelers became annoyed at this. Bohlool asked the slave's master permission to quiet him by some advice. The merchant agreed. Bohlool immediately gave the order to throw the slave into the sea. His command was carried out. When the slave was near death, he was rescued. After that experience, the slave quietly sat in a corner of the ship.
The travelers asked Bohlool the reason why this act quieted the slave. Bohlool replied, "This slave didn't know how comfortable this ship was or what greatness and value it held. When he was thrown into the sea, he understood that this ship is a comfortable and relieving place."