A Wrestler becomes a Wali
The story of Hadrat Junaid Baghdadi is truly inspiring. It is a story of sacrifice and intention, and it shows that no action done in love of Rasulullah (ﷺ) and his family is considered small in the eyes of Allah (Exalted and Majestic is He).
“Junaid Baghdadi earned his livelihood as a professional wrestler. As was the norm, the Leader of Baghdad announced one day, “Today, Junaid Baghdadi will demonstrate his skills as a wrestler, is there anyone to challenge him.” An elderly man shakily stood up with his neck quivering and said, “I will enter the contest with him.”
Whoever was witness to this scene could not contain themselves, they burst out howling with laughter, clapping their hands. The King was bound by the law. He could not stop someone who of his own free will entered the bout. The elderly man was given the permission to enter the ring. He was about sixty-five years old. When Junaid Baghdadi entered the ring, he was dumbfounded as was the King and all the spectators of the Kingdom who were present. The single thought that occupied their minds was, “How will this old man be able to fight?”
The old man addressed Junaid with these words, “Lend me your ears.” He then whispered, “I know it is not possible for me to win this bout against you, but I am a Sayyid, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). My children are starving at home. Are you prepared to sacrifice your name, your honour and position for the love of Allah’s Prophet and lose this bout to me? If you do this I will be able to collect the prize money and thereby have the means to feed my children and myself for an entire year. I will be able to settle all my debts and above all, the master of both the worlds will be pleased with you. Are you, Oh Junaid, not willing to sacrifice your honour for the sake of the children of Rasulullah (peace be upon him)?”
Junaid Baghdadi thought to himself, “Today, I have an excellent opportunity.”
In a display of fervour Junaid Baghdadi executed a couple of maneuvers, demonstrating his finesse so that the King does not suspect any conspiracy. Junaid with a great display of antics did not use his strength and allowed himself to be dropped. The elderly man mounted his chest thus entitling him to the prize.
That night, Junaid Baghdadi had a dream of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said, “Oh Junaid, you have sacrificed your honour, your nationally acclaimed fame, your name and position which was heralded throughout Baghdad in the expression of your love for my children who were starving. As of today, your name is recorded in the register of the Auliya (friends of Allah).”
Thereafter, this great wrestler learnt to defeat his nafs (desires) and became one of the most eminent Auliya of his time!”
– Excerpt from the book “Tajalliat-e-Jazb” by Shaikh Hakim Muhammad Akhtar.