1. Prior to his reformation, Hadhrat Habib Ajmi was an extremely wealthy money-lender. He gave loans on interest to the people of Basrah. His daily routine was to visit his debtors and extract payment. He would not return without having squeezed out payment from his hard-pressed debtors. If debtors were unable to pay, he would levy a charge for his wasted time.
One day when he visited a debtor, the latter’s wife informed him that her husband was not at home. She had no money to give to Habib Ajmi. The only thing she had was some meat which Habib demanded. He took the meat, gave it to his wife and said that it was an interest payment. He instructed her to cook it. His wife complained that there was neither firewood nor flour for baking bread. He said that he will obtain both as interest from debtors. He set off to procure these items from other debtors. After a short while he returned, having extorted some firewood and flour.
His wife prepared the food. Meanwhile a beggar appeared at the door and asked for some food. Habib rebuffed him, saying that there was nothing to give. The beggar left crestfallen.
When Habib’s wife opened the pot to dish out the food, she was shocked to discover the pot filled with blood. She called her husband and exclaimed: “Look at the consequences of your evil.” The sight of the blood shocked Habib Ajmi. His heart opened up and he said to his wife:”Be witness that I repent and shall abstain from all evil deeds.”
The following day he set out of his house with the intention of waiving all the monies owing to him. A group of children playing in the street said: “Look out! Here comes Habib, the devourer of interest. Be careful! Don’t let the dust under his feet contaminate you. We all will then become miserable and unfortunate as him.” Those remarks grieved him.
He then went to Hadhrat Hasan Basri (rahmatullah alayh) whose counselling reduced him to tears. He repented and resolved to lead a life of piety. On his way back home he met one of his debtors who promptly fled on seeing Habib Ajmi. Habib called to the debtor: “Do not flee. Now I have to flee from you.”
As he proceeded home he came across the same group of boys he had met earlier. They spoke among themselves: “Give way! Habib is returning after having repented. Let not our dirt fall on him least Allah Ta’ala records us as transgressors.” In sheer elation, Habib Ajmi exclaimed: “O Allah! Only today have I repented and You have so quickly exalted my name.”
2. After his reformation, Habib Ajmi publicly announced the waiver of all debts owing to him. He forgave all his debtors. He contributed all his wealth in the path of Allah. When he had no more assets, a man claimed that the kurtah Habib was wearing belonged to him. Habib Ajmi removed it an handed it to the claimant. Another man claimed the shawl Habib’s wife had. Habib Ajmi gave him the shawl.
3. He constructed a small hut on the bank of the river Euphrates. He and his wife spent their time worshipping in the hut. He would spend the day in the company of Hadhrat Hasan Basri and pass the night in ibaadat.
4. One day his wife told him to show some concern for bringing food as there was nothing to eat. He promised to find some work. He left home and spent the day worshipping Allah Ta’ala. When he returned home in the evening his wife said: “You have brought nothing.” Habib said: “My employer is gracious, hence I was ashamed of asking for anything. He said that he will give me something after ten days.” After passing of the ten days, Habib Ajmi thought: “What shall I now take home?” While he was in this thought, Allah Ta’ala sent with an unknown person a bag of flour, a slaughtered goat, a container of butter, honey and 300 dirhams.
The person who brought the goods to Habib Ajmi’s home said to his wife:”When Habib comes, tell him to be more diligent in his work. I shall increase his remuneration.”
When Habib Ajmi returned, he was pleasantly surprised and grateful to behold the bounties sent by Allah Ta’ala.
5. Once a grieving woman came and lamented that her son was lost. She was unable to bear the separation. Habib Ajmi asked if she had anything with her. She replied that she had two dirhams. He took the two dirhams and gave it to the poor. After making dua, he said: “Go, your son has returned.” Even before she reached home the child was found. Hugging him she asked for an explanation. The boy recounted the following episode:”I was in Kirmaan. My teacher sent me to buy meat. Suddenly a strong gust of wind lifted me. I heard a voice commanding:”O Wind! Blow him to his home.”
6. Habib Ajmi, being a non-Arab, was unable to pronounce the Arabic words correctly. Once Hadhrat Hasan Basri arrived at Habib Ajmi’s home at the time of Maghrib. Habib Ajmi had already commenced Maghrib Salaat. When Hasan Basri heard Habib Ajmi reciting instead of he decided not to follow him in Salaat. He thus performed Salaat separately. During the night Hasan Basri in a dream was blessed with Allah’s Vision. he asked: “O Rabb, in what lies Your pleasure?”
Allah Ta’ala said: “You have found My Pleasure, but have not recognized its status.” Hasan Basri: “What is it?” Allah Ta’ala: “If you had followed Habib Ajmi in Salaat, it would have been better for you than your Salaat of a lifetime. You thought of external perfection without taking cognizance of the purity of the heart.”
7. Once when Hadhrat Hasan Basri was pursued by the police of the tyrant Hajjaaj, he took shelter in the hut of Habib Ajmi. When the police arrived, they questioned Habib Ajmi about the whereabouts of Hasan Basri. Habib Ajmi informed them that he was inside the hut. Even after thoroughly searching the hut, they could not find Hasan Basri even though their hands passed seven times over him. After the police left, Hasan Basri said to Habib Ajmi:”You failed to observe the rights of your Ustaadh. You informed the police of my whereabouts.”
Habib Ajmi said: “If I had spoken a lie, they would have discovered you.” Hasan Basri asked: “What did you recite?” Habib Ajmi said:”Aayatul Kursi twice, Surah Ikhlaas 10 times, Aamanar Rasool 10 times. Then I supplicated for Allah to protect you.”
8. Once Hadhrat Imaam Shaafi (RA) and Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hambal (radiAllahu anhu) met. While they were conversing, Habib Ajmi (rahmatullah alayh) appeared on the scene. Imaam Ahmad said to Imaam Shaafi: “I shall ask him something.” Although Imaam Shaafi discouraged Imaam Ahmad, the latter asked Habib Ajmi: “If a person has missed one of the five Salaats (and cannot recall which one), what should he do?”
Habib Ajmi: “He should repeat all five Salaat because he was forgetful and disrespectful to Allah Ta’ala.”
Imaam Shaafi to Imaam Ahmad: “I told you not to question him. These people who have reached Allah Ta’ala have a different approach.”
9. When he would hear the Qur’aan being recited, he would weep. People asked: “How do you understand the Qur’aan which is in Arabic while you are a non-Arab?”
Habib Ajmi said: “My tongue is non-Arab and my heart is Arab.”
10. A durwaish (saint) recognized the lofty spiritual rank of Habib Ajmi, enquired: “How did you, a non-Arab, acquire this lofty rank?” The durwaish heard a voice responding: “Although he is a non-Arab, he is a Habib (i.e. a Lover of Allah).”
11. A murderer was executed by hanging. People dreamt that he was strolling in Jannat dressed in beautiful garments. Asked for the reason for his entry into Jannat despite being a murderer, he said: “While I was hanging on the gibbet, Habib Ajmi happened to pass by. He took pity on me and prayed for my forgiveness.”