Imam Junayd Al Baghdadi
Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi popularly known as Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi (d. 910) was born in Nihawand in Persia, but his family settled in Baghdad where he studied Islamic Law according to the school of Imam Shaf’i, and eventually became the chief judge in Baghdad. In Sufi discipline, he was the close follower of his uncle, Shaykh as-Sari as-Saqti. Although he was the spiritual master of Mansur al-Hallaj, he was obliged, in this capacity as chief judge of Baghdad, to sign the warrant authorising the execution of al-Hallaj. On it he wrote, "Under Islamic Law, he is guilty. According to the Inner Reality, Allah knows."
Due to the antagonism of orthodox religious scholars against the Sufis, Imam Junayd performed his spiritual practices and taught his close followers behind seven locked doors. From his letters, short treatises and the accounts of later Sufis and Sufi biographers, we gathered that for him the Sufi way of life meant the permanent striving to return to one’s source, which is God, and from which everything proceeds. For him spiritual love meant that ‘The qualities of the Beloved replace the qualities of the lover.’
Imam Junayd concentrated all thought and inclination, every admiration, every hope and every fear, on God. He is considered to be the undisputed master of the Sufis of Baghdad. Many Sufi Orders trace their chain of transmission of knowledge from master to master back through him. It is related that he said:
"We did not take Sufism from talks or words, but from hunger and detachment from the world, and by leaving the things to which we were habituated and which were agreeable to us.
If I had known of any science greater than Sufism, I would have gone to it, even on my hands and knees.
God purifies the ‘heart’ of a person according to the measure of the sincerity of a person in remembering Him."
Imam Junayd was once asked, ‘Who is a gnostic?’ He replied, ‘The one who is not bound by time.’