When the Bosom Friend began to travel, the command came from the Exalted Presence, “O Abraham, anyone who wants Me must belong to Me totally. As long as a sliver of mortal desires and soulish resistance remains with you, you will not pass from the suffering of striving to the ease of the pull. ‘The ransomed slave stays a slave so long as a dirham is owed.’”
The Bosom Friend said, “O Lord, Abraham no longer has any self-governance, any free choice. Now I have come on the feet of poverty, in the state of brokenness, to see what You command. I submit. I have overthrown myself and entrusted my work to You. I have come back to You entirely.”
The command came, “O Abraham, that is a very great claim. Every claim must have a meaning, and everything rightfully due to reality. Now watch out for the testing!”
He was tested by other than himself, by part of himself, and by his whole self. The test by others was that he had plentiful possessions. They say he had 70,000 sheep in seven thousand herds.
In the traditions, it has come that the angels said, “Lord God, ever since this call was given out in the World of the Dominion, ‘And God took Abraham as a bosom friend’ [4:125], our spirits have been in a whirlpool and our gall-bladders have been melting because of this special favor. How is the Bosom Friend worthy of this generosity?”
The call came, “Gabriel, open up your peacock-feathers and go from the top of the Lote-Tree to the summit of that mountain and test the Bosom Friend.” With divine determination and facilitation, Gabriel came down in the form of a child of Adam. He stood beside that mountain and shouted, “O Holy One!” The Bosom Friend fainted from the pleasure of hearing that. When he came to, he said, “O servant of God! Say that name again, and this herd belongs to you.” Gabriel again shouted out, “O Holy One!” The Bosom Friend was rolling in the dust like a half-slaughtered chicken. He was saying, “Say it again, and another herd belongs to you!”
You spoke of Him to me, O Saʿd, and you increased my madness. To increase that speaking, O Saʿd! In this manner, he was asking for loans, and each time he gave to him a herd with the dog and the gold collar until he gave it all and lost it all. When he had lost all of it, the knots became tighter, passion and destitution joined together. The Bosom Friend said, “O servant of God! Recite the name of the Friend one more time, and my spirit is yours!”
Gabriel became happy. He spread his peacock feathers and said, “He was right to take you as a bosom friend. If there is any shortcoming, it is in our eyes. You have a passion for perfection.” When Gabriel appeared to him, he said to him, “O Bosom Friend, I have no use and no need for these sheep.”
The Bosom Friend said, “Even if you have no use for them, there is no option in chivalry to take them back.”
Gabriel said, “Then let us scatter them in the deserts and the wildernesses so that they may pasture as they desire. The world’s folk will benefit from that until the resurrection.” The mountain sheep that are now scattered throughout the world all come from that lineage. Until the resurrection, anyone who hunts and eats one is a guest of the Bosom Friend and consumes the food at the table of the beautiful doing of that majestic angel’s presence.
As for Abraham’s being tested by a part of himself, it is that he was shown the sacrifice of his child in a dream and instructed to do that. The whole of that story will be told in its own place, God willing.
As for his being tested by his whole self, it is that the rebellious Nimrod was persuaded to light up a fire and build a mangonel in which to throw him. The divine address came to the fire: “O fire, be coolness and safety” [21:69]. In that state, Abraham began to weep. The angels thought that Abraham was weeping because he had been thrown into the fire. Gabriel came and said, “O Abraham, why do you weep?”
He said, “Because I am being burnt and beaten, but the Real has called out to the fire! O Gabriel, if I were to be burnt a thousand times and the call was for me, I would love that more.
O, Gabriel, this weeping is not for the loss of the spirit and the burning of myself, it is for the loss of the gentle subtleties of the Real’s call.”
It is said that Gabriel came to him and said, “Have you any need?” He answered, “Of you, no.” Gabriel said, “No doubt you have need of God. Ask from Him.”
He said, “I am surprised at you. Is He asleep such that I should wake Him up? Is He uninformed such that I should let Him know? Sufficient asking from Him is His knowledge of my state.”
The angel of oceans and storms came and said, “O Bosom Friend, do I have permission? Hold firm and I will bring this fire to nothing with one glance and I will destroy the estranged.”
The Bosom Friend said, “All are His servants and creatures. If He wants to destroy them, He Himself can do it.”
In heaven an uproar fell into the ranks of the angels: “Lord God, on the face of the earth it is Abraham who recognizes You and attests to Your oneness. But You know better. Will You burn him?”
The command came from the threshold of unneediness, “Be still and at ease. You have no news of the secrets of this work. He is seeking a secluded place of friendship. For a moment he wants to busy himself with Me in that secluded place without the intrusion of others.”
That is why, when the Bosom Friend was asked later, “What was your sweetest and most congenial day?”
He said, “The day when I was in Nimrod’s fire. My present moment was empty and my heart limpid. I was near to the Real and far removed from the creatures.”
When Abraham was brought forth pure from the crucible of testing and said, “I submit truthfully,” the Lord of the Worlds wrote out the inscription of bosom friendship for him and commanded the world’s folk to be his followers. He said, “So follow the creed of Abraham, an unswerving man, and he was not of the associators” [3:95].