Abdulla Jan, originally of Tarbella, Mazra district near Peshawar, was a Pathan, living at Korhale, near Sakori, was a devotee of Baba who had some spiritual and some material touch with Baba. He had left Tarbella as a young boy, as he had none to support him. He simply roamed around and wanted some one to help him to go to Mecca for that is one of the cardinal duties of all Muslims. He walked on and travelled up to Manmad. At Manmad, instead of going to Mumbai, as he originally intended, he heard that Sai Baba was at Shirdi, 30 miles further south and so, as he heard that Baba was showering money on fakirs, he hoped that Baba would send him to Mecca. He went to Shirdi in 1913. When he entered the gate of the Masjid, Baba was in the main building. Their eyes met. At once, he had the feeling that Baba was his Guru. So, he stayed on at Shirdi instead of going to Mecca, as Baba was feeding every fakir abundantly.

Abdulla Jan wanted to live an easy life at Shirdi. He was aged only 17. He had no serious views about life. But as he stayed at Shirdi, there were noticeable changes in his mentality, which illustrate Baba’s way of promoting Hindu-Muslim Unity. When he first came to Shirdi, he like other Pathans regarded Hindus as enemies. After staying 3 years with Baba, this hatred passed away, and he began to view Hindus as his brethren. He gradually absorbed the national feeling and regretted very much that at Mumbai, Hindus and Muslims were fighting with each other destroying Mosques and temples, and he thought that if they wiped each other out the foreigners only would have the whole country to themselves.

When Baba passed away in 1918, he was 22. Even then he was not sufficiently serious to have any development on the religious side. He felt however grieved at Baba’s disappearance and started off on his travels again. In 1926, he was going back North. Then in the Swat valley (Malekand Agency) he found the tomb of a great saint, Akun Baba, who was a Sayyad, a direct descendant of Mohamed. His miraculous powers were the subject of popular legends. That Akun Baba is said to have locked up Lord Roberts on a hill for three months and 11 days. During Abdulla Jan's stay there, one night he had a dream in which a saint appeared. ‘Who was it?’ It was not Akun Baba that he had prayed to, but Sai Baba who was seated on a chair near his head. When he woke, he remembered the dream. So, he found he was still under Baba’s care, though it was eight years since Baba passed away. As Sai was kind enough of his own accord to give him Sakshatkar, 1500 miles away from Shirdi, his reverence for Sai increased and his former idea that Sai Baba had deceived him by giving him no help during the five years of his stay was found to be wrong. At This discovery he returned to India with full faith in Sai Baba.

Coin bestowed by Sai Baba to Abdulla Jan

In 1924 he married and started living at Korhale, four miles from Shirdi. He is lucky enough to have Baba’s appearance before him once in two or four years and he moralises on the past and sees the vanity of human wishes. Baba was surrounded by crowds in his lifetime, and it was hard to find room in the Mosque on account of these crowds of men swarming around him, and a large number of dogs intermingled in the crowd. Abdulla Jan describes that the Mosque in 1936 looked deserted.

When Baba was in the flesh, Abdulla Jan once expressed his fear that Baba would expire and all his work and influence would pass away with him. Baba said that from within the tomb he would beat with sticks meaning that the death of his body would not terminate his influence or activity.

The five tenets of Islam are  1) uttering the Kalami or declaration of faith, namely, There is no god but God and Mohamed is the Prophet; 2) Panch Namaz, saying the Namaz five times a day, at dawn, at 10 a.m., at 12 noon, at 5 p.m. and at night, kneeling and bending the body at each utterance. 3) Fasting, especially all the forty days of Ramzan and on other occasions about 8 or 10 times in the year; 4) Alms-giving. 5) Haj Yatra that is, going to Mecca. These are the five tenets of Islam. Of these, Baba observed only alms-giving. His alms-giving was a princely scale and he supported over two hundred homeless beggars at Shirdi and distributed not merely vegetarian food, but also meat for non-vegetarians specially prepared as samaradhana from his Hundi, by himself. He also distributed clothes to the poor periodically. In addition to regular donations to certain persons, he also gave liberally to dancers, athletes, acrobats and Ramadasis and all sorts of people that came to him for alms. His reputation as a liberal Maharaj was known very far from Shirdi and attracted people like Madras Ramadasis and this man Tarbella Abdulla Jan.

Samadhi of Abdulla Jan in Korhale Village

(Source: Devotees' Experiences of Shri Sai Baba by Late Shri.B.V.Narasimha Swamiji. Photo Courtesy: Shri.Jignesh C.Rajput, Surat)