Initially, he was a non-Muslim, but even as a child, he had great love for Islam. He used to always spend his time in the company of Muslim children, and often talked to his parents about accepting Islam. His father was not pleased with this, and enrolled him to study under a Christian Priest. The first question the priest asked him was,
“Tell me my son, how many people are there in your family?” He said, “Myself, my father and my mother.” The priest then said, “Very well, now say Esa Alaihis Salam is the third god of three (trinity).” Hadrat Ma’roof Karkhi Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho says, “Even during my time as a non-Muslim my heart did not accept to say what he commanded me to. When I refused to say this, he began to beat me severely. The more he beat me, the more I rejected his teaching. He finally became weary of me and asked my father to imprison me. I was thus locked in a room for three days and every day, I was given one bread, which I did not even touch. When I was taken out, I ran away. As I was the only child to my parents, they were very sad and they sent a message to me saying that I should return to them and I would have the right to accept whichever faith I wished, and that they too will accept the same faith. I then went to Hadrat Ali Rida Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho and accepted Islam at his hands. I then went home with this most valuable gift of Islam, and alHumdulillah, my parents also accepted Islam.” [Fariduddin Attar – Tadhkirat al-Awliya, Page 221]
He became mureed of Hadrat Habeeb Raa’ee Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho and was blessed with Khilafat from Hadrat Habeeb Raa’ee Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho , Hadrat Ali Rida Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho and Hadrat Dawood Taa’ee Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho.
He was a very pious personality and one of the most distinguished Aarifs of his time. He also served many great personalities such as Hadrat Dawood Taa’ee Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho , who also blessed him with Khilafat. He used to call out the Adhan with true love, and when he would reach the words Ash hadu An Laa Ilaaha illa-Allah, the hair on his body would stand up and his entire beard would become stiff and he would begin to tremble to such an extent in the fear of Allah, that it seemed as if he would fall to the ground.
He would spend lengthy nights in the Masjid making ibaadat, Istighfaar and weeping in the Court of Allah. Hadrat Sirri al-Saqti Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho say, “Whatever I have attained, is through the Sadqa of Hadrat Ma’roof Karkhi Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho .”
Sayyidi Abdul Wahab Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho says, “I have not seen anyone who divorced himself from the world, like Hadrat Ma’roof Karkhi Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho . His excellence is such, that even his blessed grave is a means of attaining blessings.” [Kashf al-Mahjoob]
He possessed deep love for the poor and the orphans. Hadrat Sirri al-Saqti Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho says, “I once saw Hadrat Ma’roof Karkhi Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho gathering dates on the day of Eid, so I stopped and asked the reason for this. He said, ’That young boy is crying because all the other children have new clothes and he has nothing new on Eid day. I thus, decided to collect some dates, sell them and then buy something for him, so that he is kept busy playing and does not feel uncomfortable on the day of Eid.’” Hadrat Sirri Saqti Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho says, “I said, Huzoor there is no need for you to do this, I will make sure he gets something on Eid. I then took the boy with me and bought him a new set of clothes. After I did this, a Noor (light) entered my heart, which caused me great pleasure and my condition became very different.”
He passed away on a Friday or Saturday, on the 2nd of Muharram, 200 Hijri. After his demise, Hadrat Muhammad bin Abul Hussain Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho says, that he saw Hadrat Ma’roof Karkhi Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho in his dream and he asked him how Almighty Allah had treated him. He said, Almighty Allah pardoned me, not because of my piety but because of what I heard from Hadrat Samaak Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho in Kufa, when he said, ’He who leaves all ties and turns towards Allah, then Allah Almighty Allah sends his Mercy towards him and he turns all his servants in his direction.’ I followed this advice of his and turned completely towards Allah, and with the exception of the Khidmat of Hadrat Ali Rida Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho I left everything else.
Hadrat Sirri al-Saqti Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho says, “I dreamt that Hadrat Ma’roof Karkhi Radi Allahu Ta’ala Anho was seated totally absorbed in the love of Allah, under the Arsh and Almighty Allah said, ‘O Angels! Who is this?’ the Angels said, O Allah You are All Knowing. There is nothing hidden from You.’ Almighty Allah said, ‘This is Ma’roof Karkhi who is drowned in My love and closeness and until he does not make my Deedar he will not regain his consciousness and neither will he gain contentment without my Deedar.'”
His Mazaar Sharif is in Baghdad Sharif.