Behlul was amongst the as-haab of Imam Ja´far us Sadiq AS. He was a very wise man yet he lived amongst the people as though he were a simpleton. One day, a caravan prepared to set out from Medina Munawarrah. They were headed for China with the intention to go there and acquire knowledge.
Behlul came to know of their foolish endeavour. He went to a place outside the gates of Medina along the route that was to be taken by this caravan and began sifting through the sand with a sieve. When the caravan approached and saw him, they called out to him, “O Behlul, what are you doing?”
Behlul replied, “I have lost my needle in Medina, I am searching for it over here in the sand.” The people began to make fun of him, “Behlul has lost his needle in Medina and he is searching for it far away over here outside of the city. What is this madness O Behlul?”
Whereupon he replied firmly, “Indeed it is not I who is mad my friends, you are the ones who have lost their senses. Even though Imam Ja´far us Sadiq AS is in Medina you are traveling to China to seek knowledge! At once they realised their mistake and immediately turned back to Medina.
In this manner, the hadeeth of “Rasulallah SA, “Seek knowledge, even if you may have to go to China,” refers to the true knowledge that is ensconced in the soul of Haq na Saheb, today al-Dai al-Ajal Syedna Aali Qadr Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. This is what we must strive to seek.