Ja’far ibn Yahya of Lisbon was determined to find the Sufi ‘Teacher of the Age’, so he traveled to Makkah as a young man to seek him. There he met a mysterious stranger, a man in a green robe, who said to him, before any word had been spoken: “You seek the Greatest Shaykh, the Teacher of the Age. But you seek him in the East, when he is in the West. And there is another thing which is incorrect in your seeking.” He sent Ja’far back to Andalusia, to find the man he named: Muhyuddin, son of al-Arabi, of the tribe of Hatim-Tai. “He is the Greatest Shaykh.”
Telling nobody why he sought him, Ja’far found the Tai family in Murcia and inquired for their son. He learnt that he had actually been in Lisbon when Ja’far set off on his travels. Finally he traced him in Seville.
“There,” said a cleric, “is Muhyuddin.” He pointed to a mere schoolboy, carrying a book on the Hadith, who was at that moment hurrying from a lecture hall. Jafar was confused, but stopped the boy and said: “Who is the Greatest Teacher?” “I need time to answer that question”, said the boy. “Are you the only Muhyuddin, son of al-Arabi, of the Tribe of Tai?”, asked Jafar. “I am he.” Ja’far replied, “Then I have no need of you.”
Thirty years later in Aleppo, Ja’far found himself entering the lecture hall of the Greatest Shaykh, Muhyuddin ibn Arabi, of the tribe of Tai. Imam Muhyuddin saw him as he entered, and spoke: “Now that I am ready to answer the question you asked me, there is no need to ask it at all. Thirty years ago, Ja’far, you had no need of me. Have you still no need of me? The Green One spoke of something wrong in your seeking. It was time and place.”
Ja’far bin Yahya became one of the foremost disciples of Imam Muhyuddin ibn Arabi.