Hafiz Ibn Kathir mentions inAl-Bidayah wa ‘l-Nihayah (part 13, p. 93) regarding events that occurred in 617 AH:
[From among those notables who died this year was] Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Yunini who was given the title The Lion of the Levant (Asad al-Sham), may Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him. He was from a village in Baalbek called Younine. He had a zawiyah which people would travel to and visit. He was from among the major pious individuals, and famous for worship, spiritual exercises (riyadah), and commanding good and forbidding vice. He was very high minded in terms of his asceticism and piety in that he would not keep anything for himself; he did not have wealth or clothes, but would borrow what he wore. He would not wear more than one tunic (qamis)during the summer and would wear a fur overcoat over it during the winter. He would wear a cap made from goatskin, the hair of which would be on the outside.
He would never remain behind from participating in battles. He would shoot a bow that weighed eighty ratl. He would sometimes live in the mountains of Lebanon. He would, in the winter, come to the springs of al-‘Asriya at the foot of the mountain overlooking the village of Douma situated to the east of Damascus on account of the warmth of the water. People would, hence, head for him there to meet him. He would at times come to Damascus and stay at the foot of Mount Qasyun close to al-Qadsiyyah. He was of [high] spiritual states (hal) and of righteous kashf. He was called the Lion of the Levant.
Abu ‘l-Muzaffar, the maternal grandson of Ibn al-Jawzi has narrated from Qadi Jamal al-Din Ya‘qub, the governor of Al-Karak al-Biqa, that he once saw Shaykh ‘Abdullah performing ablution in the River Tora close to the Jisr al-Abyad (the White Bridge) when a Christian passed by him and with him was a mule carrying wine. “The animal stumbled on the bridge and the load fell. He then saw the shaykh who had finished his wudu who did not know him. He asked him for help to raise the load on to the animal so the shaykh called me and said: ‘Come here oh faqih, help us place this load on the animal.’ The Christian then left. I became astonished by this and followed the animal as I was heading to the city. The Christian took it to the ‘Uqayba [neighbourhood] and went to a seller of wine there where it became clear that it had suddenly become vinegar. The wine seller then said to the Christian: ‘Woe unto you. This is vinegar.’ So the Christian said: ‘I know where this has come from.’ He tied his animal in a rest house and returned to a group of pious people. He asked regarding the shaykh and came to know of him. He then came to him and accepted Islam at his hands.”
He was a man of many spiritual states and miracles. He would stand for no one who entered on him and would say: “People only stand for the Cherisher of the Worlds.” When al-Amjad (Al-Amjad was the grand nephew of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (may Allah have mercy on him) and governor of Baalbek between 1182 and 1230 — translator) would enter on him, he would sit in front of him. The shaykh would then say to him: “Oh al-Amjad, you did this and you did that.” He would then command that which he needed to command him to do and forbid him from that which he ought to forbid him from. Al-Amjad would obey all that he would say to him and that was only on account of the shaykh’s sincerity in asceticism, piety and way.
He would accept the spoils of war and would not keep any of it for the next day. When his hunger became severe he would take the leaves from an almond tree, which he would rub and press and then eat till his fill. He would then drink cold water on top of this. May Allah Most High have mercy on him and make pleasant his resting place.
They mention that he completed the Hajj some years in the air [by flying]. This has happened to a large group of ascetics and pious worshippers. This has not reached us regarding any of the major scholars. The first regarding whom this is mentioned is Habib al-‘Ajami, who was from among the companions of Hasan al-Basri, and then some pious individuals after him — may the mercy of Allah Most High be on all of them.
On Friday, 10 Dhu ‘l-Hijjah of this year, ‘Abdullah al-Yunini offered the morning prayer and the Friday prayer at the Jami‘ Masjid of Baalbek. It is correct that he had visited the lavatory that day before the prayer. After completing the prayer he said to Shaykh Dawud al-Muadhdhin who would wash the dead: “See how you will be tomorrow.” The shaykh then began to ascent towards his zawiyah and spent that night awake in the dhikr of Allah Most High. He remembered his friends and those who were good to him, even if that goodness was a little. He would supplicate for them. When the time for the Morning Prayer came, he offered the prayer with his companions. He then sat leaning while doing the dhikr of Allah and in his hand was his prayer beads (subhah). He then died in this condition while sitting and did not fall. The prayer beads also did not fall from his hand. The news reached al-Amjad, the ruler of Baalbek. He came and saw him thus. He then said: “What if we were to build a structure around him and he was to be kept like this so people could see a sign.” So it was said to him that this is not from the sunnah. The shaykh was moved, washed, shrouded and prayed upon. He was buried beneath the almond tree under which he would sit offering the dhikr of Allah Most High – may Allah have mercy on him and may He fill his grave with light.
He died on Saturday and he was over eighty years of age. May Allah Most High have mercy on him and make pleasant his resting place. Shaykh Muhammad al-Faqih al-Yunini was from among his students and from among those who served him. He was the grandfather of all of those shaykhs in the town of Baalbek.
A part of the article "Hafiz Ibn Kathir and Sufism" on deoband.org. The entire article can be read here: