By Sadia Dehlvi
Sep 24, 2011
One of the most famous of Persian Sufis and founder of the ecstatic, 'drunken' school of Sufism is Abu Yazid of Taifur of Bistam.
Popularly called Bayazid, his outspoken expression of complete absorption with the Divine led him to be hounded by the orthodoxy. Born in Bistam in Persia, Bayazid was the grandson of a well-known Zoroastrian who became a theologian, philosopher, Sufi and poet. He died in 877 CE, and lies buried in a blue-domed beautiful mausoleum in a Dargah complex known by his name.
Bayazid's mother had a deep impact on him and he remained devoted to her. He would recall how she sent him to school to study the Quran. When he read the chapter which emphasises thankfulness and obedience to parents, the young boy asked for permission to go home. He told his mother that since Allah had asked to serve both Him and her, he could not do both saying, 'Either you ask for me from God, so that I may be yours entirely, or apprentice me to God, so that I may dwell wholly with Him.' His mother replied, 'My son, I resign you to God, and exempt you from your duty to me, go and be God's. After his mother resigned him to God, Abu Yazid left Bistam, wandering from land to land for 30 years, disciplining himself with continuous vigil and hunger. He sought the tutelage of over a hundred Sufis, the revered Imam Jafar Sadiq among them.
The mystics look upon the intoxicated Sufi as one through whom God spoke. Imam Junayd of Baghdad, the acclaimed Sufi commented, 'Bayazid's rank among us is similar to Archangel Gabriel's rank among the angels.' Bayazid expressed unity with God in an unusual way: 'For 30 years, God most High was my mirror and that which I was, am no more, for "I" and "God" are a denial of the Unity of God. Since I am no more, God most High is His own mirror. Now I say that God is the mirror of myself, for with my tongue He speaks and I have passed away.'
When someone enquired of the elderly mystic's age, Bayazid put it at four years explaining, 'I have been veiled for 70 years, but I have seen Him for four years, the period when God is not seen does not belong to one's life.' One day, looking for the mystic, someone knocked at his door, and Bayazid replied, 'I too am seeking Bayazid for the last 30 years, but I have not found a trace or token of him.'
Lost in God
When the remark was reported to fellow Sufi Dhun Nun Misri, he said,"God have mercy on my brother Abu Yazid! He is lost with the company of those lost in God." Once on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Bayazid encountered a poor man who asked how much money he had on him. Bayazid admitted to possessing 200 dirhams. The man requested Bayazid to give him the money to save his children from starvation.
On learning that the mystic intended to use the money to facilitate the journey, he suggested that Bayazid circumambulate around him seven times instead of the Kaaba. Bayazid acted accordingly and went into a state of ecstasy proclaiming: 'Subhaani: Glory be to me. How great is My Majesty!' Soon, accusations of heresy were hurled at Bayazid and he was turned out of Bistam. Bayazid's disciples attacked him for a similar ecstatic utterance, 'Under my garment there is nothing but God.'When they tried to kill him, their knives turned around and wounded them instead. Bayazid demonstrated the perfect mystic state where love, the lover, and the beloved became one. His famed prayer is, 'O God! Remove the veil of mine and Thine that exists between Thee and me, that I have no existence separate from Thy essence. O Lord, poverty and fasting have brought me close to Thee. I recognise Thee only through Thy grace.'
Bayazid wrote: "If you aspire communion with God Be kind, magnanimous, just to your fellow beings If you desire effulgence like the dawn. Be generous to all like the Sun."
Source: The Times of India, New Delhi