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October 2001 Feature

THE LIFE AND MESSSAGE OF
BAYAZID BASTAMI

NINTH CENTURY
PERSIA

from Al-Momenon: The Faithful
Authored by Hazrateh MahTalat Etemad-Moghadam Angha
Published by the International Association of Sufism

Available through Amazon.com

Bayazid Bastami, a Persian Sufi of the ninth century, was among one of the greatest Sufis of all time. His father was a Zoroastrian and had high position in Bastam (north eastern Persia). Bayazid was among the shatta Sufis. Shatta Sufis are those who are enraptured by the Divine love and are annihilated in the Truth. Bastami said: It takes more than two hundred years until a flower such as I grows in the garden of the universe.

Abu Saiid, another Sufi of ninth century, said: The world is enraptured by Bayazid, and Bayazid sees nothing except the Divine.

Someone asked Bayazid: What is the best thing given to a human being? He said: God given good nature. What else? Said the man. Good health: said Bayazid. If one does not have a good nature or physical health, then still is fortunate if s/he has ears that can hear the divine message, then a learned heart, then eyes that can see the divine beauty. If a person does not have anyone of these, he better off death.

He traveled around the world and served more than one hundred teachers and masters, and learned from them all. It is said he took over twelve years for his pilgrim to Mecca. He performed two prayers in every small village and in every stop he made to the house of God. He said: The house of God is not like a king's palace that you can enter whenever you wish and enter fast. When he arrived Mecca, again he performed many prayers.

Zunun al Mesri had sent one of his students to Bayazid saying: You sleep, you rest, be aware that caravan will pass you by. Bayazid said: It takes someone like me who sleeps at night but arrives at the destination, before dawn, and before the arrival of the caravan. Upon hearing this Zunun cried saying: we are not at the same level as Bayazid.

Bayazid said: Whatever I was searching to find in my purification, mortification, striving, servitude I found in serving my mother. One night my mother woke up and asked me for a glass of water. I hurried to bring her some water. I searched around the house and there was no water in the container nor in the bucket. It was a cold night. I went outside to the spring to get some water. When I came back my mother was sleep. So I stayed beside her bed, with the glass of water. Near dawn she woke up and upon hearing the story she took the water, drunk, and prayed for me. In that morning, I found whatever I was looking for.

Bayazid said: I became like an iron master for twelve years. I put my nafs and ego in the stove of discipline, and prepare it with the fire of striving, mold it on the platform of remorse, hammer it with regret until my nafs became my mirror. I was my own mirror for five years. Until one day when I thought I was the greatest among great learned. As soon as this thought came to my mind, I packed up and went to Khorasan. I stayed in a shelter and promised myself that I would not leave this place unless I receive a message from Allah. On the fourth day I saw a camel rider coming towards me. A thought passed my mind that I could stop that camel right there. The rider looked at me and said: Do not make me to destroy Bastam and Bayazid altogether. I lost my senses. When my senses came back to me I asked him: Where are you coming from? he said: From the side where your promise is kept. The he said: Bayazid, keep and protect your heart; then he left. It is said after this incident whatever passed through Bayazid ’s mind would appear in front of him. There is no written book left from Bayazid and we can read about him and his words in Tazkerat-al Olia by Sheikh Fariddedin Athar.

A prayer remained from Bayazid:
Oh, Allah, how long this “you” and “I” remain between You and I. Take this “I” from me so all that remains is “You”.
Oh, Allah, when I am with You I am greater than all; when I am without You I am nothing.
Oh, Allah, my poverty took me to you and Your blessings protected my poverty.

Every time he had a Divine revelation, he fasten a zunar (a Sufi belt) and he had over seventy zunar. When the time of his passing was close, he went to the altar, put on one zunar, an old reversed rob, backward hat and said: Oh, Allah, this is how I see myself. I am not offering You my life's mortification, my constant prayers, my day and night fasting, You know that nothing will take me from You. I confess that I am shameful, I have nothing, You are the One who has given me all this fortune. I witness that there is no god but You. Your have accepted me. Purify me from my errors, forgive my faults, wash away my shortcomings.
Bayazid used to repeat: Allah, Allah and when he was dying he was repeating Allah and said: Oh, Allah, I remembered You only as if I was an ignorant, now that I am dying, I am negligent of worshipping You, and I do not know when I again be at Your presence. It is said he was repeating the zikr of Allah when he died. Abu Musa, one of his disciple, was not there when Bayazid passed away. He said: I had a dream that I was carrying the universe on my shoulder. I woke up and went to Bayazid to tell him my dream when I found he passed away; and on that morning I was one of the people carrying Bayazid body on our shoulders. I forgot that dream but at night I saw in my dream who said: the universe that you were carrying on your shoulder was my body.
Bayazid died in the year of 260 hijrat (881).

(from Tazkerat-al-Olia we also read the following: Once someone asked Bayazid, "How did you become such a great, learned Sufi?" Bayazid replied, "One night, when I was a child, I left the city to go to the desert. The moon was shining and the world was at peace. Suddenly I had a vision; I saw an illuminated silhouette. The image was so bright that the light of the sun looked like a pale image compared to this illumination. I fell into a state of rapture and a deep feeling of joy came over me. I whispered to myself, 'Oh, Allah, such a beautiful gate, yet empty, such an almighty realm, yet lonesome!' I heard a voice saying, 'The doorstep is empty, not because no one comes, rather no one is admitted to come. This is not the realm of the impure; not many have the honor for admittance.' I thought, from whom in the creation could I call upon to intercede for my admittance and I remembered that the only one to intercede was the Prophet Mohammad, salute to Him, and I should not call upon anyone but wait for Him to give me permission to enter. It was then that I received a message saying, "Because of such politeness I will raise your name so you will be remembered as Sultan of the Sufis, Bayazid.'"

Bayazid said: "The voice of revelation echoes in my chest saying: my treasure box is filled with honest servitude and praiseworthy devotion. Offer Me what I do not have. And I say: I offer You my need, my longing and my broken heart."

Bayazid said: "In my life of service and devotion to Allah, I ought to have performed a prayer worthy of Him, I thought. So many mornings and nights I performed prayers and every time I thought that this was only worthy of Bayazid and not Allah, so one day I cried and I begged. Oh, Allah, I have tried to worship You as You deserve and pray a prayer worthy of You and I have failed, so there are many among the people of the world who do not pray; take me as one of them. translator’s note)

Abu Turab Nakhshabi, Shaghigh Balkhi, Raee, Yaha Muab-i-Razi, were among the accompanies of Bayazid .

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