Shaykh Tayfur Bayazid al-Bistami (q.s.) & the Cure

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is from the Tadzkirat al-Awliya' of Farid ad-Din ‘Ahthtar (q.s.).  There was a certain ascetic who was thought to be one of the great saints of Bistam.  He had his own followers and admirers, and at the same time he was never absent from the circle of Shaykh Tayfur Bayazid al-Bistami or Shaykh Tayfur Abu Yazid al-Bistami (q.s.) as he is also known.  He listened to all his discourses and sat with his companions.  Shaykh Bayazid al-Bistami (q.s.) is Sulthan al-‘Arifin.

One day he remarked to Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.), "Master, for thirty years I have been keeping a constant fast.  By night too, I pray, so that I never sleep at all.  Yet I discover no trace of this knowledge of which you speak.  For all that, I believe in this knowledge, and I love this preaching."

"If for three hundred years," said Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.), "you fast by day and pray by night, you will never realise one atom of this discourse."

"Why?" asked the disciple.

Because you are veiled by your own self," Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.) replied.

"What is the remedy for this?" the man asked.

"You will never accept it," answered Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.).

"I will so," said the man.  "Tell me, so that I may do as you prescribe."

"Very well," said Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.).  "This very hour go and shave your beard and hair.  Take off these clothes you are wearing, and tie a loincloth of goat's wool about your waist.  Hang a bag of nuts around your neck, then go to the marketplace.  Collect all the children you can, and tell them, `I will give a nut to everyone who slaps me.'  Go round all the city in the same way; especially go everywhere people know you.  That is your cure."

"Glory be to Allah!  There is no god but Allah!" cried the disciple on hearing these words.

"If a non-believer uttered that formula, he would become a believer," remarked Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.).  "But by uttering the same formula you have become a polytheist."

"How so?" demanded the disciple.

"Because you count yourself too grand to be able to do as I have said," replied Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.).  "So you have become a polytheist.  You used this formula to express your own importance, not to glorify Allah."

"This, I cannot do," the man protested.  "Give me other directions."

"The remedy is what I have said," Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.) declared.

"I cannot do it," the man repeated.

"Did I not say you would not do it, that you would never obey me?" said Shaykh Bayazid (q.s.).


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