Saturday, October 22, 2016

Without prejudice | Abu Yazid Bistami


The above is a partial quote from the 'King of the Gnostic' of Iran - Bayazid Bistami or Abu Yazid Bistami. How can it not be true? I don't know about you, but the more I reflect and internalize the statement the more goosebumps I get. LOL (nervous laugh that is!)

We came to this world while not being fully conscious of the Creator despite the fact that we had already made the covenant of Alastubirabbikum [Am I not your Lord?] way back. As we grow up, we gradually recognize His attributes and slowly learn to remember Him. Oftentimes we struggle to remember Him even though [the sweet fact is] He remembers us all along. He remembers us without prejudice. But we cannot say for certain that there wasn't a time when we doubted Him a little when our prayers didn't seem to get a response, as quickly as we wanted, in the way that we had hoped.

Anyhow, this is the full often quoted statement attributed to the well known Sufi Abu Yazid Bistami:

I made four mistakes in my preliminary steps in this way. 
I thought that I remember Him and I know Him 
and I love Him and I seek Him.
But when I reached Him, 
I saw that His remembrance of me 
preceded my remembrance of Him 
and His knowledge about me 
preceded my knowledge of Him 
and His love towards me 
was more ancient than my love towards Him 
and He sought me in order that I would begin to seek Him.

To think that His remembrance of you/me preceded your/my remembrance of Him, gives us believers abundant hope. That He remembers and will not forsake us - His creations. That His mercy prevails over His wrath. I think this alone should suffice for a believer, to know that "His remembrance of me preceded my remembrance of Him." Now, does anything else matter?   

I am reminded of this profound sayings of Bayazid when I saw a posting by Shaykh Allie Khalfe of Cape Town, about Abu Yazid and the dog. Let's re-publish it here so we remind ourselves of how terrible our internal prejudice is; how much pride we have; how easily we glorify ourselves and how we confidently discount people who, in our opinion, have strayed and fallen behind, people who are not in our "exclusive club".    

"One day, when the great saint and gnostic Abu Yazid Al-Bistami was walking through a street, suddenly a dog appeared, approaching him slowly. Being cautious and not wanting his clothes to be in contact with the dog, Abu Yazid pulled up his clothes. Unexpectedly, the dog was communicating to Abu Yazid with a voice like human. "If my fur is dry and accidentally comes into contact with your clothes, there is no need for you to have your clothes cleansed. However, if my skin happens to be wet, all you need to do is have your clothes cleansed the way God prescribed. But then the prejudice attitude inside you will not be washed away even if you use all the water obtained from seven rivers. The internal or spiritual sins are difficult to clean."
Abu Yazid said: "Dear dog, you are very intelligent. Please come and stay with me for a while."
"No we can't stay together as I'm being despised by humans while you are glorified in this world. Furthermore, I do not store any food for the next day while you store your needs for the whole year," replied the dog.
Hearing the words of wisdom from the dog, Abu Yazid whispered to himself: "If even a dog refuses to accompany me, am I eligible to be close to God and attend His functions? All the Praises be for God who has shown all the flaws in me and guiding human beings through the minor things."

MashaAllah, this is Abu Yazid speaking!

That's why, it saddens me and I'm sure it saddens you too, to hear about some of the khadam/assistants/volunteers of the shuyukh who act arrogantly towards the "general public" as if they are the "khawasul khawas" the elitist, just because they are close to the scholars, that they have got exclusive rights/access to them. 

"If Allah loves a servant, He will grant three attributes that are the proofs of His love:
generosity like the generosity of the ocean;
favor like the favor of the Sun in its giving light;
and modesty like the modesty of the Earth." 
- Abu Yazid Bistami


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