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Abū Yazīd Ṭayfūr bin ʿĪsā bin Surūshān al-Bisṭāmī (al-Basṭāmī) (d. 261/874–5 or 234/848–9), commonly known in the Iranian world as Bāyazīd Bisṭāmī ( fa, بایزید بسطامی), was a
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranic peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian language of the ...
Walbridge, John. "Suhrawardi and Illumination" in "The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy" edited by Peter Adamson, Richard C. Taylor, Cambridge University Press, 2005. pg 206. Sufi from north-central
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
. Known to future Sufis as ''Sultān-ul-Ārifīn'' ("King of the Gnostics"), Bisṭāmī is considered to be one of the expositors of the state of fanā, the notion of dying in mystical union with Allah.Hermansen, Marcia K. "Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Quran, Miraj, Poetic, and Theological Writings by Sells Michael.(The Classics of Western Spirituality Series) 398 pages, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1996. $24.95 (Paper) ." Review of Middle East Studies 31.2 (1997): 172-173. (p.212) Bastami was famous for "the boldness of his expression of the mystic’s complete absorption into the mysticism." Many "ecstatic utterances" ( shatˤħāt) have been attributed to Bisṭāmī, which lead to him being known as the "drunken" or "ecstatic" ( ar, سُكْر, '' sukr'') school of Islamic mysticism. Such utterance may be argued as, Bisṭāmī died with mystical union and the deity is speaking through his tongue. Bisṭāmī also claimed to have ascended through the seven heavens in his dream. His journey, known as the Mi'raj of Bisṭāmī, is clearly patterned on the
Mi'raj The Israʾ and Miʿraj ( ar, الإسراء والمعراج, ') are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islam, the Islamic prophet Muhammad (570–632) took during a single night around the year 621 (1 BH – 0 BH). With ...
of the Islamic prophet
Muhammad Muhammad ( ar, مُحَمَّد;  570 – 8 June 632 CE) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet divinely inspired to preach and confirm the mo ...
. Bisṭāmī is characterized in three different ways: a free thinking radical, a pious Sufi who is deeply concerned with following the sha'ria and engaging in "devotions beyond the obligatory," and a pious individual who is presented as having a dream similar to the Mi'raj of Muhammed. The Mi'raj of Bisṭāmī seems as if Bisṭāmī is going through a self journey; as he ascends through each heaven, Bisṭāmī is gaining knowledge in how he communicates with the angels (e.g. languages and gestures) and the number of angels he encounters increases. His grandfather Surūshān was born a
Zoroastrian Zoroastrianism is an Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster. It has a dualistic cosmology of good and evil within the framework of a monotheistic ...
, an indication that Bastami had
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranic peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian language of the ...
heritage, despite the fact that his transmitted sayings are in
Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Watson; Walter ...
. Very little is known about the life of Bastami, whose importance lies in his biographical tradition, since he left no written works. The early biographical reports portray him as a wanderer but also as the leader of teaching circles. The early biographers describe him as a mystic who dismissed excessive asceticism; but who was also scrupulous about ritual purity, to the point of washing his tongue before
chanting A chant (from French ', from Latin ', "to sing") is the iterative speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two main pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of n ...
God's names. He also appreciated the work of the great
jurists A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholar, mostly (but not always) with a formal qualification in law and often a legal practitioner. In the U ...
. A measure that shows how influential his image remains in posterity is the fact that he is named in the lineage (''silsila'') of one of the largest Sufi brotherhoods today, the Naqshbandi order.


Background

The name Bastami means "from Bastam". Bayazid's grandfather, Sorūshān, was a
Zoroastrian Zoroastrianism is an Iranian religion and one of the world's oldest organized faiths, based on the teachings of the Iranian-speaking prophet Zoroaster. It has a dualistic cosmology of good and evil within the framework of a monotheistic ...
who converted to Islam. His grandfather had three sons, who were named: Adam, İsa and Ali. All of them were ascetics. Bayazid was the son of İsa. Not much is known of Bayazid's childhood, but he spent most of his time isolated in his house, and the mosque. Although he remained in isolation from the material world, he did not isolate himself from the Sufi realm. He welcomed people into his house to discuss Islam. Like his father and uncles, Bayazid led a life of asceticism and renounced all worldly pleasures in order to be one with Allah The Exalted. Ultimately, this led Bayazid to a state of "self union" which, according to many Sufi orders, is the only state a person could be in order to attain unity with God.


Influence

Bastami's predecessor
Dhul-Nun al-Misri Dhūl-Nūn Abū l-Fayḍ Thawbān b. Ibrāhīm al-Miṣrī ( ar, ذو النون المصري; d. Giza, in 245/859 or 248/862), often referred to as Dhūl-Nūn al-Miṣrī or Zūl-Nūn al-Miṣrī for short, was an early Egyptian Muslim mystic a ...
(d. CE 859) was a
murid In Sufism, a ''murīd'' (Arabic مُرِيد 'one who seeks') is a novice committed to spiritual enlightenment by ''sulūk'' (traversing a path) under a spiritual guide, who may take the title murshid, '' pir'' or ''shaykh''. A ''sālik'' or Su ...
"initiate" as well. Al-Misri had formulated the doctrine of
ma'rifa Maʿrifa (Arabic: “interior knowledge”) is the mystical knowledge of God or the “higher realities” that is the ultimate goal of followers of Sufism. Sufi mystics came to maʿrifa by following a spiritual path that later Sufi thinkers categ ...
(
gnosis Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge ( γνῶσις, ''gnōsis'', f.). The term was used among various Hellenistic religions and philosophies in the Greco-Roman world. It is best known for its implication within Gnosticism, where it ...
), presenting a system which helped the ''murid'' and the '' sheikh'' (guide) to communicate. Bayazid Bastami took this a step further and emphasized the importance of
religious ecstasy Religious ecstasy is a type of altered state of consciousness characterized by greatly reduced external awareness and expanded interior mental and spiritual awareness, frequently accompanied by visions and emotional (and sometimes physical) euph ...
in Islam, referred to in his words as ''drunkenness'' ('' Sukr'' or ''wajd''), a means of self-annihilation in the Divine Presence of the Creator. Before him, the Sufi path was mainly based on piety and obedience and he played a major role in placing the concept of divine love at the core of Sufism. When Bayazid died, he was over seventy years old. Before he died, someone asked him his age. He said: "I am four years old. For seventy years, I was veiled. I got rid of my veils only four years ago." Bayazid died in 874 CE and is likely buried in Bistam. There is also a shrine in Kirikhan, Turkey in the name of Bayazid Bastami. His corpus of writings is minimal when compared to his influence. His ascetic approach to religious studies emphasizes his sole devotion to the almighty.


Shrine in Chittagong, Bangladesh

There is a Sufi shrine in Chittagong, Bangladesh, dating back to 850 AD, that is said to be Bastami's tomb. Although this may be unlikely, given the fact that Bastami was never known to have visited Bangladesh. However, Sufism spread throughout the Middle East, parts of Asia and Northern Africa, and many Sufi teachers where influenced in the spread of Islam in Bengal. Also, one local legend says that Bastami did visit Chattagong, which might explain the belief of the locals in Chittagong. Nevertheless, Islamic scholars usually attribute the tomb to Bayazid. While there is no recorded evidence of his visit to the region, Chittagong was a major port on the southern silk route connecting
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the so ...
, China and the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Province), East Thrace (Europ ...
, and the first Muslims to travel to China may have used the Chittagong-Burma-Sichuan trade route. Chittagong was a religious city and also a center of Sufism and Muslim merchants in the subcontinent since the 9th century, and it is possible that either Bayazid or his followers visited the port city around the middle of the 9th century.


Gallery

Image:Baizid Bostami's Mazar 002.JPG, Bayazid Bastami's shrine in Chittagong,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million people in an area of . Bangladesh is among the mos ...
File:Bayazid Mosque.JPG, Interior of Bayazid's Mosque File:Bayzid Mosque2.JPG, Dome of Bayazid's Mosque File:Texture of Bayazid's Mosque.JPG, Carving of Bayazid's Mosque


Notes


References

* Arthur John Arberry, Bistamiana, BSOAS 25/1 (1962) 28–37 * ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Badawī, Shaṭaḥāt al-Ṣūfiyya, Cairo 1949 * Carl W. Ernst, Words of ecstasy in Sufism, Albany 1985 * Carl W. Ernst, The man without attributes. Ibn ʿArabī's interpretation of al-Bisṭāmī, Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ʿArabi Society, 13 (1993), 1–18 * ʿAbd al-Rafīʿ Ḥaqīqat, Sulṭān al-ʿĀrifīn Bāyazīd Basṭāmī, Tehran 1361sh/1982 * Max Horten, Indische Strömungen in der islamischen Mystik, 2 vols., Heidelberg 1927–8 * ʿAlī al-Hujwīrī, Kashf al-maḥjūb, ed. V. A. Zhukovskiĭ, Leningrad 1926 repr. Tehran 1957 * Abū Nuʿaym ʿAlī b. Sahl Iṣfahānī, Ḥilyat al-awliyāʾ, 10 vols., Cairo 1932–8 * ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Jāmī, Nafaḥāt al-uns, ed. Maḥmūd ʿĀbidī, Tehran 1370sh/1991 * Mahmud Khatami, Zaehner-Arberry controversy on Abu Yazid the Sufi. A historical review, Transcendent Philosophy 7 (2006), 203–26 * Abdelwahab Meddeb (trans.), Les dits de Bistami, Paris 1989 * Jawid Ahmad Mojaddedi, The biographical tradition in Sufism. The Ṭabaqāt genre from al-Sulamī to Jāmī, Richmond, Surrey 2001 * Jawid Ahmad Mojaddedi, Getting drunk with Abū Yazīd or staying sober with Junayd. The creation of a popular typology of Sufism, BSOAS 66/1 (2003), 1–13 * Reynold A. Nicholson, An early Arabic version of the Miʿrāj of Abū Yazīd al-Bisṭāmī, Islamica 2 (1926), 402–15 * Javād Nūrbakhsh, Bāyazīd, Tehran 1373sh/1994 * Hellmut Ritter, Die Aussprüche des Bāyezīd Bisṭāmī, in Fritz Meier (ed.), Westöstliche Abhandlungen (Wiesbaden 1954), 231–43 * Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, Fīhi mā fīhi, ed. Badīʿ al-Zamān Furūzānfar, Tehran 1957 * Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī, Mathnawī, ed. Reynold A. Nicholson, 8 vols., London 1925–40 * Rūzbihān Baqlī, Sharḥ-i shaṭḥiyyāt, ed. Henri Corbin, Tehran 1966 * al-Sarrāj, Kitāb al-lumaʿ fī l-taṣawwuf, ed. Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, Leiden and London 1914 * August Tholuck, Ssufismus sive Theosophia Persarum pantheistica, Berlin 1821 * Robert C. Zaehner, Abū Yazīd of Bisṭām. A turning point in Islamic mysticism, Indo-Iranian Journal 1 (1957), 286–301 * Robert C. Zaehner, Hindu and Muslim mysticism, London 1960.


Further reading

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External links


Bayazid's Tomb in Iran

The Naqshbandiya Khalidiya Haqqaniya Tariqa in Italy

The Naqshbandi-Mujaddidiya Chain in the USA and Europe
{{DEFAULTSORT:Bayazid, Bastami 804 births 874 deaths 9th-century Iranian people Naqshbandi order Iranian Sufis People from Semnan Province Mystics from Iran