Abu Yazid al-Bestami (Part-11)



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"On one occasion," Sahlagi continues, "as he was in seclusion he uttered the words, ‘Glory be to me! How great is my dignity!’ When he was himself again, his disciples told him that such words had proceeded from his tongue. ‘God is your antagonist, and Abu Yazid is your antagonist,’ he replied. If I speak such words again, cut me in pieces.’
"And he gave each of his disciples a knife, saying, ‘If such words come to me again, slay me with these knives.’

"It so transpired that he spoke the same words a second time. His disciples made to kill him. The whole apartment was hlled with Abu Yazid. His companions pulled bricks out of the walls and each struck at him with his knife. The knives were as effective as if they were being struck at water; no blow had the slightest effect. After a while that form shrank, and Abu Yazid appeared as small as a sparrow, sitting in the prayerniche. His companions entered and told him what had passed. ‘This is Abu Yazid whom you see now,’ he remarked. ‘That was not Abu Yazid.’"
Once Abu Yazid took a red apple into his hand and looked at it.
"This is a beautiful apple," he said.
A voice spoke within him.
"Abu Yazid, art thou not ashamed to apply My name to a fruit?"
For forty days his heart was oblivious to the name of God.
"I have taken an oath," the shaikh declared, "that I will never eat the fruit of Bestam so long as I live."

"One day I was seated," Abu Yazid recalled, "when the thought entered my mind, ‘I am the shaikh of the time, the saint of the age.’ As soon as this thought occurred to me, I knew that I had been guilty of a great error. I rose up and proceeded on the road to Khorasan. I halted in a hospice and swore that I would not leave it until God sent me someone who should reveal me again to myself.

"Three days and three nights I remained there. On the fourth day I saw a one-eyed man approaching on a camel. Observing him closely, I saw in him the marks of divine awareness. I signalled to the camel to halt, and immediately it lowered its two forelegs to the ground. The man gazed upon me.

"‘You bring me all this way,’ he said, ‘to open an eye that was closed, to unlatch a door that was locked, and to drown the people of Bestam along with Abu Yazid?’
"I swooned away. ‘Whence do you come?’ I asked.

‘Since the moment you swore that oath, I have come three thousand leagues.’ Then my visitor added, ‘Beware, Abu Yazid! Keep watch over your heart.

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