The Woman Who Was The Master Of Bayazid Bestami (ra)

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It is said that when Bayazid Bestami was asked who his master was, he explained:

She was an old woman.
One day, I was possessed by such ecstasy and yearning and sense of unity that not even a hair of anything else could be found in me. In this selfless mood, I went for a stroll in the desert, where I happened to meet an elderly lady burdened with a bag of flour.

She asked me to carry the flour for her, but I was incapable of taking it, so I beckoned to a lion to take the load. The lion came up to me and I laid the sack upon its back. I then asked the old lady what she intended to say to the townspeople since I did not want them to apprehend who I was.

"I'll tell them," she replied, "that I met a vain tyrant."

"What are talking about?" I exclaimed.

The lady explained thus, first asking: "Has the lion been put to trouble or not?"

"No," I answered.

"Except for the fact that you burden down those whom God Himself has not burdened!" she objected. "Is that not oppression?"

"So it is", I admitted.

"And, despite this", she continued, "still you desire the townspeople to know that you have subjected a lion and are a miracle worker. Is that not vanity?"

"Yes, it is", I confessed.

So I repented, experiencing abasement from my former exaltation. Indeed that old woman's words performed the function of a spiritual guide and master for me.

Attar, Tadhkerat al-auliya

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