There was once a dervish who embarked upon a sea journey. As the other passengers in the ship came aboard one by one, they saw him and — as is the custom — asked him for a piece of advice. All the dervish would do was to say the same thing to each one of them: he seemed merely to be repeating one of those formulae which each dervish makes the object of his attention from time to time.
The formula was: ‘Try to be aware of death, until you know what death is.’ Few of the travellers felt particularly attracted to this admonition.
Presently a terrible storm blew up. The crew and the passengers alike fell upon their knees, imploring God to save the ship. They alternately screamed in terror, gave themselves up for lost, hoped wildly for succour. All this time the dervish sat quietly, reflective, reacting not at all to the movement and the scenes which surrounded him.
Eventually the buffeting stopped, the sea and sky were calm, and the passengers became aware how serene the dervish had been throughout the episode.
One of them asked him:
‘Did you not realize that during this frightful tempest there was nothing more solid than a plank between us all and death?’
‘Oh, yes, indeed,’
answered the dervish.
‘I knew that at sea it is always thus. I also realized, however, that I had often reflected when I was on land that, in the normal course of events, there is even less between us and death.’
This story is by Bayazid of Bistam, a place to the south of the Caspian Sea. He was one of the greatest of the ancient Sufis, and died in the latter part of the ninth century.
O Allah! it is not strange that I love You because I am a weak servant,
but it is strange that You love me when You are the King of Kings.
– Sidi Bayazid Bastami rahimahu Llah –
By loving the ones whom Allah loves, you attract His love to yourself. We hear through ‘Abdul-Wahid ibn Bakr al-Warthani and Qannad Abu Musa al-Dabili that Abu Yazid al-Bistami said that a man asked him,
Show me the shortest way to reach Allah Most High.
Abu Yazid said,
Love those beloved of Allah and make yourself lovable to them so that they love you, because Allah looks into the hearts of those whom He loves seventy times a day. Perchance He will find your name in the heart of the one He loves; then He will love you, too, and He will forgive you of your wrongdoings.
– unknown –
It is not strange that I love You because I am a weak servant,
but it is strange that You love me when You are the King of Kings
– Hadhrat Bayazid Al Bistami rahimahu Llah –
Once He raised me up and caused me to stand before Him and said to me,
O Bâyezîd, My creatures desire to behold thee.
Adorn me with Thy Unity and clothe me in Thy I-ness and raise me to Thy Oneness so that when Thy creatures behold me they may say that they behold Thee, and that only Thou mayst be there, not I.
– Hadhrat Bayazid Bastami rahimahu Llah
A mystic wrote to Shaykh Bayazid Bistami saying:
I am drunk from the long draught. I drank from the cup of his love.
Shaykh Bayazid wrote back:
Someone else drank the seas of heavens and earth and his thirst is not quenched. His tongue is hanging out and he is pleading, is there more.
A man will not be a mystic until he is like the earth — both the righteous and the sinner tread upon it — and until he is like the clouds — they shade all things — and until he is like the rain — it waters all things, whether it loves them or not.
– Shaykh Bayazid Bastami rahimahu Llah –
Hadhrat Bayazid al-Bistami rahimahu Llah was asked, the meaning of which: When does a man become modest/humble? He answered, saying what means: When he does not see for himself a rank or a status.
If the eight Paradises were opened in my hut, and the rule of both worlds were given in my hands, I would not give for them that single sigh which rises at morning-time from the depth of my soul in remembering my longing for Him.
– Hadhrat Bayazid Bistami rahimahu Llah