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Bistam, Qumis region, modern Iran
Part of a series on Islam
Sufism and Tariqat
Abū Yazīd Ṭayfūr b. ʿĪsā b. Surūshān al-Bisṭāmī (al-Basṭāmī) (d. 261/874–5 or 234/848–9), commonly known in the Iranian world as Bāyazīd Bisṭāmī (Persian: بایزید بسطامی), was a Persian Sufi, from north-central Iran. Known to future Sufis as Sultān-ul-Ārifīn ("King of the Gnostics"), Bastami, who was famous for "the boldness of his expression of the mystic’s complete absorption into the Godhead," was one of the pioneers of what later came to be known as the "drunken" or "ecstatic" (sukr) school of Islamic mysticism.
His grandfather Surūshān was born a Zoroastrian, an indication that Bastami had Persian heritage, despite the fact that his transmitted sayings are in Arabic. 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 God’s names. He also appreciated the work of the great jurists. 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.
The name Bastami means "from Bastam". Bayazid's grandfather was a Zoroastrian who converted to Islam. His grandfather had three sons, who were named: Adam, Tayfur and 'Ali. All of them were ascetics. Bayazid was the son of Tayfur. 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.
Bastami's predecessor Dhul-Nun al-Misri (d. CE 859) was a murid "initiate" as well. Al-Misri had formulated the doctrine of ma'rifa (gnosis), 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 in Islam, referred to in his words as drunkenness (Shukr 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. There is some debate over his exact resting place, but this disagreement demonstrates that the love of humans is limited by envy, unlike the love of the almighty.
Shrine in Chittagong, Bangladesh
A Sufi shrine in Chittagong, dating back to 850 AD, is dedicated to the 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, China and the Middle East, 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 plausible that either Bayazid or his followers visited the port city around the middle of the 9th century.
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