Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Ascetic, the Devotee and the Knower

Abū Yazīd Bistāmī said: “The most veiled from God are three: the ascetic (zāhid) by his asceticism, the devotee (‘ābid) by his devotion, and the knower (‘ālim) by his knowledge.
   O the wretched ascetic who wears the mantle of asceticism and treads the path of the ascetics, if only he knew the insignificance of this world and of that which he renounces! If only he knew the little worth of the things he renounces, if only he knew his own place in this world among the ascetics!
   The true ascetic is the one who, in a glance, is captivated by Him and thereafter does not turn his gaze on another than Him.
   As for the true devotee, he is one who, in his devotion, has more regard for God’s grace upon him than for his devotion, so that his devotion is immersed in His grace.
   And as for the knower, if only he knew that all the knowledge God has ever manifested amounts to a mere line of the Preserved Tablet! And how much has he known that he has acted upon?”
   Then Abū Yazīd said: “The true knower is he whose knowledge is God, and he draws from Him whenever he wants and however he wants, without recourse to memory or books.
   Those three will possess something on the Day of Resurrection.”

[my translation]
From Shatahat al-Sufiyya, ed. Badawī (1976), p. 155.

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