Abu Yazid al-Bestami (ca. 801–874)
Noted Islamic mystic who founded the ecstatic school of Sufism.
Born in Bestam in northeastern Persia, he became known
as al-Bestami. His claim that the mystic quest could result in
complete absorption and identification with divinity is thought
to have been an influence of Hindu Vedanta. In this respect,
his heterodoxy was blasphemous to orthodox Islam.
Beginning with the Sufi concept of approaching divinity as
the lover approaches the beloved, al-Bestami claimed that this
love was in itself an obstacle. He renounced conventional worship
in the mosque, pilgrimage to Mecca, and even the mystical
practices of asceticism and meditation. Various miracles were
ascribed to al-Bestami.
Sources:
Attar, Farid al-Din. Muslim Saints and Mystics. Translated by
A. J. Arberry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.
Zaehner, R. C. Hindu and Muslim Mysticism. London: Athlone
Press, 1960.

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