The rays of Islam which had illuminated Arabia had begun to penetrate into the distant parts of Iraq, Syria, Persia, and even Turkistan. A new sect of Sufis (mystics) who believed in renunciation of worldly pleasures by cultivating Islamic spiritualism through self-mortification, had sprung up and had produced some eminent Sufis in Iraq and Persia like Rabia Basri, Hasan Basri, Abdul Wahid, and Bayazid Bustami. These Sufis carried the message of Islam to the distant parts of the world and were, to a great extent, responsible for attracting the heathens to the new faith (Islam).
Hazrat Imam Jafar Sadiq, the great-grandson of Caliph Hazrat Ali, was a versatile genius, who combined in him the worldly as well as spiritual learning. He is universally recognized as the fountainhead of Sufism, from whom spring different sects of Sufism. He had entrusted the robe of Naqshbandi sect of Sufism to Bayazid Bustami.
Abu Yazid Taifur bin Isa bin Adam bin Surushan was born in 128 A.H. 746 A.C. in the town of Bastam. His great grandfather was a Zorastrian who had embraced Islam.
The young Abu Yazid Taifur had a touch of future greatness in him and unlike all other children, he did not take part in games and frivolities. He passed most of his time in seclusion and meditation. When he grew up, he renounced the world and roamed about in quest of inner peace and spiritualism. He obtained guidance and inspiration from 113 spiritual teachers of his time which included Imam Jafar Sadiq and Shafiq Balkhi.
He led an ascetic life and was the first to introduce the doctrine of Fana (Nirvana). His followers are called Tifuriya or Bustamiya.
He studied Hanifite law before subscribing to the tenets of Sufism. He taught some parts of it to Abu Ali al-Sindi, from whom in return he had instructions in the highest precepts of Sufism and the doctrine of Fana.
Bayazid is universally recognized as one of the greatest Sufis. “He combined strict asceticism and reverence for religious law with an extraordinary power of intellectual and imaginative speculation. His attempt to reach absolute unity by a negative process of abstraction, Fana Fil. Tauhid is pursued relentlessly to a point where, having denuded himself of personality like a snake which casts off its skin, he assumes Divine attributes and cries: Glory to me.” (Encyclopaedia of Islam).
His sayings are “Twelve years I was the smith of myself and five years the mirror of my heart.”
He breathed his last in 877 A.C., at the age of 131 years and was buried at Bastam. A magnificent tomb was erected on his grave in 1301 A.C. by the Mongol Sultan, Uljaitu Muhammad Khudabanda, whose spiritual teacher, Sheikh Sharfuddin was a descendant of Bayazid Bustami. His tomb is a popular place of pilgrimage of Muslims drawn from all parts of the world.
His disciples and followers, known as Taifuris formed a school of Sufism which, according to Hazrat Hujwairi, the author of “Kashf al-Mahjoob,” was opposed to the sect of Junaid Baghdadi, in preparing mystical intoxication (Sukr) to mystical sobriety (sahw).
Hazrat Bayazid, one of the greatest Sufis, is held in great reverence by Muslims all over the world. According to another well-known Sufi, Hazrat Junaid Baghdadi, “Bayazid occupies the same status among Sufis which Gibrael occupies among angels.”