Bayazid and the Dog

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

When the great Sufi Master Abu Yazid al-Bestami, called Bayazid, was walking in the desert on the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, he walked past a well where many people were gathered around drawing up water. Around them circled a mongrel dog, panting with thirst.

Bayazid called out to the crowd, “Will someone not give a cup of water in exchange for the blessings of fifty years of pilgrimage and prayers?”

One person who knew Bayazid said, “I will gladly do so.”  And so he gave a cup of water to the Sufi Master, and received in return a lifetime of blessings.

Bayazid put the cup on the ground so the dog could drink.

Alhamdulillah!

Ya Haqq!

Note:  Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order has written a book entitled Dogs from a Sufi Point of View, available from Amazon.com.

This book presents the image of the dog as portrayed in Sufi literature, and is illustrated with Persian miniatures. In contrast to the prevailing Islamic view of the dog as a foul, vicious and unclean animal, the Sufis held the poverty and wretchedness of the dog in special esteem, considering themselves to be dogs — or less than dogs — in the lane of the Beloved. These stories communicate the value of humility, loyalty, and other praiseworthy qualities of the base animal nature of their own ego, and emphasize the value of training that tames wildness and makes even the dog useful to society.

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25 Responses to Bayazid and the Dog

  1. Leena says:

    Great story… but I’m just left wondering if Bayazid was later encouraged to carefully wash the cup seven times and finally with sand/dirt? Or was the cup thrown away, being of no use after a dog’s tongue had touched it? :-) You know how it goes…

    Thank you for the book recommendation, I’ve added it to my Wishlist.

  2. Irving says:

    Salaam Dear Leena:
    The story ends there, but I would think Bayazid had no further use for the cup once the dog’s thirst was sated. To a Sufi a dog is still one of God’s creation, and so worthy of respect and care.

    And I think you will like the book :)

    Ya Haqq!

  3. Bar Bar A says:

    Thanks for the comment you left me on my blog. You have an interesting site here…I’ll check it out more later.

  4. Love it!

    I have a post on my blog titled “a puppy for god’s loyal opposition”, one of my earlier posts in which I had used submission.org’s views on dogs and Islam.

  5. saly says:

    Assalam alekum Irving,

    Thank you for this post. There is also the hadith where a woman who gave water to a dog in her shoe was promised jennah instantly. I want Muslims to read your post and understand that none which God creates is hateful. I once had a dog and some of my relatives stopped visiting us because our house was ‘filthy’ having a dog as part of the household. They wouldn’t drink tea in our home (as if the dog had tea in all our cups!). Nevertheless, we all prayed five times a day and made sure he never went inside the kitchen. Sadly, I can’t support my feelings through any Islamic literature. A dog to Muslims remains a ‘foul, vicious and unclean animal’.

    It is great to be back so I can read your words of wisdom again. Thank you!

  6. Maliha says:

    Salamaat,
    this post raised a different question in my mind…are Islam and Sufism mutually exclusive to each other? I always thought Sufism was but an externsion of Islam; and the focus is more on the inward vs. say Salafism being focused on the outward….that they are both ends of a spectrum of the same body of faith.

    am i wrong?

    peace n’ cherries n’ love to all creatures:)
    Maliha

  7. kevin says:

    Great minds think alike… For the past few days I’ve been working on a post about an anecdote with Jesus from “Dogs from Sufi Point of View.”

  8. Irving says:

    Salaam Saly and Maliha and Kevin:

    Indeed, we think alike darvish Kevin :) And Saly, it is great to have you back. You were missed for your lively posts and wisdom. And Maliha, yes it is true that the Sufi path began with Islam, and as many call it, the real Islam of love and adab, that is, etiquette, and ever striving toward the One by displaying the lessons of Muhammad’s (pbuh) life of devotion, service to all creatures, and love of Allah.

    And yet, it is also a spiritual path, and all such paths have the same goal, so in a sense, Sufism predates Islam also, as the longing for God began when humans first achieved self-awareness, and asked the questions: “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” and “Why am I here?”

    Ya Haqq!

  9. MysticSaint says:

    Wonderful. Praise be to God!

    Here are some interesting qualities of Dog that fascinates the Sufis.

    http://mysticsaint.blogspot.com/2005/11/11-qualities.html

  10. Baraka says:

    Subhan-Allah, what a beautiful story. It represents the hidden possibilities in a dog, an animal considered so unworthy by many Muslims these days.

    It reminds me of Rumi’s poem:, which encourages us to aspire to be dog-like:

    One night a man was crying,
    Allah! Allah!
    His lips grew sweet with the praising,
    until a cynic said,
    “So! I have heard you
    calling out but have you ever
    gotten any response?”

    The man had no answer to that.
    He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

    He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
    in the thick, green foliage.
    “Why did you stop praising?”
    “Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
    “This longing
    you express is the return message.”

    The grief you cry out from
    draws you toward union.

    Your pure sadness
    that wants help
    is the secret cup.
    Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
    That whining is the connection.

    There are love dogs
    no one knows the names of.

    Give your life
    to be one of them.

  11. Irving says:

    What a beautiful Rumi poem, dear Sister :) Inshallah, we may all aspire to the dog like qualities of submission, obedience, loyalty, devotion and longing for our True Master.

    Ya Haqq!

  12. rama says:

    Hullo! Delighted to discover your blog, and what a fantastic introduction through the dog tale. Sufi dog tales – is a subject close to my heart, a subject of long reflection and meditation. Please accept warm greetings from a kindred soul living in Calcutta! Best, rama

  13. Kozi Wolf says:

    Thank you for your blog. It’s wonderful seeing a glimpse of life through a Sufi’s perspective.
    Gabby.

  14. razarumi says:

    What a heart warming story and excellent comment on the station of dogs in Sufi thought and practice. It is the devotion and selfless love of dogs for their master that the Sufis have noted. Please note this verse by the Punjabi Sufi poet Bulleh Shah:

    … kuttay, taiN touN uttay
    mulla kanouN kuKKar changaaN
    jehRa yaar jagaway suttay
    taiN kan uttay…

    [dogs are higher than you
    and the rooster is better than the Mullah
    for at least they wake friends who are asleep]

    Keep on writing!

  15. darvish says:

    What a perfect poem by the most excellent and esteemed Bullah Shah :) Thank you for sharing it :)

    Ya Haqq!

  16. MysticSaint says:

    razarumi,
    those words from Bulleh Shah are really beautiful!

    thanks for the sharing.

  17. hakkani7 says:

    Salaam Aleykum,

    Alhamdulillah, yes – I was told the importance of the Dog in Sufi teachings the first time I went to our Dergah upstate. Jazak’Allah for visiting. Take Care,

    Allah emanat ol,

    Haidar

  18. [...] Bayazid and the Dog a Sufi Tale (I like the name Ba’Yazid. The Ottoman Sultan had that name. As did the famous sufi Bayazid Bistami.) Also, what is the best way to share music from my hard-drive with you guys? I have an MP3 you’ll love. [...]

  19. Farishta Khan says:

    Salam alaikum

    Like Maliha, I too thought that tassawuf without Islam isn’t tassawuf and likewise, Islam without tassawuf isn’t Islam. As Imam Malik (Rehmatullah aleih) once said, “man tasawaffa wa lam yatafaqa faqad tazandaqa, wa man tafaqaha wa lam yatasawaf faqad tafasaq, wa man tasawaffa wa tafaqaha faqad tahaqaq.”

    Which means: ” Whoever studied Tasawwuf without Fiqh is a heretic, and whoever studied Fiqh without Tasawwuf is corrupted, and whoever studied Tasawwuf and Fiqh will find the Truth and Reality of Islam.”

  20. AbdulHaq says:

    Irving Said:

    Sufi path began with Islam & then said “Sufism predates Islam” as the longing for God began when humans first achieved self-awareness, and asked the questions: “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” and “Why am I here?”

    ********************************************
    I MAY BE WRONG:

    I find it acceptable that Sufism began with Islam but Sufism predating Islam is not because of the humans achieving self wareness, but I think becasue of forgetting the covenant made with Allah (swt). Its only after forgetting the covennant with Allh (swt) that the human found themselves unaware of the purpose of his creation. For Allah (swt) says:

    “We had already beforehand taken the covenant of Adam but he forgot: and We found on his part no firm resolve.” (20:115)

    Its only when humans started going astray and forgetting the teachings of Islam (submission to the will of Allah) that Prophet were sent or religion institutionalized. Allah 9swt) says in Quran:

    “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah–the which We have sent by inspiration to thee–and that which We enjoined on Abraham Moses and Jesus:…..(42:13)

    In short humans were happy when they were following the will of Allah (swt), when they rebelled against the will of Allah (swt) they forgot the purpose of their creation and then started all the search & awareness.

  21. Katy says:

    ya hagh.

  22. cyclewala says:

    All the Prophets brought Islam, surrender to One God…as the Qur’an says [& you so correctly point out] This the Qur’an tells us.
    However we can hardly agree with your interpretations of this verse and the concept that the older versions of the surrender have lost their way and their teaching.

    If the religion were lost brother AbdalHaq, then God would not repeatedly insist in the Qur’an that the Jews judge from the Torah, wherin there IS Guidance & Light, rather than coming to the Last Prophet PBUH.

  23. [...] of unpopular animals, I’m reminded of the beautiful Sufi tradition of praising dogs, which Darvish pithily sums up as [...]

  24. stymie says:

    Delighted to discover that someone in Islam understands and appreciates dogs. Only my dear Mother loves me as much as my dog. I am a king when I get home from work.
    I wonder if there is any historical Zoroastrian relationship to Sufism. They, too, revered dogs.

  25. Irving says:

    Happy you liked the post dear Stymie :) Zoroastrianism was the religion in Persia before Islam, and Sufism, replaced it, and many of their customs still are part of the culture. My late Master, Dr. Javad Nubrakshs even wrote a book called Dogs from a Sufi Point of View. Here is a link to it on Amazon:

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