The Woman That Was Bu Yazid’s
Pir (Old Sage)
It has been narrated that
someone asked Bu Yazid, “Who is your Pir (Old Sage)?” replied, “An old
woman! One day I was overwhelmed by Shawq (Divine Yearning)
& Tawhid (Divine Oneness)
as if the thinness of a hair could not fit within me. So I drifted away
into the desert Self-less (his Self completely away or that was what he
thought). Until I reached an old woman burdened
by a load of flour who asked me to carry it for her. But I was in such
state that could not even carry myself. So I pointed at a lion  and the animal came obediently, whereat placed
the load upon its back and told the old woman, “If you made it to the
town whom would you say you saw?” I wanted to make sure she did not
know who I was. She replied, “I say I saw a Ra’naa (Dissembling) Zaalim
(Cruel Transgressor) ”. Angrily I responded,
“Huh! What are you talking about?” The old woman said, “Is this lion
meant to carry out this kind of work?” and I said no 
then she continued, “You are forcibly employing this animal while Lord
Almighty did not oblige it (to carry loads) is this not cruelty?” I
replied affirmative .
Further she said, “And even after all this (transgression) you want the
people of the town to know you were the one who tamed the lion i.e. you
are the bestower of Karaamaat (Sufi generosity & beneficence) is
this not Riaa (Dissemblance or show off with Dissimulation)?” I replied
affirmative again. I repented 
and fell from the lofty (state of Sufism) into lowly (state of my
behavior). This was the teaching of my Pir (Old Sage). 
Yazid had reached such lofty status of mental and spiritual powers that
could tame animals by simply pointing at them.
Ra’naa similar to Ra’y or Riaa is a common Arabic word in Koran and
Sufism dealing with people doing good to show off i.e. dissembling and
intentional eye-service. Allah dislikes such mannerisms. In Sufism it
is the worse possible crime.
Notice in all the questions the old woman asked Bu Yazid he answered
promptly, truthfully without thinking of the consequences.
Sufi is not on this earth to change anything as a matter of fact the
less impact the Sufi has the more pious he is and closer to Orf (Divine
This is Bu Yazid the greatest erudite of Sufism, a renowned scholar and
a pious man but took the admonishment from an old nobody woman—midst a
male dominated society—and immediately, unconditionally and publicly
Look carefully into the past. Remember those PECULIAR moments when
someone said or did something to you, that up to now, it is present
fresh in front of your face. Something that touched your heart with
perhaps some pain or shame. That someone was your Sheikh or Sheikhah
(female wise woman). Beloved spoke to us through their tongue, often
nobodies of little importance, but did we have ears to hear what was
said to us?
woman. Photo by Baldek.
Dara O. Shayda