By Laury Silvers
The improvement of early Islamic mysticism and metaphysics is gifted in the course of the existence and paintings of theologian Abu Bakr al-Wasiti.
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Extra info for A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr Al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdadi Sufism
40 Once his name was written, he could not return for another portion. He went hungry. This is a fine example of the prophetic ideal of selfsacrifice which was a special concern of Nuri. Likewise, Wasiti’s outspokenness in public once he left Baghdad may have been inspired by Nuri’s frank manner of speech; it certainly was not a result of Junayd’s teaching. In fact, as I will discuss later, Junayd became concerned when he heard about it long after Wasiti left Baghdad. Leaving Baghdad Wasiti kept silent regarding his own opinions on spiritual matters while in Baghdad.
He said, “Whoever has direct knowledge of God is cut off. ”4 While this is generally the first sort of thing a mystic says before he sets out to detail his intimate knowledge of God at length, it nevertheless accurately describes Wasiti’s position on the inadequacy of language to describe the reality of God. Wasiti said, “People have nothing from Him other than a name, a description, or an attribute. ”5 His solution to the impotence of language seems to have been the use of deliberately provocative statements to prod his listeners out of their mundane and rational understanding of God.
9 Not all expressions of direct knowledge of God are shath. As Sarraj points out, shathiyyat are distinguished by their unusual and dramatic expression. 10 But they all share the same unusual dramatic quality of expres- WASITI AND SUFI DISCOURSE 47 sion. For example, compare two statements of identity with God by Abu Yazid (Bayazid) al-Bistami (d. 261/875) and Hallaj to two sayings by Wasiti making similar points, namely that only God has the right to say “I” and there is nothing in creation other than God.