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The thaumaturgic element in ancient Sufism was not so important as it afterwards became in the fully developed saint-worship associated with the Dervish Orders. "A saint would be none the less a saint," says Qushayri, "if no miracles were wrought by him in this world." In early Mohammedan Vitæ Sanctorum it is not uncommon to meet with sayings to the effect that miraculous powers are comparatively of small account. It was finely said by Sahl ibn ‘Abdallah that the greatest miracle is the substitution of a good quality for a bad one; and the Kitab al-Luma‘ gives many examples of holy men who disliked miracles and regarded them as a temptation.

"During my novitiate," said Bayazid, "God used to bring before me wonders and miracles, but I paid no heed to them; and when He saw that I did so, He gave me the means of attaining to knowledge of Himself." Junayd observed that reliance on miracles is one of the 'veils' which hinder the elect from penetrating to the inmost shrine of the Truth. This was too high doctrine for the great mass of Moslems, and in the end the vulgar idea of saintship triumphed over the mystical and theosophical conception. All such warnings and scruples were swept aside by the same irresistible instinct which rendered vain the solemn asseverations of Mohammed that there was nothing supernatural about him, and which transformed the human Prophet of history into an omnipotent hierophant and magician. The popular demand for miracles far exceeded the supply, but where the walis failed, a vivid and credulous imagination came to their rescue and represented them, not as they were, but as they ought to be. Year by year the Legend of the Saints grew more glorious and wonderful as it continued to draw fresh tribute from the unfathomable ocean of Oriental romance. The pretensions made by the walis, or on their behalf, steadily increased, and the stories told of them were ever becoming more fantastic and extravagant. I will devote the remainder of this chapter to a sketch of the wali as he appears in the vast medieval literature on the subject.

The Moslem saint does not say that he has wrought a miracle; he says, "a miracle was granted or manifested to me." According to one view, he may be fully conscious at the time, but many Sufis hold that such 'manifestation' cannot take place except in ecstasy, when the saint is entirely under divine control. His own personality is then in abeyance, and those who interfere with him oppose the Almighty Power which speaks with his lips and smites with his hand. Jalaluddin (who uses incidentally the rather double-edged analogy of a man possessed by a peri {One of the spirits called collectively Jinn.}) relates the following anecdote concerning Bayazid of Bistam, a celebrated Persian saint who several times declared in ecstatic frenzy that he was no other than God.

After coming to himself on one of these occasions and learning what blasphemous language he had uttered, Bayazid ordered his disciples to stab him with their knives if he should offend again. Let me quote the sequel, from Mr. Whinfield's abridged translation of the Masnavi :

"The torrent of madness bore away his reason
And he spoke more impiously than before:
'Within my vesture is naught but God,
Whether you seek Him on earth or in heaven.'
His disciples all became mad with horror,
And struck with their knives at his holy body.
Each one who aimed at the body of the Sheykh--
His stroke was reversed and wounded the striker.
No stroke took effect on that man of spiritual gifts,
But the disciples were wounded and drowned in blood."

Here is the poet's conclusion:

"Ah! you who smite with your sword him beside himself,
You smite yourself therewith. Beware!
For he that is beside himself is annihilated and safe;
Yea, he dwells in security for ever.
His form is vanished, he is a mere mirror;
Nothing is seen in him but the reflexion of another.
If you spit at it, you spit at your own face,
And if you hit that mirror, you hit yourself.
If you see an ugly face in it, 'tis your own,
And if you see a Jesus there, you are its mother Mary.
He is neither this nor that--he is void of form;
'Tis your own form which is reflected back to you."

The life of Abu ’l-Hasan Khurqani, another Persian Sufi who died in 1033 A.D., gives us a complete picture of the Oriental pantheist, and exhibits the mingled arrogance and sublimity of the character as clearly as could be desired. Since the original text covers fifty pages, I can translate only a small portion of it here.

"Once the Sheykh said, 'This night a great many persons (he mentioned the exact number) have been wounded by brigands in such-and-such a desert.'

On making inquiry, they found that his statement was perfectly true. Strange to relate, on the same night his son's head was cut off and laid upon the threshold of his house, yet he knew nothing of it. His wife, who disbelieved in him, cried, 'What think you of a man who can tell things which happen many leagues away, but does not know that his own son's head has been cut off and is lying at his very door?' 'Yes,' the Sheykh answered, 'when I saw that, the veil had been lifted, but when my son was killed, it had been let down again.'"

"One day Abu ’l-Hasan Khurqani clenched his fist and extended the little finger and said, 'Here is the qibla {The qibla is the point to which Moslems turn their faces when praying, i.e. the Ka‘ba.}, if any one desires to become a Sufi.' These words were reported to the Grand Sheykh, who, deeming the co-existence of two qiblas an insult to the divine Unity, exclaimed, 'Since a second qibla has appeared, I will cancel the former one.' After that, no pilgrims were able to reach Mecca. Some perished on the way, others fell into the hands of robbers, or were prevented by various causes from accomplishing their journey. Next year a certain dervish said to the Grand Sheykh, 'What sense is there in keeping the folk away from the House of God?' Thereupon the Grand Sheykh made a sign, and the road became open once more. The dervish asked, 'Whose fault is it that all these people have perished?' The Grand Sheykh replied, 'When elephants jostle each other, who cares if a few wretched birds are crushed to death?'"

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