Bayazid – or Abu Yazid – Bistami (804 – 874 CE) was an ecstatic Sufi from the small city of Bastam in north central Persia. Very little is known about his personal life, but he had a great influence on the growth of Sufism. He was one of the first to enunciate the principle of ‘fana,’ annihilation of the seeker in the sought-for One. As he left no writings, we have only oral reports from those who knew those who knew him.
It is remembered that Abu Yazid said:
I erred in the beginning in four things. I thought that I was remembering him, recognising him, loving him and seeking him. Finally I realised that his remembrance preceded my remembrance; his act of recognition preceded my act of recognition; his love was older than my love; he sought me first so that I could then seek him.