Yezidi Reformer: Sheikh Adi (IV)
Ahmad b. ar-Rifa’i arrived from Baghdad to meet Shaikh ‘Adi and to compete with him. As the story says, when ‘Adi sent his major disciple, Memê Resan, to invite other Sufis to Lalish:
“Sayid Abu ‘l-Wafa raised his voice:
Let us stop this boasting and let us go [to visit] the poor one” [19:292-293; 26:106.].
The Sufis are surprised that ‘Adi, or as they call him Xudanê Hekarê (‘the Lord of Hakkari’) can live in such a cavern. When Ahmad b. ar-Rifa’i requests water for ablutions and prayers, ‘Adi first says that contemplation is the best way of purification, but then works a miracle and orders the water from the stream of Zamzam well to appear in his place. The Sufis react to this by exclaiming:
“We have not the power to release water” [19:296-297; 26:108].
After some other miracles, ‘Adi made his superiority evident to his guests. The remarkable finale of the text reflects the Yezidi cosmic belief that Shaikh ‘Adi is not only their saint, but also one of Divine incarnations.
Shaikh and his accomplices away from the Fire of Hell
The second story is narrated by Shaikh al-Barisiqi. Once, Shaikh ‘Adi addressed him while they were crossing the village cemetery: “Have you not heard that those buried there appeal to me for help?” Pointing to one of the graves emitting puffs of smoke, Shaikh ‘Adi came nearer to it and began to ask God to take compassion on that man. According to al-Barisiqi, the smoke immediately ceased, and the Shaikh informed him that the deceased was forgiven. To prove this, Shaikh ‘Adi asked the buried person whose name was Hasan: “O Hasan! Do you enjoy your place?” And an astonished al-Barisiqi heard from the grave: “Yes, yes”.
Once Shaikh ‘Adi’s servant, ‘Umar, made complaints to his master that he knew only two suras from the Qur’an from memory. Then, the Shaikh punched into ‘Umar’s breast, and the servant immediately became able to recite the whole Qur’an.
Shaikh Harun b. Khalid narrates that ‘Adi b. Musafir used to linger on caves, mountains, and deserts. There, snakes and wild beasts unsuspectingly and trustfully went up to him.
According to the last story, once, ‘Adi travelled to Mosul at his followers’ request. While the whole city was in a joyful excitement, one of Mosul ‘ulama’, called Yunus, envied Shaikh ‘Adi’s fame and intended to test his religious erudition. However, Yunus himself was unable to answer a simple theological question of ‘Adi. Later, an ashamed Yunus explained his confusion by a miraculous case: when he was about to answer that question, he saw lions at ‘Adi’s right and left hands who opened their mouths wide and would gorge him if he dared to say a word.
As is known, the lions in many cultures are firm guards of divinities. Here lions protect ‘Adi b. Musafir and thus indicate that even his opponents (lest followers and disciples alone) believed in his holiness.
This fact could have promoted the syncretic nature of Yezidism. At least other two factors also contributed to the syncretism of the Yezidi creeds:
In Hakkari, the Shaikh had founded his tariqa, whose members would split into two groups after his death. The first one settled in Egypt and Syria and existed as an Islamic tariqa until at least the sixteenth century. The others, chiefly the members of ‘Adi’s family and the other Shaikhs, joined the Kurdish religious group through filling the position of its spiritual leaders [49:226].
In his declining years – when he was about ninety years old – Shaikh ‘Adi b. Musafir passed away in Lalish. The exact year of his death is not known for certain: either 555, or 557, or 558 in hijrah, that is, about 1162 AD [12:29; 15:88; 16:15,17].
The Yezidi folklore has a number of fascinating poetical stories concerning the miracles – karamat – worked by a woman Sufi Rabi’a al-’Adawiya [5:29-33].
Borne into a poor home, Rabi’a al-’Adawiya al-Qaysiya was stolen as a child and sold into slavery, but due to her piety she managed to obtain freedom. This fact might have contributed to her sensitivity in social questions [53:195; 57:354].
Rabi’a was said to have been one of the three most celebrated female mystics of Basra. Nonetheless, we know very little of her teachers: her later biographers name her as al-Hasan al-Basri’s disciple. In turn, she was believed to have disciples: Rabah b. ‘Amr, Malik b. Dinar, Sufyan b. ath-Thauri and others [53:195; 57:354].
Rabi’a's views may only be proceeded from her maxims and poetical strophes that passed to her biographers and Sufis. It is remarkable that al-Ghazali would later treat and interpret them in his Ihya ‘ulum ad-Din [57:354-355].
She seems to be a radical asceticism (zuhd) by teaching a total indifference towards the earthly joys and troubles: a Sufi, in her opinion, must serve God for His own sake. Rabi’a al-’Adawiya was famed for her dominant ideas of mahabba – all-absorbing and unselfish love of God – and the fellowship with God (uns). According to Rabi’a, rigorous religious rules and strict asceticism were a precondition for understanding Divine love and for meeting and talking to Him. Thus, Rabi’a's mystical interpretation, grounded on the Qur’an (2:165/160,222; 5:54/59 etc.), was a continuation of ascetic behaviour of earlier ascetics – Zuhhud [53:195-196].
Rabi’a al-’Adawiya influenced theological views of Bayazid al-Bistami, al-Hallaj, Ibn al-Farid, Ibn al-’Arabi and others who regarded her as a wali (saint). Rabi’a's image became legendary and didactic due to her supernatural capabilities and impressive miracles [53:196].
According to Nikitine, a more thorough analyses of Rabi’a's activity in Jerusalem in 752 would explain much about sources of Sufism in the Seldjuk period [49:234].
As far as Yezidi poetry is concerned, it alludes to her image and even some facts of her life, certainly, in a way characteristic of Yezidi mythological constructions. Thus, the Yezidi story refers to Rabi’a's Arab descent calling her ‘Rabi’a the Arab’, the fact which corresponds to her origin [5:II,33].
With regard to al-Bistami (Sêx Bazîd of the Yezidi story), he tells Rabi’a:
“We are [your] Shaikhs [and] you are [our] murid” [5:31].
Rabi’a replies that the only Shaikh whom she recognises is the Lord. Moreover, after that she overruns ªêx Bazîd in working miracles [5:32].
Here again, Rabi’a al-’Adawiya is placed in the Yezidi setting: she stresses that everything in this world happens as is written by Sultan Yazid, a Yezidi incarnation of a lower deity, alongside Shaikh ‘Adi and Melekê Taus [5:33].
Furthermore, Shaikh ‘Adi himself, probably in the capacity of a deity, in the presence of a group of women, thrice accepts Rabi’a's miracles: three times are needed to prove the complete of acceptance [5:33].
Evidently, her fame passed to the Yezidi Kurds due to ‘Adi b. Musafir, who belonged to the same ecstatic trend in Sufism. Following the habit of some Sufis, both Rabi’a and ‘Adi would retire to a life of seclusion and celibacy and gather disciples and associates around them [57:354].
Shaikh ‘Adi must also have appreciated Rabi’a due to the facts that she was regarded as al-Hasan al-Basri’s disciple and al-Hallaj was believed to be one of her followers.
On the bases of ‘Adi’s works in Baghdad and his speeches, miracles, fasting and self-tortures in Hakkari, I come to the conclusion that he belonged to a highly ecstatic trend in Sufism. Not surprisingly, many such ecstatic Sufis are popular amongst the Yezidi Kurds as Rabi’a al-’Adawiya, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani and, of course, al-Hallaj, all of them having a special respect for al-Hasan al-Basri.