Sunday, November 7, 2010

Abu Bakar, Abu Yazid, the End of Hell Part II, Calvin & Hobbes and My Left Foot

An anonymous reader left a comment in the earlier posting entitled "God Heart, the Light of Love, the End of Hell and Childhood Memories" asking me to recall the story of Abu Yazid, Abu Bakar and the End of Hell. So here it is. But before we go there, I would like to introduce them both by way of my earlier writings on this worthy fellows. To put these fine chaps in my context.

Abu Bakar as-Siddique was the constant companion of the Prophet. He is generally accepted to be the closest companion of the Prophet. He was the first man to accept the prophethood of Muhammad ibn Abdullah and Islam. His love for his Prophet is beyond my stumbling prose to describe. But I wrote the poem anyway of course…

26. The Stingy Bartender
What is this love you speak of?
A fanciful plaything
We appraise others with,
Conditional and poured from its vessel
In stingy measured draughts.

We should be ashamed to name it love
In the presence of
Muhammad and his Abu Bakar.
Chapter 11, ‘Winter & Rain’, December 2004

Abu Yazid al-Bistami is a saint famously known as the rebuffed visitor at God’s Door. Again and again he was refused entry by God. Each time, God asked him, “Who is knocking on My door?” And each time Abu Yazid replied, “It is I, Abu Yazid, your servant!” Then one day he finally gave the right reply – Abu Yazid answered God’s question, saying, “Oh, It is you, O’ Lord!”. The above cartoon was an early work and inspired by the story of Abu Yazid. The twist in the tale is courtesy of my brother, ergo the ‘by Poon’. Poon is a common Malay nickname for ‘Saiful’. Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense to me too.

(If you wish for an authoritative version, read a book. Or if you happen to bump into any saint, well just ask him/her. I can only recall bits and pieces of what I was told, and which I read in a book. And of course, I have taken great liberty with the language and personality of God and His Saint. I am incorrigible, I know)

So now you know that old Abu Yazid is a great mystic, a champion of Fana-fillah (Annihilation in the Oneness of God), a saint of the highest order, a lover of Muhammad and a true servant of God.

Well, one rosy day, Abu Yazid got it into his head to take his Love of Muhammad one step further. He prayed to God Almighty that he, Abu Yazid, be manifested in Hell, in such an enormous size to fill up each valley, abyss and dungeon of Hades – so that not one member of the Nation of Muhammad shall be fated to dwell and suffer the tribulations of Hell.

God the Lord Creator, being in a buddy-pal relationship with Abu Yazid, answered the saint’s prayers. God said, “Sure, A.Y. But perhaps, before we begin transmogrifying you (to use a Calvin & Hobbes phrase), let me show you Hell first’" The Lord lifted the veil and manifested the unimaginable vision of Hell to poor old Abu Yazid. He was speechless and transfixed, for he saw that the whole of Hell was already fully occupied by a gigantenormous left foot. It was breath-taking. In awe, Abu Yazid asked, “Whose left foot is that?!” God replied (and I would like to think He did so with a smile and a little chuckle), “It is Abu Bakar’s". God-Dramatic-Pause-Here.He beat you to it. Sorry.”

Now your friends are gonna ask - So does Hell exist still? Are we sinners going to be thrown into its welcoming inferno? So what is Abu Bakar’s shoe size? And what about all those infidels? What will their fate be?

Does it matter what the answers are, my friends? If we do good, shouldn’t we feel the joy of kindness and love already? If we do bad, shouldn’t our conscience hurt already? Does the Almighty really need to constantly wield the Carrot of Heaven and the Stick of Hell to herd us lambs in the right path? Sigh…

I do believe in the End of Times. But not as envisioned by some of the fans of Armageddon theology (and I mean both Muslims and Christians). For I believe that in each moment of Creation, the spiritual station of the Prophet and the Saints are rising and rising. That love, mercy and compassion of the divine messengers and prophets is growing ever larger, and we have the good fortune to take shelter under their wing.

I am a poor sickly felon. Please don't rely on me. But you are one of those who are establishing true Lordly worship. I am taking a little sweet from your pantry of sweets. God will bless you for your generous attention towards this guilty but stubbornly happy sinner.

And happily, it is Sunday again, sunshine!

Pax Taufiqa.

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