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Execution of Mansur Al-Hallaj

Mansur al-Hallaj (Persian: منصور حلاج - Mansūr-e Hallāj; Arabic: منصور الحلاج‎ - Mansūr al-Hallāj; full name Abū al-Mughīth Husayn Mansūr al-Hallāj) (c. 858 - March 26, 922) (Hijri c. 244 AH-309 AH) was a Persian[1] mystic, revolutionary writer and pious teacher of Sufism most famous for his apparent, but disputed, self-proclaimed divinity, his poetry and for his execution for heresy at the orders of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir after a long, drawn-out investigation.[2]

Contents

Early life

He was born around 858 in Fars province of Persia to a cotton-carder (Hallaj means "cotton-carder" in Arabic). Al-Hallaj's grandfather was a Zoroastrian[3]. His father lived a simple life, and this form of lifestyle greatly interested the young al-Hallaj. As a youngster he memorized the Qur'an and would often retreat from worldly pursuits to join other mystics in study.

Al-Hallaj later married and made a pilgrimage to Makkah, where he stayed for one year, facing the mosque, in fasting and total silence. After his stay at the city, he traveled extensively and wrote and taught along the way. He traveled as far as India and Central Asia gaining many followers, many of whom accompanied him on his second and third trips to Makkah. After this period of travel, he settled down in the Abbasid capital of Baghdad.

During his early lifetime he was a disciple of Junayd Baghdadi and Amr al-Makki, but was later rejected by them both. Sahl al-Tustari was also one of Al-Hallaj's early teachers.[4]

Teachings, arrest and imprisonment

Among other Sufis, al-Hallaj was an anomaly. Many Sufi masters felt that it was inappropriate to share mysticism with the masses, yet al-Hallaj openly did so in his writings and through his teachings. He began to make enemies. This was exacerbated by occasions when he would fall into trances which he attributed to being in the presence of God. During one of these trances, he would utter Arabic: أنا الحقAnā l-Ḥaqq "I am The Truth," which was taken to mean that he was claiming to be God, since al-Ḥaqq "the Truth" is one of the Ninety Nine Names of Allah. In another controversial statement, al-Hallaj claimed "There is nothing wrapped in my turban but God," and similarly he would point to his cloak and say, ما في جبتي إلا الله Mā fī jubbatī illā l-Lāh "There is nothing in my cloak but God."

These utterances led to a long trial, and his subsequent imprisonment for 11 years in a Baghdad prison. He was publicly crucified on March 26, 922.

Contemporary Views on al-Hallaj

His writings are important to Sufi groups. Thelemites also make use of his teachings, especially in terms of his identification as God - a central gnostic principle.. His example is seen by some as one that should be emulated, especially his calm demeanor in the face of torture and his forgiving of his tormentors. Many honor him as an adept who came to realize the inherent divine nature of all men and women. While many Sufis theorize that Hallaj was a reflection of God's truth in much the same way Christians view Jesus, scholars of the well-established Islamic schools of thought continue to see him as a heretic and a deviant.

Rumi wrote on the claim "I am God" three centuries later:

People imagine that it is a presumptive claim, whereas it is really a presumptive claim to say "I am the slave of God"; and "I am God" is an expression of great humility. The man who says "I am the slave of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he that says "I am God" has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says "I am God," that is, "I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God's." This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.[5]

Similarly, other supporters have interpreted his statement as meaning, "God has emptied me of everything but Himself." [6] His life was studied extensively by the French scholar of Islam, Louis Massignon.

Works

His best known written work is the Kitab al Tawasin , Arabic (كتاب الطواسين) or Ta Sin al Azal, which includes two brief chapters devoted to a dialogue of Satan (Iblis) and God, where Satan refuses to bow to Adam, although God asks him to do so. His refusal is due to a misconceived idea of God's uniqueness and because of his refusal to abandon himself to God in love. Hallaj criticizes the staleness of his adoration (Mason, 51-3). Al-Hallaj stated in this book[7]:

If you do not recognize God, at least recognise His sign, I am the creative truth -Ana al-Haqq-, because through the truth, I am eternal truth. My friends and teachers are Iblis (Satan) and Pharaoh.

Beliefs and principles

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Mystical universalism

His method was one of "universalist mystical introspection: It was at the bottom of the heart that he looked for God and wanted to make others find Him. He believed one had to go beyond the forms of religious rites to reach divine reality. Thus, he used without hesitation the terminology of his opponents, which he set right and refined, ready to make himself hostage of the denominational logic of others." (Massignon: "Perspective Transhistorique," p. 76) Even beyond the Muslim faith, Hallaj was concerned with the whole of humanity, as he desired to communicate to them "that strange, patient and shameful, desire for God, which was characteristic for him." (Massignon, p. 77) This was the reason for his voyage beyond the Muslim world (shafa'a) to India and China.

Spiritual meaning of the pilgrimage to Mecca

In the trial that led to his execution, he was accused of preaching against the pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj), which he, however, had performed three times. In reality, his concern was more with the spiritual meaning of Hajj, and he thus "spoke of the spiritual efficacy and legitimacy of symbolic pilgrimage in one's own home." (Mason, 25) For him, the most important part of the pilgrimage to Mecca was the prayer at Mount Arafat, commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham in an offering of oneself.

Re-interpretation of the tawhid and desire for unification with God

Al-Hallaj believed that it was only God who could pronounce the Tawhid, whereas man's prayer was to be one of kun, surrender to his will: "Love means to stand next to the Beloved, renouncing oneself entirely and transforming oneself in accordance to Him." (Massignon, 74) He spoke of God as his "Beloved," "Friend" "You," and felt that "his only self was (God)," to the point that he could not even remember his own name." (Mason, 26)

Socialistic Humanism

Hallaj was an avowed humanist and rebel of his time. On every front he opposed exploitation of masses by the ruling Caliphs. He preached the concept of universal brotherhood and equality. He used to taunt rich people by calling them 'the blood suckers of poor'. His ideology greatly influenced Shah Inayatullah, a socialist Sufi of Sindh, and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a communist activist of Pakistan.

Death

He wanted to testify of this relationship to God to others thus even asking his fellow Muslims to kill him (Massignon, 79) and accepting his execution, saying that "what is important for the ecstatic is for the One to reduce him to oneness." (Massignon, 87) He also referred to the martyrdom of Christ, saying he also wanted to die "in the supreme confession of the cross" (Olivier Clément. Dio è carita, p. 41) Like Christ, he gave his execution a redemptive significance, believing as he did that his death "was uniting his beloved God and His community of Muslims against himself and thereby bore witness in extremis to the tawhid (the oneness) of both." (Mason, 25) For his desire of oneness with God, many Muslims criticized him as a "'crypto-Christian' for distorting the monotheistic revelation in a Christian way." (Mason, 25). His death is described by Attar as a heroic act, as when they are taking him to court, a Sufi asks him:"What is love?" He answers: "You will see it today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow." They killed him that day, burned him the next day and threw his ashes to the wind the day after that. "This is love," Attar says. His legs were cut off, he smiled and said, "I used to walk the earth with these legs, now there's only one step to heaven, cut that if you can." And when his hands were cut off he paints his face with his own blood, when asked why, he says: "I have lost a lot of blood, and I know my face has turned yellow, I don't want to look pale-faced (as of fear)... ."

Possible influence on masonic guilds

In his book The Sufis, the Afghan scholar Idries Shah suggested that Mansur al-Hallaj, the mystic apostate, might have been the origin of the character Hiram Abiff in the Freemasonic Master Mason ritual. The link, he believes, was through the Sufi sect Al-Banna ("The Builders") who built the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. This fraternity could have influenced some early masonic guilds which borrowed heavily from the Oriental architecture in the creation of the Gothic style.

References

  • E. G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
  • Herbert Mason. Memoir of a Friend: Louis Massignon. Notre Dame 1983: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Louis Massignon. "Perspective Transhistorique sur la vie de Hallaj," in: Parole donnée. Paris 1983: Seuil, p. 73-97.
  • Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
  • Idries Shah. The Sufis. W.H. Allen: London. 1964
  • Jawid Mojaddedi, ḤALLĀJ,ABU’L-MOḠIṮ ḤOSAYN b. Manṣur b. Maḥammā Bayżāwi in Encyclopedia Iranica [2]

Notes

  1. ^ John Arthur Garraty, Peter Gay, The Columbia History of the World, Harper & Row, 1981, page 288, ISBN 0880290048
  2. ^ Glasse, Cyril, The New Encyclopeida of Islam, Alta Mira Press, (2001), p.164
  3. ^ Jawid Mojaddedi, "ḤALLĀJ,ABU’L-MOḠIṮ ḤOSAYN b. Manṣur b. Maḥammā Bayżāwi" in Encyclopedia Iranica [1]
  4. ^ Mason, Herbert W. (1995). Al-Hallaj. RoutledgeCurzon. pp. 83. ISBN 070070311X.  
  5. ^ Van Cleef, Jabez L. (2008). The Tawasin Of Mansur Al-Hallaj, In Verse: A Mystical Treatise On Knowing God, & Invitation To The Dance. CreateSpace. ISBN 1438224931.   Quoted on the back cover of the book. See 'look inside' on Amazon page.
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, Thompson Gale, (2004), p.290
  7. ^ Kitaab al-Tawaaseen, Massignon Press, Paris, 1913, vi, 32.

See also

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I am the Truth.

Mansur al-Hallaj (c. 858 - 26 March 922) was a Persian mystic, writer and teacher of Sufism. His full name was Abu al-Mughith al-Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj.

Sourced

I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart. I asked: Who art Thou?
He answered: Thou.
You are He Who fills all place
But place does not know where You are.
Concealment does not veil Him
His pre-existence preceded time,
His being preceded not-being,
His eternity preceded limit.
He is hidden in His manifestation, manifest in His concealing.
  • Ana al-Haqq
    • I am the Truth.
      • As quoted in From Primitives to Zen : A Thematic Sourcebook of the History of Religions (1967) by Mircea Eliade, p. 523; this is the primary assertion for which he was condemned as a heretic. "al-Haqq" ("The Truth") is one of the most holy names and attributes of Allah (God), and by this statement his persecutors asserted that Al Hallaj was claiming to be God.
  • I saw my Lord with the eye of my heart.
    He said, "Who are you?" I said, I am You.
    You are He Who fills all place
    But place does not know where You are.
    • Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (1978) by Steven T. Katz, p. 92; Four centuries later the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart would make a very similar assertion: "The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God's eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love."
    • Variant translations:
    • I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart. I asked: Who art Thou?
      He answered: Thou.
      • As quoted in Sufism : The Mystical Doctrines and Methods of Islam (1976) by William Stoddart , p. 83
    • I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart
      And said: "Who are you?" He answered: "You!
      • As quoted in In the Company of Friends : Dreamwork Within a Sufi Group (1994) by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, p. 86
    • I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart, and I said "Who are you?" and he said "Your Self."
      • As quoted in The Modern Alchemist : A Guide to Personal Transformation (1994) by Iona Miller, p. 119
    • I saw my Lord with the Eye of my heart,
      And I said: Truly there is no doubt that it is You.
      It is You that I see in everything;
      And I do not see You through anything (but You)
      .
  • Concealment does not veil Him
    His pre-existence preceded time,
    His being preceded not-being,
    His eternity preceded limit.
    • On Allah (God), as quoted in Doctrine of Sufis (1977) by Abû Bakr al- Kalâbâdî, as translated by A. J. Arberry, Ch. 5 p. 15
  • Other than He cannot be qualified by two (opposite) qualities at one time; yet With Him they do not create opposition.
    He is hidden in His manifestation, manifest in His concealing.
    • On Allah (God), as quoted in Doctrine of Sufis (1977) by Abû Bakr al- Kalâbâdî, as translated by A. J. Arberry, Ch. 5 p. 16
  • He acts without contact,
    instructs without meeting,
    guides without pointing.
    Desires do not conflict with Him,
    thoughts do not mingle with Him:
    His essence is without qualification (takyeef),
    His action without effort (takleef).
    • On Allah (God), as quoted in Doctrine of Sufis (1977) by Abû Bakr al- Kalâbâdî, as translated by A. J. Arberry, Ch. 5 p. 16
  • The beloved does not drink a single drop of water without seeing His Face in the cup. Allah is He Who flows between the pericardium and the heart, just as the tears flow from the eyelids.
  • God, Most High, is the very one who Himself affirms His unity by the tongue of whatever of His creatures He wishes. If He Himself affirms His unity by my tongue, it is He and His affair. Otherwise, brother, I have nothing to do with affirming God's Unity.
    • As quoted in Words of Ecstasy in Sufism (1985) by Carl W. Ernst, p. 45
    • Variant translation: Allah, Most High, is the very One Who Himself affirms His Unity by the tongue of whomsoever of His creatures He wishes. If He affirms His Unity in my tongue it is He Who does so, and it is His affair. Otherwise, my brother, I myself have nothing to do with affirming Allah's Unity.
  • Love is in the pleasure of possession, but in the Love of Allah there is no pleasure of possession, because the stations of the Reality are wonderment, the cancelling of the debt which is owed, and the blinding of vision. The Love of the human being for God is a reverence which penetrates the very depths of his being, and which is not permitted to be given except to Allah alone. The Love of Allah for the human being is that He Himself gives proof of Himself, not revealing Himself to anything that is not He.
  • In the Name of Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate, Who manifests Himself through everything, the revelation of a clear knowing to whomsoever He wishes, peace be upon you, my son. This praise belongs to Allah Who manifests Himself on the head of a pin to whom He wishes, so that one testifies that He is not, and another testifies that there is none other than He. But the witnessing in the denying of Him is not rejected, and the witnessing in the affirming of Him is not praised.

Quotes about al-Hallaj

This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!

The ruby and the sunrise are one. ~ Rumi

  • From Hallaj, I learned to hunt lions, but I became something hungrier than a lion.
    • Rumi, as translated in We Are Three : New Rumi Poems (1987) translated by Coleman Barks, p. 1
  • He says, "There’s nothing left of me.
    I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
    Is it still a stone, or a world
    made of redness? It has no resistance
    to sunlight."

    This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
    and told the truth!

    The ruby and the sunrise are one.

    Be courageous and discipline yourself.
    Completely become hearing and ear, and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.

    • Rumi, as translated in Head and Heart : A Personal Exploration of Science and the Sacred (2002) by Victor Mansfield
  • People imagine that it is a presumptive claim, whereas it is really a presumtive claim to say "I am the slave of God"; and "I am God" is an expression of great humility. The man who says "I am the slave of God" affirms two existences, his own and God's, but he that says "I am God" has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says "I am God", that is, "I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God's." This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Abū al-Mughīth Hossein ibn Manūr Al Hallāj (c. 858 - March 26, 922) (Persian: ابوالمغیث حسین بن منصور حلاج) or Hallaj was a Persian poet and writer. Hallaj was born in Shūshtar, Iran. Hallaj memorized the Quran when he was young. He taught Sufism in Baghdad. Muslim scholars were against his teachings. He was imprisoned in Baghdad for eleven years. In the end, he was tortured and he was beheaded by Abbasid rulers.


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