Mansur Al-Hallaj

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Mansur al-Hallaj
Hallaj.jpg
Title
The execution of "Mansur Al-Hallaj" at the behest of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir
Born 858
Fars
Died 26 March 922
Baghdad
Ethnicity Persian
Era Medieval
Region Iraq, Persia
Religion Islam
Creed Islam, Sunni[1]
Notable idea(s) Mysticism, Arabic Sufi poetry
Sufi poetry, Dhikr

Mansur al-Hallaj (Arabic: ابو المغيث الحسين بن منصور الحلاجAbū 'l-Muġīṭ Al-Ḥusayn bin Manṣūr al-Ḥallāğ; Persian: منصور حلاجMansūr-e Ḥallāj) (c. 858 – March 26, 922) (Hijri c. 244 AH – 309 AH) was a Persian[2] mystic, revolutionary writer and teacher of Sufism, who wrote exclusively in Arabic.[3] He is most famous for his poetry, accusation of heresy and for his execution at the orders of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir after a long, drawn-out investigation.[4]

He is also a prominent figure in Sufism, famous for his saying: "I am the Truth" (Ana 'l-Ḥaqq), which is confused by orthodox Muslims for a claim to divinity. Sufi Muslims link this quote to Quran verse 50:16: "And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein".

Furthermore the followers of Sufism or Tasawwuf also links Al-Hallaj's famous Quote: "I am the Truth" (Ana 'l-Ḥaqq) to an authentic hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari which elaborates as follows:

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (May Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) said: Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: "My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask something of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about seizing the soul of My faithful servant: and I hate hurting him." Related by Muhammad al-Bukhari in his authentic hadith text Sahih al-Bukhari

Early life[edit]

Al-Hallaj was born around 858 in Fars province of Persia to a cotton-carder (Hallaj means "cotton-carder" in Arabic). His 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 was a Sunni Muslim.[1]

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, Sahl al-Tustari was also one of Al-Hallaj's early teachers.[6]

Teachings, arrest and imprisonment[edit]

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 thus 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 أنا الحق Anā 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." This type of mystical utterance is known as shath.

Statements like these led to a long trial, and his subsequent imprisonment for 11 years in a Baghdad prison. He was publicly executed on March 27, 922.

Works[edit]

Hallaj wrote many works in both prose and poetry. His best known written work is the Kitab al-Tawasin (كتاب الطواسين),[7] 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:[8]

If you do not recognize God, at least recognize His sign, I am the creative truth —Ana al-Haqq—,
because through the truth, I am eternal truth.

Contemporary views[edit]

The writings of al-Hallaj are important to Sufi groups. 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, scholars of the other Islamic schools of thought continue to see him as a heretic and a deviant.[9]

The supporters of Mansur have interpreted his statement as meaning, "God has emptied me of everything but Himself. " According to them, Mansur never denied God's oneness and was a strict monotheist. However, he believed that the actions of man, when performed in total accordance with God's pleasure, lead to a blissful unification with him.[10] His life was studied extensively by the French scholar of Islam, Louis Massignon.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Gavin D'Costa, Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims, Oxford University Press, p. 186 
  2. ^ John Arthur Garraty, Peter Gay, The Columbia History of the World, Harper & Row, 1981, page 288, ISBN 0-88029-004-8
  3. ^ a b Jawid Mojaddedi, "ḤALLĀJ, ABU’L-MOḠIṮ ḤOSAYN b. Manṣur b. Maḥammā Bayżāwi" in Encyclopedia Iranica
  4. ^ Glasse, Cyril, The New Encyclopeida of Islam, Alta Mira Press, (2001), p.164
  5. ^ http://www.mohammedrustom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Rumis-Metaphysics-of-the-Heart-MRR-1-2010.pdf
  6. ^ Mason, Herbert W. (1995). Al-Hallaj. RoutledgeCurzon. p. 83. ISBN 0-7007-0311-X. 
  7. ^ -at-Tarjumana, Aisha Abd ar-Rahman (1974). The Tawasin. the University of Michigan: Diwan Press. p. 81. 
  8. ^ Kitaab al-Tawaaseen, Massignon Press, Paris, 1913, vi, 32.
  9. ^ 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 1-4382-2493-1.  Quoted on the back cover of the book. See 'look inside' on Amazon page.
  10. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, Thompson Gale, (2004), p.290

Further reading[edit]

Browne, Edward G. (1998). Literary History of Persia. Richmond: Curzon Press. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X. 
Ernst, Carl W. (1985). Words of Ecstasy in Sufism. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-87395-917-5. 
Massignon, Louis (1983). "Perspective Transhistorique sur la vie de Hallaj". Parole donnée (Paris: Seuil): 73–97. ISBN 202006586X. 
Mason, Herbert (1983). Memoir of a Friend: Louis Massignon. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 058531098X. 
Michot, Yahya M. (2007). "Ibn Taymiyya’s Commentary on the Creed of al-Hallâj". In A. SHIHADEH (ed.), Sufism and Theology (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press): 123–136. 
Mojaddedi, Jawid (March 1, 2012). "ḤALLĀJ, ABU’L-MOḠIṮ ḤOSAYN b. Manṣur b. Maḥammā Bayżāwi". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
Rypka, Jan (1968). History of Iranian Literature. Dordrecht: Reidel Publishing Company. ISBN 90-277-0143-1. 
Shah, Idries (1964). The Sufis. Garden City: Doubleday. OCLC 427036. 

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