Wednesday, July 5, 2017

MANSUR HALLAJ: a moth burned by the flame of divine love.

One spring morning in tenth-century Baghdad, a raggedly dressed man named Husyn Ibn Mansur al Hallj -a renowned Sufi- exclaimed at the top of his voice, Ana al-Haqq " I am the truth".
The religious authorities were scandalized and he was imprisoned as a heretic.Given many chances to recant his proclamation of union with divine...he refused, and finally, under pressure from religious authorities, Abbasid Caliph  AlMuqatadir sentenced him to a demonstration of the severity of his heresy; Al Hallaj was tortured, flogged, mutilated and crucified, his corpse decapitated and his remains burned and ashed scattered in Tigris River and the most famous though by no means the only SUFI MARTYR was born.

He is called a martyr and an apostate. A mystic and a sorcerer.Even the greatest admirers of Hallaj, the Sufis, are not agreed regarding him.
Among other Sufis, Al-Hallaj was an anomaly.They feel, he spoke something in which lies the greatest secret of the cosmos.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.

Hallaj by Sadeqain
This that we have now is not imagination.
This is not a grief or a joy,
Not a judging state,
Not an elation, or a sadness.

These come and go.
This is the Presence that doesn't.

Its dawn Husam,
Here inside the splendor of coral,
Inside the Friend,
The simple truth of what Hallaj said.
What more could human beings possibly want?

When grapes turn to wine they're wanting this.
When the night sky comes pouring by,
It's really a crowd of beggars,
And they all want some of this.

This that we are now
Created the body, cell by cell,
Like bees building a honeycomb.
The human body and the entire universe
Grew from this.
Not this from the universe and human body.

Its dawn Husam,
Here inside the splendor of coral.
The simple truth of what Hallaj said,
What more could human beings possibly want?



crucifixtion of Hallaj
Mansur Hallaj ("the cotton-comber"), a Persian, of pristly Zoroastrian lineage, was a pupil of Junaid of Bagdad, a more sober-minded Sufi than his contemporary Bayazid Bastami.

When he had grown up, he was two years in the service of Abd Allah Teshtari and became a disciple of Junaid Baghdadi. Afterwards, He made the pilgrimage to Mecca,  where he stayed for one year, facing the mosque, in fasting and total silence. 

After his stay in 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 Mecca. He wore yellow robes of Indian gurus. After this period of travel, he settled down in the Abbasid capital of Baghdad.

Heretical Beliefs: 
Mansur Hallaj pushed the conservative boundaries of Sufi belief system, he studied the science of Kabbalah and taught his students the Harufi interpretation of Quran based on secret numbers. He was also uncomfortably inspired by Shia theology and Imams ( for a Sunni theology) as well as Jesus. He practiced and taught buddhist breathing exercises to his students to center themselves before namaz and sang and danced his way to Mecca with thousands of students. He also preached wahhadul wajood or unity of beings.  

After his return to Bagdad at the age of 36, the number of his followers largely increased, and he gave utterance to many strange sayings which excited the suspicions of the orthodox.He was called  Nourisher by his disciples.

The orthodox ulema regarded him chiefly as a sorcerer in league with supernatural powers, whether celestial or infernal, The common people of Bagdad were circulating reports that Hallaj could raise the dead, and that the Jinn were his slaves, and brought him whatever he desired.He further alienated the Ulema by basing his teaching on Christ, whom he considered to be a Sufi and revered him. 

This (9th-10th) century was the intellectual nadir of the Islamic and sufi philopshy. Greek texts had ben translated and were discussed in the seminaries of Baghdad. The Baghdad which crucified Mansoor was not a backwater Taliban city but the Athens of its time. But therein lays the contradiction and political milieu which led to the martyrdom of Mansoor; the old guard ( religious and political) was extremely threatened by what they labeled as heretical exotic philosophies mixing with Sufism( Kabbalah, Harufism, Pantheism, Pythagoras, Monism)---- they felt these philosophies would weaken the hold of Abbasid Ulema and help the cause of Shite and Ismaili rebellions and Dais. 

Hallaj was also suspected of being an Ismaili because he taught the secret code of mystical numbers of the universe and ( allegedly) wrote hexes. The harufi movement does consider him to be a martyr to their cause, and a seer who could foretell the future.
Shite and Ismaili Chronicles have always been extremely kind to him and yet Hallaj did not belong to anyone Sufi school of thought or sect; he contained multitudes within him and that was the secret to his cultish following in his own time and even now. 
He has condemned a fanatic and a secret Christian because he searched for Allah everywhere and THAT was apparently a crime. 

Hallaj was deeply attached to the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) and to Allah. In the Kitab at-Tawasin there is a beautiful na'at which is proof of his aqeeda,” Dr Iqbal said, while reading out a few lines of the na'at. “If you read it in Arabic, you will feel the Noor-i-Muhammadi (PBUH) light up your hearts. 

Can such a man be an apostate?

POLITICAL REASONS: Hallaj was a sufi, and love of humanity is the essence of Sufism along with the concepts of a ‘holistic religion’ (Deen-e-Kull) and pantheism (Wahdat ul Wujood). 

Secondly, Hallaj was also known for his radical political beliefs. He followed the tradition of Imam Hussain and preached against the materialism of Abbasid empire at its most prosperous.

Most of his approximately thirty books listed in Nadeem’s Al Fehris are about politics and equality in Islamic economic system rather than the occult. Occultist mysteries are mentioned in his poetry. 

By some,  The charge on him that he declared himself to be the Lord by saying ‘Ana al haq’ was merely a cover.  Hallaj would never have been taken to the gallows if he had not desired certain political changes contrary to the interests of the rulers of his time. 

This was the time when the Ismaili Da'aw against the Abbasid rulers had gained prominence and shite rebellions were constantly occurring in the Iranian provinces. Hallaj had the wrong ethnicity( zorastarian/persian) and syncretic Sufi beliefs borrowing from different traditions and mystical schools.

Most dangerous of all as his extreme popularity, here was a young very good looking man in yellow robes singing and dancing with thousands of his followers. He talked about Buddha and India ( where he had been) taught meditation to his students but could also recite up to 70 explanations of one quranic verse alone. There is a percedent in Islamic history of spirtual leaders launching political campaigns; the abbasids themselves first came to power as a messianic force. 


Fariduddin Attar  gives the account of his death in his book; 
"Hallaj was held in prison for a year. For the first half of this year a steady stream of visitors came to consult with him, but when the Caliph heard of this he decreed that Hallaj should have no visitors whatsoever. During this time a compassionate Sufi named Ibn 'Ata once sent a message to Hallaj, asking him to repent of the heretical words that he had spoken, so that he may be pardoned by the Caliph.

 Hallaj's reply was: "Let him who sent this message petition for pardon instead." When Ibn 'Ata heard this answer he burst into tears and cried: "We, who believe we are true servants of the Lord, are not even worthy of one splinter of the light that He casts upon Hallaj."

Three hundred prisoners were held in the same prison as Hallaj, and one night he asked them if they wanted to be released. When they all replied that they did, he made a mystical gesture with his fingers that caused all the chains and locks to burst asunder. Making a second gesture, cracks began to appear in the walls and the prison gates were thrown wide open. As the prisoners were running away they asked why Hallaj still remained in his cell and would not come with them. To which he replied, "I have a secret matter with the Lord, which can only be revealed upon the scaffold. I am a prisoner of my Master, the Lord."

When the Caliph was informed of this incident, he furiously proclaimed, "Hallaj will cause an insurrection next. The time has come for his death. Make public the punitive announcement for his execution. Begin by flogging him severely."

Three hundred lashes with a staff were inflicted on Hallaj's body, and at every blow a voice was heard to clearly say, "O Mansur al-Hallaj, fear not, bear the punishment." His executioners then draped thirteen heavy iron chains around his body and he was made to walk to the scaffold, like Christ bearing his cross along the Via Dolorosa. 

A hundred thousand citizens of Baghdad were said to have assembled to watch the execution. Hallaj walked proudly to the scaffold, his gaze passing over the crowd as he repeated, "Haq, Haq, Anal-Haq" - "Truth, Truth, I am the Truth."

Upon reaching the steps of the scaffold, he kissed the wood and looked up with a smile.
 When questioned about his apparent joy, he replied: "This is a happy time, for I am returning Home. My Friend is not iniquitous. He gave me the best wine to drink, just like the Lord offers to his honored guests. I drank my fill. 
Then he called forth the sword to punish me for being drunk in the month of prohibition." Hallaj's students then cried out in anguish for his  last instructions. "The whole world believes that ethical behavior leads to God's Truth," began Hallaj: "But seek instead God's Divine Grace. Even if you gain but a single particle of it, it is more precious that all of the virtuous deeds of angels and men."

Hallaj ascended the steps and turning towards Mecca he raised his hands in prayer, saying:

 "What God knows, no man knows. You have bestowed upon me what I sought."

The Sufi tShebli then stepped forward and asked, "Hallaj, what is Sufism?"
Hallaj answered: "The lowest level of Sufism is what you are witnessing today."
"Then what is the highest level?" asked Shebli.
"It is beyond your comprehension," answered Hallaj.

The Caliph next gave the order for the assembled crowd to stone Hallaj, who endured the onslaught of rocks in heroic silence. The Caliph then commanded Shebli to cast a stone also. But Shebli, not wishing to himself harm the condemned saint, chose to throw a flower attached to a clod of earth instead. 
Hallaj cried out in pain when the clod hit him, and when asked to explain the reason, he replied: "Those who have cast stones know not what they are doing. But he who cast that clod is aware of everything he does."  ( this incident is referanced in countless persian poems hereafter)

Hallaj's hands and feet were then tied to the stake, and with a single stroke of his sword the executioner severed Hallaj's hands. 
As the blood spurted out from his wrists it was seen to form the words 'I am the Truth' (Anal-Haq) as it poured onto the wooden boards of the scaffold. 

Hallaj looked up and said, "It is an easy thing to cut off the hands of a bound man. But a true man is he who cuts off the hands of those who try to tear down the attributes of God's crown."
Then the executioner cut off his feet. Hallaj raised his eyes to heaven and said, "With these feet I walked upon an earthly journey. But other feet I have, which even now are making the journey between the two worlds." 

Hallaj then rubbed the bloody stumps of his wrists over his arms, shoulders and face, saying: "This I do because much blood has already flowed from my body, and I do not want you to think that I have grown pale from fear. Today I am happy, because I am adorned in the heroic blood of a martyr. The ablution of Love is only perfect when it is made with blood."

Hallaj's tormented body was left to bleed as he merged slowly into death. At the time of evening prayer the executioner cut his head off with a single blow, releasing his soul unto Almighty God. As the blood pumped forth from his trunk it uttered the cry 'I am the Truth' (Anal-Haq). 

Then suddenly every dismembered part of his body began to take up the cry, 'I am the Truth'. Throughout that night his trunk, limbs and sensory organs kept up the constant repetition of Anal-Haq. It was then that his accusers began to realize that they had slain a true Beloved of God.

On the following morning it was seen that every stream of blood that had pulsed from Hallaj's veins had inscribed the word 'Allah' on the boards of the scaffold. The Caliph ordered that Hallaj's dismembered body parts, which still repeated Anal-Haq, should be collected and burned immediately; for he feared that the growing consternation of his citizens could soon develop into a public outcry against him. 

The flames of the funeral pyre roared with the sound of Anal-Haq, and every crackling spark that emanated from the pyre inscribed the words Anal-Haq against the dense smoke. When the fire had died down Hallaj's ashes continued to sound the refrain, 'I am the Truth', and when they were cast upon the waters of the River Diyala they spread into the calligraphic letters of Anal-Haq.

Then the waters of the River Diyala and the River Tigris began to swell and foam as their levels rose, threatening to engulf Baghdad. But Hallaj had foreseen that this event would come to pass when his ashes were to be cast into the river, and he had left instructions with his servant that his robe should be spread upon the river's surface. And when this servant spread Hallaj's robe upon the turbulent water, the river's wrath was placated. His ashes now became silent and floated towards the riverbank, where they were collected by the faithful and entombed with honor.

Another Sufi saint, Abbas Tusi, declared: "On the Day of Judgement Mansur al-Hallaj shall be brought forth in fetters, since in his divine ecstasy he may turn the whole world upside down."

Another dervish was said to have stopped Hallaj on his way to the scaffold with the question: "Tell me Hallaj, before you die. What is Love?" 

Hallaj replied, "You will know what Love is from witnessing the events of today, tomorrow and the next day."

 On that day he was executed; on the next day his mutilated corpse was burned to ashes, and on the third day his ashes were dispersed upon the winds and waters. Thus did Hallaj reveal the true meaning of his unconditional, selfless and divine love.

FANNA: Sacred Ego Annihilation:

When Mansoor attained Fanna he declared, “Ana’l Haq! am God!”  Arabic: 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."

What did Hallaj mean? 
Was he actually claiming to be God? 

If so how can he say that within the confines of a radically monotheistic and fervently iconoclastic religion as Islam.To understand what Hallaj meant..we need to understand FANAA or Ego Death.

Sufi's seek to eliminate the dichotomy between subject and object.They believe in loving God to the extent that self-annihilation or Fanna occurs......once the ego has been obliterated ..the Roh is allwoed to absorb the Qulb and the disciple achieves Fanna as the nafs and identity is gone and only the divine remains.

He doesn't BECOME fana is so commonly misunderstood..he is DROWNED in GOD so that the creator and creation become one.The goals is to create an inseparable union between individual and divine.

In the doctrine of Hallaj, which he had also practiced himself, meant that by using abstinence, by refusing pleasure and by chastising the flesh, man can lift himself gradually to the height of the elect and even of angels. If he perseveres in this path he is gradually purged from everything human, he receives the spirit of God as Jesus did, and all that he does is done by God

Al Hallaj wrote of his experience of unity with divine


Realization to the true way of love.
The love that wants nothing,
The love that needs none,
Not even the beloved.
Because in such a state of reality
lover and beloved is not two,
Separate? Never!
but two becomes one.
Together, ever!
Behold! that is the secret of sufi
Mansur al Hallaj's saying,
'Anal Haqq',
Lo! A true lover in total submission and annihilation.
Merged in Divine Love of the ultimate Beloved ( Hallaj)

 Mansur never denied God's Oneness and was a strict monotheist.

Al Hallaj says about God:

"Before" does not outstrip Him,
"after" does not interrupt Him
"of" does not vie with Him for precedence  

"from" does not accord with Him
"to" does not join with Him
"in" does not inhabit Him
"when" does not stop Him
"if" does not consult with Him
"over" does not overshadow
Him "under" does not support Him
"opposite" does not face Him
"with" does not press Him
"behind" does not limit Him
"previous" does not display Him
"after" does not cause Him to pass away

"all" does not unite Him
"is" does not bring Him into being
"is not" does not deprive Him from Being.
Concealment does not veil Him
His pre-existence preceded time,
His being preceded non-being,
His eternity preceded limit.
If thou sayest 'when',
His existing has outstripped time;
If thou sayest 'before', before is after Him;
If thou sayest 'he', 'h' and 'e' are His creation;
If thou sayest 'how', His essence is veiled from description;
If thou sayest 'where', His being preceded space;
If thou sayest 'ipseity' (ma huwa),
His ipseity (huwiwah) is apart from things.
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.
He is outward and inward,
near and far; and in this respect He is
removed beyond the resemblance of creation.
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

Hallaj was crucified because he embodied the secret!

The secret that Rumi understood and so did Budda
The Sunrise Ruby
In the early morning hour,

just before dawn, lover and beloved wake  
and take a drink of water.
She ask, "Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth."
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.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there. Rumi 

The mysteries of Sufism( gnosis) are not for the uninitiated!

Hallaj did commit a indiscretion but it was not Shirk; it was revealed the mysteries to those who could not understand. 
Even the theologian who sentenced him to death (initially they all refused to even judge on him) on the charge of heresy even accepted that Mansur was right from the knowledge of Hidden (ilmul Ghayeb) perspective but they judged that he spoke something which was not meant to be spoken in public, the collective consciousness of human race was not yet ready to understand the Gnosis behind such statements ( today string theory stipulates that everything is connected)
HALLAJ's offense ( in the eyes of religious orthodoxy) was to reveal this secret to the uninitiated.

His Master, Junaid, used to caution him, “Keep quiet. I know, you know, that’s enough. No need to tell it to anybody — otherwise you will be in danger and you will create danger for me and for other disciples also".

One day, when Mansur was plying him with questions on certain obscure and difficult points, Junaid said, "O Mansur, before very long you will redden the head of the stake."

"The day when I redden the head of the stake," rejoined Mansur, "you will cast away the garment of the dervish and assume that of ordinary men."

It is related that on the day when Mansur was taken to execution all the Ulama signed the sentence of death. 

"Junaid also must sign," said the Caliph. He was afraid of an uprising.

Junaid accordingly reported to the college of the Ulama, where, after putting on a mullah's robe and turban, he recorded in writing his opinion that "though apparently, Mansur deserved death, inwardly he possessed the knowledge of Maarifa but yes his lack of discretion needed to be punished" 

Then Junayd Baghdadi ( patron Sufi to thousands and writer of Sufism's most prevalent texts) offered prayers for three nights on the martyrdom site of his student and collected the earth sprinkled with Mansoor's blood and kept it safe his whole life.

In the deep of the night he heard the Divine Voice declare: "I entrusted Hallaj with one of my secrets, but he revealed it to others. I am punishing him for revealing this secret." 

These are the mysteries of the Gnosis. Junayd sacrificed one student to protect a thousand others from being crucified by anti-Sufism brigades and wrath of a state.

Attar has written that no one can understand Junayd's dilemma and pain except Allah and Junayd himself!

The Secret. a secret The secret that was once open to mankind through Upanishd, Gita but made apparently hidden in the middle, but again will made manifest in final days

Hints was always there hidden in Prophet Muhammad's mystical saying that,

"He who know himself, knows Allah."

Also, "God says, man is my secret and I am his secret."

Jesus said, "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you"

Perhaps the secret can also be found if we see why God often speaks in terms of 'We' in Quran, not 'I'.

Also we find in Quran, And be ye not like those who forgot God; and He made them forget their own souls! (The Quran, 59:19)

Masters of Urdu verse such as Allama Iqbal, Mir and Ghalib have all been inspired by Hallaj, as have been poets of Arabic and Farsi. “The symbol of the parwana (moth) was first used in the Islamic era by Hallaj in his poetry. The moth is drawn towards the fire, encircles it and finally destroys itself within the flame.


Hallaj said what he said and went to the origin
through the hoe in the scaffold.

I cut a cap's worth of cloth from his robe,
and it swamped over me from head to foot.

Years ago, I broke a bunch of roses
from the top of his wall. A torn from that
is still in my palm working deeper.

From Hallaj, I learned to hunt ions,
but I became something hungrier than a lion.

I was a frisky colt. He broke me
with a quiet hand on the side of my head.

A person comes to him naked. It's cold.
There's a fur coat floating in the river.

"Jump in and get it," he says.
You dive in. You reach for the coat.
It reaches for you.

It's a live bear that has fallen in upstream,
drifting with the current.

"How long does it take!" Hallaj yells from the bank.
"Don't wait," you answer. "This coat
has decided to wear me home!"

A little part of a story, a hint.
Do you need long sermons on Halla

You cant understand Hallaj intellectually; you have to open your heart, read his poetry, let it in you and meditate on it and then slowly you would begin to understand what cannot be understood but only felt at the soul level. 

And when you do understand, preach his message; speak against religious and political tyranny, dont be a coward. countless processions of martyres have been inspired by Hallaj and will continue to be



  1. Happy to see your Blog.

    Sufi path is apart from religions, caste,creed etc.,

    I wish you to read my sufi book on Gouz el Azam in my blog

    May the Almighty's peace fill your heart,

    with praying hands,


  2. Did Junayd really sign the death sentence? How could it be?

  3. By far the most detailed piece I've read about Mansur Al-Hallaj on the internet! Keep writing.

  4. By far the most detailed piece I`ve read about Mansur Al-Hallaj on the internet! Great blog, keep writing.

  5. No I am not roaming aimlessly
    around the streets and bazaar
    I am a lover searching for his beloved

    God have mercy on me
    I am walking around troubled

    "Trouble is What awaits for the lover"... Sometimes, Somethings are meant to stay hidden!

  6. Dul Nhun, the egyptian, has sent a disciple from Cairo after Bayazid, to know how his friend was going . The guy didn´t know Bayazid and, arrived in Bustami, Bayazid was in his hovel. He looked at Bayazid and asked if that old man was Bayazid. "What Bayazid do you wish to see? Now I am Bayazid, however I´ve been search for him over 70 years withou any effect...". José Ricardo (Brazil)