Mansour Al-Hallaj was a Persian poet and Sufi in 9th century AD. Mansour was executed by the Abbasids for proclaiming: “I am the Truth(Ana’l-Ḥaqq)” (al-Ḥaqq is one of the names of Allah).
In his addresses to the public, Al-Hallaj encouraged people to see God inside their own souls for which he had earned the title “the carder of innermost souls (ḥallāj al-asrār).” Other Sufis despised him as they considered sharing mysticism with common masses as inappropriate behavior. Mansour had been to Mecca on pilgrimage, and after his return to Baghdad he built a model of the Kaaba in his home for private worship. Hallaj was also charged of “ḥulūl (incarnations)” which reflected from the verse in which he proclaims mystical union in terms of two spirits in one body. He was criticized in this case for negating union and unity as according to Sufi fana’ texts there occur utter annihilation and annihilation in annihilation (the annihilation of the consciousness of annihilation), with only one actor, the deity, left.
Let’s go back to Anā l-Ḥaqq. The earliest report of him uttering this comes from Basra grammarians who mention him of saying this in the mosque of al-Mansur. However, decades later testimonies appeared stating that he said so privately during consultations with Junayd Baghdadi. Al-Hallaj other statements that fumed Sufis & many others were:
A) There is nothing wrapped in my turban but God
B) There is nothing in my cloak but God
C) I saw my Lord with the eye of the heart I asked, “Who are You?” He replied, “You”.
The 11th volume of Ibn Kathir’s book al-Bidaya wa-l-Nihaya (14th century) gives some interesting accounts:
A) Narrated by Ibn Kathir, Abu Zari al-Tabari said, I heard Abu Ya’qub al-Aqta say: I gave my daughter in marriage to al-Husayn al-Hallaj when I saw his good conduct and diligence, and after a short time it became clear to me that He is a deceitful sorcerer, a hateful infidel.
B) Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Razi said: I heard Amr ibn Uthman cursing him and saying: If I could have killed him, I would have killed him with my own hands. I said to him: What did the Shaykh get on him? He Said: “I read a verse of the Book of Allah and He said: I can compose like it and speak like it.”
C) Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri mentioned in his letter in the chapter on preserving the hearts of the sheikhs: Amr bin Uthman entered the house of al-Hallaj when he was in Makkah, he (Hallaj) was writing something on paper and he (Amr) said to him : What is it? He (Hallaj) said: It is against the Qur’an. He said: Then he prayed for him and then he was not successful.
Hallaj denied that Abu Ya’qub al-Aqta married him to his daughter. So, we observe that during five centuries after the execution of Hallaj, a lot of stories were created to vilify him in eyes of Muslim world.
Now let’s focus back to his execution. After his return to Baghdad from Mecca, Mansour started to deliver a lot of statements which went against the understood interpretation of Islam. He openly spoke of his burning love of God and his desire to die accursed for the Community. He also went on to say:
“O Muslims, save me from God.”
“God has made my blood lawful to you: kill me.” And finally, when he had said “I am the Truth.” That was it. He was denounced in the court, but interestingly a Shafi’i jurist refused to condemn him, mentioning that spiritual inspiration isn’t under his jurisdiction.
The preaching done by Al-Hallaj left a huge impact & a movement for moral and political reform had begun in Baghdad. 908 CE, Sunni reformers made an attempt to overthrow the underage caliph al-Muqtadir. But they ended up being unsuccessful. With restoration, caliph’s Shi’i vizier let lose anti-Hanbali repressions prompting al-Hallaj to flee, but he would be arrested. He would remain in prison for nine years.
The situation of Al-Hallaj in prison kept varying depending on the influence of his opponents and supporters in court. But finally on March 25, 922 CE, he was condemned to death on the charge of being a Qarmatian rebel who wished to destroy the tradition of visiting Kaaba. This charge was based on fact that he had said: “The important thing is to proceed seven times around the Kaaba of one’s heart.” We have another report which says that the pretext for the charges was that he prescribed to build local replicas of the Kaaba for those who are unable to travel to Mecca. With the involvement of queen-mother the caliph revoked the execution order, but the continual insisting by the vizier make him to approve it. On March 25, trumpets announced his execution for the next day. The words he uttered the last night in cell got collated in Akhbar al-Hallaj. The next day he was executed on the banks of the Tigris River which was seen by thousands of people. The records say that the executioner punched him in the face and then lashed until he turned unconscious. And then he either decapitated or hanged him. According to the eyewitness record, al-Hallaj’s uttered below words during the torment: “all that matters for the ecstatic is that the Unique should reduce him to Unity.” Following so he read the Quranic 42:18.** ** “Those who do not believe in it are impatient for it, but those who believe are fearful of it and know that it is the truth. Unquestionably, those who dispute concerning the Hour are in extreme error.” Once execution was done his body was drenched in oil and set on fire. The ashes were then scattered into the Tigris River. An empty tomb was built on the site of execution where people would keep visiting for 1000 years until the floods of river Tigris swept it away in 1920s.
2) Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., Vol. 3, “Al-Halladj” by Louis Gardet Massingon, pages 99-101,
3) Massignon, Louis (1982). The Passion of al-Hallaj, Mystic and Martyr of Islam by Louis Massingon, Translated by Herbert Mason.
4) Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari’a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia to the Streets of the Modern Muslim World by Sadakat Kadri
Link to the thread of this article:
Sufis against a Sufi.
Mansour Al-Hallaj (858 – March 26, 922 CE), a Persian Poet and Sufi was executed by the Abbasids for proclaiming:
“ ‘I am the Truth’ (Ana'l-Ḥaqq)”*
* al-Ḥaqq is one of the names of Allah.
So let’s go back.
Al-Hallaj in addresses encouraged people… pic.twitter.com/Ex2ycHzrbB
— Aabhas Maldahiyar 🇮🇳 (@Aabhas24) August 19, 2023
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.