Sufism: The Story of Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj by Sidi Muhammad
|Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj in an |
Iranian Wax Museum from the Samanid Era
He grew up in Wasit and in Tustar where the cultivation of cotton was the main occupation of most of the people. His father was a cotton-carder from which he gained his name of al-hallaj-one who cards cotton.
Even when he was a young child al-Hallaj felt drawn towards a spiritual life, and at the age of sixteen he attached himself to the Shaykh Sahl at-Tustari whom he accompanied when he moved from Tustar to Basra in `Iraq. He served this Shaykh for two years and then, when he was eighteen years old, he left him and went to Baghdad.
However, the young Hallaj did not stay long in Baghdad, and soon returned to Basra where he became a student of `Amr al-Makki. This Shaykh, a
companion of al-Junayd, was a scholar to whom the great Master wrote some of his well-known Rasa'il.
Al-Hallaj remained with `Amr al-Makki for a period of about eighteen
months, until an estrangement came between them when his Master offered
al-Hallaj his daughter in marriage. He preferred to marry a lady who
remained his only wife, the daughter of another holy person, Ya`qub ibn
Aqta. They had three sons, one of whom was Hamid who recorded much of the
existing information about Hallaj's later life.
As a result of this estrangement with his Shaykh `Amr al-Makki, al-Hallaj
again left Basra and once more travelled to Baghdad, where this time he
went to see al-Junayd and asked his permission to become his student.
Junayd accepted him and became his Guide and Master and the guardian of his
As his Guide, al-Junayd came to know everything about al-Hallaj's heart,
which was very sensitive and exactly like that of a child. He knew his soul
and what Allah, Most High, had created in his spirit. He saw that this new
student was a specially ecstatic and passionate (`ashiq) lover with a very
pure Eye, who was completely in love with everything about his Beloved from
Whom he feared to be separated for a moment.
Al-Junayd's Way, as we know, was that of perfect sobriety, in which the
Secret of God's Love had to be deeply contained, and only revealed to
whoever could be trusted to guard It. In accepting al-Hallaj as his
student, he knew that he was committing himself to a difficult
responsibility. But he also knew that Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise,
had created al-Hallaj's spirit just as He had created his own spirit, and
that whatever He Ordered and Willed must come to pass.
In al-Hallaj's case the Secret of the Love seized and intoxicated his
entire being. His longing and yearning for Allah was such that only in his
total destruction by Him could he find the Union which was the sole purpose
and goal of his life. This was the Beauty (al-jamal) and the Majesty
(al-jalal) of his bondsmanship to Allah, and like a great river flowing
from its source to the ocean, nothing could hinder or stop its course.
Al-Junayd, his Master and teacher, counselled al-Hallaj to seek solitude
and silence for himself, but at the same time he knew that his student's
heart was full of yearning to help all the people whom he met, and to whom
his spirit was moved to speak to about the One Beloved and His Love.
Al-Junayd also knew that it was for this reason that al-Hallaj could not
remain in any one place for long. But he was always urged to go here and
there, so that he travelled further and further from his native land, his
outward journeys inspired by his inward searching and walking with his
In all his travels Junayd's spirit never left his holy student, and he was
surrendered to what Allah wanted of him. For he knew that every soul which
He has created is in His Hands, and he whom He has chosen for Himself does
not choose for himself, but it is Allah, through the heart of His slave,
Who chooses for him.
Al-Hallaj, may Allah be pleased with him, while he was still a youth said,
"And already love had engraved Him in my heart with its red-hot iron of
desire-what a branding!"
Then he said, speaking with the Tongue of the Truth:
"I am He Whom I love, and He Whom I love is I.
We are two spirits dwelling in one body.
If you see me, you see Him;
And if you see Him, you see us both."
These words can be compared with what `Abdu'l-Karim al-Jili, several
centuries later, was to say: "We are the spirit of One though we dwell by
turns in two bodies."
In his heart al-Hallaj knew that he could see Allah, the Beloved everywhere
in His Creation. Although he saw that the people were blind, dumb,
animal-like and they could not recognize Him, yet as he said, "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."
He said about this in a poem:
"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).
You are the One Who owns all places.
And yet no place is You.
And if there were a place given by You for the place,
That place would know where You are.
And if there were an imagination for the imagining of You.
That imagination would know where You are.
I understand everything, and everything that I see
In my annihilation is You.
My Lord, bless me and forgive me,
For I seek no one but You."
For a while al-Hallaj remained with Junayd in Baghdad and then he travelled
to the Hijaz for the Pilgrimage after which he stayed in Mecca for a year,
living a very hard life and all the time giving himself difficult spiritual
practices to fulfill.
After that year in Mecca he returned to Baghdad and immediately went to see
al-Junayd. It was said that when he knocked on the Master's door, Junayd
asked, "Who is there?" and the reply came, "I am the Truth." (ana al-haqq).
But Junayd said to him, "Beloved al-Hallaj, be careful about the Secret of
Allah. Do not give It to those who cannot understand It." Then he added,
"The time will soon come when you will set fire to a piece of wood."
Al-Hallaj replied, "The day when I set light to that piece of wood, you
will be wearing the clothes of the orthodox." And so in fact it happened as
will be seen later, if Allah wills.
Hallaj was now widely acclaimed and loved by the people. But the religious
scholars could not accept him, and they doubted the reports of his miracles
and took exception to his utterances, such as when he said: "I wonder at
You and me. You annihilated me out of myself into You. You made me near to
Yourself, so that I thought that I was You, and You were me." They also
grew angry when they heard him say: "My spirit mixes with Your Spirit, in
nearness and separation, so that I am You, just as You are I." They could
not understand how anyone could utter such sayings. Then, one by one, they
began to turn against him and to shun his company.
At other times the religious authorities and scholars accused him of being
a heretic (zindiq) when he said such things as: "Your Spirit mixed in my
spirit just like wine and clear water, and if something touches You it
touches me, for You are I in every state."
Attacks now mounted against him in Baghdad and grew in frequency so that he
left the city, and for five years travelled far from his homeland. He also
left his Sufi clothes, and put on those of the people amongst whom he went.
But this did not mean that he had left the Path of Allah because no matter
where he went, or what he did, he remained a beloved of the Path. Nothing
could make any difference to his heart, nor quench the flame of his spirit,
for he saw that his Beloved God was in every face around him, and he found
Him in every place where he happened to be.
For part of the five years that he spent away from Baghdad, he was in
Khurasan, Transoxania and Sistan. He then returned to Ahwaz in south west
Persia where he was accepted and loved, both by the elite and by the people
who drank from his words. He used to speak of the secrets in men's hearts,
and for that reason they called him al-Hallaj of the secrets.
It is related that once, while he, may Allah be pleased with him, was on
his travels, he met up with Ibrahim al-Khawass whom he asked what he was
doing. Al-Khawass told him that he was travelling to increase his trust in
Allah, and for his general well-being. Al-Hallaj then said to him, "You
spend your whole life in cultivating your own inner self. Where then is the
well-known forgetting of self in the Unity?"
The Love of Allah meant for al-Hallaj that: "You remain standing in front
of your Beloved when your qualities are destroyed, and when your existence
has disappeared in His Existence." Remembering the hadith of the Prophet,
prayers and peace be upon him: Nothing loves Allah by any action which is
more pleasing to Him than loving Him, al-Hallaj said, "Suffering is He
Himself, whereas happiness comes from Him."
However al-Hallaj, who accustomed himself to suffering, did not mean by the
necessity of suffering that this was the returning of the human being,
through Allah's Majesty (jalal) to be as he was before he was, which was
how al-Junayd had spoken about the Love. Al-Hallaj saw the meaning of
suffering through the Love as the way by which the human being could come
through the deep Secret Love (al-`ishq) to taste the essence of the Essence
of Allah, and the meaning of the Secret of the Creation. Passionate
overflowing love (`ishq) meant for al-Hallaj the ever-moving, creating and
recreating Love by which all is destroyed in order to be brought back again
to further tasting of the Essence, and a higher state of ecstasy and
When he spoke in this way and used these terms, many people, especially the
orthodox Muslims of Bagdad, and even some of the moderate Sufis themselves,
considered him dangerous and turned away from him. Because in this he was
walking with and tasting of a knowing that was reserved for very few, and
only acceptable when contained, as was the case of al-Junayd, in the
perfect baqa' and subsistence amongst created beings. Al-Hallaj, may Allah
be pleased with him, said:
"Is it You or I? That would be two gods in me;
But far be it from You to manifest as two-
The He-ness that is Yours is in my One-ness forever;
My all added to Your All would be a double existence.
But where is Your Essence, from my place of looking,
when I see You?
Since my essence has become plain, in the place where I am not.
And where is Your Face, which is the Object of my gaze,
Whether in my inmost heart, or in the glance of my eye?
Between You and me there is an I am that battles with me,
So take away, by Your Grace, this I am from in between."
He said, "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."
This was the meaning for Hallaj of the Words of Allah, the All-Mighty: "I
have chosen thee for Myself." (20:41).
Then he, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "Love (mahabba) is from the
seed (habba) of the heart. The seed of the heart is its pith (lubb), and
the pith is the place of the subtlety (latifa). The subtlety is the place
of Allah, and the place of Allah is the complete freedom (tamalluq) with
Now again for the second time al-Hallaj left for the Pilgrimage dressed in
the ragged clothes of the darwish and with a large number of followers
accompanying him, all dressed like him.
It is said that when they reached Mecca, one of the authorities there
denounced him as a heretic and a magician; so he returned to Basra, and
from there he went to the town of Ahwaz in south west Persia where he
remained for a period of time.
But al-Hallaj's spirit would not allow him to stay for long in any place,
and he felt called again to travel to distant places. He said, "Now I am
going to the lands of many gods to call men to Allah." So he took a boat to
India and from there he travelled to China.
His enemies said that he went to India to learn magic, and especially the
secret of how to perform the Indian rope trick. But he, may Allah be
pleased with him, did not need any of those things. Allah, the All-Mighty,
gave him everything, and there was nothing that he needed from any human
being. His only desire was for his Beloved in his heart. He told his family
that he wanted to go to India and to the Far East to call the unbelievers
So he travelled to Gujarat, and from there he wandered through the Sind and
the lower Indus valley, which had been part of the Muslim Empire since 711
C.E. He met many people in all his journeying and spoke to thousands; and
many people loved him and followed him in those distant lands. The seeds
which he sowed there grew and remained with the people, and it is said that
they can still be found in the religion and the poetry of those who claim
to descend from them in that province.
>From the Sind, he travelled to the northern borders of India, then to
Khurasan, and to Turkestan, and eventually to Turfan. It is suggested that
he may have gone with the caravans carrying brocade from his home town of
Tustar to the East, and returning with Chinese paper to the Islamic
Some say that his teachings were written down on precious paper which was
decorated in the style of the Manichaen manuscripts from Central Asia.
Also, he was said to have entered into relationships with the Carmathian
people, who were supposedly Shi'ites, but who were in truth original Arabs
In 900 C.E. they had revolted against the despotism of the Persians and the
militarism of the Turks. The Carmathians were described as being puritan
and democratic, and came from the same tribes which, in the time of the
Prophet Muhammad, prayers and peace be upon him, had formed the spear head
of the great Arab conquests. Now their rebellion, which had begun in
Arabia, led them out further and further until they captured Damascus, Homs
and Hama, all of which they were occupying at that time. Afterwards they
were to seize the Yaman and in the year 906 C.E., a year before the
martyrdom of al-Hallaj, they captured Kufa, and were threatening Baghdad.
At the time when al- Hallaj was journeying across India and Asia Minor, the
Carmathians ruled in Bahrain and also in the northern Sind and in Multan.
These last two places al-Hallaj had recently visited on his travels.
When later he, may Allah be pleased with him, was faced with hostile
accusations, one was that he had stirred up feelings in these outlying
eastern places hostile to the Caliph of Baghdad.
What is certain is that al-Hallaj was loved and sought by many people
wherever he travelled, and when he returned to Baghdad many of them wrote
him letters; the Indians addressing him as Abu 'l-Mughith, the Chinese as
Abu 'l-Mu'in, and in all the places which he visited he was given a special
name by which he was known.
All this, and particularly the fact that he had vast followings amongst the
people of all the places where he had travelled, made the government of
Baghdad very suspicious of Hallaj, and not only suspicious, but they began
to look upon him as a threat to the security and stability of their power.
In Al-Akhbar al-Hallaj there are many stories which give a good idea about
his life in Baghdad, both before and after he returned from his long second
journey to the East. He is said to have taught the people and called them
to Allah with intense love and asceticism.
When someone asked him about the Unity of Allah (at-tawhid), he answered
him: "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." Here
al-Hallaj was not speaking from any humanity, but with the tongue of the
Unity. In his presence he was in fact always affirming Allah's Unity, but
in his heart he knew that no matter to how many different places he
travelled to bring the people to Allah, still his witnessing would not be
completed. So it was that, moved by this burning desire which he saw could
not be fulfilled except in the total destruction of his very existence, he
broke his discipline of silence, and tore aside the Veil to reveal the
hidden Secret. Thus his need and longing to eliminate the I am between
himself and his Beloved God took on a more open form. His fellow ecstatics
and companions, ash-Shibli, an-Nuri or Bayazid al-Bistami, although they
did not always keep silent, managed, nevertheless, to stay away from the
anger and the stones of the people. Ash-Shibli said, "Al-Hallaj and I are
of one love and one belief, but my madness saved me, while his intelligence
There is a story told by one of al-Hallaj's young followers, Ibrahim ibn
Fatik: One day I went to see my Master al-Hallaj at a house belonging to
him; and I arrived at a moment when he was in a state of absence. I saw him
standing on his head saying, "You Who make me near to You by Your Presence,
and Who set me at a distance by Your Absence, as far as is Eternity from
time, You manifest Yourself to me so that I think of You as the All, and
You withdraw Yourself from me until I deny Your Existence. But Your Absence
does not continue, and Your Presence does not suffice. War with You does
not succeed, and peace with You is not secure."
Ibrahim al-Fatik then said: When he sensed that I was there he sat upright
and said, "Come in, and do not be afraid!"
So I came in and sat down before him, and his eyes were like two burning
flames. Then he said, "My son, some people testify against me that I am an
unbeliever, and some of them testify to my saintliness (wilaya). Those who
testify that I am an unbeliever are dearer to me, and to Allah than those
who testify to my saintliness."
Then I asked him, "Master, why is that?"
He said, "Those who testify to my saintliness do so from their good opinion
of me, while those who testify against me of my unbelief do so from zealous
defense of their religion (ta`assuban li-dinihim). He who zealously defends
his religion is dearer to Allah than he who has a good opinion of anyone."
Then he said, "Ibrahim, what will you do when you see me crucified and
killed and burnt? That will be the happiest day of all the days of my life."
Ibrahim ibn Fatik also told about a visit which he paid to al-Hallaj on
which occasion he found him reciting the Qur'an at full length. When he had
finished, he turned to Ibn Fatik laughing and said, "Do you not see that I
pray to try to please Him? But he who thinks that he has pleased Him has
put a price on His Pleasure."
He said, may Allah be pleased with him, "Praise be to him whose humanity
manifested the Secret of the splendor of His radiant Divinity, and who then
appeared openly to his people in the form of one who eats and drinks!"
All Sufis have always considered belief as an inner state rather than the
more formal one of submission to Allah which is generally understood by
Muslims. The Prophet, may prayers and peace be upon him, had said,
"Submission is public, and belief is in the heart." Then he pointed to his
breast three times and said, "Fear of Allah (taqwa) is here, fear of Allah
Al-Hallaj said this because he believed that faith (iman) was the first
step leading to the overwhelming Love of Allah (wallah), astonishment and
awe. When reverence (taqwa) is combined with knowledge, then the state of
total surrender (istinya) or intention to the Qur'an becomes possible.
"This," he said, "is the reward of the stations of belief."
He, may Allah protect his secret, spoke about the Holy Qur'an saying: "In
it there are signs of Divine Lordship (rubbubiyya), tidings of the
Resurrection, and news about the future until the Eternity of Eternities.
Whoever knows the Qur'an, for him it is as though he were in the
Resurrection." For he, may Allah be pleased with him, believed that only
the Saints are destined to reach the Secret of Lordship (as-sirr
He said, "He who looks for Allah by the light of faith is like he who seeks
the sun by the light of the stars."
At the same time, he acknowledged faith as the foundation for all calling
upon Allah, which should be followed by seeking His Face, as he said, "No
one can lay claim to Allah in any way except through faith, but in reality
there can be no claim to having attained Him." For He, Praised and Exalted
is He, has said: "Call upon Allah, or call upon the Merciful, whichsoever
you call upon, to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names." (17:110)
He went on to explain that faith, in so far as it means speech, action and
intention, is still concerned with the intermediaries (wasa'it). But these
intermediaries, or mediums, are eclipsed (isqat al-wasa'it) as soon as the
realities are tasted, so that they remain afterwards only in an outward
form (rasm) for those who need the outward form.
He said, "In none but Him can two opposite attributes be merged together.
He, Allah, is not thereby in contradiction, for knowledge is concealed by
ignorance, but He, Allah, is the meeting-place of both the Unity and the
In his Akhbar al-Hallaj he spoke about what he meant by the meeting-place
of opposites in Allah in relation to faith (iman) and unbelief (kufr). He
said, "Faith and unbelief are different only in name, because in the
Reality there is no belief and no unbelief. The place where they meet is
the place where they are dissolved in the Essence Itself, the Reality,
Al-Junayd, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "At-tawhid is the
isolation of the reality of Allah in Itself." In saying this he was
explaining about both the state of transcending and the process of
transcending in which the thought that any temporal thing or state or
condition can have existence in itself is destroyed. The meaning of
Junayd's words is the same as the meaning of Hallaj's saying: "In none but
Him can two opposite attributes be merged together, but He is not thereby
in contradiction. Allah is the meeting-place of opposites."
Al-Hallaj said, "When you become obliterated, you arrive at a place in
which nothing is either obliterated or confirmed. It is the Divine erasings
and effacements, and it cannot be expressed in words." Here he was reaching
out, in Sufi language and terminology (isharat), to express what no human
language can truly express. Only the hearts of the true beloveds whose eyes
are open and who are in the deep surrender to Allah in all His Faces, can
touch something of the meaning of Hallaj's words. It was this hidden
language, beyond the understanding of the rational mind, which disturbed
and angered the orthodox religious scholars and guardians of the peace of
As he, may Allah be pleased with him, said in a poem:
"The long-awaited revealing of a well-kept secret
is becoming clear to you.
A dawn is breaking on your darkness.
Your own heart is the veil covering the Secret.
If you had kept yourself
He would not have been revealed to you.
But when you destroy your own heart
He enters it and discloses His holy revelation.
So, guarded by this revelation,
an ever-nourishing dialogue will follow
Its verse and prose delicious to Us both."
Increasingly the delicious meanings of his ecstatic states took possession
of him until he reached a point where the two states of belief and unbelief
had disappeared in the Majesty (jalal) of Allah's Decree for him, so that
finally he came to be called an unbeliever by those who could not
understand him and who feared him because of a certain power which he
possessed. For how could there be any meeting-place between he who loves
through the ecstasy of annihilation and he who loves by the outside Law?
So that finally when al-Hallaj said, "I became an unbeliever to Allah's
Religion, and unbelief is my duty because it is hateful to Muslims," this
was the culminating point of ecstatic expression (shathiya) for those early
beloveds of Allah who included Hasan al-Basri, Rabi`a al-Adawiyya, Bayazid
al-Bistami and an-Nuri, may Allah be pleased with them all.
In a letter to one of his close beloveds al-Hallaj wrote:
"May Allah veil you from the outside of the Religious Law, and may He
reveal to you the Reality of unbelief (al-haqiqa al-kufr), because the
outside of the Religious Law is a hidden idolatry, while the Reality of
unbelief is a manifest knowing.
In the Name of Allah the Merciful, the Compassionate, Who manifests Himself
through everything (tajalla ma`rifa jaliya), 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.
And the purpose of this letter is that I charge you not to be deceived by
Allah, neither to despair of Him, and not to covet His Love, and not to be
satisfied with not being His lover, not to affirm Him, and not to deny Him,
and beware of speaking about the Oneness of Allah! Peace."
Al-Hallaj called the outside Law a hidden idolatry (ash-shirk khafi)
because he said that, "It is bound up with outside things-with duality and
opposition. In the measure that a person is preoccupied with the outside
Law, so he is prevented from being with Allah alone."
He, may Allah be pleased with him, wrote many compositions, poems, sayings
and books about the Religion of Islam and Jurisprudence. His poetry, as
well as being profound and subtle, is very tender and full of yearning, as
can be seen, and his language is very pure and refined in the style so
characteristic of the Persian Masters.
Al-Hujwiri, writing in the 12th century, said that he had seen at least
fifty works by al-Hallaj in Baghdad, and in the neighboring districts, and
also in Khuzistan, Fars and Khurasan. His best-known works are his Diwan,
his Akhbar al-Hallaj, his Kitab at-Tawasin, and a Commentary on the Holy
The Kitab at-Tawasin, which deals with the subject of the Unity
(at-tawhid), and with the science of Prophethood, contains eight chapters,
each called tasin, from the secret letters at the beginning of the sura,
the Ant (an-naml). It also contains a dialogue between Allah, Praised and
Exalted is He, and the Devil (ash-shaytan) in the form of a discussion of
the fact that the Devil refused to obey the Order of Allah to prostrate to
Adam, and of the dilemma between not worshipping anybody but Allah, which
is His Divine Will, and on the other hand, His Order to prostrate before a
The Kitab at-Tawasin also contains beautiful poems in honor of the Prophet,
may prayers and peace be upon him. In the Riw ayat of Ruzbihan Baqli
Shirazi, who wrote in the late 12th century, everything that he could find
about al-Hallaj is gathered together. In addition there are some examples
in this book of gatherings of ahadith which al-Hallaj made, and which are
said to be not very different from the generally accepted ahadith, except
that they were confirmed for him by a chain (sanad) of cosmic origin-of
angels, stars, the sun, etc., and not by a chain of human transmitters.
In the Tafsir of Sulami, who died in 1021 C.E., can be found some fragments
of Hallaj's Commentary on the Holy Qur'an.
This was the way in which his heart saw the truths and the laws of the
Religion, and he also wrote and spoke about the idea of isqat al-fara'id,
by which he meant that certain religious duties could be exchanged, he
claimed, for acts which may be more useful at a particular moment. For
example, he said that instead of performing the Pilgrimage, people should
invite orphans to their houses, to feed and clothe them, and to make them
happy on the Great Feast (al-`id al-akbar). This idea can be compared with
the story of Abu Yazid al-Bistami's meeting with the man on the road to the
Pilgrimage who asked him for money, and to walk seven times around him
instead of making the journey to Mecca. (chapter three).
But if anyone looks with the deep Eye, he can see that there was never any
doubt about al-Hallaj's being a true Muslim. One of the ahadith which he
believed in is that in which the Prophet, prayers and peace be upon him,
said, "Allah has not created anything which He loves more than He loves
Muhammad and his family."
In his Kiitab at-Tawasin he wrote in praise of Muhammad, prayers and peace
be upon him: "All the Lights of the Prophets, may peace be upon them all,
proceeded from his Light. He was before all, and his name is the first in
the Book of Destiny. He was known before all things and all beings, and he
will endure after the end of all. By his guidance, all eyes have attained
to sight. All knowledge is merely a drop. All wisdom merely a handful from
his stream; all time is merely an hour from his life."
In a chapter of his Kitab at-Tawasin, al-Hallaj drew a parallel between the
hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said: "Die before you die,"
and a moth which is attracted to the flame of a candle. It circles the
flame and little by little approaches it until in the end it is burned by
it. He compared himself to the moth which does not want either the light or
the candle or its heat, but only to throw itself into the flame. This was
exactly the same, he said, as his own case with the Love of his Beloved
God-to throw himself into the Fire of the Love, and to be consumed by It.
For at the moment of being consumed he would reach the completed Perfection
of the Order of Allah for him, and the Reality of his true existence in Him.
His words: I am the Truth (ana al-haqq), appear in one of the chapters of
his Kitab at-Tawasin where he writes about his own claim to the saying, and
also that of Pharaoh (Fir`awn), and that of the Devil (ash-shaytan). He
compares Pharaoh's words (and he said): "I am your Lord Most High," (79:24)
and the saying of the Devil: "I am better than he," (70:12) (meaning Adam),
and his own words: "I say, I am the Absolute Truth. Inside my cloak is
nothing but Allah."
This led to a great deal of controversy about the difference between the
I's of Pharaoh and the Devil, and the beloved of God. An answer came in the
revelation from Allah: "Pharaoh saw only himself so he lost Me, and Husayn
saw only Me and lost himself." So that the I of the Egyptian ruler was a
word of total unbelief, but the I of al-Hallaj was an expression of Grace
Al-Hallaj's follower, Ibrahim ibn Fatik, said that when his Master was
asked: Who is a Sufi? he replied, "He who is single in essence." (wahdani
adh-dhat) In that state he sees only with the Eye of his Reality. He, may
Allah be pleased with him, wrote in his Diwan:
"There is no longer between me and the Truth (al-haqq),
Explanation, nor proof, nor signs to convince me.
Here shines out the vision of God, like a flame
Resplendent in its dazzling sovereignty.
Only he knows God to whom He makes Himself known.
The ephemeral, which passes away with time,
Cannot know what is Eternal
So that the Creator can no longer be removed
>From what He has created.
Do you not see this temporal being turned away from Him
For the remainder of time?
The proof is His, from Him, towards Him
And in Him the Witness itself,
Of the Reality in a revelation,
Which distinguishes the good from the evil.
His is the proof, from Him, in Him and for Him.
In truth we have found It,
Even as a science in Its outer manifestation.
Such is my existence, my evidence and my conviction.
Such is the Oneness of my proclaiming His Unity, my belief!
Thus do those express themselves who are One in Him,
And who know Him, in secret and in public.
This is the summit of existence of those
Who are intoxicated by Allah, the sons of the People of God,
The companions of my soul!"
This was the culmination of the holy life of the Beloved of Allah,
al-Hallaj, the Martyr of the Love of God. No words are enough to speak of
the Beauty and the Majesty of this station, or this case, but Allah Himself
is the Love and Encompasses everything. From His Order, and in It, His
creation returns to Him. To Him belongs all Praise, the Mighty, the
Supreme, for what He creates.