Execution of .
Allama Iqbal says in Persian Psalm. It is the tradition of Mansur al Hallaj to disclose the secret of Divine Essence. The fame of Mansur al Hallaj, his execution or the eternal life is due to him proclaiming “Ana al-Haq ” which means I am the Truth. Mostly he is denied but he is becoming ever popular as people are becoming more aware of him.
Mansur al Hallaj was born in 858 AD to a cotton-carder in al-Bayḍa town of Fars province of Iran.
Before The Age 12
When his father migrated to Shushtar, he memorized Quran before he turned twelve from a school of Kira.
2 Years Later
The Robe of Spirituality.
After two years in the company of Sahl al Tusteri, Hallaj went to Basra where he joined the Sufi order of Amr ibn Uthman al-Makki. There he received khirqa or The robe of spirituality.
After this proclamation “Ana al Haq“ he was put behind bars for 9 years and then Martyred.
When his father migrated to Shushtar, he memorized Quran before he turned twelve from a school of Kira. He tried to find out spiritual and esoteric meanings of Quranic verses from his early age. Therefore, he firstly joined the school of mysticism of Sahl al Tusteri. After two years in the company of Sahl al Tusteri, Hallaj went to Basra where he joined the Sufi order of Amr ibn Uthman al-Makki. There he received khirqa or the robe of spirituality.
Hallaj also had meetings with the famous Sufi, Junaid of Baghdad and got training of seclusion and detachment. It is important to clarify that Junaid of Baghdad had no involvement in the execution of Mansur al Hallaj as some historical books mention. This is totally wrong as it is the cause of hurting the lovers of both of them. A simple logic is that Junaid of Baghdad was not alive at the time of his hanging.
Family of Mansur al Hallaj
Mansur al Hallaj married the daughter of Abu Yaqub Aqta and had three sons and a daughter from her.
Though his marriage became a reason for resentment of his spiritual guide Amr al-Makki. Being fed up of the discords in the family he went to Baghdad. After staying there for one year he went to Makkah and performed his first Hajj. When he came back to Khorasan, he abandoned the Sufi robe due to opposition so that he could preach Islam with freedom.
Ibn Kathir writes in Al-Bidaya Wan Nihaya (Vol. 11) that al Hallaj was famous by different titles in various cities.
According to it, people wrote letters to him addressing him with the titles such as Moghees in India, Minber in Khurasan, Abu Abdullah Al Zahid in Fars and Abu Abdullah Al Zahid Hallaj Al Israr in Khuzestan. People in Baghdad and Basra called him Al Mustalim and Al Muheir respectively.
He offered four hundred units of supererogatory prayers every night and adopted this practice as an obligation for himself.
Someone asked him why do you trouble yourself when you have received such exalted rank in spirituality. He replied that real friendship is to be patient on calamities. The person annihilated in Allah becomes indifferent to any feeling of happiness and sorrow.
Mystic Endeavours of Mansur al Hallaj
He said in his age of fifty that he had yet not adopted any creed. However he had chosen the most difficult things from all the creeds. He said that he had offered salats of one thousand years in fifty years and had a new ablution for every salat. He had been passing his life in rags during the period of his devotions and supplications. When he had to take off his rags on the insistence of people he had grown a lot of lice. A person on seeing a scorpion near him tried to kill it. He forbade him to do so and said that it had been with him for twelve years.
He performed his second Hajj with the disciples and continued spiritual instruction and persuasion but he faced several accusations and endured a lot of troubles and agonies. During his third Hajj he prayed to Allah, “May Allah annihilate me and make me accursed in the eyes of the world (the worldly people)”.
On his return Baghdad and started proclaiming his Divine love openly in the streets and bazars, and uttered, “O people! Kill me as Allah has forgiven you my blood.”
Then the time approached when he proclaimed ‘Ana al Haq’. It is important to mention that the being of a perfect Fakir (Sufi) is like a mirror. If a disciple or an adversary sees any wrong in him, the person must know that he would only see his own esoteric reflection through the Sufi (good or bad).
Mansur al Hallaj’s Proclamation of Ana al Haq
Hallaj’s claim of “Ana al Haq” is called the claim of Divinity but studying the history of that turbulent time, it becomes obvious that everyone in that age was claiming Divinity through his actions and deeds. After this proclamation he was put behind bars for nine years and then martyred. During his imprisonment the sage of the society sent two messengers to make him retreat from his proclamation of “Ana al Haq“. They said to him if he accepted, he would be released but he refused. Later, a Sufi known as Ata visited him personally but he replied, ‘Ask Him (Allah) who uttered those words to apologise’.
Farid ud Din Attar depicts scenes of his death as:
When he was taken to the scaffold he kissed Baab ul Taaq and then put his step on the stairs. When Shaikh Abu Bakr Shibli asked him about Sufism? He answered, whatever you are watching is the lowest grade of Sufism (mysticism) because nobody can reach the highest level. After that people hurled stones at him but he tolerated it all with patience. First of all his hands on the stairs and then foot were amputated, then eyes were taken out and then his tongue was cut off. At last, when he was beheaded he uttered laughter and died.
Farid ud Din Attar goes on to say that every part of his body was saying Ana al Haq. When every limb was cut into pieces and only the neck and back remained, the litany of Ana al Haq continued from both these organs too. The next day, people cremated his remains and thrown the ashes in river Tigris. (Tazkirat al Awliya)
Viewpoint of Sufi Saints
The people of the time hanged Mansur al Hallaj because of his proclamation Ana al Haq. The people of sharia call him an infidel but the difference of opinion is also present among the people who follow mysticism. Some of them believed him and some rejected him but the others remained silent. We present views of some Sufi saints here. If you find any slipups in these quotes, pardon me as a seeker of Divine path as no one can touch the exalted ranks of these Sufi saints and this analysis is based on my state of Faqr, experience and study.
My spiritual guide Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman writes in his book ‘Sufism – The Soul of Islam’ while describing “Ana Abdu Hoo” (I am the slave of Allah) “Ana al Haq” (I am the Truth) and “Ana Allah“(I am Allah).
Mansur al Hallaj uttered Ana al Haq, Bayazid Bastami said,”Subhani ma Azama Shani” and Abu Bakr Shibli spoke “Ana Allah” on approaching the station of Divine Oneness. Whereas the Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) always called Ana Abdu Hoo (I am AbduHoo (Divine Slave)).
The delight that is in being a slave cannot be found in claiming Lordship. In fact the perfect accomplished men like the station of slavehood because to be a Divine lover is the status of humility whereas belovedness is the station of pride. Actually “I am Abdu Hoo” is more significant than “I am the Truth” and “I am the Exalted.” (Sufism – The Soul of Islam)
View of Sultan ul Ashiqeen
These words of my spiritual guide who is on the footsteps of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) are pointing to the lapse of the controversial personality and writing Rehmatullah Alaih with his name is a sign of respect for spiritual rank.
The spiritual rank that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) received on the night of Miraj is beyond imagination. If someone reaches the station of annihilation, he also faces the satanic threat on faith. The Mystics must be grateful for being safe from this threat because of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) who has taught the way out of this threat through Miraj. Even after reaching the extreme closeness to Divine Essence which is unknown except the distance of two bows length (Qab Qausayn), his eyes remained engrossed in Allah. Allah says in Quran:
مَا زَاغَ الْبَصَرُ وَمَا طَغَى
Meaning: His eye neither inclined aside nor overstepped the limit (53: 17)
The entire universe was decorated and presented to him. If he liked something for himself and for his umma was only the Essence of Allah. What does it mean that his eye did not incline towards anything else? It means he was closest to Him at a distance less than between two bows brought together (Qab Qausayn) even then he kept saying, Ana Abdu Hoo. That is why he became the manifestation and confidant of Hoo.
Sultan Bahoo About Ana al Haq
Thus, only the humbleness can rescue a seeker at the station of extremity. Sultan Bahoo writes in his book “Ain ul Faqr” about the temporary station of Ana al Haq. Mansur al Hallaj uttered, Ana l Haq (I am the Truth). Ana is a secret whoever comes to know it he finds the Divine secret.
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) when reached this station. He said,” O Allah, your Essence is pure and I could not get your gnosis as is rightful to have. I could not worship you the way as deserve. Thus, it transpires that this station is also imperfect, the next level is to reach the station of “la takhaf”. Allah says in Quran:
أَلاَ إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاءَ اللّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
Meaning: Beware! Verily, the friends of Allah will not have any fear, nor will they grieve. (10: 62)
Be wise and remember that this station is Faqr for which the Holy Prophet expressed pride. (Ain ul Faqr)
Who are those Mystics who have no fear and grief? Surely, those are the ones who have attained the status of belovedness advancing from being lovers. They are the confidant of Allah and this is the path of Faqr.
Remember! Nobody can reach the station of gnosis where the Holy Prophet (pbuh) reached without the ardent love and his obedience. And after reaching that station still confessing humility that undoubtedly the right of gnosis of the Essence could not be fulfilled, is Sunna.
منصورؒ جہیے چک سولی دتے، جیہڑے واقف کل اسراراں ھوُ
Seven Esoteric Esoteric Subtleties
It is worth mentioning here that Sultan Bahoo describes seven esoteric subtleties instead of six subtleties as he also includes, ‘Ana’ and ‘yakhfa’. He says in “Ain ul Faqr”.
Ana or ego is also of two types, one is, Qum bi Izn Allah (قُمْ بِاِذْنِ اللّٰہِ) and Qum bi Izni (قُمْ بِاِذْنِیْ). Therefore Bayazid Bastami said, I am exalted, great is my glory and Hallaj uttered I am Divine Truth. (Ain ul Faqr)
Imam Al Ghazali writes in his book ‘Mishkat Al Anwar’ about the personalities who have directly observed Ana al Haq and Oneness of Being (Wahdah al wujud):
The Mystics annihilated in Allah agree on the point that they seen none in the existence except the Divine Essence. Some of them are such that their state is mystical and intellectual while some are in the state of taste and presence at this level. They completely renounce multiplicity and world. They are totally engrossed in Oneness. And they remain stunned and their intellects are lost. They have no more capacity to discuss anything other than Allah not even themselves. To them nobody exits but Allah. They are so intoxicated that their wisdom is gone even some of them utter Ana al Haq (I am the Truth). One of them said I am exalted, great is my glory. (Mishkat Al Anwar)
The Station Annihilation in HOO HOO
The annihilation of Ana (l or me) and the manifestation of Hoo after removing the veil of innerself or nafs but this is a spiritual state not the destination. If a perfect spiritual guide is accompanied in such situation then tongue is controlled and emotions are composed and everything is managed. According to Divine consent immortality is gained. It means the Divine Essence becomes his ear with which He hears, his eyes with which He sees, his hands with which He holds and his foot with which He walks .(Qudsi Hadith)
Here, the man is at the height of humility in spite of being a total wisdom . His saying is an ultimate order whereas the saying of an annihilated one is incomplete no doubt, it is a reality but like an imperfect man.
As Ghaus e Azam Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani said by the command of Allah:
قَدَمِیْ ھٰذِہٖ عَلٰی رَقَبَۃِ کُلِّ وَلِیِّ اللّٰہ
Meaning. My step is on the neck of every saint.
This saying is an order of the Universal Divine Man and the words ‘Ana al-Haq’ are only a saying of a seeker of Allah. Now, how can one differentiate it? It can only be learnt by treading the path of Faqr and mysticism.
Data Gunj Bakhsh Ali Hujwiri seems convinced of Mansur al Hallaj but writes about Ana al Haq in his book Kashf Al Mahjub:
Did Mansur al Hallaj belong to People of . or Alliance?
Mansur al Hallaj was seeing ‘Oneness Of Being’ through his own (inward) mirror so it is ignorance or heartlessness to associate his spiritual state with transmigration or alliance.
Fariduddin Attar further writes, “I am surprised at people who see the sound of ‘Ana Allah’ that was coming from a tree at Mount Sinai as legitimate but the same voice when uttered through the tongue of Hallaj is labelled violation of Sharia.
Among the books of Hallaj, “Tawaseen” is most famous. Below is a chapter wise summary of this book so that we may review the views of Mansur al Hallaj.
Chapter one – Taseen al-Siraj Taseen al-Siraj
In this chapter, Hallaj has comprehensively described the secrets unveiling the eternal reality of the Mohammadan light. His love for the Holy Prophet (pbuh) seems at its ultimate level which shows the grand status of his Divine love for Allah and his Prophet (pbuh). He writes:
‘All the light (theophanies) of prophet-hood sprout from holy Prophet’s light. All its brightness is revealed by his lustrous personality. None of the light among all the lights is brighter, more explicit and more native than the Prophet’s (pbuh).’
His courage has excelled all the courage of the world. His existence has surpassed the nothingness. And his sacred name has also surpassed the Pen of destiny. He is the one who existed before everything. Whoever it is whether in the world or out of the world is not more pleasant, more sagacious, more famous, more just, kind, more fearful and more sympathetic than the Holy Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). He is the greatest Miraj and the chief of the creation. His remembrance began from pre-existence and will continue until eternity.
Through him, Allah revealed Divine secrets. Allah conveyed His message through him. It means his word is Allah’s word.Allah Almighty has not entrusted him to anyone among His creation because the Holy Prophet Mohammad pbuh is the bearer of the secret of the station of Hoo. Nobody knows the reality of Hoo because where He exits He is only Hoo.
Chapter 2 – .
In this chapter Hallaj says as the human being lives in the mirror of his whims and thoughts. That is why his access to Divine reality (Hahooiyat) is impossible. Although giving the example of a moth he says,
“When a moth completing its round of a lamp (annihilation) comes back (immortality), then its shades are different. Every human being is attributed with one or more of the Divine attributes and he gives the news of his state in the subtlest conversation.
He writes further that :
Man in spite of having distinction and eminence of annihilation and immortality (fana, baqa) expects to reach perfection (Hahooiyat) and he lives in the world with pride and pleasure.
The moth (Divine lover) dives into the fire when it does not satiate at its warmth and light. It means the lover does not sate at the knowledge about His love (Allah) alone rather annihilates in the Him and informs of its subtle secrets in the form of his experience to the lovers of Allah. Mansur Hallaj says about this station:
“A lover realises his meagerness and shatters. He lives the rest of his life without (dependency on) body and name as well as has no sign of (innerself- an nafs) in his being (There is nothing in his being other than Divine Essence).
ہمہ اوست در مغز و پوست
Meaning: There is nothing in his being other than Divine Essence.
All the aforementioned things cannot belong to the one who follows his inciting innerself. One should follow a Mystic who has completely annihilated in Divine Essence.
We end the chapter on the point that no one can reach the exalted station that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) reached on the night. No one can ever reach his prestige.
- Shams ul Fuqara – Sultan ul Ashiqeen Sakhi Sultan Mohammad Najib ur Rehman
- Abiyat e Bahoo Kamil – Sultan Bahoo (research and compilation by Sultan ul Ashiqeen)
- Ain ul Faqr – Sultan Bahoo
- Tazkirat al Awliya – Fariduddin Attar
- Tarikh Ibn Kathir (Al-Nihaya wa'l-Bidaya) vol 11 – Ibn Kathir
- Tawaseen – Mansur al Hallaj
- Husayn bin Mansur al Hallaj, Shaheed e Ishq – Mohammad Ikraam Chughtai
- Kashf Al Mahjub – Data Gunj Bakhsh
- Mishkat Al Anwar – Imam Al Ghazali
- Zarb e Kaleem – Allama Iqbal
This is an English translation of Urdu Blog. سولی یا دائمی حیات! منصور حلاجؒthat appeared in April 2022 issue of the monthly Sultan ul Faqr Magazine. Sahibzadi Muneeza Najib Sarwari Qadri authored the original article. Zuhaa Fatima Sarwari Qadri has translated it in English.