Al Hallaj Mystic and Martyr
Al Halláj was a legendary Iranian Sufi master who lived in between 858 – 922 AD. Al Hallaj was one of the earliest Sufi masters, he lead his life as a dervish wanderer, he would often go into trans where he felt one with all the creation, existence, with God.
He once said “Ana al-haqq” (“I am the Truth”–i.e., God), something people at the time found offensive and could not understand, because of that. Al Hallaj was persecuted and found guilty of heresy. He found an unfortunate and brutal death (for further details please see Death of Al Hallaj). Al Hallaj before put to death said:
Now stands no more between Truth and me
Or reasoned demonstration,
Or proof of revelation;
Now, brightly blazing full, Truth’s lumination
Each flickering, lesser light.
Al Hallaj inspired many subsequent Sufi mystics including Rumi. Here are two poems where Rumi talks about al Hallaj, following is al Hallaj’s poem on God.
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
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.
The Essential Rumi Coleman Barks
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 Hallaj!
The Essential Rumi Coleman Barks
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).
Arberry, A.J., The Doctrine of the Sufis,
Yunus Emre on Hallaj
The Tawasin of Mansur Al-Hallaj
Read further on Al Hallaj