Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Study on Mansur Al Hallaj (3): An attempt to Demystify

In the series of posts on an weak attempt to study Mansur Al Hallaj, blessed be his soul, one of the greatest mytics that mankind have ever known ... i was asking question regarding Mansur's trial. Explaining this, a good friend Segovius pointed to a very important aspect.

Segovius said... "In my opinion, the point about Hallaj having 'left religion' is not sustainable when one looks at the evidence and is a misinterpretation. The official reason for Hallaj's execution we know from extant records and manuscripts: it was that he taught the hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) could be performed at home and one did not need to go anywhere - least of all Mecca!

Other subsidary accusations were that he was a Shi'ite agitator and that he claimed he was divine but the main one was the hajj teaching.

It follows that the 'leaving religion' tag is essentially a 'leaving Sunnism' position and there is much evidence that Hallaj was in fact a Shi'i. So I would tend to view any statements about his orthodoxy or otherwise as stemming from this.

There is also the correlation with Christianity. Like Jesus he was crucified and his famous 'I am the truth' (anal Haqq) is essentially no different from Jesus's 'I am the way, the truth, the life'. The phrase 'I am the truth' is also found in this direct form in Greek Magical papyri (1st century CE) and Hermes Trismegistus.

Actually though there is also a fair bit of evidence that he did not say this. Many scholars argue that he in fact said 'I see the truth' which is very similar in Arabic.

The reason that Hallaj was later accepted as a genuine mystic was because of the work of great Sufis like Ibn Arabi and al-Ghazzali who established publicly and to the satisfaction of the orthodox that Sufism was compatible with Islam - once this had been achieved a more subtle point was made about Sufi practice: that when a dervish was in ecstasy then he was not responsible for anything he might say.

Al these views were later accepted as legitimate aspects of Sufism that were in now ay in conflict with Islamic religion.

I think Hallaj has undergone a certain 'romanticizing' process by Massignon who was such a brilliant scholar that many accept his ideas (the 'I am Truth' one was a kind of obsession for him) without criticism and it has become a kind of 'Holy writ'.

But there is far more to it than that and the whole issue is a very interesting one that needs much more research. Bayazid, for example, was a kind of similar figure to Hallaj but earlier and said very similar things but without causing as much trouble.

There were certainly political factors at work in Hallaj's case."

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:: Previous and related posts
1. Mansur Al Hallaj : Studying
2. Study on Masur Al Hallaj (2)
3. Secrets of Mansur Al Hallaj and Reality
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