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The passion of Hallaj

It is tragic that most saints and mystics have met their end at the hands of ignorant humanity.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2006 19:18 IST
INNER VOICE || Sami Rafiq
INNER VOICE || Sami Rafiq

Saints and mystics have shown us the value of faith and forgiveness. It is also no surprise that many of these enlightened ones have met their end at the hands of ignorant humanity that either could not understand them or misinterpreted their vision of truth.

Among such enlightened ones, Mansur Al-Hallaj deserves special mention. Hallaj who was born in 858 in Tur in Persia, showed through his passionate love for God that even when Truth is put under trial it only burns brighter. He would fall into trances in which he said he was in the presence of God and would utter "Ana al-Haqq", “I am the Truth” or “I am God”. He was grossly misunderstood for such utterance and put to a brutal death.

The merger of the soul with God and the concept of absolute truth however are not new to either Western or Eastern religions. Ironically though, Hallaj was killed because his detractors felt that he thought himself to be God.

His hands, feet and tongue were lopped off and finally at the time of evening prayer his head was cut off and until he could, he cried “I am the Truth", demonstrating his ecstatic love for God. Legend has it that even the ashes of his burnt body cried “I am the Truth” when they were thrown into the river Tigris.

Hallaj saw the ones who tortured him as servants of God who could not stand any blasphemy against God.

Reminiscent of the forgiveness of Christ on the cross and of Joan of Arc’s concern for her people as she was to burn at the stake, Hallaj was worried that Baghdad would be flooded by the waters of the Tigris when his ashes were thrown into it.

He had therefore left instructions for his followers, “Lay my robe on the banks, or Baghdad will be destroyed.” Sure enough, they say the waters of the Tigris began to rise when his ashes fell into them, but a faithful servant laid his master’s robe on the bank and the flood subsided.

First Published: Dec 08, 2006 10:00 IST