Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Title: Al-Hallaj
Author: Herbert W. Mason

ISBN: 0-7007-0311-X (Routledge)

[Copy-pasting a discussion on this book from Bookcrossing..]

by deepdowne 7 days ago
"They led him then to the esplanade where before an enormous crowd they cut off his hands and feet after having flogged him with 500 lashes of the whip.
He "rubbed his bloody, amputated hands over his face, so that both his arms and his face were stained with blood."
"Why did you do that?" people enquired.
"Much blood has gone out of me," he replied. "I realize that my face will have grown pale. You suppose that my pallor is because I am afraid. I rubbed blood over my face so that I might appear rose-cheeked in your eyes. The cosmetics of heroes is their blood."
"Even if you bloodied your face, why did you stain your arms?"
"I was making ablution."
"What ablution?"
"When one prays two rak'as in love," Hallaj replied, "the ablution is not perfect unless performed in blood."
The executioners then plucked out his eyes; he was then stoned by the crowd, after which they cut off his ears and nose. He uttered his forgiveness of them as they were preparing to cut out his tongue.
An old woman shouted, "What right has this little wool carder (hallaj) to speak of God?"
Thereafter, he uttered "It is enough for the lover to diminish himself before the uniqueness of the One."
Then his tongue was cut out, and, finally, he was beheaded at the time of the evening prayer. Then his trunk was rolled up in a straw mat, doused with fuel, and burned.
Later, they carried his ashes to the minaret on the Ra's al-Manara promontory beside the Tigris to disperse them to the wind. "

- (Al-Hallaj)

by Members Plus details...solittletimeMembers Plus details... 6 days ago
Such violence.

by dare2believe 6 days ago
did that guy manage to talk with all the pain he was in? I'd have thought that when under torture it would be alredy much if you managed to say "Aaaaargh!"

by deepdowne 5 days ago
I too believe that the account must be a bit too exaggerated. By the way, it has passed through all the 1000 years to reach us. But it cannot be completely untrue. He was in a state of spiritual 'fits'. That's how he used to be most of the time. And dying painfully as a martyr for the love of God was his greatest passion and what he had been looking forward to all the time! I dare not talk anymore for the fear of giving you a totally wrong idea about this man Mansour al Hallaj. You have to read his story. Believeing or disbelieving the story is secondary: )

by Members Plus details...stinalynMembers Plus details... 5 days ago
> You have to read his story.
No. No, I don't.

by roadki11 5 days ago
Am I meant to assume it was Allah, based on his arabic name?
People are always martyring themselves to lots of different gods. You have to be more specific.
If it is Allah he's martyring himself to, this is in very poor taste.
Most people here seem to be in the U.S. or Europe. For personal reasons you may or may not be aware of, many of us find Muslim martyrdom despicable. See, contemporary Muslim martyrs have developed this habit of taking out other people when they die. Many of those people are European, and a good few thousand Americans were offed about 8 years ago by some martyrs.
I get that you are in some religious fervor and wanted to share it. I'm telling you this because I honestly don't think you see it, but this post is not cool.

by Seajack 5 days ago

by Members Plus details...madmadgeMembers Plus details... 5 days ago
I second that! I think I need a stiff drink.

by Members Plus details...AwesomeAudMembers Plus details... 4 days ago
> For personal reasons you may or may not be
> aware of, many of us find Muslim martyrdom
> despicable.
Please don't pick on the Muslims.
I find any martyrdom despicable. To my mind, any organised religion is too easily manipulated by the power-hungry and encourage extremism---and thus the type of martyrdom that takes lives.

by Extreme-Reader 4 days ago
> Please don't pick on the Muslims.
> I find any martyrdom despicable.
Hear hear Aud!

by deepdowne 4 days ago
roadki11, I feel sorry that I totally failed to make the quote reach you. As I told dare2believe, I dared not talk much for the fear of conveying something that wasn't meant to. But even the very little I told has done the damage. All I can say is that one has to read the story of which the subject of the quote is a part before arriving at any conclusion whatsoever.
Before going, let me make some point clear as you have gone beyond the quote and tried to evaluate me who quoted it:
>I get that you are in
> some religious fervor and wanted to share
> it.
Totally wrong! Fervour for which religion?

by deepdowne 4 days ago
In case anyone is wondering which book I have quoted from, here is it:
Title: Al-Hallaj
Author: Herbert W. Mason
ISBN: 0-7007-0311-X

by deepdowne 4 days ago
Oh, forgot to answer your question:
> Which God did he martyr himself to?
Give it any name. It doesn't make any difference to the thing.
Wanted to clarify one more point. The word 'martyr' wasn't meant to have the same meaning as the muslim extremists/terrorists use it. And Al Hallaj would be the last person to take anyone's life in the process of becoming a 'martyr'.

by Members Plus details...Cee-BlueMembers Plus details... 3 days ago

by Members Plus details...ahimsaMembers Plus details... 3 days ago
> > Which God did he martyr himself to?
> Give it any name. It doesn't make any difference to the thing.
I completely agree. It's one thing to say that we all have different beliefs. Some believe in God, others believe there is no god at all, and so on. But it doesn't mean that Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. all have a different God, does it? Why would people think that? They may use different names for God, and have different ways of praying to God or trying to experience oneness with God, but it does not mean they are all trying to reach a different God.
I'm reminded of an old Atlas, inherited from my father, which included some photographs of famous places in addition to all the maps. Under the photo of a famous mosque (forgot which one) the caption read something like, "Here the pilgrims are shown praying to their god." Not just "God" but "their god." There is some subtle arrogance in that phrasing.
Folks may not care for these kind of stories but they are not at all limited to the Muslim/Sufi tradition. There are many quite bloody stories in the Christian tradition and not just the saints- how about the central story of Jesus? (Death by crucifixion is a pretty nasty way to die, right?) Even Hindu stories include these kind of stories. I'm trying to remember a story from The Mahabharata- a teacher/guru who was pierced by so many arrows that he was pinned to the ground but still lived for six more months so that he could die at an auspicious time. I can't remember his name....
Aha! I just googled it, Bhishma is the name!
Just a few rambling thoughts. It is true that posting a quote from a story without context can be confusing. It probably makes more sense within the context of the full book.

by deepdowne 3 days ago
As roadki11 told, "Most people here seem to be in the U.S. or Europe", and hence mostly non-muslims, and hence the confusion about the quote. And to top it, people lately generally have this way of jumping to stupid conslusions with incurable prejudice as soon as they hear something that's even very distantly related to Islam. And I was confused as to how to remove the misunderstanding the quote has created among the non-muslims. It's then the idea suddenly struck me- -- The story of Jesus. And as I was going to type it, I saw ahimsa has already mentioned it. Thanks so much!. Anyone who is confused, just substitute Jesus with Hallaj, and it's not going to make any enormous difference. Hallaj, basically was an advocate of love, not murder. Even the story of Socrates would help in a way in understanding Hallaj. Maybe some bookcrossers jumped to the conclusion that Hallaj was a terrorist just because he bore a Muslim name. Sorry, in fact, it was the muslims around him who killed him as they felt his ways of love of God amounted to sacrilege. This is the same thing that happened to Jesus.
And, I was amazed to know that there are so many people out there who didn't know what Sufism was. The post was all about Sufism, and I thought someone would come up with the word 'Sufi' or 'Sufism'. And it took too long; Anyway, thanks ahimsa for recognising it. You were the first person to use the word in this thread.
And ahimsa, it's true that a quote can be confusing and it cannot be a substitute for the entire book. But then, what I feel is that a quote is not meant for every human being on earth. Each quote has its takers. And, perhaps, that is the beauty of the quote. One who doesn't get a quote has to understand that it's not meant for them, they have to move on, there are numerous other posts on Bookcrossing.
Cee-Blue, the expression "you and me" is simply a symbol of Sufism. It represents what remains when everything disappears and only the lover and the beloved remains.. where the beloved is God or the Universal Spirit or the entire Cosmos or Allah or Jehovah or whatever you may want to call it. And according to Sufism, especially the Hallajic kind, a state comes when the 'Me' gets dissolved in the 'You' that neither the 'Me' nor 'You' could remain separate. 'Me' becomes 'You' and 'You' becomes 'Me'. And that's why in his love for 'Allah' (which is only the Arabic word for 'God' and not the pet name of a particular God, as some muslims want you to believe), Hallaj declared 'Anal Haqq!' which means 'I'm (the ultimate) truth!' or even 'I'm God!'. This is what appeared sacrilege to the muslims around him, who went ahead and murdered him brutally, but he was not ready to compromise in order to escape death. Jesus was killed because it was told that he was 'The Son of God'. Hallaj went a step further and told he was God himself. That's the only difference.
Note: Sufism is to Islam what Hassidism is to Judaism. Sufism doesn't know how to make bombs.

by Members Plus details...solittletimeMembers Plus details... 2 days ago
> You have to read his story. Believeing or
> disbelieving the story is secondary: )

by deepdowne 2 days ago
> Nope. I don't.
No, solittletime, you don't have to read it. And I didn't ask you to. My suggestion was to dare2believe, as they had a question and the best way to find an answer would be to read the original thing, because I didn't want to force my ideas on them, and they could have their own interpretation and could arrive at their own conclusion, instead of listening to my views. Because every person sees things differently.

Book courtesy: National Library, Abu Dhabi.


Anonymous said...

before discussing what he felt like do some research..his love was so great for god that he was one with god..most of the people will never accept this because they are bound by the books and laws and will never understand that they have a connection with god..the connection of soul with god..which always existed and always will exist , mansurs love for god cannot be described by words , and no doubt about him becoming one with was not mansur who said he is the truth it was god himself..mansur eliminted himself into the light of god..and thus only god was left..masur's identity remained but his soul was one with god

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