Monday, February 13, 2006

My Favorite Muslim

Abou el Moughith al Hussein ibn Mansour al Hallaj

أبو المغيث الحسين إبن منصور الحلاج

ana'l -Haqq - I am the Truth.

(this is the saying which apparently earned al-Hallaj his martyrdom - al Haqq also means God)

The school of Islam that most represents the heresy of Gnosticism, freethinking, the enlightenment values that so offend the fundamentalist Christian, Jew and Muslim alike, is Sufism.

One of the greatest Sufi thinkers a gnostic, a freethinker, an apostate and heretic was Mansur el Hallaj, who when after meditating for a long period was asked what he learned of Allah, and replied; "
I say, I am the Absolute Truth. Inside my cloak is nothing but Allah.". For this he was stoned to death.

Not unlike the mythological stoning and death of Hiram the builder, whom the Freemasons draw on as the source of their initiatory wisdom. The mythos is about the building of Solomon's temple and the betrayl of the architect Hiram Abiff for whom, like Mansur el Halaj, the truth was that he was God. For this heresy he was stoned to death. The modern version of this legend is key to Masonic teachings, showing a link however tenuous to Sufism as well as hermeticism.

The Old Testament of the Bible, on the evolution of the work, says to us:

"Hiram Abiff fused two bronze columns. It had each one eighteen elbows of stop, and a thread of twelve elbows was the one that could surround each one by the columns. They were not massive, but hollow; the thickness of its walls was of four fingers. It fused bronze capitals stops upon the columns; of five elbows of height the one and five elbows of height other... It erected the first column of the right and it gave the name him of Jakin, and soon the column of the left and gave the Boaz name him. As it ends of the columns were a species of iris. Thus the work of the columns was finished ". (I Re 7, 15-22).

Idries Shaw, the Grand Sheik of the Sufi s and historian of their faith, commented on the connection between the Templars and the Sufis:

That the Templars were thinking in terms of the Sufi , and not the Solomonic, Temple in Jerusalem, and its building, is strongly suggested by one important fact. “Temple” churches which they erected, such as one in London, were modeled upon the Temple as found by the Crusaders, not upon any earlier building. This Temple was none other than the octagonal Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh century on a Sufi mathematical design, and restored in 913. The Sufi legend of the building of the Temple accords with the alleged Masonic version. As an example we may note that the “Solomon” of the Sufi Builders is not King Solomon but the Sufi “King” Maaruf Karkhi (died 815), disciple of David (Daud of Tai, died 781) and hence by extension considered the son of David, and referenced cryptically as Solomon — who was the son of David. The Great murder commemorated by the Sufi Builders is not that of the person (Hiram) supposed by the Masonic tradition to have been killed. The martyr of the Sufi Builders is Mansur el-Hallaj (858-922), juridically murdered because of the Sufi secret, which he spoke in a manner which could not be understood, and thus was dismembered as a heretic.’ — Idries Shaw, The Sufis

Mansur el Hallaj remains controversial not only to strict Muslims, but even to

He was a gnostic, prefering direct knowledge of the universe than faith. He was the model for Michael Valentine Smith in Robert Heinlein's Stranger in A Strange Land. Smith's motto Thou Art God is the grand heresy that all freethinking enlightened heretics have been killed for. He was in fact a deist and a monist.

He was also the original author of the Satanic Verses.

His most well known written work is the Kitab al Tawasin or Ta Sin al Azal, a dialogue of Satan (Iblis) and God, where Satan refuses to bow to Adam, although God asks him to do so. His refusal is due to a misconceived idea of God's uniqueness and because of his refusal to abandon himself to God in love. Hallaj criticizes the staleness of his adoration (Mason, 51-3)

Themes of 'The Erotic' in Sufi Mysticism

by Jonah Winters

Rabi'a seems to have loved a God who was an other, a being who created her and yet was distinct from her. al-Hallaj, though, often has been interpreted as loving a God who was identical with himself. Inspired by Qur'anic verses such as "He who hath given thee the Qur'an for a law will surely bring thee back home again," (28:85), al-Hallaj wrote: "I have become the One I love, and the One I love has become me! We are two spirits infused in a (single) body."[66] This sense of tawhid, of a complete unification of the lover and the beloved, led al-Hallaj to speak of God in very amorous terms. al-Hallaj's biographer Louis Massignon, in describing his ideas of mystical ontology, wrote that, for al-Hallaj, divine union is consummated in "the amorous nuptial in which the Creator ultimately rejoins his creature ...and in which the latter opens his heart to his Beloved in intimate, familiar" discourse.[67]

Al-Hallaj and Hulul:

A Sufi leader by the name Abu Mansoor al-Hallaj went so far in disbelief as to claim he was god himself. He was crucified for his blasphemous claim, and for his defiance of shari'ah, or Islamic jurisprudence, in Baghdad, Iraq, in 309 A.H. (922 A.D.) He said,

"I am He Whom I love; He Whom I love is I; we are two souls co-inhabiting one body. If you see me you see Him and if you see Him you see me."(67)

Abdul-Karim el-Jili, Ibn Arabi's closest disciple, went a step ahead of his master, claiming that he was commanded by Allah to bring to the people his own book, The Perfect Man, the theme of which is pantheism. He claimed that the perfect man could represent all the attributes of God, even though Allah the Exalted is far above the qualities of men.

El-Jili went on to purport to prove that nothing in essence exists in the universe other than Allah, and that all other things, human, animan and non-living are only manifestations of God Almighty Allah. He further asserted in his book that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is the perfect man and the perfect god. From these blasphemous theories, el-Jili went on to declare himself to be a god also, and exclaimed, "To me belongs sovereignty in both worlds." (68)

This assertion is blatant enough to condemn anyone who utters it of clear kufr, or disbelief. Whenever such zindiqs, or heretics are mentioned, Sufis live up to their beliefs by invoking Allah's mercy on them, unaware of the fact that tolerance of kufr is itself an act of kufr, and that whoever invokes Allah's mercy on an unbeliever commits a grave sin.

The Tawasin

of Mansur Al-Hallaj

Translated by
Aisha Abd Ar-Rahman At-Tarjumana

The Ta-Sin of the Prophetic Lamp

The Ta-Sin of Understanding

The Ta-Sin of Purity

The Ta-Sin of the Circle

The Ta-Sin of the Point

The Ta-Sin of Before Endless-Time and Equivocation

The Ta-Sin of the Divine Will

The Ta-Sin of the Declaration of Unity

The Ta-Sin of the Self-Awarenesses in Tawhid

The Ta-Sin of the Disconnection-From-Forms

The Garden of Gnosis

The Ta-Sin of the Self-Awarenesses in Tawhid

  1. The attribute of the Ta-Sin of the self-awareness in Tawhid is such:

    (Alif - the Unity, Tawhid. Hamza - the self-awarenesses, some on one side some on the other. ‘Ayn at beginning and end - The Essence.)

    The self-awarenesses proceed from Him and return to Him, operate in Him, but they are not logically necessary.
  2. The real subject of the Tawhid moves across the multiplicity of subjects because He is not included in the subject nor in the object nor in the pronouns of the proposition. Its pronominal suffix does not belong to its Object, its possessive ‘h’ is His ‘Ah’ and not the other ‘h’ which does not make us unitarians.
  3. If I say of this ‘h’ ‘wah!’ the others say to me, ‘Alas.’
  4. These are epithets and specifications and a demonstrative allusion pierces this so we could see Allah through the substantive conditional.
  5. All human individualities are ‘like a building well-compacted.’ It is a definition and the Unity of Allah does not make exception to the definition. But every definition is a limitation, and the attributes of a limitation apply to a limited object. However the object of Tawhid does not admit of limitation.
  6. The Truth (Al-Haqq) itself is none other than the abode of Allah not necessarily Allah.
  7. Saying the Tawhid does not realize it because the syntactical role of a term and its proper sense do not mix with each other when it concerns an appended term. So how can they be mixed when it concerns Allah?
  8. If I say ‘the Tawhid emanates from Him’ then I double the Divine Essence, and I make an emanation of itself, co-existent with it, being and not being this Essence at the same time.
  9. If I say that it was hidden in Allah, and He manifests it, how was it hidden where there is no ‘how’ or ‘what’ or ‘this’ and there is no place (‘where’) contained in Him.
  10. Because ‘in this’ is a creation of Allah, as is ‘where.’
  11. That which supports an accident is not without a substance. That which is not separated from a body is not without some part of a body. That which is not separated from spirit, in not without some part of a spirit. The Tawhid is therefore an assimilant.
  12. We return then, beyond this to the center (of our Object) and isolate it from adjunctions, assimilations, qualifications, pulverizations and attributions.
  13. The first circle (in the next diagram) comprises the actions of Allah, the second comprises their traces and these are two circles of the created.
  14. The central point symbolizes the Tawhid, but it is not the Tawhid. If not, how would it be separable from the circle?
Here in is a text worthy of comparison with the Tao Teh King, for it is not just a spiritual and moral text, but a scientific one, that in its monism, compares with the ideas of the Tao; all is one all is nothing, and in the works of Heraclites that all is fire. Mansur el Hallaj thus had developed his own school of dialectics as an enlightened Muslim.

The idea is that like the Tao; the Tawhid is all and not all. The very earliest expression of monism. And as a scientist, el Hallaj's text is about the science of cosmology and mathematics. That of the point in space. Which is the origin not only of the idea of mans relationship to the universe, but it has the same religious and philisophical impact as
Rene Descartes I Think Therefore I Am. It is the recognition of the indivdual in relationship to the whole, of society that they exist in.


1. those who possessed perfectly the powers (Teh) did not manifest them, and so they preserved them. those who possessed them imperfectly feared to lose them, and so lost them.
2. the former did nothing, nor had need to do. the latter did, and had need to do.
3. those who possessed benevolence exercised it, and had need of it; so also was it with them who possessed justice.
4. those whom possessed the conventions displayed them; and when men would not agree; they made ready to fight them.
Teh appears as Chokmah - Binah, Benevolence as Chesed, Justice as Geburah, Convention as Tiphereth. thus Kether alone is 'safe'; even Chokmah-Binah risks fall unless it keep Silence.
5. thus when the Tao was lost, the Magick Powers (Teh) appeared; then, by successive degradations, came Benevolence, Justice, Convention.
6. now convention is the shadow of loyalty and good-will, and so the herald of disorder. yea, even understanding (binah) is but a Blossom of the Tao, and promises Stupidity.
this repeats the doctrine of the danger of Binah. the attack on Tipereth is to be regarded as a reference to the 'Fall', death of Hiram at high noon, etc.
7. so then the Tao-Man holds to Mass, and avoids Motion; he is attached to the root, not to the flower. he leaves the one, and cleaves to the other.
that is, if his raod be toward the Tao. in our language, he adores Nuit; but the perfect Man, when he needs to manifest, is on the opposite curve.
Cf. The Book of Lies, 'the Brothers of the A A are Women; the Aspirants to A A are Men'.

The importance of el Hallaj cannot be underestimated. His thoughts influenced French religious thinking as well as its humanistic spiritual philosophy prior to the advent of the materialist philosophers and it would continue later in the development of existentialism.

Fifty years of French philosophy - Cross-pieces/ Philosophy and religion
Cinquante ans de philosophie française - Traverses
- [ Translate this page ]
The heading "Philosophy and religion" was not essential itself: it thus calls some explanations. In this respect, it would not be bad to return to some sometimes forgotten basic obviousnesses. Since the Fathers of the Church until the Rebirth at least, it is clear that philosophy and theology were consubstantielles, no philosophical development not being a long time possible out of the Christian dogma which governed at the same time the ways of thinking and the modes of organization of the concrete existence of the men. It is with Descartes in a sense, Kant especially, one knows it, that philosophy as such will take its take-off while separating from the theological supervision, separation which the French philosophy of the Lights will greet like the triumph (late) of the finally adult reason and of the released thought of the dreams metaphysics. The things, however, are not so simple. The philosophy of Kant congédie not purely and simply the religion, but reinterprets it "within the limits of the simple reason" by integrating into its equations the metaphysical enigma of the radical evil. Philosophy hégélienne in its turn is thought like completion, in the form of the absolute knowledge, of this "phenomenology of the Spirit" in work of oneself whose religion is one of the ultimate figures, and it will be necessary forces it proclamation of "dead of God" in the lyricism of Nietzsche so that one comes from there to think that a systematically atheistic philosophy is possible which opens with the unknown of a new era.

The late arrival in France of Nietzsche, Hegel, Marx as well, undoubtedly explains the long insistence of a spiritualistic philosophy which will have known to resist the power of the rationalist currents (neo-kantian in particular), even frankly scientistic. This tendency could be expressed brillamment in a whole side of the philosophy of Bergson, but also in the analyses metaphysics of Maurice Blondel ( the Action , 1893; The Thought , 2 vol., 1934; The Being and Beings , 1935), of Jacques Maritain ( integral Humanism , 1936; Short Treaty of the existence and existing , 1947) or of Gabriel Marcel ( To be and To have , 1935; Metaphysical newspaper , 1927). This philosophy then appeared able to oppose a Christian humanism to a humanism existentialist which was in a direction its interlocutor privileged, able also to maintain the anchoring of the thought in an ontology inherited the thomism (in a form it is true often scholastic and dogmatic). It is in fact that this "Christian philosophy" mainly moved away from us with the language which she spoke, and which the historical bond between philosophy and theology then strongly distended. However, it is not impossible to suppose that this situation is changing, not certainly in the direction of a return behind, but in that of a revival of the interrogation and dialogue. The collapse of the insurrectionary movements of the années70, the collapse of the communist universe belong to this news gives: handing-over with foreground of the ethical question caused for example by recent progress of the life sciences, the collapse of the Utopias émancipatrices, the new forms of destructuration of the personality which psychoanalysis and psychotherapies approach according to their respective protocols, all that resulted reopening a field of interrogation and in again questioning this long memory of Occident in the heart of which the message of the three monotheisms insists - to contemplate the powerful consistency of a report/ratio of the subject to the law and the history which is formulated there.

ABDELWAHAB MEDDEB - [ Translate this page ]

Massignon, L.,
The Passion of al-Hallaj, Mystic and Martyr of Islam. Translated by Mason, H. 4 Vols, Princeton, NJ, Princeton, 1982.

Christianity and Islam in Historical Perspective: A Christian’s View by Sidney Griffith, Catholic University of America

Like others of his faith, when Louis Massignon learned the Arabic language and became immersed in the lives of Muslims in Cairo and Baghdad in the early twentieth century he was deeply impressed by the rigor and regularity of their religious observances. He was struck by the power of Islamic mystical poetry, and especially by the life and passion of the Muslim Sufi saint and martyr, Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (d. 922).54 He began an intensive study of the life and work of al-Hallaj, culminating in the publication in 1922 of two major books on the biography of al-Hallaj and on Islamic, mystical vocabulary, works that would revolutionize the study of Islamic mysticism in Europe.55 But personally the most important experience for Massignon was his religious conversion in 1908 in Iraq, from a life of profligacy. as he saw it, back to the intense practice of the Roman Catholic faith he had earlier abandoned. It was precipitated by a dramatic moment in his life, fraught with sickness and physical danger. He always believed that al-Hallaj, the Muslim mystic and martyr, interceded for him with God on this occasion. The experience gave Massignon a deeper, religious appreciation of Islam, and he thereafter and throughout his life sought ways to bring about a rapprochement between Islam and Christianity.56 Eventually he became associated with Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916), the Christian hermit in Muslim North Africa,57 whose spirituality was to inspire many in the twentieth century. In later life Massignon, together with a ‘Melkite’ woman of Cairo named Mary Kahil (1889-1979), founded an ecclesiastically approved sodality of prayer, called in Arabic al-Badaliyya. The purpose of the sodality was for its members mystically to offer their prayer and fasting in behalf of Muslims. A notable, early member of the sodality was Giovanni Batista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.

Massignon’s experience, while it was dramatically more striking than that of most people, was nevertheless in many ways fairly typical of that of many Christians from the west who lived with Muslims in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Kenneth Cragg, who had a long experience as an Anglican priest in Jerusalem and Cairo, eventually being ordained an assistant bishop of the Anglican see in Jerusalem, was similarly inspired by Islamic religious life. He has written numerous books explaining Islam and Muslims to Christians, becoming in the process the most prominent voice in the English-speaking world to commend a religious respect for Muhammad, the Qur’an, and Islam.58

The Sufi tradition of openess and questioning has led them and other Shia sects to be considered blashphemous and irreligious to those who like their counterparts in the West believe in the literalness of the Koran or the Bible.

This Gnosis that infuses Sufism was later embraced by the great British explorer, linguist, and author Sir Captain Richard Burton. He wrote his famous paen to Sufism and Arabic Gnosticism; the Kasidah, I am sure not without passing knowledge of the work of Mansur el Hallaj.

"All Faith is false, all Faith is true" says Burton in the Kasidah.

any of el Hallaj's ideas are within Burtons clever text. I say clever because he claims it is an original work in Arabic that he merely translated, when in reality he wrote in Arabic and then translated. In order to get the poetic scanning correct.

NOTE: "Kasidah" is an Arabic or Persian panegyric. A panegyric is a public speech or writing in praise of some person, thing, or achievement; a laudatory discourse, a formal or elaborate encomium or eulogy. According to the ancient rules the author of a "qasîda" must begin by a reference to the forsaken camping-grounds. Next he must lament, and pray his comrades to halt, while he calls up the memory of the dwellers who had departed. The Kasidah is a very artificial composition; the same rhyme has to run through the whole of the verses, however long the poem may be. (OED.)
Burton takes the last name of el-Yezdi. Which in Farsi is Devil or Satan. The Yezedi are a Gnostic sect of believers who exist in modern day Iraq, Armenia, Turkey and Iran. They are Kurds whose religion predates all others in the region.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica 1986' explains : "The Yazidi religion is a syncretic combination of Zoroastrian, Manichaean, Jewish, Nestorian Christian and Islamic elements. The Yazidi themselves are thought to be descended from supporters of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid 1. They themselves believe that they are created quite separately from the rest of mankind, not even being descended from Adam, and they have kept themselves strictly segregated from the people among whom they live. Although scattered and probably numbering fewer than 1,00,000, they have a well-organized society, with a chief shaykh as the supreme religious head and an amir, or prince, as the secular head.

As early as 2000 BC, the vanguards of the Indo-European speaking tribal immigrants, such as the Hittites and Mittanis, had arrived in southwestern Asia. While the Hittites only marginally affected the mountain communities in Kurdistan, the Mittanis settled in Kurdistan and influenced the natives in several fields worthy of note, in particular the introduction of knotted rug weaving. Even rug designs introduced by the Mittanis and recognizable in Assyrian floor carvings remain the hallmark of Kurdish rugs and kelims. The modern minakhani and chwarsuch styles are basically the same as those the Assyrians depicted nearly 3000 years ago.

The Mittanis seem to have been an Indic, and not an Iranic group of people. Their pantheon, which includes names like Indra, Varuna, Suriya, Nasatya, is typically Indic. The Mittanis could have introduced during this early period some of the Indic tradition that appears to be manifest in the Kurdish religion of Yazdanism.

Burtons Kasidah can be seen as a tribute to el-Hallaj and his original Satanic Verses. Because of his dark features, wicked sense of humour and irrelgious views Burton was referred to as "that Devil" by his friends and enemies.

Sir Richard Burton's Kasidah, written in 1880 after his return from Mecca, has been called one of the greatest poems of the Earth, and the essence of the explorer's life and work. In exquisite verse and extensive author's notes, Burton adapts the style, techniques and ideas of the classical Sufi masters such as Hafiz and Omar Khayyam, exploring the limitation of man's undeveloped reason, egoism and self-made religions in fulfilling real human destiny.

Idries Shah devotes almost an entire chapter of The Sufis to The Kasidah, calling it, "One of the most interesting productions of Western Sufic literature... Burton provided a bridge whereby the thinking Westerner could accept essential Sufi concepts."

The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî


“Lay of the Higher Law”

“Translated and annotated by his friend and pupil, F.B.”


Richard F. Burton


The Translator has ventured to entitle a “Lay of the Higher Law” the following composition, which aims at being in advance of its time; and he has not feared the danger of collision with such unpleasant forms as the “Higher Culture.” The principles which justify the name are as follows:—

The Author asserts that Happiness and Misery are equally divided and distributed in the world.

He makes Self-cultivation, with due regard to others, the sole and sufficient object of human life.

He suggests that the affections, the sympathies, and the “divine gift of Pity” are man’s highest enjoyments.

He advocates suspension of judgment, with a proper suspicion of “Facts, the idlest of superstitions.”

Finally, although destructive to appearance, he is essentially reconstructive.

For other details concerning the Poem and the Poet, the curious reader is referred to the end of the volume.

F. B.

Vienna, Nov., 1880.

The Sufi's originating in Persia, Iran, are a school of Shi'ism that Dr. Ali Shariati calls Red Shi'ism

Shi'ism is the Islam which differentiates itself and selects its direction in the history of Islam with the "No" of the great Ali, the heir of Mohammad and the manifestation of the Islam of Justice and Truth, a "No" which he gives to the Council for the Election of the Caliph, in answer to Abdul Rahman, who was the manifestation of Islamic aristocracy and compromise. This "No", up until pre-Safavid times, is recognized as part of the Shi'ite movement in the history of Islam, an indication of the social and political role of a group who are the followers of Ali, known for their association with the kindness of the family of the Prophet. It is a movement based upon the Qoran and the Traditions; not the Qoran and the traditions as proclaimed by the dynasties of the Omayyids, Abbasids, Ghaznavids, Seljuks, Mongols and Timurids, but the ones proclaimed by the family of Mohammad.

That "NO" is the libertarian expression we find in the poetic morality of Omar Khayyam, the politics of the Old Man of the Mountain, and in the economic libertarianism of Ibn Khaldun. Like Mansur el Hallaj they were Shia, Persian and Sufi's. Which is why he is one of my favorite Muslim's.

See:The Need for Arab Anarchism


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