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Allama Iqbal And Mansur Hallaj Communicated the Same Message - Part One

By Ameen Fayaz

June 25, 2020

Mansur Hallaj and Allama Iqbal


 All the aspects of Allama Iqbal’s life stand explained now (in the world of scholarship and academics). All of his literary/non-literary works were published in his own life time. His multi-dimensional personality has been recognized and appreciated all over the world. His poetry and philosophy have been the subjects of research and discussion for long after his death. As a result of thirty-nine years long continuous research and hard work by scholars, we have now all the details available about Allama’s life and his works. Contrary to this, the biographical details of Mansoor Hallaj have either been documented on the basis of speculations/assumptions or they have been lost in the midst of a devotional attitude to the same. All of his works except one or two have been lost. Whatever information/details have been explored/made available in the last one thousand and fifty five years have the scope of differences/discord at every step; therefore, in this short write up ,I will try to present a surface level analysis of those incidents/events associated with him which could be historically validated.

Using the teknonym (Kunya) Abul Mugees and Abu Ammara, his name was Hussain and his father’s name was Mansoor. By profession, he was a cotton-carder which is translated as Hallaj in Arabic language. According to some biographers of Mansoor, he used the title Mamdooh also. His year of birth is said to be 260 AH according to the Islamic calendar. Mansoor is said to have passed away on 23 Ziqad, 309AH according to Islamic calendar (922AD). He passed away at Baghdad where his ashes were flown into the waters of the river Tigris.

The first tragedy with Hallaj was that he became popular by the name of Mansoor instead of Hussain among the people. Actually, Mansoor was his father’s name. The second issue was that whatever beliefs/stories were associated by poets and biographers to Mansoor in the last one thousand and fifty-five years were all unauthentic from historical point of view. With the passage of time, the gap of differences (in biographical details) widened to the extent that even some later scholars started doubting the very personality of Hallaj as they claimed that the author of the slogan “Ana al Haq” was some other Hallaj. The debate did not end there. Our greatest Hallaj scholars presented his personality in three different forms. From the author of Akhbar ul Hallaj, Abu YousfQazweeni (D 1406AD) to Ibn Khaldoon, the personality of Hallaj became a mystery in within the first three centuries. If, on the one hand, the author of Hallajnama, Hazrat Attar and Maulana Rumi declared Hallaj as the pillar of knowledge and wisdom; on the other hand, Allama Ibn Taimiya, in his Fatwa fi Raddil Hallaj, demolished the very Sufi status of Mansoor Hallaj. Between these two extremist positions on Hallaj, Nasser ud Din Tusi and Mehmood Shabistari could not understand the wisdom of the critics of Hallaj, even though they themselves targeted a lot of criticism at Hallaj’s work and beliefs.It was in the backdrop of observing these contradictory positions that Allama Iqbal had to say:

RaqabatIlm-O-Irfan Ki GalatBeeni Hai Mimbar Ki

Ki Who Hallaj Ki Suli Ko Samjha Hai Raqeeb Apna

It is a strange coincidence that Hallaj had himself predicted this about himself when he wrote:

“Wa Ankara haliheena lam yaraniwabizzandiqasammani……waSahibudayiratisaniyatzannaniaalim Rabbani” (“Taseen an Nuqta”).

“Despite having been in the top most circle, he did not recognize me. He named me as Zindeeq. In the world of revelation (second circle), he supposed me to be the Aalim e Rabbani (scholar taught by God Himself).”

The biggest tragedy with Hallaj happened in his own life time. Of his thirty-two written works, thirty-one were completely lost. Only the KitabutTawaseen could survive the sword of the time. This small but very important creative work too has been among the most unavailable/rare works in the last one thousand years. Had Professor Louis Massignon not discovered its manuscript in Istanbul, our information about Hallaj would have continued to be limited to traditional material only. The worthy Professor published this book with French translation in 1913 from Paris. Allama Iqbal had done deep study of the same and had been influenced by its subject matter to a great extent also. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to state that this influence came to fruition in the form of a book. The love and devotion of Allama with this book could be imagined by this historical fact that he had requested Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi in one of his letters that he may consider writing an exegesis of the Tawaseen. But Syed could not fulfil the request due to his different engagements.

The present author transferred (copied) the the whole of KitabutTawaseen in 1940 at the Subhan Allah section of the Aligarh Muslim Library during his student days. The same handwritten manuscript is right now in front of me while I am writing this small paper.

The word Tawaseen is the plural of TASEEN. It is one of those twenty-seven disconnected letters of the Quran which have either for no reason been left untranslated by the translator/exegetes of the Quran, or have been simply associated with the most beautiful names of Allah by them. But Hallaj imagines/considers TASEEN as one such characteristic of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) which can be rightly understood/interpreted only in the world of intuition. “TASEEN belongs to the light of the unknown/invisible…..He became the leader of the Universe. He is the moon who got enlightened among all other moons (prophets). His station is at the Falak ul Asrar. The God (Al Haq) named him Al Ummi (the unlettered).In his being/existence got accumilated in the whole courage”………..(TASEEN us Siraj).

In the KitabutTawaseen, there are total nine Tawaseen: “Taseen us Siraj”, “Taseen ul Faham”, “Taseen us Safa”, “Taseen un Nuqta”, “Taseen ul AzlwalIltibas”, “Taseen ul Mashiyat”, “Taseenut Tawheed”, “Taseen ul Asrar fi Tawheed” and “TaseenutTanzeeha”. There is one chapter by the title “Bustan ul Marifat” also in this book. The book is in eloquent Arabic prose. In some of its paragraphs, one finds “Hallaj said” expression also which serves as an internal evidence that the tracts/fragments have been  documented either after his death by his disciples or have been copied from him in different contexts while he would be speaking in the state of total trance/ contemplation. There is only one jurisprudential mistake identified in the whole book. He says that Pharaoh did not believe in the God. This statement is partially correct as Pharaoh did not accept the message of Moses throughout his life (in power). But when he was drowning in the Nile, he had cried out “I believe in Allah without Him there is no Allah; in whom the Sons of Israiel believe and I am among the those who submit before Him” (Younis :9).

Walking in the footsteps of Hallaj, Iqbal has composed only four Tawaseen of Prophethood: Taseen e Gotam, Taseen e Zartusht, Taseen e Maseeh and Taseen e Mohammad, and has confined his poetic endeavor to the teachings of these four prophets only. But, apart from this following of Hallaj, Iqbal has mentioned the beliefs and ideology of Hallaj at many places in his creative work to which only a cursory glance could be made in this small write up.

Before I would make a comparison of the metaphysical thought of Allama Iqbal with the beliefs and thoughts of Hallaj, it would be in place to make a comparison of those contemporary thought factors also that look similar to each other. While analysing these factors, it could be felt that third century Hijri and nineteenth century AD look two concordant periods of history as far as the dominance of rationalist thought was concerned going through which Allama’s and Hallaj’s thought-environment not only concord with each other but also go parallel to each other:

Khuweshra bar aharmanbayadzadan

Tu hamateqaanhama sang e fasan

That is why in reaction against Rationalism the two had a similar point of view. But, in fact, with the passage of time, the thought became a permanent school in the history of Tasawuf. The details of this significant point of history could be that by the third century of the Islamic calendar the Greek philosophy and Iranian beliefs had already been transferred into Arabic language through translation. In every field of life, the Arab and Non-Arab worldviews were in constant clash with each other. Among Muslims themselves, the Mutazalites and the Asharites fought the battle of ideas; in scholasticism, the Jabriya and the Qadriya schools of thought exchanged arguments against each other, and, in Jurisprudence, there were/are two groups, traditionalists and non-traditionalists. In Metaphysics, the division of Halooliya and Tanziyah had created confusion among the common educated people and an aversion/indifference with religion among the middle-class people. For Mansoor Hallaj, this fragmentation of thought/ideas/belief had no treatment except in following the path of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). But for it, the ship of the Ummah would get wrecked. He writes: “If you understand, then understand that these ailments cannot be treated without Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) who reached the destination of the destinations where he stated, “Oh God! I cannot count your praises”. When he reached the station of the truth of all the truth, he said, “You are as You have praised yourself”. He said ‘no’ to the world of desires and secured his goal where his heart “did not lie about what he saw” when he was observing the Truth of all the Truths.

“If you are not able to recognize him, then recognize his impressions. I am one such impression.” In his love for and devotion to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), Hallaj, on the one hand, called himself one of his impressions, and, on the other hand, considered the revelations of Allah alone the Truth as “These are the signs of Allah that I read to you as a matter of Truth ,and ,verily you are from among the prophets (Baqara); and, then he cried out in a state of total love , “ I am the truth and have been always associated/connected with the truth.”

In the first quarter of the nineteenth and the twentieth century, most of the European countries were under the influence of rationalist philosophies like Naturalism, Atheism and the philosophy of doubt culminating finally with Nationalism and Socialism which had silenced followers of different religions. In the collective reaction of all these philosophies, Iqbal made these bold and loud assertions:

GaratGare Deen Hai Yeh Zamana

Hay Is Ki NihadKafirana


Laila GoyandWaAzkhodMunkiran

He Further Cried Out:

BujhiIshq Ki AagAndhair Hai

Musalman NahiRakh Kid Hair Hai

BidhAanNala E Gar Hai Ki Azoi

BisozamJuz Gam Deen Har Gam E Ra

In short, Iqbal presented the same treatment of this disease of faithlessness as Hallaj had in his own times.

Ba Mustafa Khowesh Ra Barsan Ki Deen Hama Oust


By virtue of this faith/belief, the similarity of consciousness of the two reached such heights which can be imagined only in the world of Love and cannot be comprehended by the Cause/Effect theory of the world of rationalist thought. Hallaj says, “HajoodiFeekaTaqdeesu /WaAqliFeekaTahweesu”

“Using reason for understanding You would  be mere play of my desires and its negation for the same would be my purification”.

And Iqbal says, “KhiradAndar SaramButkhanaRekht/ Khaleel E IshqDeram Ra Haram Kard.”

The difference between Hallaj and Iqbal was that Hallaj would present his thoughts in a state of trance, like a man who has lost this-worldly senses with utmost precision and symbolism ,for example ,he says :

“La FarqaBainiWaBaina Rabbi Illa Bisifatain :WujudunaMinhuWaTawamunaBihi.”

There is no difference between me and my God but the two and these two differences are : 1) all our existence is from Him/because of Him alone ,and 2) we depend upon Him for everything”.

Allama Iqbal, after his study of modern sciences, stated like a philosopher:

ZamanaAql Ko SamjhaHuwa Hai Mashala Rah

KisayKhabar Ki JununBhi Hai Sahib E Idrak


Ba ChuneeZor E JununPaseGaraibanWashtam

DarjnunAz Khud Naraftan Kare Har Farzana Neest

Hallaj considers his people dead, and in these turbulent times, Hallaj addresses himself; while as Allama Iqbal the whole of the Muslim Ummah is dead and so he addresses the whole of it. Hallaj says:“MannQalaAraftuhuBifaqdiFalMafqoodKaifaTarifulMojood.” (Translation : The one who turned invisible and said “I found Him by my invisiblity”.How would this unconscious be aware of the One who Exists?)

Iqbal says the same kind of thing in this couplet:

Bud Andar Seena Ma Bang E Suwar/ MillatayDeedam Ki DaradQisdGour

Mann BakhudAfrokhtam Nar E Hayat/Murda Ra Guftam Zi Asrar E Hayat

Note: This paper was published by Professor Mohiud Din Hajini in the Sheeraza (Special issue on Iqbal titled Mehfil e Iqbal) of the J&K Cultural Academy in 1978 in Urdu.

Original Headline: Part 1 | Allama Iqbal and Mansur Hallaj

Source: The Greater Kashmir


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