Al-Hallaj_ A Great Sufi Mystic: By Aparna Sharma

For all the tertiary differences in various religions and traditions, the fundamental truths are by far, the same. Therefore in a lot many spiritual traditions other than Vedanta, we find glimpses (and  sometimes vast expansive vistas) of Advaita.

Al-Ḥallāj- (full name: Abū al-Mughīth al-usayn ibn Manūr al-allāj ) is one such Islamic mystic who reveals the highest of non-dualistic thoughts in his words.

Your spirit is mingled with mine
as wine is mixed with water;
whatever touches you touches me.
In all the stations of the soul you are I.

(From Diwan al-Hallaj. English version by Bernard Lewis)

One of the earliest Sufi masters, Al Hallaj lived between 858 – 922 AD. Leading most of his life as a dervish wanderer, he would often go into trances where he felt one with all the creation, existence, with God.

I have seen my Lord with the eye of my heart, and I said: “Who are You?” He said:”You.”
(Diwan al-Hallaj, M. 10)

Al-Ḥallāj was born in the southern Iranian community of Ṭūr in the province of Fars. As a youngster, he memorized the Quran and would often retreat from worldly pursuits to join other mystics in study.

Later in life Al-Hallaj married and made a pilgrimage to Mecca and subsequently traveled extensively. During this period he started to write and teach Sufi ideas to a growing number of followers. After a period of traveling in India and other parts of Central Asia he settled down in the Abbasid capital of Baghdad.

Al-Ḥallāj has been identified as an “intoxicated” Ṣūfī in contradistinction to a “sober” one. The former are those who, in the moment of ecstasy, are so overcome by the presence of the divine that awareness of personal identity is lost and who experience a merging with ultimate reality.

I find it strange that the divine whole can be borne by my little human part, Yet due to my little part’s burden, the earth cannot sustain me. (Akhbar al-Hallaj, 11)


I do not cease swimming in the seas of love, rising with the wave, then descending; now the wave sustains me, and then I sink beneath it; love bears me away where there is no longer any shore.
(Diwan al-Hallaj, M. 34)

He believed that it was only God who could pronounce the Tawhid, whereas man’s prayer was to be one of kun, surrender to his will:

“Love means to stand next to the Beloved, renouncing oneself entirely and transforming oneself in accordance to Him.”

(Massignon, 74)

He spoke of God as his “Beloved,” “Friend” “You,” and felt that “his only self was (God),” to the point that he could not even remember his own name.”

I have seen my Lord with the eye of my heart, and I said: “Who are You?” He said:”You.”
(Diwan al-Hallaj, M. 10)

Tawhid implies that all phenomena are manifestations of a single reality, or Wujud (being), which is indeed al-Haq (Truth, God).

Al Hallaj, on the other hand, had direct experiences of non-duality to such heights that he once pronounced

“Ana al-haqq” (“I am the Truth”–i.e., God).

At the time, this was considered to be highly blasphemous as neither the people nor his Sufi masters would understand the perspective of this mystic. He was persecuted and found guilty of heresy. After 11 years in prison Al Hallaq was tortured and crucified by the Abbasid rulers. There are many accounts which say that even under torture he was calm, detached and was willing to forgive those who tortured him. Before being put to death he said:

Now stands no more between Truth and me
Or reasoned demonstration,
Or proof of revelation;
Now, brightly blazing full, Truth’s lumination
Each flickering, lesser light.



The drama of his life and death has been considered a reference point in Islāmic history. He is revered today as a martyr for truth by many Sufis and mystics.

Al Hallaj’s poetry typically reflects the idea of non-duality and height of ecstatic union with the Beloved

I am the One Whom I Love

I am the One whom I love, and the One whom I love is myself.
We are two souls incarnated in one body;
if you see me, you see Him,
if you see Him, you see us.



2 thoughts on “Al-Hallaj_ A Great Sufi Mystic: By Aparna Sharma

  1. I am very proud to see my friend writing such a profound a easy-to-follow biography of a great other whom i have not known being raised in western culture.

    Your style of interspersing a description with a quote is simple to follow and yet full in each sentence. Thank you to tell us of Al-Ḥallāj.


  2. When you search for Love
    You search for a dream.
    When you become Love
    you become the dreamer and the dream.

    much Love
    jim atwell


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