Very few people in my world are familiar with Mansur Al-Hallaj (858-922). I consider that a misfortune, a lowdown dirty shame. I therefore seek to remedy this. Al-Hallaj was born around 858 in Fars province of Persia to a cotton-carder. Hallaj means “cotton-carder” in Arabic. People know him as Mansur Al-Hallaj, or “Mansur the cotton-carder.”
Wikipedia says he was a poet, a mystic and a teacher of Sufism. But there is so much more to say. His most well-known books are the Diwan and the Tawasin. Some of his poems can be found here. His poetry dives deeply into the pleasures and predicaments of devotion to the divine. I believe that anyone who enjoys the poetry of Mirabai would also enjoy Mansur’s poetry.
Mansur traveled far and wide in his spiritual journey. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca on multiple occasions. He traveled to India and Turkestan and learned of spiritual teachers there. I believe that when he famously declared “I am the truth!” he was speaking of his detachment from his individuality. He might have been making his own formulation of the words of the apostle Paul. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:” (Galatians 2:20, King James Version)
He lived during a turbulent season of the Abbasid Caliphate. There were powerful religious leaders who disapproved of his revealing of mysteries to ordinary people. He was condemned to death on trumped-up charges, and executed in 922. Details of his death can be found here.
We enter the abode of decay
I am introducing Mansur Al-Hallaj to you because there is a particular story I wish to share. There are many Mansur stories, but this one gets me. I am taking this story from the book “A Literary History of Persia” by British orientalist Edward Granville Browne (1862-1926).
On one occasion Ibn Nasr al-Qushuri was sick, and desired to eat an apple, but none were to be obtained, till al-Hallaj stretched forth his hand and drew it back with an apple which he claimed to have gathered from the gardens of Paradise. “But,” objected a bystander, “the fruit of Paradise is incorruptible, and in this apple there is a maggot.” “This,” answered al-Hallaj, “is because it hath come forth from the Mansion of Eternity to the Abode of Decay: therefore to its heart hath corruption found its way!”
Even beautiful things decay
We enter the abode of decay. I recalled this story of Mansur al-Hallaj as I read the revelation “God’s New Message for the World’s Religions.” This revelation is Chapter 6 in the recently released book, “The Pure Religion.“
“All the great Messengers have come from the [Angelic] Assembly, so they are intrinsically united, you see. They have all been sent by the Source, your Source and the Source of all the world’s religions.
But living in Separation, people have separated the religions from one another and even internally—separating everything that was meant to be united, misunderstanding the meaning and the value of the Messengers and what they were really presenting.”
I surmise that the abode of decay in which Mansur al-Hallaj lived found him intolerable, and put him to death. I will most likely write of Mansur again before too long.
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