Al Halláj was a legendary Iranian Sufi master who lived between 858 – 922 AD. As a youngster Al Hallaj memorized the Quran and would often retreat from worldly pursuits to join other mystics in study. He devoted his life to the contemplation of the divine and became a great Sufi mystic poet. He was crucified for his unorthodox religious beliefs.
Poems of Al Hallaj
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)
Later in life Al-Hallaj married and made a pilgrimage to Mecca. After his trip to the holy city, he travelled extensively. During this period he started to write and teach Sufi ideas to a growing number of followers. After a period of travelling in India and other parts of Central Asia he settled down in the Abbasid capital of Baghdad.
Al Hallaj devoted his life to contemplation of the divine and during his spiritual practices would often go into a trance. Absorbed in these high states of spiritual consciousness he felt completely at one with all of creation, and with God.
Because of his direct experiences of contemplating the oneness of creation. He once said “Ana al-haqq” (“I am the Truth”–i.e., God). At the time, this was considered to be highly blasphemous, people could not understand the perspective of this mystic. Unfortunately because of this Al Hallaj was persecuted and found guilty of heresy.
After spending 11 years in prison Al Hallaq was tortured and crucified by the Abbasid rulers. There are many accounts which say that even under torture Al Hallaj was calm, detached and was willing to forgive those who tortured him.
Before Al Hallaj was 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.