by Shaheryar Ali
The movement of Mysticism emerged as a reaction against the nexus of Arab imperialism, the clerics and the emergence of culture of the rich and the fashionable, against which the “rough shirt” of wool became the symbol of resistance and etymological root of the word “Sufi” [though controversial from Soof] , I continue the story from where I left it-….
Bayazeed and Rabiya shook the very foundations of “Islam” as defined by the Mullahs. Many of the great Sufis were killed by the Kings but they became the “heroes” of the masses. Yet another result was the sudden increase in conversions to Islam in the conquered land [a comparative study of conversion to Islam during Arab Imperialism suggests that very little conversion occurred during Umayyad and early Abbasid periods, but a sudden surge occurred as mysticism became a full movement] [A fact further highlighted by the fact that the “Shariah or law based Islam to this day is not popular in conquered Moslem lands. From Iran to Afghanistan, and from Sindh to India, masses retain their attachment to Sufis despite the distortions and inherent exploitation of the present day shrine culture.
At the time of Hussein this “rebel” movement had been tamed by Abbasids; they had learned the strength of Sufis had increased due to the maltreatment (by killing and torturing them). So they wooed them. A prestigious University of Baghdad was given to the Mystics. The Nizammiya where “Mysticism” took the form of a scholarly Philosophy; where Persian, Greek, Nestorian and the converts taught various discipline [Hussein Hallaj’s own grand father taught for some time the Philosophy of Being there].
Hallaj’s grandfather was a Zoroastrian, his father converted to Islam. Initially he didn’t tell his father but the wise old man soon discovered when he found that his grandson has been named “Hussein”. Why you named him Hussein? Don’t you know what happened to Hussein, he asked his son Mansoor! The son ignored, as the son’s eyes couldn’t see the fire in the eyes of the child, which the fire worshiper had seen and made him anxious about the name!
The fiery eyes that would later became the identification of Hussein. Years later Hussein will visit his father and ask him to re-light the sacred fire which had been extinguished after the death of his grandfather.
Hussein learned Koran as a child and was educated by the mystics. His piety and intelligence became legendary, the Sufi teachers of his town couldn’t answer his questions. They were amazed by his attitude as Hallaj lived with the poor and the untouchables. Soon they were telling him. Go to Baghdad, Go to Junaid—–
By the time Junaid became the Principle; Sufi movement was fully incorporated into State apparatus. It had become elitist, scholarly and academic, totally cut off from the masses. It was this “alliance” that Hussein despised; he left the “Shrines” and lived in poorest suburbs. He stopped giving lectures to the “scholars” but talked to people in their own voice. He started challenging the “tenets” of Islam [those made by Mullahs” and exposed the hypocrisy of the religious elite that “make people pray but who are evil themselves”; prayer was supposed to bring Piety and purity, who Fasted but crimes increased.
His first agitation was to refuse to enter into Mecca when he went for the Hajj. He stood outside Mecca and refused to enter. He refused to answer the questions of the people and scholars. When they really annoyed him he declared “I am waiting for the invitation from God, if he wants me to enter into His house, he should call me, I wont enter un-invited.”
It was this very “ego” that Iqbal would later call “Khudi” as in “Khuda bunde se khud pooche, bata teri raza kiya he”.
This answer infuriated all, the great scholar Wasil went to him and told him to be humble and as God doesn’t like this kind of an ego. He refused. Later Junaid ordered him to move to Madina. As he entered Madina, his mood changed and he prayed in Prophet’s Mosque. When he returned to Bagdad, he mocked the Hajj, to expose that people have made it a status symbol, a symbol of pride, and wealth…
He made a replica of Kaaba in his back yard, and started circling it, when people asked him: “O Shaikh what are you doing?”, he replied, “you think that revolving around the Stone and mud is Islam so I am doing it more than you”.
He was actually repeating the thesis of one of earliest teachers of Sufis, the great lady Rabbiya al Basri, who had mocked this ritual before Hallaj.
He never saw the corporate Hajj culture fortunately, or God knows what he would have done. A culture which, has destroyed the very essence of Hajj. Spend millions and live in 5 star hotel with an air conditioned tent, spend dollars and be pious. And for some they must spend all their life’s earning and be humiliated by authorities, live in a tent for the poor, and occasionally die in a stampede.
If you are dictator who has killed innocent children learning Koran in Bajaur on the orders of Bush, the guardians of Kaa’ba will open gates of Kaaba five times for you. When a poor Dhimmi of this dictator overwhelmed by love kisses the wall of Prophet’s shrine, the guardians will beat him for “Shirk”!
Hallaj never saw all this, but he knew it will happen! The Mullahs and their fatwa factories started working. “Qaramati, Qaramati” [An Ismaili sect with anarchist tendencies who resisted the apparent and desired the hidden, insisted esoteric meaning of Hajj rather than its practice] they started shouting . Hallaj was outraged: he started running on the streets of Baghdad shouting “Ahdam ul Kaa’ba”, “Demolish the Kaa’ba” They demanded his death [Later Sufis will discover divine wisdom in these words].
Tales of his piety grew from Baghdad to India, his prayers were answered in minutes, he cured the sick, etc,. Junaid was “out raged”. He called him and snubbed him “you woo illiterate people around you, you mock religion, you perform miracles, you think these petty tricks are tasawuff? ..you live in low company”
Hussein sat at his Master’s feet and said “O Shaikh, do I live with people more low than with whom Jesus use to live?” I don’t do any thing, it He who does everything, He makes me do things, He makes me say things, ask Him to leave me.”
With that he started running on streets of Baghdad, shouting: “O Moslems your God is very cruel, any one on whom He shows love, is killed. He loved Ibrahim and threw him in fire. He loved Jonah and then put him in belly of a fish. He loved Jesus and than put him on cross. He loved Hussein and got him killed in Kerbala. Now He is after me. O Moslems ask Him to leave me.”
Hussein transcended the “traditional religions”. He traveled to Iran, Afghanistan, and even India. He passed through Multan and reached as far as River Ganges. After return from India he always wore the Saffron shirt of Hindu Mystics.
He had discovered God, the Truth and Knowledge. He had discovered Islam, from Turkey to India his unmatched humanism left its mark: each region gave him a name, Hussein, Hallaj, Mansoor, the seer etc.
Then he started protesting with the poor of Baghdad against the evil Minister and the King. He led many a procession; then supported the calls for disobedience and refusal to pay the taxes.
It was then that the Minister went to the king and asked him to implement the fatwas on which Sunni, the Shia and the Sufis all agreed. King refused to comply, as he himself was once cured by prayer of Hussein and the Roman mother of the King was a follower of Hussein considering him Divine [in the tradition of the Nestorian saints].
The minister told him that “People of Baghdad have refused to pay the taxes, the Fitna is on the Streets if you don’t act the Abbasid throne will perish..”
The Mystics or the Sufis were accomplice to the murder, not because of apostasy but because in their words “Hussein had divulged the “great secret” in open” to the masses.”
It was this “Mysticism” that Iqbal later condemned: “Nikal kur Khangahon se ada kur rassam e Shabiri”. Hussein left the Khanqah and was abandoned by the Sufi Elite. He was jailed by the authorities for many years.
And then came the decree for his death.
Hussein was first “stoned” by the crowd, he remained silent. Calm and at ease, the Mullahs and others watching in awe. Junaid the principle of “Nizamiya” and one of teachers of Hussein signed the “Fatwas” by the Mullah. Others Sufis also signed it as their great teacher did.
Only two Sufis refused to sign the decree of death. One was named “Shibli” the one who himself was in “junoon” and the other was a pious lady called ‘Atiya Oofi”.
When every one was stoning him they saw Shibli standing. The grand Mullah asked him to throw a stone as well, he refused. Later the Mullahs said “o Shaikh you are denying God’s shariah , Junaid has signed the fatwa as well..”
Shibli moved to the crowd and threw something at Hussein – it was a Red Rose. As it touched Hussein, he cried loudly for the first time and said “even you Shibli? Who knows the truth?”
Later Hussein was tortured. He was “crucified”. His hands and feet broken, when he died he was burned and his ashes were thrown in the river. It is said that till that time, every thing that touched him shouted “Ana ul Haq”..
Even the Shia clerics agreed on his death
I will die like Christ, he used to say, and did for the same reasons, the reasons of Truth!
“Ana ul Haq”, “I” am the truth”, became the cry of revolution in Moslem world. In Indo Pak he is known as “Mansoor”: a symbol of resistance, humanism, free speech and tolerance. What does that mean? “I” am Truth. Years later, ‘modern’ knowledge would identify this “I” as the “Subjectivity”.
“I” am the Truth [No “other” truth is needed, its freedom fom all tyranny; I is the free Human, the Free Moslem, whose hand is God’s hand]. Its thought that creates the problem of “I” and “you”, observer and observed, universe and God. Every thing is one! And it’s the Truth, as Faiz said:
Uthe ga Ana ul Haq ka naara
Jo mein bhi hun or tum bhi ho—
The great French Scholar Louis Massignon, introduced Hussein to Europe. Since then Hussein’s views have had a great impact on European thought and morality. He is particularly revered by Gnostics, Thalamites, and many others…
The Thelemic Church has high regard for Hussein. He is included in “Order of Maltese Cross.”He enjoys similar respect in other Gnostic churches as well!
Iqbal wrote a Persian poem on Hussein. Along with the great Iranian Poetess Quratulain who was also murdered by Mullahs because she refused to wear Hijab and became a Bahai. Iqbal mentioned both heroes of freedom in Javed Nama.
Islamic mysticism later accepted Hussein as a great Saint and teacher who ever lived—