It appears that al-Hallaj is a favourite of the new age pseudo sufi movement whereas his heresy within orthodox Sunni circles appears to be well known.   In addition to this I came across an advert for a book from one of the major Indo-Pak scholars of the past which dealt with his case in a more detailed manner.  Those with access to this work please share, as for Imam al-Dhahabi he mentioned the following as cited in Fawaid al-Gharra (1/343):

Ibn Bakawayh said:  I heard Ibn Khafif being asked:  “What do you think about al-Hallaj?”
He replied:  “I believe that he is a Muslim”
It was said to him: “Many of the scholars declared him kafir and so did the majority of the Muslims”
He said: “If that which I saw from him when he was imprisoned was not Tawhid then there is no Tawhid in the world”

Imam al-Dhahabi commented on this saying:

This is a mistake from Ibn Khafif, for al-Hallaj at the time of his execution continued to affirm the oneness of Allah and cry: ‘Allah, Allah,  in my blood, I am upon Islam and disassociate from everything other than Islam’.
A heretic (zindiq) affirms the oneness of Allah outwardly, but his heresy is within him.  The hypocrites (Munafiqun) would affirm the oneness of Allah, would fast and pray outwardly, but their hypocrisy was in their hearts.

Al-Hallaj was not stupid (lit. not a donkey) that he would manifest his heresy in front Ibn Khafif and his like.  Rather he would manifest it with those whom he was sure of their being closely connected to him.  It is possible that he became a heretic and deviated, claimed divinity, practised magic and false supernatural feats for a period of time.  Then when affliction descended upon him and he saw that death was inevitable he embraced Islam and returned to the truth, and Allah knows best his inner state.  However we absolve ourselves-to Allah- from his statements, for they are pure disbelief.  And we ask Allah for well being and forgiveness.

Al-Hallaj was executed in the year 309.


  1. Brother, I think that Imam Dhahabis stance about Hallaj is not the stance of the majority of Ulama.

    I always ask the people: Why was Hallaj executed and Bayazid wasnt?

    (I wrote a long comment but then i clicked by error on a link and everything vanished…)

  2. Bismillah…

    Sayyidi, this is somewhat unrelated, but didn’t al-Imam adh-Dhahabi criticize the Ash`aris. If so, what should our attitude be towards it, (respect for all views is a given).


  3. salaam

    Islamic theosophy is a murky area of study and its difficult to decipher the reality of things. Hallaj’s case might seem similar to Bayazid, but what then of Imam Junaid’s going along with the fatwa of execution – he was his senior and contemporary. It has been mentioned that Hallaj spoke his words in a state of sobriety, but was this the same with others? i don’t know. What counts as a state – the normal assumption is a temporary or fleeting phase of ecstatic utterances but ibn Arabi formed a doctrine on the basis of his state. Some have found his thoughts the kernel of the path (Dawwani and others) while later Sufis like Sirhindi argued that he was mistaken in his thoughts due to failing to progress out of the state of Fana. Then came Dihlawi and argued that actually ibn Arabi and Sirhindi are simply speaking past each other and actually mean the same thing.

    All this without mentioning ibn Taymiyyah’s clear cut verdict against ibn Arabi but different stance relating to Bayazid and others who seem to be little different. While we might want to ignore ibn Taymiyyah we are still left with the criticisms of taftazani and other major theologians against ibn Arabi, Rumi, Jami and others of the ‘wujudi’ persuasion. Now, i have heard it argued that the theologians fall short due to the absence of ‘dhawq’ but this creates a problem – what counts as knowledge for the masses and what can we take. Nasafi in his creed denies that Ilham is a source of knowledge; at least to the extent of depending upon for creedal matters.

    To really make things interesting, we have a hardened ant-Ashari, Hanbali scholar like Abdullah Ansari considering Hallaj a Wali.

    I find these theosophical issues confusing and I don’t think we’ll get far with them without a whole different kind of ingrained study.

    I do agree with brother al-Kakazai that people unfortunately look to tasawwuf only for the less than safe features of it. Something of a replacement for 70’s Hippie-ism as Shaykh Nuh once remarked along similar lines. Tasawwuf is in many respects mujahadah plain and simple. Wearing the cloak and smile of a sufi and chanting hymns is not gonna get you far if there’s no exertion or energetic selflessness.

  4. But having said that – i.e. tasawwuf is for a large part mujahadah – opens up another difficult problem i have with understanding taswwuf in its historical context. I will spell it out and hope someone might be able to help.

    If you look at a lot of the authentic tariqahs today, they seem to concentrate purely on issues to do with cleansing the nafs and ardently following the Shariah. While this is no doubt what Islam is, I see a great disparagement between this and what you find in the works of Sirhindi, ibn Arabi, Qushairi etc. In the history of Tasawwuf you find amazing accounts of spiritual openings and the spiritual struggle and realisations of individuals is of a fantastical nature. Tasawwuf of this type definitely seemed to be something for the elite – those seeking to travel a great spiritual journey. Does anyone else see something of a mis-match between the historical accounts of tasawwuf and its teachers, and what is found in many cases today.

    The second perplexing problem is that while the historical tasawwuf with its tajaliyaat seems more complete in its fostering of Ma’rifah; the modern conservative Shariah-teaching, surface level forms and practices of tasawwuf today seem to be more historically authentic if we look to the spiritual practices of the first generations.


  5. Imaam Al-Munaawi said,

    ثم قال المناوي وعول جمع على الوقف والتسليم قائلين الاعتقاد صبغة والانتقاد حرمان وأمام هذه الطائفة شيخ الإسلام النووي فإنه استفتى فيه فكتب ( ^ تلك أمة قد خلت لها ما كسبت ولكم ما كسبتم ) الآية وتبعه على ذلك كثيرون سالكين سبيل السلامة وقد حكى العارف زروق عن شيخه النوري أنه سئل عنه فقال اختلف فيه من الكفرإلى القطبانية والتسليم واجب

    “A group of scholars professed suspension (waqf – i.e. they chose to stop at his affair) and benefit of good opinion (At-Taslim)…their Imam being Shaykhul-Islam An-Nawawi who replied, when asked about Ibn ‘Arabi, “Those are a people who have passes away. Theirs is that which they earned, and yours is that which you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.” [2:134] The Knower, [Imam Ahmad] Az-Zarruq reported from his Shaykh An-Nuri the words, “They differed about him from the verdict of absolute disbelief (al-kufr) to that of spiritual primacy (Qutbaaniyyah), and giving the benefit of good opinion is therefore an obligation (At-Taslim Waajib).”((Shadharat Adh-Dhahab of Ibn ‘Imaad Al-Hanbali))

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