Outside & subterranean poems, a mini-anthology in progress (57): Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (Persian, 10th century A.D.): From 'The Divan'
FROM THE SECTION: DERELICTION
81. Yâ sirra sirrî
O my secret’s secret, you have dwindled so much you’re hidden from the thought of the living,
and yet a hidden-manifest of you has appeared in all things for all things.
My excuse to you is a profound ignorance, a vast doubt, and total powerlessness.
O you, all’s completeness, you are no different than me! But then, what’s my excuse to myself?
I’m dumbfounded! How can my part hold up my whole
when my earth cannot bear the load of my part?
If there was a palanquin large enough to cover earth,
my heart would have to shrink to stretch out on it.
You impose on heart what the body cannot carry
& the faithful heart shoulders what bodies couldn’t carry.
Could I draw close to those who take shelter in you
by becoming an eye to gaze at you or, better, an ear.
FROM THE SECTION: BLAMES
91. Karfartu bi-dîn Allah
I have reneged on God’s religion! This disbelief’s a necessity for me.
But in the eyes of the Muslims, it’s infamy.
94. Yâ shams
o sun, o full moon, o day
for us you are hell & paradise
to avoid offending you is still an offense to you.
wanting to hide the shame is still to shame you.
a whole people tries to find an excuse in you,
how fares the one who has no excuse?
97. Lastu bi’l-tawhîd
I do not poke fun at the union, nor am I blasé about it.
How could I poke fun or be blasé, given that I am Him.
98. Anâ anta
There is no doubt that I am you, glory for me is therefore glory for you!
Your tawhîd is mine, your revolt is mine,
your anger mine, your pardon mine.
Why oh God should I be scourged and treated like a shameless liar?
FROM THE SECTION: SACRIFICE
112. As-sabb Rabbî
My God, I love the bitter cup that is my fate
it’s an honor to have you hand it to me!
To be chastised in you is my pleasure,
to suffer your distance is my profit.
For me, you resemble my own mind
but you’re much dearer to me than it is.
In truth you are an apple for an eye
and a heart for him who has a heart.
Love’s lot which I receive is me
for when you love, it is I who I love.
FROM THE TAWASIN
The Parable of the Bird
I saw a bird among the birds of sufism. This bird had two wings and was ignorant of my condition while keeping on flying. It came to question me about safā, purity, and I said: “Cut your wings with the scissors of fanā, abolition, otherwise you will not be able to follow me.” It answered: “Thanks to my wings I fly toward my Friend.” I said: “Oh you unhappy one! Nothing resembles Him.” At that moment it fell into the ocean of understanding and drowned there.
Tawhîd is the fundamental tenet of Muslim doctrine that stipulates that God is one (wāḥid) and unique.
Translation by Pierre Joris after the French of Stéphane Ruspoli
SOURCE: Stéphane Ruspoli, Le livre "Tâwasîn" de Hallaj. Dar Albouraq Publishing, Beirut 2007
I am He whom I love /and He whom I love is I: / We are two spirits / dwelling in one body. / If thou seest me, / thou seest Him, / And if thou seest Him, / thou seest us both. (al-Hallaj, Kitab al-Tawasin, in Reynold A. Nicholson, The Mystics of Islam)
(1) Not an outsider to begin with, he was outsidered & put to death for having uttered ana ’l haqq (I am the Truth or the Real = I am God) in the course of his writings & visions. Born in what is now southern Iran & educated in Arab-speaking Iraq, al-Hallaj (literally “the wool-carder”) wrote & traveled widely – from Mecca to India & beyond– before his sufism & visionary utterances & preachings brought him into conflict with normative Islam. After years of imprisonment “for theological error threatening the security of the state,” he was tortured and executed in 922 at the orders of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Muqtadir.
(2) “When Hallaj’s love for God reached its utmost limit, he became his own enemy and he naughted himself. He said, ‘I am the Real,’ that is, ‘I have been annihilated; the Real remains, nothing else.’ This is extreme humility and the utmost limit of servanthood. It means, ‘He alone is.’ To make a false claim and to be proud is to say, ‘You are God and I am the servant.’ In this way you are affirming your own existence, and duality is the necessary result. If you say, ‘He is the Real,’ that too is duality, for there cannot be a ‘He’ without an ‘I.’ Hence the Real said, ‘I am the Real.’ Other than He, nothing else existed. Hallaj had been annihilated, so those were the words of the Real.” (Rumi, cited in William C. Chiddick, Sufism, 2000)
(3) Pierre Joris: REGRETS FOR THINGS LOST (IFTIQAD)
from Meditations on the 40 Stations of Mansour Al-Hallaj
but regret will not bring it back.
nothing left to do but turn your
back on it. tell yourself when you
know where something is
then it is not lost, even though
that something lie at the
bottom of the ocean. Nothing
ever is lost, & that may be
the only thing that is
real cause for regret.
Poems and poetics