Al-Hallāj (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: By making known his experiences of mystical communion with Allah, al-Hallāj promoted a highly controversial and ultimately influential doctrine of divine grace and knowledge. His imprisonment and martyrdom became one of the most celebrated episodes in the development of Sufi history.
In about 858, Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallāj was born in Beida, a city in southwestern Iran that is situated astride roads between Shiraz and Esfahan. Reputedly among his ancestors was Abu Ayyub, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, while his paternal grandfather was thought to have been a Zoroastrian. Although evidently his family was partly of Iranian stock, they had become Arabicized; the name Hallāj has been taken as referring to Husayn’s father’s work as a wool carder. Later the family moved to Wasit, in southern Iraq, probably because of its importance in the textile trade. During an early education which consisted largely of instruction in grammar and religious texts, Husayn developed an extensive knowledge of the Koran. At the age of sixteen, he went on to study under Sahl ibn ʿAbdallah al-Tustari, a noted Sunni scholar whose teachings emphasized introspection and ascetism. After two years, al-Hallāj left for Basra, where he came into contact with other Sufi theologians.
Al-Hallāj’s novitiate was spent with ʿAmr ibn ʿUthman al-Makki, a follower of Abu al-Qasim ibn Muhammad...
(The entire section is 3199 words.)
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