Al-Hallaj by Mason, Herbert I.W.

By Mason, Herbert I.W.

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Questioning existed in both of these "traditions", but the contemporary emergence of movements of "retraditionalization" remind us of the attitudes and tensions dominating the atmosphere of Hallaj's time in which commentaries on the Qur'anic questioning cited above were aimed at strengthening ritual observance and a deeper understanding of obedience to God, against the laxity in observance and morals of the new philosophical questioners and speculators and the Community's cultural elite who had patronized them at least privately when traditionalists regained the political upperhand.

It was during this period that he made contact with notables of the ruling Samanid dynasty of Khurasan who would remain loyal to him against their allied and fellow-Sunnite 'Abbasid overlords of Baghdad at the time of his martyrdom in 309/922. He preached against Manichean dualism (zandaqa) among the Uyghur Turks and others beyond the Dar al-Isliim, a heresy of which he himself would erroneously be accused at his trial. The spiritual balance in the world divided between forces of good and forces of evil could be struck, he preached, by means of self-sacrificing saints, the abdiil inter-cessors, who witness at the fron tiers of true belief (ahl al-thughilr wa'l-ribfitat) so as to manifest love of God alone against temptations of evil.

Without reiterating the many issues on which traditionalism and Mu'tazilism fixed their irreconcilable differences, the primary difference was surely the matter of "questioning" itself: the subjects permitted to be open to questioning, and the freedom of the individual to question. Questioning existed in both of these "traditions", but the contemporary emergence of movements of "retraditionalization" remind us of the attitudes and tensions dominating the atmosphere of Hallaj's time in which commentaries on the Qur'anic questioning cited above were aimed at strengthening ritual observance and a deeper understanding of obedience to God, against the laxity in observance and morals of the new philosophical questioners and speculators and the Community's cultural elite who had patronized them at least privately when traditionalists regained the political upperhand.

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