Al Hallaj

by qisasukhra

An excerpt from the opening of Act One, Scene two, of Salah Abdel Sabour’s verse play مأساة الحلاج, [The Tragedy of Al Hallaj].

The house of Hallaj. Hallaj and his friend Shibli are talking. Both are dressed in the rags of a Sufi. Two sheikhs of advanced age.

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Shibli:………Hallaj, hear me:
……………… We are not worldly that the world can entertain us.
……………….We rushed to God precipitate
……………….and when parched longing weighed us down
……………….we soared on wings
……………….and brushed the light.
……………….So then, do we see only from within
……………….the silver cloud that veils us
……………….occluding ghosts which wither in the blaze of gnosis
……………….and shadows evanescent which evade the grasping eye?

Hallaj:………But, truest of companions, tell me,
………………How do I kill the light in mine?
………………This sun, snared in the folds of days,
………………is ponderous rising, then,
………………………..clearing the sleep from its gaze
………………………………………………(and with sleep, pity),
………………pursues its heartless course over the lanes,
………………over the courts and marts and hospitals and baths,
………………and gathers from the burning world
………………in its red, ardent fingers,
………………images,
………………and spectres,
………………and weaves them into shirts
………………(blood running through their warp and weft)
………………with which it strokes my eye each evening, waking me
………………from meditation on love’s glory, then returns
………………to its captivity.
…………………………………Shibli, tell me,
………………Are my eyes burnt out?

Shibli:………They’re not.
………………You gazed up at the sun.
………………Our way is to look to the light within,
………………for which cause I let my eyes
………………fall to my heart.
………………I gaze there and am glad,
………………and there I see
…………………………………………….fruits and trees
………………and angels and worshippers and moons
………………and green and yellow suns and streams
………………and golden ornaments and stores of gems
………………and secret treasures
………………and likenesses, every one
………………in their finest aspect,
………………or their most radiant form.

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