A space for the truth

Mansur Hallaj and deconstructing the masculine body through sound and space


  • Arpan Bhandari The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Sufi, Ḥallāj, embodiment, masculinity, death, space


Hosayn b. Mansur Hallaj’s (d. 922 CE) words ‘I am the truth’ gave premodern Muslims, followers and scholars alike, an unconventional perspective on self-hood, embodiment, and the body–soul dichotomy. For Hallaj, his masculine identity suggested that his corporeal existence was made in the image of the divine. As a result, he was able to view himself as being near the divine, however, unable to unify with the divine given the limits of the flesh. This study reads Hallaj’s words through the perspective of masculinity and space. Hallaj’s embodied masculine existence gave him the ability to draw parallels between himself and the divine. By drawing these parallels, Hallaj was engaging in an esoteric understanding of God, which was considered blasphemous by his companions and the political elite. This article works through three sections that illustrate the complexity of Hallaj’s words, the issues of embodiment, and the role of gender in this conversation.


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Body and Religion