I Witnessed My Maker

By Mansur al-Hallaj

I witnessed my Maker with my heart’s eye.
I asked, ‘Who are You?’ He answered, ‘You!’
For You one cannot ask, Where?
Because where is Where for You?
You do not pass through the imagination
Or else we’ll know where You are.
You are He who is everywhere
Yet You are nowhere. Where are You?
In my annihilation is my annihilation’s annihilation
And You are found in my annihilation.

Translated by Mahmood Jamal: from Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the
Early Mystics to Rumi.

Mansur al-Hallaj (858-922) was born in Persia and moved to what is now Iraq, where
he took up religious studies. The authorities took offense at his poetry and teachings,
and he was condemned by a council of theologians, imprisoned for nine years, and
eventually put to death for blasphemy. Today he is considered by many to be a great
poet-saint and martyr for truth.

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