Extremists Call for Boycott of Al-Hallaj Arabic Series

Published May 8th, 2019 - 11:22 GMT
Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced. (AFP/FilePhoto)
Sufi whirling is a form of physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced. (AFP/FilePhoto)

Ramadan has been known for years in the Middle East to be the season when television producers compete into producing the best shows to be shown during the holy month.

Yet this Ramadan season has seen a number of controversies surrounding some works, particularly those concerning religious and political historical events and figures.

One of them is a series on the life of Mansur Al-Hallaj, the Persian mystic, poet and teacher of Sufism. The series of 30 episodes narrates the life of one of the most prominent figures in Sufism: Al-Hallaj. It depicts the social, economic and political life in the second Abbasid Caliphate that saw turbulence in power in the lifetime of Al-Hallaj.

The UAE-produced series is set to highlight the life of the Persian poet and scholar who has gained a wide following as a preacher for his unique interpretations of religion; including his preaching on the spiritual closeness with God for which some accused him of claiming divinity. Later, Al-Hallaj became implicated in the power struggles of the Abbasid Court which led him to his fatal destiny.

He was executed on the banks of the Tigris River before he was punched in the face by his executioner, then lashed.

The direct reasons for the execution of Al-Hallaj are still questioned. However, it is believed it was tdue to his controversial religious and political views that led to strife in the Abbasid state.

Controversy surrounded him everywhere. It started during his life, continued after his death and remained till today and exemplified in the current TV series, highlighting his story but dividing opinions between those who admire it and others calling for its boycott.

Translation: “Is it true there this to be a series on Al-Hallaj. How is the script going to depicting him? Is it going to make him a hero? This is something big and is a diversion from the truth for this man was a wizard and then a Sufi preacher before he claimed divinity.”

In response, some accused Salafi Wahhabism of distorting Sufism and launching an attack against the man.

Translation: “Salafist Wahhabism warns people against of Al Hallaj series that being shown in Ramadan claiming his divinity.”

Meanwhile, videos of clerics calling for boycotting the series has been circulating YouTube. However the calls of the doesn't appear to be working.

The Al-Hallaj series in Ramadan is not the only one on historical events related to Sufism. Another highlighting the ideas of Ibn Arabi, the Arab Andalusian Muslim Sufi scholar, mystic, poet, and philosopher, is also scheduled to be aired during this season.

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