"I saw a people who were turning away from life, so I decided to wake them up," said Hallaj. "They said they believed in God and yet they didn’t believe in themselves. How can you have faith in the Almighty without having faith in yourself?"
In the fifth chapter of Javid Nama, Iqbal meets the spirit of Mansur Hallaj, the 10th Century mystic who was executed because he had said, "Ana al-Haque" (and did it mean "I am the Creative Truth" or that "I am God"?). Iqbal asks him what did he actually mean by that. The reply given by Hallaj has been quoted above.
I like this reply for several reasons. For centuries, it has been customary to say that Hallaj reached a certain station in spiritual progress but he should have kept quite. This is a well-meaning argument in his defense but it also sounds as if we are wiser than Hallaj, and in a position to give him some sound advice!
The lines which Iqbal has put into the mouth of Hallaj are ingenious. Instead of getting into any technical details of the issue, Hallaj simply says that he said what the society needed to hear at that time.
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It implies that he was not declaring "Ana al-Haque" because he lacked self-control, nor that he had reached some status which ordinary believers cannot attain. Quite the contrary. His "I" does not remain personal. He becomes one with the collective ego of humanity, or the soul of all human beings. From that point of view he is speaking on behalf of every human being - including the most ordinary human being.
Hallaj has reached a state where he can see the angels bowing down befoe the human being, and he is reminding us that this human being is everyone of us. So we better act accordingly.
Much before Iqbal, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi had also attempted to defend Hallaj in an unusual manner. Rumi said that Hallaj was not arrogant and proud. He would have been guilty of arrogance if he had said, "I am not Haque", because that could have meant, "I exist in my own right independent of God." By saying "Ana al-Haque", he was rather admitting that he did not exist, only God does.