A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 06, 2011 04:23AM

Irwin, author of this memoir, crossed paths with Schuonian Sufism.

Irwin may have been influenced during his student days by Martin Lings book, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century: Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi (Golden Palm Series) [Paperback


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Memoirs of a Dervish
Review by Rory McLean

Published: April 18 2011 04:08 | Last updated: April 18 2011 04:08

Memoirs of a Dervish, by Robert Irwin, Profile, RRP£14.99, 239 pages

In my memory, youth was a golden age: easy health, effervescent confidence and laughing, loose-limbed girls on warm summer evenings. Yet my late teenage diaries reveal a plainer record of self-delusional silliness. My conversation was gauche. I opened my mouth only to change feet. When I tried to put my arm around one loose-limbed girl, I elbowed her in the eye.

Our memory tells us stories, as Robert Irwin writes in Memoirs of a Dervish: “It always pretends to be telling true stories, but sometimes it lies to me, as it seeks to artistically shape my life and provide a founding myth of my identity.”

Irwin, one of the finest writers on Islamic history and culture, was troubled by those lies and decided to write his memoirs as a means of reaching for the truth. At the same time he wanted to shed light on the “ludicrous and half-witted” aspects of the hippy 1960s.

Being human - Jun-24.on ‘Economics of Good and Evil’ by Tomas Sedlacek - Jun-24.‘Dancing in the Glory of Monsters’ by Jason Stearns - Jun-24.‘Dante in Love’ by AN Wilson - Jun-24.Matthew Engel reviews ‘Off Message’ by Bob Marshall-Andrews - Jun-24.‘Sea Wolves’ by Tim Clayton - Jun-24..In the 1960s young westerners such as Irwin were on a quest for the meaning of life. “Be here now” was the imperative of the age. His generation believed that by changing themselves they could change the planet. Their bewitching, naive optimism – and faith in a kinder, more spiritual world – seduced and propelled many along the hippy trail to India and Nepal, towards Buddhism and Hinduism. “We were hardly more than children,” Irwin declares.

A handful of more disciplined seekers was drawn to Islam (the ritual demand of praying five times a day put off the freewheeling majority). In his first year at Oxford, Irwin decided that he wanted to become a Muslim saint. He hitchhiked to Algeria in search of enlightenment, sensing that he was engaging with destiny. At the Mostaganem Zawiya– a kind of Sufi monastery – he fell into a world of marvels and ecstasy, converted to the faith and received an initiation as a faqir. In this holy place he “saw” fellow believers before they reached his room, watched a sparrow-like bird vanish into a wall and observed smoke rising from his hands as he clapped out the beat of a dance. The miracles were astonishing and their veracity unquestionable for – to this rational and respected western thinker – they were part of life.

Irwin’s long and winding road toward heightened awareness was guided by dreams and spiritual guides, littered with drugs and secular charlatans. His dotty and joyful 1960s London contrasted with the brutality of Algeria’s wars (“a beautiful country populated by saints and murderers”); the thrill of first love provoked him to ask how it is possible to love something so vast, so terrifying, so incomprehensible as God. In time Irwin began to sense his limitations, gave up the search for the single big truth and settled for smaller certainties.

Jane Shilling once wrote that memoir-writing is a kind of adventure, a process as much of forming as describing. Irwin – by his own admission – failed both as a Sufi and in his attempt to understand the 1960s. He didn’t make it as a Muslim saint. But he has given retrospective shape to his youth and formed a true story that will last forever, or at least until the pages of this wonderful, bittersweet memoir crumble into dust: a record of an education, a guidebook for western converts to the basic elements of Islam and a glimpse of paradise (both while gazing at the stars above the Zawiya “incandescent with a fiery longing” and while sporting a silver shirt on Carnaby Street).

Memoirs of a Dervish – charged with life, humility and humour – opens one’s eyes to possibilities, which was what the 1960s vibe was about, after all.

Rory MacLean is the author of ‘Magic Bus’. His new book, ‘Gift of Time’, will be published by Constable & Robinson in August
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(Corboy note: These visions may have been triggered by expectations. One can through auto suggestions, become quite convinced one has seen things that fit in with what one has read and stories one has heard. He hitchhiked to Algeria in search of enlightenment, sensing that he was engaging with destiny. At the Mostaganem Zawiya– a kind of Sufi monastery – he fell into a world of marvels and ecstasy, converted to the faith and received an initiation as a faqir. In this holy place he “saw” fellow believers before they reached his room, watched a sparrow-like bird vanish into a wall and observed smoke rising from his hands as he clapped out the beat of a dance. The miracles were astonishing and their veracity unquestionable for – to this rational and respected western thinker – they were part of life.

As noted above, Irwin may have been influenced by reading Martin Lings' hagiographical biography 'A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century' a biography of the Shiekh who founded the zawiyah at Mostagnem attended first by Schuon and then by Irwin.

Lings book was first published in 1961, well in time for Irwin to pick it up. I appreciate inspiration and wanted to like Lings book. I found it dreadfuly sugary. But it may have led many to project eager expectations onto Mostagnem and then trigger autosuggestions that would lead to lifetimes of chasing after the wind..

Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: walter1963 ()
Date: July 06, 2011 11:09PM

Frithjof Schuon was not only a author and supposed Sufi but a cult leader and convicted molester. People like Martin Lings were part of his coterie.

Both men roped in a lot of European intellectuals with their promotion of Perennialism and many converted to Islam on account of their works.

Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 06, 2011 11:37PM

How Traditionalist Bias Can Blind a Pilgrim to Dangers


Quoted from a review of the Independent:


(Irwin) blithely walked where the Foreign Office would soon advise us not to tread, even hitch-hiking round the Med from Istanbul to the Maghreb, before the Six Day War curtailed such jaunts forever.

'Algeria in the mid-Sixties was a grim place, only recently independent of France, its aggressively secular new rulers repressed anyone deemed overly traditional. Irwin's chosen Alawi sect would be targeted after his return to England. Irwin wonders now how he failed to see the signs.

It is very possible that Irwin failed to see the signs because he may have had his expectations formed by reading Traditionalist Sufi literature.

Traditionalists have and had the bias that modernity represents loss of all that is worthwhile. The Traditionalist perspective is to focus strictly on the quest for hidden, primordial wisdom that modernism has rejected, and to keep focused, with mole like focus, tunnelling toward The Truth and igoring all else as a distraction.

A stance such as this can both give and take away.

Traditionalism can leave an intelligent person highly sensitized and appreciative of whatever fits the biases of this ideology--a sensitivity to beauty and depth, respect and tenderness for elders and what is identified as holy or at least worthwile by Traditionalist criteria.

But this can at the same time take away, leaving this same person blind and deaf to his or her environment.

This is not for lack of intelligence. It is because an intelligent person has trustfully adopted an ideology that through its biases, leaves the adherant adoring and valuing only what is ancient, devaluing and ignoring what is modern. This outcome is a sincere but wilful naivete and an indifference to changes in the political scene, changes that can invade one's cozy sanctuary, and mark one's teachers and oneself for persecution or death.

In short, some ideologies can make an intelligent person naive and blind to danger and IMO, Traditionalism is one of these ideologies.

Irwin is quoted as saying that his search began at university when he wanted to be a Muslim saint.

He became inspired in 1965.

Martin Lings' hagiographical biography of Al-Alawi, entitled A Muslim Saint of the Twentieth Century, was first published in 1961. Al-Alawi had started and was famous for his Zawiya at Mostagnem, in Algeria. Decades earlier, this place had been visited by Frijof Schuon, who spent some months there, and left with a now controversial document, claiming that document was a formal ijaza, giving Schuon the credential to function as a Sufi sheikh. One is not give such a responsiblity after just a few months. Al-Alawi was disciple to his own Sheikh for over ten years.

This controversy about Schuon's credentials is fully explored and traced in Mark Sedgwick's book, Against the Modern World:Traditionalism and the Secret History of the Twentieth Century. Sedgwick's work in taking full inventory of Traditionalism as an ideology and its methods of quiet and not always candid prosylytizing in academia led many to resent Sedgwick's book and claim he had flunked out of esoteric lodge work--anything rather than admit resentment and chagrin at this secretive movement finally being exposed to long overdue scrutiny.

Given that very many readers are now exposed to Sufim through authors with Traditionalist bias, Sedgwick's book came as a welcome resource.

I have read literature by Traditionalist authors from other belief systems, back when I was younger, and can testify that there is something about this body of work that can give a sense of wonder and of great urgency to a young person and inspire an eagerness for self sacrifice.

Like Irwin I felt that challenge, but unlike Irwin, I was a bit older, had already had some disappointments and did not want to put myself at risk. But I can tell the reader that my brush with Traditionalist literature left haunted for many years and in a painful way.

For more about Traditionalism understood objectively as an ideology, read here:



Reviews of Sedgwick's book on Amazon.


When reviews fall into a pattern of those who either appreciate a book vs those who say nasty and vicious things about the author, with few reviews being neutral, that means the author performed a necessary, and valuable service--exposing sneaky shit behavior that needed exposure.

A friend of Sedwicks who had converted to Islam lent him a book by Guenon.


'The book looked innocent enough' Sedwick wrote. 'a Penguin paperback with an AUC (American University of Cairo--the place where Sedgwick taught) library shelfmark on the spine. The date stamp indicated that the book was approximately 12 years overdue, as I pointed out.

'The convert smiled. 'That is far too valuable a book' he said, 'to be trusted to the library. Make sure you give that back to me.'
(Against the Modern World, page 7)

One can only hope there are no librarians at the gates of heaven. If so, that elitist esoteric delinquent will have a lot of explaining to do. It is one thing to let a book go overdue from carelessness, but to deliberately not return a book to the library because one has reached a private judgement that that book should be with-held from the general public, when it was purchased by the library so that it could be made available... that, friends is creepy.

Later, in describing Traditionalism's concept that what looks like social progress is actually social and spiritual regression, Sedgwick writes:


''In the words of a contemporary Traditionalist, a young and talented European scholar of Islam--once the modern world is understood in terms of decline rather than of progress, almost everything else changes, and there are not many people are left that you can usefully talk to.'

(Against the Modern World, page 25)

And on pages 169-70 Sedgwick wrote, speaking of Islamic scholars such as Nasr who are actually influenced by Traditionalism, especially the form taught by Schuon and his eccentric Maryamiyya order:


'Only someone who knows the Traditionalist philosophy and is looking for it will recognize its presence in these books (eg Nasrs Ideals and Realities of Islam--discussed in the prior paragraph same page--C)Traditionalist interpretations are never presented as such but rather are given as the simple truth.
'There need be no dishonesty in this practice' Sedgwick charitably remarks, 'we all present things in the way that we see them, without feeling obligated to explain precisely how we have come to see them in that way....What most readers will be unable to distinguish between is Sufi spirituality and Maryami, or Traditionalist spirituality.

To a specialist in Sufism who is familiar with Traditionalism, almost every essay contains interpretations that are clearly Traditionalist but are never signaled as such. Many of these interpretations are open to dispute, to say the least. To the non specialist reader, however, neither the origin nor the questionable nature of the interpretations is evident.

Not everyone is happy when they discover Traditionalism behind these books. One Scandinavian scientist who had converted to Islam reacted with dismay on reading an article of mine which identified Traditionalist writers that she and others she knew had read unawares:

"Traditionalist books are everywhere..." she wrote. "Perhaps most scary is the subtle penetration of Traditionalist thinking without references...People pick up these ideas because they are appealing and pass them on..('This) is something that affects everyone who depends on non-Arabic (non-Urdu, non-Turkish) literature."

Another person had a slightly different take on the matter, telling Sedwick


"This 'subtle penetration' of Traditionalism also struck another observer, James W Morris, who found it more ironic than sinister. 'One rarely encounters academic specialists in the spiritual dimensions of religious studies who have not in fact read several of the works of Schuon' wrote Morris, but 'This wide ranging influence (by Schuon) is rarely mentioned publicly' because of 'the peculiar processes of academic canonization."

(against the Modern World pp 169-170)

Interestingly, a colleague of Sedwick's had tried to get him interested in Schuon, but before matters could go further, Sedwick was mailed information that revealed Shuons very troubled past. As soon as the friend realized that Sedwick knew this and worse, was shocked---the erstwhile friend abruptly dumped Sedwick!


'This was my first puzzle (about Traditionalism) wrote Sedgwick. 'Some of the major Western authors on Islam were followers of a man who went around dressed in a feather headress, or not dressed at all, painting some very unusual pictures.'
(Pages 9-10)


Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 06, 2011 11:51PM

For further study, there is a forum by and for the Muslim community and a subsection on the Tassawuf (what most refer to as Sufism).


Search this if one wants to study further.

Getting back to Sedgwick's book, Against The Modern World,

On Amazon one reviewer wrote:


Skim the reviews and you can see that two kinds of people read this book: Traditionalists, and others.

Most of the Traditionalists could not be more upset. Someone has taken a glance behind the curtain, cleared the smoke and taken down the mirrors. Traditionalism is just another religious tradition, as fascinating and diverse and imperfect as any other. Although Rene Guenon, the central saint of Traditionalism, comes of looking like a good, sincere and intelligent man, Sedgwick presents him not as a prophet, but as someone other people (not Sedgwick) think of as a prophet. That is not good enough for some people. Schuon seems more suspicious here, and most people who don't follow him would consider that appropriate. He often seems to fit the stereotyope of the modern guru (see Storr's "Feet of Clay"). Most of the minor figures in Traditionalism are also presented favorably, if not as favorably as Traditionalists would like. That disquieting folks such as Evola are included understandably upsets Traditionalists who reject fascism, but it is a fact that they are inseparable from at least the early history of Traditionalism.

The others, who are not Traditionalists, could not be more enchanted with this fascinating information. Essentially esoteric fundamentalism, Traditionalism shows up everywhere, along with its more laid-back cousin Perennialism. You cannot study religion academically today without encountering works by Traditionalists, often essentially polemics for their religion, labeled as if they were secular studies, and often enough even accepted as such. The examples might surprise you: Eliade, Nasr, Corbin. Nasr, I think, is particularly egregious at times; for instance, the "Islam" volumes in Crossroad's "World Spirituality" series, which he edited, ought to be labeled "Traditionalist Sufism." The announced title is not covered at all; it is at least a distortion, if not a deception.

Sedgwick has written the first outside, neutral account of Traditionalism. And--contrary to some assertions here--this book is neutral. It is written for a non-Traditionalist audience, and the author reminds us not to judge them differently than we would any other religious tradition. He is, I think, as sympathetic as an outsider can be to another religious tradition. Anyway, an academic historian should not present any tradition as the fulfilment of human spirituality.

All in all, a very high quality, reliable and fascinating study. That is to be expected from Sedgwick, a highly respected veteran scholar of Islam.

Let me recommend a few other books to consider along with this one. For entertainment and another fascinating glimpse into the unexpectedly dramatic world of religious studies, see Ted Anton's "Eros, Magic, and the Murder of Professor Culianu." For a more in depth look at the founding of comparative religion, and an account of how a worldviews like Traditionalism came to dominate it (until very recently), see "Religion after Religion." If you want to read a more mainstream history of religious studies, see Sharpe's "Comparative Religion: A History."

If you want to read a sympathetic history of Traditionalism, I recommend Oldmeadow's "Journeys East," also an excellent example of Traditionalist expostulation *disguised as neutral scholarship*.

The classic presentation of Traditionalism, the place you must begin, is Guenon's "The Crisis of the Modern World." For a recent presentation, try Quinn's "The Only Tradition."

Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: walter1963 ()
Date: July 07, 2011 12:19AM

Guenon was no better than Schuon, equally batty and morose, if not outright paranoid. He spent his last years in Egypt fighting imaginary occult attacks from a Freemason lodge in Europe.

His books are almost unreadable, some written in the style of European intellectuals like Gebser, Kant, etc. Most are worthy only of the round file. He wrote one book in particular book that is hard to find that really paints him as a lunatic called "Lord of the World".

The sad fact is if you look deeply enough and pull back the veil that conceals the reality of Traditionalism, you see the same sort of ugliness that permeates the asiatic guru centered cults.

Schuon also roped in men like Joe Epes Brown who wrote while under the influence of Schuon "The Sacred Pipe".

If you want to see a list of current Perennial authors check out:


Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 07, 2011 04:28AM

Sufi studies were distorted by a lot of persons operating from a Traditionalist bias that they were not honest enough to state clearly.

At least if someone states he or she has a particular ideological slant, one can take it into account when dealing with their materials.

And Walter is right. Too many Traditionalists did the same thing with Native American studies. Check his list.

Schuon and Guenon refracted material through the bias of emotional need* and could not say up front that that is what they were doing.

The point of practicing as a Sufi is identify emotional needs (aka nafs) that introduce the bondage of bias and become free so as to serve G-d.

Not use G-d to or Tassawuf to serve ambitions--or use G-d to serve Traditionalist biases, either.

Its another way to be crazy on a full stomach.

Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 08, 2011 11:14PM

It appears that Irwin connected with Sufism via Schuon's Maryamiyya, a Traditionalist/biased branch of Sufism.

If interested persons want an objective survey of various persons and books involved with the Maryamiyya, go to this section of Professor Mark Sedgwick's traditionalist studies blog.

The blog is usefully indexed according to topics listed on the right hand sidebar.


Segwick here has a review of a book by


It is with Schuon that art became really important to Traditionalism as a whole.

"This was partly because Schuon came from an artistic milieu and had an artistic "temperament," and partly because one major difference between him and Guénon, as Ringgenberg convincingly argues, was that he was interested in areas that Guénon had ignored– the “human content of spiritual phenomena,” areas of life such as emotion and love, and the living phenomenology of religion. This was one reason he was able to transform Traditionalism from a theory into a reality in the form of the Maryamiyya. And it was also one reason why art became so important.

Art was, in Schuon’s view, important for creating a milieu in which other things became possible. Spiritual influences, he wrote, "need a formal ambience which corresponds to them analogically, without which they do not spread, even if they still remain present." For Schuon, following Plato, earthly beauty was a (poor) reflection of a non-earthly reality, and thus a divine emanation. It was central to his spirituality, and so to that of the Maryamiyya.

Ringgenberg convincingly argues that Schuon's own painting owes rather more to Gauguin than to Traditionalist theory. The problem was that, though claiming to despise and ignore the modern, Schuon’s painting could not overcome the modern, and was itself therefore modern, without acknowledging this and without, as a result, being able to address it.

This may be a problem for Traditionalism as a whole. As Ringgenberg writes, “these authors forget that universalism cannot be expressed as such, that it is always individualized by its expression, and that it is an abstract ideal filtered by human consciousness and by a cultural and historical moment."

One of the central questions that Ringgenberg asks is why all this theorizing on art led, in the end, to nothing.

Despite much interest, no artistic movement resulted.

The only painters to attempt to implement Traditionalist conceptions of art in painting (as opposed to in art history) were Albert Gleizes, who soon abandoned the attempt, and Schuon, whose paintings were hardly "traditional."

'Ringgenberg suggests a number of answers to this question, which may (again) be relevant to assessing the record of Traditionalism as a whole, not just in relation to theories on art.

One of his answers is that Traditionalist theories were over-theoretical, taking too little account of variety and reality, emphasizing what a symbol should mean so much that there was no space for consideration of what it actually did mean to those who created it. Another answer is that great art has to have some sort of dialectical relationship with the society in which it is produced, which Traditionalist art could not, since Traditionalism condemned and then tried to ignore contemporary society.

(**Corboy note: This attitude could also lead a traditionalist to ignore changes in society that could mean danger and death. Successful politics is all about knowing what symbols actually do mean to people. If a Traditionalist aspirant stays focused on an idealized traditional world, says cozily focused in the esoteric meaning of some favored texts or symbols, he or she may ignore how present day politicians and rabble rousers are using those same symbols and texts to stire up violence, a violence that may erupt and then invade the Traditionalists cozy sancturary, bringing persecution and death. )

Professor Sedwick, in his review of Ringgenberg's disseration continues,

"Traditionalism also did not provide enough room for development, R believes: “founded on the axiom of a universalist metaphysics, by definition unchangeable and beyond time, this intellectual perspective did not permit fundamental questioning, and contented itself with repeating, in different terms, ... the opinions and options articulated by its founders.”

Corboy note: These observations and line of reasoning bode ill for various illustrious persons who base their ideas of social reform and architectural ideologies upon various forms of Traditionalism, whether spoken or unspoken. If one is pridefully and vociferously focused on what symbols, buildings and texts should mean versus their actual political meaning, one can with the best of intentions, trigger hurt feelings and ruin opportunities to create mutual respect.

And if famous and surrounded by too many obsequous friends, a sincere person with Traditionalist biases can, with the best of intentions add the confusion.

If one is famous and loudly and awkwardly voices raditionalist biases, using public architecture as a favored rhetorical hobby horse, focuses on the exalted, spiritual meanings of a particular building, while wilfully refusing to see that this very same building is a site of frequent riots, requires constant assignment of security personnel, and all because violently contradictory political meanings are being assigned to that same building--one will only add further to the storm, rather than bringing calm.

The tilework at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem is lovely. Yes, it is worth restoring and the building is of the utmost importance as an example of Ummayad architecture, decorated with the help of Byzantine craftsmen.

But if one is too heavily fixed in Traditionlist biases, one can focus with mole like myopia on that building as spiritual art and ignore the actual and contradictory meanings that non traditionalists have placed upon that building.

As Melville put it, ideas are air. Events are brass.

And Corboy would say, when things go very wrong, events can turn to lead and fire. And one can lose ones life, or at the very least, lose ones home.

Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 08, 2011 11:28PM

A discussion of Schuon, Nasr and others

As Irwin was influenced by Shuon in the course of his own quest, information about Schuon and the lingering controversy after his death will be of use to any interested person or journalist who reads Mr Irwins book.


It is all the more of concern as some associated with Schuon's group tried to inveigle Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, into a correspondance. This was cut short by Merton's accidental death in Thailand.

If Merton had, without his knowledge, been coopted by a group whose leader (Schuon) would get into a controversial mess in the 1980s, Merton, had he lived to see it, would suffered much grief.

See here


Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 09, 2011 12:28AM

There is a wonderful line from the review by one Tim Pendry, who may or may not be a Futurist (linked to Traditionalism despite the name):


'Too many of the movement's gurus end up behaving like sad old gits looking to justify a tormented sexuality or living in poverty for their ideas, half saint, half mad, all holy fool.'

I could think of other 'movements' about which one could say the same.

Re: A New Book--Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 09, 2011 05:49AM

In the lengthly dialog concerning the Maryamiyaa (which Irwin had joined) two parties state this:

One, there has not so far been much published critique from orthodox Muslims of Schuon, because Schuon's stance was so utterly incompatible with Islam that there was no point in dealing with it. If one's job is to be a traffic police officer in Colorado, one need not learn maritime law in order to function competantly as a traffic officer in Boulder, Colorado.

Anonymous said...
I realise that Mark Sedgwick's book has been subject to heavy (sometime bordering on hysterical) criticism by the Perennialists and Traditionalists, but there are also more positive comments by other, non-partisan reviewers. I suppose it's up to the individual reader to make up his or her mind (if they decide to read the book, of course!).

Regardless of the above, I think you'll find it is pretty much an established and non-disputed fact that Schuon claimed to have received visions of the Virgin Mary ("Sayyidatuna Maryam" in Arabic), which led to him naming his group the "Maryamiyyah" and which also served as the inspiration for various of his paintings (if you don't trust M Sedgwick's book, you could try googling "Sir John Taverner", "Schuon", and "Mary" for an account of one of Schuon's own followers).

Also, the point of my posts has been to try and highlight the fact that Schuon "being Schuon" (i.e. his beliefs and practices) make it more and more untenable for him to be portrayed as a Sufi Shaikh within traditional Islam. Now, I also accept that this may not really matter for some people, who may have other reasons for accepting his views. Such people may include yourself, which, if it is the case, I have no quibble with. Certainly, his own followers seem to have come round to such a view:

"I am however forced to recognize that because of the imbrications of religious influences, to locate Schuon within a particular lineage or even to assign him a single religion seems to be an almost impossible task. In the eyes of his followers, the authority of the master of the Maryamiyya did not rely primarily on his connection with the North African Alawiyya, but rather on the metaphysical discernment of his writings and his personal charisma."


As regards "metaphysical arguments", I referred in a previous post to Muslims like Nuh Ha Mim Keller, who have written on why the notion of Perennialism is not acceptable. Essentially, Islam is not one of many current and equally valid religions (or "forms" in Schuon's parlance) serving as gateways to the(higher) Religio Perennis, implying that it is a matter of indifference which religious "form" is followed. Rather, Islam itself is the final and comprehensive religion (Din) for all of mankind, and which has abrogated the previous Divinely-sent religions. This position may be unacceptable and unpalatable for different reasons both to the Pernennialist and modernist mindset, but does indicate why Schuon and the Maryamiyyah will find it difficult to find acceptance as a traditional Shadhili Sufi Shaikh and Tariqah.

April 18, 2010 5:48 PM
Omar said...
For Muslims Islam IS the Religio Perennis, not a one of many forms containing it.

April 20, 2010 7:27 PM

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