Transmodern Sufism, Or Stepping With Levinas On The Footprints Of A Speculative Sufism Not Re-Framed By 20th Century Orientalists, Part 1 (Philipp Valentini)

The following article will be published in three installments.

I am wondering if the agony of years
Could be traced to the seed of an hour
If the roots that spread out in the swamp
Ran too deep for the issuing flower

– Linton Kwesi Johnson, Poem of shape and motion (1998).

The aim of this essay to introduce the reader to the epistemology of a Non-European Transmodern form of Sufism. I name Transmodern Sufism the historical trajectory of a form of Sufism that strongly belongs to the school of Ibn’Arabī [1] (1165-1240) that has not been reframed by European converts to Islam or spiritual seekers that believed to find in the name (emptied of its historical content) of Ibn’Arabī a post-renaissance holistic philosophy of religion that stipulates the existence of a universal tradition that transcends the existing religions such as, among others, Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism[2].

Transmodern Sufism names thus a split that cuts the proper name of Ibn’Arabī in two halves: the split between an “universal” that has the color of the White hegemonic post-Christian man and a subalternized epistemology that walked its first steps in Damascus in the 17th century and flourished in West Africa in the 20th century.

I first briefly present a modern hegemonic epistemological that is both universalist and European. This form of Sufism is heavily inspired by the presence of “Paul” in its discourses.

I then attempt to show how this worldview organizes a spiritual community in Rome and the resistances that it finds among the younger Sufis as well as in the community of immigrants that have freshly arrived in Italy. Secondly, I move to the heart of this paper, i.e. the description of a transmodern epistemological Sufi device that has escaped both the processes of the embourgeoisement of the postcolonial élite in Arab countries as well as its being re-framed by a high number of White European converts to Islam.

Andrea Mura’s notion of transmodernity[3] defines it as the practice of a discourse that challenges the ‘modern’ and ‘postmodern’ attitudes to existence from three standpoints: a spatial displacement, an emphasis on virtuality and finally a process of fragmentation.  The modern ‘attitude’ to existence according to Foucault’s word, rests on the difference between subject and object as well as on a state that patronizes the industrial transformation of the landscape it governs while centralizing all the intellectual and economic activities under its umbrella.

Postmodernism has grown from the awareness that from the 1980’s onward, the state did not have the power to centralize all the international economic activities and thus has radically challenged the idea of an anthropology based on the idea that the subject as such acts as a fundament to all its movements. Postmodernism has thus given importance to the processes that move virtual ontologies. It has given importance to all these aspects of existence that are not unified by a homogenous transcendental unity. Mura argues then that what postmodernism often lacks is a moment of self-awareness of its economic determinations.

Transmodernism arrives as a reaction to postmodernism in the sense that it has become aware of its economic and sociological determinations and the ways it participates to the late capitalist organization of the processes of globalization. What transmodernism does is to give new meanings to pre-modern symbolical scenarios in order to challenge the knot that ties together late capitalism and postmodern philosophies inside and outside of the academia. This is the task I would like to undertake in the following paragraphs while investigating what could be the epistemology of a historically existing transmodern speculative Sufi current.

Starting with Paul

Modern Western Muslim universalists tend to look at those classical Islamic commentaries of the Qur’an that portray Paul as a betrayer of the “true” monotheistic message of Christ as a dark legend that will be abandoned when all Muslims will finally recognize the truthfulness of the eternal metaphysical truth.  Paul is then used to distinguish the imperfection of a Semitic approach to the world from the perfect Aryan understanding of the eternal revelation. The name “Paul” thus enacts a process of de-semitization of Islam and a process of Aryanization[4] of this same religion through the reunion of Paul with neoplatonist Arab speaking philosophers.

The perfect example of this epistemic violence is the following passage from Frithjof Schuon (1907-1998)[5]:

The whole difficulty comes from the fact that Semites envisage the existence of only one world, namely ours, whether the non-semiticized Aryan accept and indefinite number of creations (…) between these two theses, it is the philosophers and not the theologians who were right (…) since to paraphrase St.Paul, one cannot testify to great truths except by the Holy Spirit.[6]

In this quote, the Semite corresponds to the form of the religion that limits the understanding of the theologians while Paul’s Holy Ghost expresses the mystical perfection of Aryan and Neoplatonist Arab speaking philosophers. The world is associated to the Semite that threatens the order of the great chain of being “we” are living in that is known by the Neo-Platonist Philosopher as well as by the Aryanised Hindu master but ignored by the “Semite”.

The latter is the enemy that needs to be destroyed as Schuon’s Islam expels from its discursive coherence its theology and welcomes the Aryan esoteric doctrine. The Semite is the exception that needs to be destroyed by the one who exceptionally rules of the whole of the Law that orders the perfect metaphysics and cosmos that should be naturally known by all but is in fact only known by a few.

On the opposite, neo-classical and non-universalist European Muslims tend to see these Islamic accusations against the figure of Paul as indicating something about the core of the difference between Christian theologies and Islamic hemeneutical practices. The following statement by Abdal Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter) uses also the signifier ‘Semite’ but with a positive statement that underscores the continuity between Islam and Judaism:

Yet when St Paul carried his version of the Christian message beyond Jewish boundaries into the wider gentile world, this image of Christ’s sonship was interpreted not metaphorically, but metaphysically. The resultant tale of controversies, anathemas and political interventions is complex; but what is clear is that the Hellenized Christ, who in one nature was of one substance with God, and in another nature was of one substance with humanity, bore no significant resemblance to the ascetic prophet who had walked the roads of Galilee some three centuries before.  From the Muslim viewpoint, this de-semiticising of Jesus was a catastrophe.[7]

These two contrasting attitude towards ‘Paul’ are the product of two different epistemological devices. A paulinian theology understands the exception that rules over the Law as that sovereignty that has the power to determine which are the exceptions that suspend the totality of the Law and thus have to be destroyed.

Gil Anidjar reminds us that:

Insofar, as he is of God, belonging to God while having  been abandoned, given up, and betrayed him, insofar as he is under God’s law, at once under the law and excluded from it, the theological enemy –at once enemy and beloved, is at the center of Romans[8].

In this Paulinian theology, the “Law” is presented as a conceptual whole that is split in its practice between its imagined fulfillment that exceeds the sum of the social interactions and the fact that singularities don’t recognize its fulfilled wholeness. The state has than the function to rule over this discrepancy. Why is this the case?

The Paulinian hermeneutical practice [9] assembles its people in religious places but politically rules over it through a State. Paul’s sentence “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God “[10] hints towards the idea that in this religious way of thinking, the State embodies the sovereignty of the “whole of the Law” that exceeds the sum of the social interactions.

Moreover, Paul’s disciple is “wise” because he is the “fullfilment” of the “whole of the Law” that is applied by the Christian State that crushes its non-christian ennemies so that out of love they can become similar to their Christian neighbors[11]. The State is the one who in God’s name applies the “whole of the law” to the human community at large (Christian assemblies and non-Christian-assemblies). In this organization of reality, the present that can’t be touched because it is always elapsed can be intellectually and emotionally grasped if integrated in a religious drama that sees three moments: a past beyond all pasts[12], a present that is unthinkable because made of scattered pieces that can only be reunited through a divine and bloody sacrifice[13], a future in which the past beyond all past will reappear and destroy the present world.

The present world is, at least since the Andalusian Reconquista in 1449, identified with those that have not transformed their body into a vessel of the purity of the blood of Christ and thus must be purified by a bloody sacrifice. This third moment extends over the whole globe the authority of the universal truth that was until then only known by a few: “all will be in all”[14].  Romanticism as the ideological expression of the intersection of capitalism and colonialism saw as its mission the transformation of the unbereable present into the eschatological moment in which different ways of understanding one’s identity should be transformed in Paul’s statement: “that God may be all in all”. As Lévinas puts it in Quelques réflexions sur la philosophie de l’hitlérisme:

Comment l’universalité est-elle compatible avec le racisme ? (…) elle doit faire place à l’idée d’expansion[15].

The non-paulinian hermeneutical practice is suspicious of the State because no “Law” is ever whole and fulfilled. In this second line of thought, the “Law” exists only so far people discuss its fictitous coherence and continuously question it from the perspective of the perception of the ‘whole of wisdom’. As Lévinas puts it:

La sagesse talmudique n’ignore rien de la contradiction  interne de l’Etat[16] subordonnant pour les libérer, des hommes aux hommes, quels que soient les principes qu’incarnent ceux qui détiennent le pouvoir[17].

Here, it is the “whole of wisdom” (la sagesse talmudique) that functions as the fictitious ‘whole’ that organizes social interactions. This ‘whole’ can be learned only though the meticulous discursive study of singular and practical cases and the personal and mystical experience of the wisdom that is silently embedded in the conversations about this ‘whole’. Here, we don’t find a religious drama. Here, the unbearable present is seen as something that can be grasped only through the act of receiving from God words of repentance[18]  that elect the subject by putting her or him outside of the contingent character of historical processes: in the memory of an election that doesn’t vanish and in whose name the catastrophic character of the contingent present moment is forgiven[19] and thus can be changed.

In his text on Hitler’s philosophy, Lévinas reminds us that:

Le judaïsme apporte ce message magnifique. Le remords -expression douloureuse de l’impuissance radicale de réparer l’irréparable- annonce le repentir générateur du pardon qui répare. (…). Le temps perd son irréversibilité même[20].

Paulinian European Islam has gained success in Europe since the fiftees and many European have not only converted to Sufi Islam but also opened Sufi lodges in which they have conveyed their paulinian interpretation of Islam and Sufism. They have been unchallengend until the arrival of migrants that belong to the same global Sufi orders of these converts and a younger well travelled generation that has become aware of the multiplicity of Sufi epistemologies and their different theopolitical practices.

A Conflict of Epistemologies Inside a Sufi Zawiya in Rome

In the Zawiya (Sufi Lodge) of the Buhraniya order in Rome, a conflict between its members was so strong that the mother lodge in Sudan sent one of its representatives to settle the dispute. The first group was made of a White older generation that ruled over the community and read the teachings of the founder of the Sufi order through the lens of the books of René Guénon[21] (1886-1951). The second group was constituted of a very younger generation and the Egyptian and Sudanese immigrants that were already in the brotherhood in their home country before arriving in Italy.

For them, the affects that run over the body and the performance of the rituals were more important than a long philosophical investigation over the metaphysical meanings of the Sufi litanies. The Egyptian Muslim scholar argued in favor of the second group against the White older generation even if his daily life was financially sponsored by the aids he received from them. Abenante[22] argues that the White older generation had a patronizing and ultimately racist attitude towards the Sudanese and Egyptian disciples as they would not accept that an entire other epistemology was at stake in their practice of the Sufi litanies. She reports the following saying of one of the community leaders:

Many of these, let’s call them extra-communitarians, come to Italy to work. They already belong to the Tariqa in Egypt before arriving, but they do not perceive it as we do … they are not at our level … we, we are seeking a spiritual path, a spiritual lineage … for them the Tariqa is a .. a natural thing .. they start the awrād and they are not conscious of what they are doing … Many of them say: tell me what I have to do, I don’t want to know the theory … they don’t want to know, understand … For us instead understanding is the core of inner growth, for both spiritual and cultural advancement … we may call it knowledge.

Furthermore, the Egyptian Scholar recognized the cultural dimension of the epistemology of the Perennialist White ruling group. Abenante describes his settlement in the following manner:

His verdict was that the European converts, and especially the Italians, were overly influenced by their study of Islam and by their previous Catholic education, to the point that they did not acknowledge the importance of the body on their spiritual journey and the material efficacy of Burhani ritual performances.

What Abenante calls material efficacy is the belief that the recitation of the Qur’an and the Sufi litanies affect the body in such a way that that the Spirit writes its message on the body itself though these affects (and not through metaphysical teachings inscribed in a book). The Spirit is not looked after inside the study of an intellectual doctrine that is studied before any practice and is already a priori justified by the practice of Sufi litanies. Instead, the writing of the Spirit is read on the affects that run on the body during the Sufi rituals.

The older white generations of converts that has been criticized by the Egyptian Sufi Master abided scholastically to a philosophy of religion established by René Guénon (1886-1950), a French philosopher of religions who lived as a Muslim in Cairo in the last years of his life.

The purpose of this essay is not to deconstruct Guénon’s philosophy. It wishes rather to sketch a trajectory  of a Sufi Hermeneutical device that has not been reframed by a philosophy inspired by the books of Guénon. Nonetheless, in order to start uncovering the tracks of non-Europeanized Sufi epistemology, I need to first share with the reader the fundamental coordinates of Guénon’s epistemology. Following what a European Sufi commentator of Guénon might well do, I pick up four crucial questions and quote Guénon’s books to answer these.

A. How should I act in front of the fact that my self-identity seems always to slip out of my hands?

The sensation of being myself is an illusion that needs to be overcome by identifying oneself with the only true Self of the First Principle from which all emanates. Guénon writes: “The Self is the transcendental  and permanent principal from which any  manifested being, like the human being for instance, is a transitory and contingent modification[23].

B. What is the general connection between the godhead and the human being?

The impersonal Essence of the First Principle manifests itself in the face of a personalized divinity for the religious person that is not initiated to the secrets of the esoteric meaning of her tradition. Guénon writes: ” From the metaphysical perspective, the Principle is simultaneously impersonnal and personal. It is impersonal in itself, and personal from the point of view of the universal manifestation.”[24]

Benny Levy has widely shown how the metaphor of the impersonal godhead and personal divinity has been used by German Idealism against the religious Jewish teachings. While analyzing Schelling’s treatment of the Jewish Hebrew texts, he has demonstrated that Schelling ascribed the personalized divinity to Judaism. Schelling argues then that the impersonal Godhead of the pre-Christian mythologies discloses t its hidden teaching in the figure of Christ, thus overcoming the obstacle or imperfection of the “Jewish” God[25].

The same can be stated for Guénon. In his philosophy of religion, the “personal” divinity belongs to the religious person that is not initiated to the inner truth of her tradition. Once she knows and experiences the esoteric truths of her tradition, she is able to overcome the imperfection of her previous beliefs and thus receive an intellectual intuition of the Self-identity of the First Principle.

C. What is the purpose of the path that transforms the Sufi?

Guénon and his pupils believe that Sufi rituals are scientifically proven techniques that have a non-human origin. They transform the Sufi in such a way that she receives an intellectual intuition of the identity between the First Principle or Self and the reflection of the eternal I in her heart. Guénon writes: “It is now easy to understand that the secret name of the Fedeli d’Amore is the expression of the Pincipial Unity[26].

D. How do I have to deal with dualities and set them into movement? Guénon writes: “The center of the cross is the point in which oppositions are conciliated and resolved. It is the point in which the synthesis of all oppositions is done[27].

 

If this is the social and epistemological context in which a synthesis between paulinian idealist hermeneutics and European supremacist self-understandings are at work, how are we to conceptualize a mystical experience in a Transmodern Sufi context?

Philipp Valentini submitted his PhD thesis at the university of Fribourg (Switzerland) in April 2018. He works at the crossroad between 20th century French anti-philosophy (Levinas, Lacan) and early modern and West African speculative Sufism. The title of his PhD Dissertation is “A Critical Portrait of Four Perennialist Scholars: Franz-Joseph Molitor, ʿAbd al-Halīm Mahmūd, Michel Valsan, Henry Corbin. How Sufism became a European Philosophy of Religion“. Together with Prof. Mahdi Tourage, he is currently editing a book Esoteric Lacan for the serie Reframing Continental Philosophy of Religion (London: Rowman and Littlefield International, April 2019). This book gathers twelve scholars from different disciplines and religious backgrounds around a quest for the unspoken message of Lacan’s teachings.

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[1] Ibn’Arabī is often named the greatest of the Sufi Shaykh by Muslim scholars and Sufis. His books have been interpreted in very different manners by his disciples until recently. The main intellectual conflict that has shaped the Muslim world until modern times was between a Philosophical understanding of Reality and a Juridical and Linguistical interpretation of Reality. The first group tries to answer the question what is the order that connects the First Principle to the existentiated beings of this world. The second group states that this question can receive no rational answer and that it is by examining the ethical dynamics of the concrete situations in which believers are engaged as well as the grammatical structures of the Qur’an that the Muslim believer comes to know the divine reality. This dispute works also inside the different schools that have interpreted Ibn’Arabī ‘s books. See Anthony shaker, Thinking in the language of reality, (Lac-des-Iles, QC: Xlibris, 2012), Forward.

If we trace a line in which on the extreme left we find those that, in their interpretation of Ibn’Arabī ‘s teachings, privilege Ontological examination over a Grammatical and Juridical  (O>G&J) one and on the far right the opposite  (G&J>O) we could sketch the following picture:

O>G&J Kashani (d. 1329)________________ Isma’il Haqqi (1653-1725)___________Niasse (1900-1875)__ G&J>O

 ‘Abder Razaq Kashani was trained as a philosopher but became a follower of Sufism afterwards. He is widely quoted by Modern French and American Sufi converts and Academic Orientalists as his ontological and analogical way of thinking comes close to European Renaissance philosophies. Nonetheless, he is regarded as putting too much emphasis on ontological considerations by Sunni Scholars such as Gabriel Haddad (cf. “The Study Qur’an review”, review of The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (2015) in: The Muslim World Book Review, 36:3 (2016), 20-25). Isma’il Haqqi is an Ottoman scholar that has written a whole comment of the Qur’an that is widely quoted in the Transmodern Sufi trajectory presented below. Ibrahim Niasse is a Senegalese Sufi scholar that I present below. Haqqi quotes Kashani with parsimony while Niasse doesn’t quote Kashani at all in his own commentary of the Qur’an. Nonetheless, Niasse does explicitly praise Haqqi’s spiritual hermeneutics. For these last considerations see Oludamini Ogunnaike, In the Gardens with Ibrahim, in Journal of Qur’anic studies 10.2 (2918): 28-46.

[2] For a general presentation of this current, see: Mark Sedgwick , Against the modern world (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) ;  Suha Taji-Farouki, Beshara and Ibn’Arabi (London: Anqa Publishing, 2007). For a critical study of this philosophical current, see: Gregory Lipton, Rethinking Ibn’Arabi (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019) ; Ali Ghandour, Kommentar zu drei Versen aus Turguman al Ashaq von Sheikh al Akbar Ibn’Arabi, accessed on the 10.03.2018: http://ibnarabi.de/pdf/Turguman.pdf ; Gabriel Haddad, “The Study Qur’an review”, review of The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary (2015) in: The Muslim World Book Review, 36:3 (2016), 20-25.

[3] Andrea Mura, The Symbolic Function of Transmodernity, in: Language and Psychoanalysis 1 (2012), 67-86.

[4] Gregory Lipton, De-Semiticizing Ibn ʿArabī, Aryanism and the Schuonian Discourse of Religious Authenticity, in Numen 64 (2017): 258–93.

[5] Schuon was a Swiss German philosopher of religions that had converted to Islam in his twenties. He has started his own Sufi tariqa in 1965 after having received a vision of the naked Virgin Mary. In the article by Lipton quoted above, the American scholar has widely shown the völkisch and ayranist tendencies that sculpt the form of Schuon’s universalist philosophy of religion. For a philosophical consideration on the aryanist background of Religionswissenschaft, see: Carl Raschke, Postmodernism and the revolution in religious theory (London: University of Virginia Press, 2012), 52-69.

[6]  Frithjof Schuon, The essential Frithjof Schuon (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2005), 139-140. Emphasis is mine.

[7] Abdal-Hakim Murad, The Trinity, a Muslim Perspective (Text of a lecture given to a group of Christians in Oxford, 1996), accessed on the 06.07.2017: http://masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ahm/trinity.htm . Emphasis is mine.

[8] Gil Anidjar, The Jew, The Arab : a History of the Enemy (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003) 8.

[9] In the context of this dissertation, the paulinian tradition names here: a docetic figure between the concrete world and the abstract world, a biological understanding of the enemy, a modern State that regulates the differences between the common world of things and the super-natural experience of the abstract world. These items mark the theology of global capitalism. Three historical moments constitute its present doctrine: 1. the rule of the limpieza del sangre in the Catholic Andalusia in 1449 that accompanies the first attempt to create a modern State. 2. the constitution of a perennialist Christology in the times of early Capitalism in the Italian Renaissance (Agostino Steucho) 3. the constitution of docetic christologies in the era of German nationalisms in the 19th century, mainly targeted against Jews (Franz-Joseph Molitor).

[10] “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves (…) Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

[11] Romans (13: 9-10): “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

[12] Colossians (1: 15-16): “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy”

[13] (Ephesians 1: 6-10): “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth”

[14] (Colossians 3:11): “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” and 1 Corinthians 15,28 : “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” Emphasis is mine.

[15] Emmanuel Levinas, Quelques réflexions sur la philosophie de l’hitlérisme (Paris : Payot, 1997), 22. Emphasis is mine.

[16] Here is meant the Roman state that in the interpretations of the Talmud made by Lévinas indicates both the political form of imperialism and the necessity to establish a law that stops the war of all against all.

[17] Emmanuel Lévinas, l’Etat de César et l’Etat de David, in L’au-delà du verset (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1982), 209-221, 217.

[18] (Deutoronomy 4:10-12): “the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Assemble the people for Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children. 11 And you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of the heavens, with darkness, a cloud, and opaque darkness..The Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no image, just a voice”. The few translations of the Torah here given and in the following footnotes are from the translation of Avraham Rosenberg (New York: Judaica Press, 1989). In this chapter I am interested in those translations that are currently used by the religious communities and can’t enter at this initial stage of the dissertation into philological considerations on these same translations.

Qur’an (2:143): “Thus, We appointed you a midmost community that you might be witnesses to the people; and that the Messenger might be a witness to you, and We did not appoint the direction you were facing, except that We might know, who followed the Messenger from him who turned on his heels – though it were a grave thing, save for those whom God has guided; but God would never cause your faith to be wasted; truly, God is Gentle with people, Merciful.”  Translation by the Royal Aal-Bayt Institute for Islamic Institute (Amman, Jordan).

[19] (Leviticus 16:30-31): “For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord. It is a sabbath of solemn rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; it is a statute for ever”.

Qur’an (2:37): “Adam, then, received words from his Lord for He turned to him in forgiveness. Truly, He, He is The Accepter of Repentance, The Compassionate.”

[20] Emmanuel Levinas, Quelques réflexions sur la philosophie de l’hitlérisme (Paris: Payot), 9.

[21] For a general presentation of the life and thoughts of René Guénon, see David Bisson, René Guénon, une politique de l’esprit (Paris: Guillaume de Roux, 2003). René Guénon believed that Modern Europe had lost the esoteric knowledge of the Universal Tradition that was first known by Adam . Among the existing traditions, the Advaita-Vedanta of India was the one that had best kept its secrets while a neo-hermetic form of Islam was the eschatological tradition that was adapted to the mentality of mankind in the final times and thus had the authority to guide people towards the spiritual perfection that is taught by the gate keepers of the universal tradition.

[22] Paola Abenante, “Essentializing Difference. Text, knowledge and ritual performance in a Sufi brotherhood in Italy,” The e-Journal of Economics & Complexity 2, no. 1 (May 2016), 51-68. See also: Paola Abenante, “Misticismo Islamico: Riflessioni Sulle Pratiche di Una Confraternita Contemporanea”, in:  Meridiana, no. 52 (2005): 65-94. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23205330: ” She reports the following statement of one of the spoekesmen of the older generation, named Shams, that defends an intellectual and guenonian form of Sufism: “Many of these, let’s call them extra-communitarians, come to Italy to work. They already belong to the Tariqa in Egypt before arriving, but they do not perceive it as we do … they are not at our level … we, we are seeking a spiritual path, a spiritual lineage … for them the Tariqa is a .. a natural thing .. they start the awrād and they are not conscious of what they are doing … Many of them say: tell me what I have to do, I don’t want to know the theory … they don’t want to know, understand … For us instead understanding is the core of inner growth, for both spiritual and cultural advancement … we may call it knowledge.” ”

[23] René Guénon, L’Homme et son devenir selon le Vêdânta, Chap. II – Distinction fondamentale du « Soi » et du « moi »

[24] René Guénon, Introduction générale à l’étude des doctrines hindoues (Paris: Editions Trédaniel, 1997), chap. VII.

[25] See Benny Levy, « Philosophie de la. Révélation ? Schelling,. Rosenzweig, Lévinas », in Cahiers d’Études. Lévinassiennes, n° 2 (2003) 283-383.

[26] René Guénon, La Grande Triade (Pairs: Gallimard, 1946), chap. XXV.

[27] René Guénon, Le Symbolisme de la Croix (Paris: Vega, 1931) chap.VI.

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