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by Frithjof Schuon
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  • Author:
    Frithjof Schuon
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    World Wisdom Books; 1st Paperback Edition edition (June 1, 1981)
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    163 pages
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Born in Tehran, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the son of an educator, received a P. from Harvard University in 1958, after which he returned to Iran to teach and eventually to become a university chancellor

World Wisdom features a series titled "The Writings of Frithjof Schuon" . The Quintessential Esoterism of Islam

Our online Library contains many articles and poems written by Frithjof Schuon, allowing readers to see a representative sample of his remarkable body of work. The Quintessential Esoterism of Islam. Sufism Veil and Quintessence: A New Translation with Selected by Letters.

Sufism: Veil and Quintessence A New Translation with Selected Letters (The Writings of Frithjof Schuon). Roots of the Human Condition (Library of Traditional Wisdom). File: PDF, . 3 MB. 28.

Sufism: Veil and Quintessence. From the Divine to the Human. Christianity/Islam: Essays Sufism. Materials for High Temperature Power Generation and Process Plant Applications. 59 MB·31,745 Downloads·New!. Dietary Reference Intakes. 306 Pages·2001·886 KB·13,681 Downloads·New!

Frithjof Schuon, philosopher and metaphysician, is the best known proponent of the Perennial Philosophy.

A useful guide to students of Sufism, revealing the "If thou wouldst reach the kernel", said Meister Eckhart, "thou must break the shell". Prayer Fashions Man: Frithjof Schuon on the Spiritual Life (Library of Perennial Philosophy).

The Quintessential Esoterism of Islam. The online library of articles at religioperennis. Frithjof Schuon: A Face of Eternal Wisdom. Sophia", Vol. 4, No. 2, 1998

The Quintessential Esoterism of Islam. Sufism Veil and Quintessence: A New Translation with Selected Letters. Diversity of Revelation" appears in Gnosis, Divine Wisdom: A New Translation with Selected Letters by Frithjof Schuon, published by World Wisdom. Diversity of Revelation. Gnosis, Divine Wisdom: A New Translation with Selected Letters. Comparative Religion. 2, 1998. 2 entries (Displaying results 1 - 2). A New Translation with Selected Letters. A volume in the prestigious Library of Living Philosophers series has been dedicated to his thought. An excerpt from the foreword. This book has a place of honor in this genre of literature.

Frithjof Schuon - The Transcendent Unity of Religions (Quest Book). Frithjof Schuon - Sufism: Veil and Quintessence A New Translation with Selected Letters (The Writings of Frithjof Schuon). Frithjof Schuon - Roots of the Human Condition (Library of Traditional Wisdom).

Schuon makes a critical distinction between an absolute Islam and a contingent Islam. Surveying the fundamental and thus indispensable elements of the Islamic revelation allows one to gain a perspective on its more relative aspects. The Arab style, with its pious exaggerations, ellipses, hyperbolism and love of sublimity, is seen here not only in its tendency to obscure pure sapeintial knowledge, but also in light of its profound spiritual intention. Also included is a chapter which situates philosophy with regard to the concerns of faith and theology, restoring to it its normal and legitimate meaning of love of divine and eternal Wisdom.

This work is unparalleled in the Islamic world. It is a unique perspective on Islam that has its eye constantly of the essence of the Massage and not the variety of forms and "human clothing of the massage." In a world with so much bias against Islam, which is understandable but not entirely justified, this book is a gem that every Muslim or spiritual man must read and think through. This to be said, it is important to understand that the Absolute version of Islam that Scheuon unveils barely exists among practicing Muslims and even Islamic scholars. What is seen in real world in unfortunately contingent Islam which has its defects and imperfections precisely because it is contingent of the particular human clothing of it; this contingent Islam has nothing to do with the absolute Islam. What is frequently observed among Muslims, if viewed from the point of view of absolute Islam and even with reference to Koran itself, is nothing but Shirk and Kufr. The contingent Islam associates to The Absolute what is essentially human and defective, and it substitutes his own worldly visions of good and evil for what is transcendent to world. It is not a surprise that Koran refers to The Absolute, besides its name Allah, the attribute "Haq," which means precisely truth and absolute truth. There is nothing worldly in this conception of The Absolute, which pertains to Absolute Islam.
Schuon beautifully explicates these matter and differences, and he does in such an unparalleled way that can appeal to the Eastern moralist as it can to the Western intellectual. This is the beauty of his work; he has been able to surpass all that is superficial in all religions and so he has accessed what is properly called the perennial philosophy which must have the function of unveiling the unity of all religions in respect to their quintessences. And Schuon has fulfilled this promise in "Sufism; Veil and Quintessence."
Highly recommendable work both for its content and for its smooth and effective style of presentation.
"There is a "contingent" Islam just as there is an "absolute" Islam. In order to separate the second from certain debatable elements pertaining only to the human clothing of the Message and not to the Message in itself, we are obliged also to give an account of the first, especially since esoterism is at stake, but it is obviously "absolute" Islam that matters to us..."

This ambitious and sublime treatise on the nature of Sufism is, according to my knowledge, unprecedented; and no wonder, since it was penned by the enigmatic spiritual genius Frithjof Schuon. What Schuon seeks to convey to his reader is that Sufism is comprised of an essential doctrine and practice which must be intuited and distinguished from its historical character, or its Semitic vestment. He begins by saying: ""Veil" (hijab) and "quintessence" (lubab): two words which are opposite in meaning, both as symbols and as doctrinal expressions, and which refer respectively to the outward and the inward, or to contingency and necessity. When we discern in Sufism a "veil," this must here be understood, not in the completely general sense that applies to every expression of the transcendent, but in a particular sense that pertains to historical Sufism by reason of its being bound up with a denominational psychology and an ardent temperament."

Throughout the work Schuon draws up the implications of a Sufism that remains imprisoned in certain unnecessary encumbrances which are related to its historical form on the one hand, and what might be called Sufism as such, or quintessential Sufism on the other - obviously siding with Sufism in its quintessence. As for the former Schuon dedicates a remarkable essay on what could be called the problematics of Arab rhetoric, and goes to great length to show the inferior character of dogmatic theology (kalam) in relation to essential Sufism, while maintaining that dogmatic theology is necessary for the ordinary believer. Schuon finds his support in various Qur'anic and traditional sources, but because he is starting with a certainty of the Absolute rather than the skepticism of the ancient Arabs that the Qur'an originally addressed he finds his starting point in pure metaphysics. From this starting point Schuon examines Sufism, discarding those accruements which complicate and offset its raison d`etre and highlighting whatever constitutes its integral orthodoxy.

"The intrinsic orthodoxy of Islam results from its Message: God (Allah), the Prophet (Muhammad), Prayer (Salat), Almsgiving (Zakat), the Fast (Siyam), the Pilgrimage (Hajj); to which the Holy War (Jihad) may be added on occasion. God: the Absolute, is Real; that is to say, He is Reality (Haqq), Necessary Being (al- Wujud al-Mutlaq), therefore That which cannot not be, whereas things can either be or not be; being unique, He excludes all that is not He; being total, He includes all that is possible or existent; there is nothing "alongside" Him and nothing "outside" Him. -- The Prophet: this thesis states the very principle of Revelation, its modes and its rhythms; if there is a God and if there are men, there must necessarily also be Messengers of God. --Prayer: likewise, if there is a God and if there are men, there is necessarily a dialogue; it is given by this very confrontation. --Almsgiving: this principle results from the fact that man in not alone, that he lives in society and that he must know, and feel, that "the other" is also "I"; whence the necessity for charity at all levels. -- The Fast: this principle is founded on the necessity for sacrifice; whoever receives must also give, and further, the body is not everything, any more than is the world; the spirit can ennoble matter but matter is nonetheless fallen. --The Pilgrimage: this is the principle of the return to the source, to the primordial sanctuary, and thus also to the heart. --Holy War: this results from the right, and in certain cases the duty, to defend the Truth; esoterically or even morally, it becomes the struggle against passional and mental darkness; one must overcome the inborn worship of the world and the ego so as to be integrated into the reign of Peace (dar as-Salam)... The Islamic religion is divided into three constituent parts: Iman, Faith, which contains everything that one must believe; Islam, the Law, which contains everything that one must do; Ihsan...Ihsan is right-believing and right-acting, and at the same time it is their quintessence: the quintessence of right-believing is metaphysical truth, the Haqiqah, and that of right-acting is the practice of invocation, the Dhikr. Ihsan comprises so to speak two modes, depending on its application: the speculative and the operative, namely intellectual discernment and unitive concentration; in Sufi language this is expressed exactly by the terms Haqiqah and Dhikr, or by Tawhid, "Unification," and Ittihad, "Union." For the Sufis, the "hypocrite" (munafiq) is not only the one who gives himself airs of piety in order to impress people, but in a general way, one who is profane, who does not draw all the consequences that are implied in the Dogma and the Law, hence the man who is not sincere, since he is neither consequential nor whole; now Sufism (tasawwuf) is nothing other than sincerity (sidq) and the "sincere" (siddiqan) are none other than the Sufis."

In addition to essential formulations such as these Schuon has delivered a metaphysical commentary on the two Testaments of Faith (Shahadahtan) which serve as the foundation for the entire religion of Islam that are equally unprecedented in terms of their succinctness and directness.

"The first Testimony of Faith (Shahadah) comprises two parts, each of which is composed of two words: la ilaha and illa `Llah, "no divinity--except the (sole) Divinity." The first part, the "negation" (nafy), corresponds to Universal Manifestation, which in regard to the Principle is illusory, whereas the second part, the "confirmation" (ithbat), corresponds to the Principle, which is Reality and which in relation to Manifestation is alone real.

And yet, Manifestation possesses a relative reality, lacking which it would be pure nothingness; complementarily, there must be within the principial order an element of relativity, lacking which this order could not be the cause of Manifestation, and therefore of what is relative by definition; this is what is expressed graphically by the Taoist symbol of the Yin- Yang, which is an image of compensatory reciprocity. That is to say, the Principle comprises at a lower degree than its Essence a prefiguration of Manifestation, which makes the latter possible; and Manifestation for its part comprises in its center a reflection of the Principle, lacking which it would be independent of the latter, which is inconceivable, relativity having no consistency of its own.

The prefiguration of Manifestation in the Principle --the principial Logos -- is represented in the Shahadah by the word illa (except" or "if not"), whereas the name Allah expresses the Principle in itself; and the reflection of the Principle -- the manifested Logos -- is represented in its turn by the word ilaha ("divinity"), while the word la ("there is no" or "no"), refers to Manifestation as such, which is illusory in relation to the Principle and consequently cannot be envisaged outside or separately from it.

This is the metaphysical and cosmological doctrine of the first Testimony, that of God (la ilaha illa `Llah). The doctrine of the second Testimony, that of the Prophet (Muhammadun Rasulu `Llah), refers to Unity, not exclusive this time, but inclusive; it enunciates, not distinction, but identity; not discernment, but union; not transcendence, but immanence; not the objective and macrocosmic discontinuity of the degrees of Reality, but the subjective and microcosmic continuity of the one Consciousness. The second Testimony is not static and separative like the first, but dynamic and unitive.

Strictly speaking, the second Testimony -- according to the quintessential interpretation -- envisages the Principle only in terms of three hypostatic aspects, namely: the manifested Principle (Muhammad), the manifesting Principle (Rasul) and the Principle in itself (Allah). The entire accent is put on the intermediate element, Rasul, "Messenger"; it is this element, the Logos, that links the manifested Principle to the Principle in itself. The Logos is the "Spirit" (Ruh) of which it has been said that it is neither created nor uncreated or again, that it is manifested in relation to the Principle and non-manifested or principial in relation to Manifestation.

The word Rasul, "Messenger," indicates a "descent" of God towards the world; it equally implies an "ascent" of man toward God. In the case of the Mohammedan phenomenon, the descent is that of the Koranic Revelation (laylat al-qadr), and the ascent is that of the Prophet during the "Night Journey" (laylat al-mi'raj); in the human microcosm, the descent is inspiration, and the ascent is aspiration; the descent is divine grace, while the ascent is human effort, the content of which is the "remembrance of God" (dhikru `Llah); whence the name Dhikru `Llah given to the Prophet.

The three words dhakir, dhikr, madhkur-- a classical ternary in Sufism -- correspond exactly to the ternary Muhammad, Rasul, Allah: Muhammad is the invoker, Rasul the invocation, Allah the invoked. In the invocation, the invoker and the invoked meet, just as Muhammad and Allah meet in the Rasul, or in the Risalah, the Message."

We believe the full weight of these dazzling insights into the essential nature of Sufism are still yet to affect the general opinions held about Sufism. One doubts the academies will neglect churning out their redundant historical and sociological analysis of Sufism, or that Islamists who've found a niche in something that looks like Sufism will care too much about the insights of a foreigner, but Schuon does pose a challenge to our conventional attitudes which, for those called, must be answered to.