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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The "validity" of the Maryamiyya

From time to time, the question comes up of how to understand the position of the Maryamiyya in terms of the classifications generally used by Sufis, and of whether the Maryamiyya is a “valid” tariqa in mainstream Sufi terms. Like most tariqas, the Maryamiyya can be placed in three ways:
  1. In organizational terms, it is an independent branch of the Alawiyya, which is itself an independent branch of the Darqawiyya, which is itself an independent branch of the Shadhiliyya. It is independent in the sense that it operates independently of the tariqa from which it derives, and in the sense that its practice, prayers, and teachings differ in certain respects from those of the tariqa from which it derives. The same is true of the Darqawiyya and of most other tariqas in existence today.
  2. In personal terms, Frithjof Schuon is a link in a chain (silsila) passing through Ahmad al-Alawi, Muhammad al-Arabi al-Darqawi, Abu’l-Hasan al-Shadhili, and then through both Ali ibn Abi Talib and Abu Bakr to the Prophet Muhammad, and thence to God. The question of whether or not (or how) Schuon was authorized as a muqaddam by al-Alawi has no bearing or impact on this.
  3. In personal and organizational terms, the foundation of the Maryamiyya as a distinct tariqa seems to result from the authorization said to have been given to Schuon in a vision by the Virgin Mary, just as the foundation of the Alawiyya as a distinct tariqa results from the authorization said to have been given to al-Alawi in a vision by Ali ibn Abi Talib. While such forms of authorization are not universal, they are very common.
In Sufi terms, then, the Maryamiyya is probably “valid” to the extent that Schuon’s vision of the Virgin Mary in 1965 was “valid.”

3 comments:

richard said...

Why do you say that his vision of 'pudenda denudata' was valid where it seems to be a manifestation of his Christian origins and his own particular tendencies?

Mark Sedgwick said...

I did not express a view on whether the vison was valid or not! I was being the ever-careful scholar... The internet is “valid” to the extent that it works, and letters to the tooth fairy are "valid" to the extent that the tooth fairy exists and reads them. No view is expressed on either the internet or the tooth fairy.

Caio Rossi said...

Hello,

You put the question as "whether the Maryamiyya is a 'valid' tariqa in mainstream Sufi terms", so the question supposedly is, in other words, whether or not mainstream Sufism would validate a tariqa resulting "from the authorization said to have been given to Schuon in a vision by the Virgin Mary".

I know of at least one tariqa that attributes part of its silsillah to sheikhs who had already passed away when the authorization was granted, and the fact that the Virgin Mary does not belong to the Muhammadan silsillah may not even be taken as detrimental to the Maryamiyya's regularity, as Ibn Arabi is said to have been instructed by al-Khidr, Jesus and Moses http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/articles/treasureofcompassion.html and the Virgin has the status of a prophet too. Besides that, Sheikh Al Alawi was referred to as being a "spiritual leader of a 'Isawi type" (see note 11 here http://al.alawi.1934.free.fr/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=81).

Therefore, the alleged immediate origin of his authorization does not seem to be the problem. The problem lies in his practices and teachings, actually, as they definitely do not comply with "mainstream tasawwuf". I know you have an academic perspective, but that is what puts into question the authorization itself, as it is hard to believe that the Virgin would make such a big mistake as that of choosing him, regardless of whatever value I do find in his teachings.

Best wishes,

Caio