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Friday, January 13, 2017

Nasr on Schuon

In 1999, Seyyed Hossein Nasr published a book of verse, Poems of the Way. One of these poems, in Persian, addresses Frithjof Schuon. It is available in translation, with a transliteration of the Persian, on the website of the Muslim Women's Coalition. Schuon is addressed as "my Shaykh, my ‘Isa" (shaykh-e man o ‘isá-ye man), as he was Nasr's shaykh, and his Muslim name was ‘Isa Nur al-Din.

Two couplets are especially interesting. One raises interesting theological and philosophical questions about the nature of union, which is generally understood as being between the soul of the individual believer and the One (God). Schuon writes:
My soul came alive from thy soul; my heart became filled with light
The longing for union with thee is my suffering, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa 
The other interesting couplet neatly encompasses the Maryami view of Schuon's position and blessings:
As Ahmad chose thee, Jesus breathed in thee with his breath
Mary took thee in her embrace, O my Shaykh, my ‘Isa 
My thanks to Neon Knight for bringing the poem and website to my attention.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are these couplets 'controversial', as they may seem to some? The first seems to refer to the well-known Sufi notion of extinction in the shaykh, a preliminary stage to union with God and hence not in contradiction with it. Similarly, in regard to the second, if I understand correctly, seeing the shaykh as embodying prophetic qualities is quite common in Sufism.

Mark Sedgwick said...

Not necessarily that controversial. The notion of extinction in the shaykh as a preliminary stage to union with God is indeed found, though it is probably more of a minority view. And a shaykh may indeed be seen as embodying prophetic qualities. Mary was not a prophet, of course.

Anonymous said...


One is supposed to seek union with G-d, not with anything G-d created.

Extinction in the sheikh is supposed to be a temporary halting place on the journey, not the ultimate destination.

Sadly, it is all too easy to become entrapped and to turn a mere human person into
a surrogate for G-d.

The key question is whether high level Schuonites actually regard Schuon as G-d -- and hide this from the rest of us.

If accepting that Schuon as G-d is the ultimate teaching of Schuonianism, this should be made clear. Otherwise this type of "family secret" is a recipe for group neurosis that can do damage across generations.

The effort and energy needed to conceal a secret of this kind
creates a climate of distraction that would hamper spiritual practice.

Worse, those initiates who are privy to such a "secret" live in fear of those who
might learn of the "secret" and be dismayed. They would regard all who
are not aware of this "secret" as potential enemies until thoroughly vetted
for reliability.