Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Finding Guénon's tomb

Since I've had a number of enquiries about how to find Guénon's tomb, here are the directions:
  1. Cross Salah Salem from the Azhar to the Northern Cemetery, the Qarafa al Kubra, also known as "the city of the dead."
  2. Look on the left for the mausoleum of the Tawil family (see photo), which is easily identifiable.
  3. Go through the small archway in front of the Tawil mausoleum, and ask someone for the tomb of Shaykh Abd al-Wahid Yahya. It is nearby.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Several new articles in French

Les Éditions du CERF in Paris have just published a new collection of articles, Études d'histoire de l'ésotérisme : Mélanges offerts à Jean-Pierre Laurant pour son soixante-dixième anniversaire, edited by Jean-Pierre Brach and Jérôme Rousse-Lacordaire.

First, we should all wish a happy seventieth birthday to Jean-Pierre Laurant, who started the academic study of Traditionalism in 1971 with the publication of his article on "Le problème de René Guénon" in the Revue de l'histoire des religions.

Second, eight articles in the collection deal with Traditionalism:
  • André Coyné, "René Guénon et Alain Daniélou"
  • Hans Thomas Hakl, "Julius Évola et l'histoire comparée des religions"
  • Philippe Faure, "Regards ésotériques sur les anges, de Méliton de Sardes à René Guénon"
  • Roger Dachez, "René Guénon et les origines de la franc-maçonnerie : les limites d'un regard"
  • Michel Bouvier, "Mystique de l'âge d'or et État dans la pensée politique traditionaliste"
  • David Gattegno, "L'écriture de René Guénon : une aumône des principes à la contingence"
  • Xavier Accart, "'Against the fall of night' : Louis Pauwels face à l'œuvre de René Guénon"

There's also an article by me, "Quelques sources du XVIIIe siècle du pluralisme religieux inclusif," which adds a new aspect to the deep background to Guénon's work.

ISBN 9782204082105. 464 pages. €49.

Friday, February 02, 2007

More French Traditionalists of importance

According to Dalil Boubakeur, interviewed by Abd al-Haqq Guiderdoni in a 2004 documentary on Guénon, "General de Gaulle was a personal admirer of Guénonian thought."

This is the first I've heard of it, but Boubakeur is not the sort of person to make baseless claims. De Gaulle certainly knew, and by all accounts valued, Henri Hartung, who was a Traditionalist and might have introduced him to Guénon.

Boubakeur is the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, and in 2003 was elected president of the Conseil français du culte musulman, the body created by the French state to represent France's Muslims. His re-election to this post in 2005 was controversial, and according to some he now has more supporters in the French government than among the Muslims he is meant to represent. Even so, on the basis of the size of France's Muslim population (something like 6 million), Boubakeur remains technically the leading Muslim in the European Union.

In Guiderdoni's documentary, Boubakeur (b 1940) describes himself as a "disciple" of Guénon, and then corrects himself "because he [Guénon] did not like the word 'disciple.'" He remembers long discussions with Michel Valsan (d 1974), the former disciple of Frithjof Schuon who established an independent and orthodox Alawiyya in Paris, and with other French Traditionalists of the period.

Not as remarkable as de Gaulle, perhaps, but still remarkable.

MUST SEE (if you know French)

Now available on the internet: an excellent and beautifully made documentary about René Guénon. 28 minutes, by Abd al-Haqq Guiderdoni (see photo).

The documentary, Spiritualité islamique : le précieux apport de René Guénon was broadcast on July 4, 2004, on the French channel France 2 in the series Vivre l'Islam (part of Les chemins de la foi).

Guiderdoni introduces and discusses the life and work of Guénon with the help of Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, and Lyess Chacal, a French writer on (and translator of) al-Ghazali. Both are clearly admirers. Their portrayal is nicely balanced, resisting the temptation to make Guénon more Islamic than he really was. The documentary deals only with Guénon himself, not with later Traditionalists.

One criticism: the documentary somewhat exaggerates Guénon's importance in the Muslim world. To say that he is "taught at the Azhar," for example, is misleading: there are indeed a few people at the Azhar who know of his work and even recommend it from time to time, but he is far from being a standard part of the syllabus.

Guiderdoni is French, and has plenty of experience as a broadcaster, even though he's actually an astrophysicist. His Traditionalism is in the line of Abd al-Wahid Pallavicni.

For a bit of color, there are also shots of
  • Muhammad al-Helbawi, a Sufi singer in Cairo
  • Kudsi Erguner, a Turkish ney player
  • Some Mevlevi "whirling dervishes"
  • A more standard Sufi dhikr, in Paris
Original blurb:

Evocation de la vie et de l'oeuvre de René GUENON, restaurateur des études traditionnelles en Occident, chrétien convertit à l'Islam en 1912 et qui a embrassé le soufisme en s'installant en Egypte et en épousant la fille d'un chef spirituel. Riche de ses grands connaissances des autres religions, ses messages sont aujourd'hui enseignés dans l'Islam. Ses travaux et pensées sont évoquées par des entretiens successifs avec Abd Al Haqq GUIDERDONI, l'écrivain et traducteur Lyess CHACAL et le recteur de la grand mosquée de Paris, Dalil BOUBAKEUR. Leurs propos sont illustrés par des photos et alternent avec une psalmodie du maître soufi egyptien Cheick Mohamed EL HALBAWI et une courte prestation musicale du musicien turc et soufi Kudsi ERGUNER.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr on video

Nasr is on video as well: click here for Nasr being interviewed about his book The Heart of Islam on Dennis Wholey's This is America.

Dugin on YouTube

If you've ever wondered what Alexander Dugin looks and sounds like, you can see him on YouTube. There's a nice 26-minute interview with Sergei Kapitsa-in Russian, but if you don't know Russian you can just enjoy the first minute of shots, see Dugin, and then abandon. Dugin is the second person to appear-the first is Kapitsa, the interviewer. Click here.