The article, "Sufism in the Service of Empire: the Case of the Maryamiyyah" by the Berlin-based Iranian intellectual Wahid Azal, focuses on the Maryamiyya's influence today, after presenting Frithjof Schuon and the Maryamiyya (with an emphasis on the most problematic details in its history) by way of background. The names that Azal names are Prince Charles, Ibrahim Kalin (President Erdoğan's press secretary and associate), Prince Ghazi of Jordan, and Alexander Dugin. He refers to Maryami influence in Morocco, the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia, but without naming names. He then also names names within "the Islamic/Mid East Studies establishment of the Western Ivory Tower" (William Chittick, Terry Moore, Hasan Awan, Reza-Shah Kazemi and Alan Godlas) and in Iran (Gholamreza Avani).
Azal's conclusion is that while Sufism has historically often opposed colonialism and empire, "Western... Sufism has increasingly gone in another direction, allying itself more and more with the agendas of Western establishments and the core interests of Empire in the Muslim world." This, in Azal's view, is true of the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order as well as to the Maryamiyya, and is "as big a betrayal of the ‘Tradition’ as Islamism itself is."
Azal is right about the alliance between much of Western Sufism and Western establishments, though I am not sure about the "core interests of Empire," as I am not sure that "Empire" is a the right way to describe the West today, and as I am also not sure that the West really knows what its core interests in the Muslim world are, which may actually be part of the problem.
I think what really explains the alliance between much of Western Sufism and Western establishments today is the familiar logic that makes a friend of my enemy's enemy. Western Sufis are invariably hostile to Islamism, Salafism and so on, which is generally hostile to them. The so-called Islamic State, for example, has also denounced the Naqshbandi-Haqqani Sufi Order, for its theology and for being "quick to ally with any tāghūt [idolators] who will allow them to spread their message," the main idolators being the Americans (Dabiq 14, Rajab 1437 [April 2016], p. 15).
Shared hostility to Islamism and Salafism places much of Western Sufism and Western establishments on the same side. To what extent this is "a betrayal of the ‘Tradition’" by Western Sufis depends on whether one sees Western establishments as traditional, modern, or positively counter-initiatic.
Azal also refers in passing to my Against the Modern World and quotes the allegation of Mark Koslow that, as a result of threats of legal action against Oxford University Press, I "backed down and published a rather weak assessment of Schuon’s polygamous activities, criminal actions, visions of nude Virgins and delusions of grandeur." It is true that I went through the manuscript of Against the Modern World with a lawyer to make sure that everything in the text that was finally published would stand up in court if necessary, and that this necessitated some changes. In the end, however, I still managed to say everything important that I thought needed to be said.
Salaam, and many thanks for your post about my CounterPunch piece on the Maryamiyyah. A few points you made need clarification. First, the use of the term "Empire" in the singular to refer to Anglo-American unipolarism was articulated and cogently detailed by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt in their 2000 book by the same name, (link to a pdf of the book http://www.angelfire.com/cantina/negri/HAREMI_printable.pdf) and this term is now standard among the Left to refer to the unipolar geopolitical hegemony of the United States and its allies. It is a valid social science term and, besides activists themselves, both political scientists and sociologists often use it.
Although the various takfiri Salafist groups have typically excoriated Sufism and Sufis, you may be aware that an entity calling itself "The Naqshbandi Army" in Iraq (and briefly led by Saddam Hussein's henchman, Ibrahim Al-Douri) was until recently a key ally of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS/ISIL/ISIS). While this organization in and of itself does not represent the totality of the Naqshbandiyyah in Iraq, it is (or was) constituted by many Iraqi Naqshbandis in its ranks. There are articles on this anomaly online; and, of course, segments of the Naqshbandiyyah in Suleymaniyyah (Iraqi Kurdistan) have been rumored to have been allied to various takfiri groups operating in the region since even before the US's invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- and the longstanding connections of US/British/NATO black-ops with takfirism and takfiri groups in the region are an open secret and have been documented.
The Naqshbandi-Haqqanis, for their part, are well known for their close linkages to assorted Neo-Con think-tanks, organizations and causes. For example, the conference "Understanding Sufism and Its Role in US Policy" in 2004, which was sponsored by a host of neoconservative Beltway organizations (The American Enterprise Institute among them), included Hisham Kabbani, Alan Godlas and Bernard Lewis as conference participants. To some I have talked to among the ex-Maryami crowd, this conference signaled the wholesale appropriation of Western Sufism by the US government: http://www.worde.org/publications/commentary/empowering_asj__sufi_muslim_networks/understanding-sufism-and-its-potential-role-in-u-s-policy/ I underscore here the key role of the Naqshbandi-Haqqanis in this 2004 conference and one of their senior figures, Hisham Kabbani.
Besides the obvious antipathy and antagonism between Sufis and Salafists in the region itself, one of the other reasons that the Western establishment has moved so closely to these Sufi orders is because of their "soft power" and human intelligence capabilities. That aside, in Syria certain Sufi figures, such as Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, have been on the anti-Assad side of the conflict from the inception of the conflict in 2011. Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi was affiliated with the Free Syria Army (FSA) and was groomed for some time by the Western corporate media as a likely political leader of Syria in a potential post-Assad era. As we know, the FSA has received substantial support, funding and arms from the US, Britain, European NATO countries, Israel and Turkey since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Given these and other germane issues, I don't believe such linkages are innocuous or without strategic intent by the Western establishment itself.
But God knows best!
I am familiar with the Negri and Hardt definition of "Empire" and immediately recognized your intended use of the word from Mark's summary of the book, but I found your methodology in this article rather unstudied. The evidence you present, as I see it, is as follows:
(1) An alleged link between Nasr and Dugin according to a former member -- this is hearsay, and anyway I do not see the point of using Dugin as a tar brush. Dugin has read practically every anti-modern thinker of the 20th century. I would be more surprised if he was uninterested in Nasr.
(2) The idiosyncrasy of Schuon's personal Sufi group -- easily admitted, but this hardly builds to a case towards "Empire". If you had a point here it is not clear to me at all.
(3) Nasr's links to the Shah and monarchist movements. The royalist regime in Tehran was deeply interested in the Eranos wing of Western religious studies and hired Izutsu Toshihiko as well as Nasr. As you say, Moroccan and British royalty have also taken interest in Traditionalism. It is correct that the Eranos group, including its outright traditionalists, wrote cogent discussions of monarchy and its religious legitimation. I regard Negri and Hardt's theory of monarchy as an inaccurate generalization. There is monarchy that is pro-Empire (the post-17th century British regime, for example, or the Shah regime and Gulf monarchies you mention) and there is monarchy that is anti-Empire (consider, for example, Edo period Japan). To put it rather plainly, the Eranos group and Traditionalists are both deeply concerned with premodern thought, and the theory of the "wheel-turning monarch" is a part of that thought. I find the blanket link to Empire unconvincing.
(4) A claim that Nasr voted for Bush and McCain -- again, hearsay, and unrelated to his writings. I neither know nor care who Noam Chomsky has voted for.
(5) "the Maryamiyyah has also firmly entrenched itself within important segments of the Islamic/Mid East Studies establishment of the Western Ivory Tower" -- this is cartoonishly wrong and silly. You could only write this if your knowledge of religious studies was limited to your investigation of Nasr and his friends. You should not write things like this without doing some due diligence on the discipline. Maybe this would teach you, as well, why some in Nasr's group associate with corrupt monarchs. Nasr is opposed to the separation of church and state and he is thus on the bare fringes of the academy. By modern standards he is a "religionist" and universities would take this into account when interviewing one of his disciples for a job.
The problem with Negri and Hardt's work is that it is almost all-encompassing -- virtually anyone who is not an outright socialist or communist can be reasonably labeled an apologist for Empire. That being the case, there is no need to write an article about this at all. Simply call Nasr right-wing and you are done. It would be far, far, far more interesting to explain how specific Traditionalists have influenced the specific policies of regimes. I doubt you will find that Nasr has had the same influence in the American Muslim community (far less American society as a whole) than Dugin has had on Russia.
Dear Avery, salaam,
A few points:
1. We can certainly have problems with Hardt and Negri's treatment of the question of "Empire" (which I certainly do) and quibble over terminology. But this does not change the nature of Anglo-American/Anglo-European unipolar geopolitical hegemony and its dominance over the globe following the end of the Cold War. American neoconservatives and fellow travelers themselves refer to a Pax Americana. This hegemon behaves like any empire in history has behaved. Therefore, unless you can come up with a more all encompassing, descriptive definition, we are indeed dealing with an "Empire." Atlanticism works as a definition as well, but "Atlanticism" is an ascription and not a definition. I am also not certain whether the term Atlanticism works all that well anymore since there is no effective "Eurasian" (or multipolar) counterweight or pole in existence at the moment (despite what Dugin says) that can critically define the Atlantic hegemon in juxtaposition to its purported Eurasian counterweight. So for now, at least, "Empire" it is.
2. Alleged or not, the connection between Dugin and Nasr (and a Maryamiyyah presence in Russia itself, which I did not mention in the piece) has been independently confirmed by several ex-Maryami contacts. One of these contacts was close to SH Nasr's own office for a number of years, and as such this source to me is credible. Because of the Maryamiyyah's well-known penchant for cosa nostra type tactics against former members and critics, as any responsible journalist would, I am protecting my source. Furthermore, and although Dugin's Traditionalism is questionable and needs always be put into brackets and quotation marks; and whereas Seyyed Hossein Nasr did not have a problem dismissing Julius Evola's political inclinations (at least in one interview for _Gnosis Magazine_ during the 1990s); he has never, to my knowledge, weighed in on the question of Dugin's questionable "Traditionalism" nor has he stated anything for the record in order to set it straight on where he stands on Dugin's overall neo-fascist ideology: an ideology far more blatantly fascist than Evola's ever was. Given this and other facts not cited in the piece, the circumstantial evidence presently demonstrates a significant linkage between Nasr and Dugin (with neither Nasr nor the Maryamiyyah disavowing it in any way, I might add)and so it is incumbent that this preponderance of circumstantial, anecdotal evidence at hand be at the very minimum noted for the public record even if to be debunked at a later time should it be proven untrue, which I do not believe it will. In fact the evidence will simply grow from here on out. Be that as it may, what you call hearsay, I call a credible source. Moreover, I think you are misinterpreting the nature of journalistic writing with academic writing. Even though I try to find a balance between two means, these two are different.
3. The Maryamiyyah and the Traditionalists can rationalize and justify their connections to the monarchies of our time in any way they wish. They can cite Eranos typologies or directly quote from Guenon's own The King of the World. But this does not change the fact that these monarchies they are connected to are in fact presently operative nodes and extensions of the agendas of Empire itself.
4. The specific allegation is that SH Nasr "canvassed" for Republican Party (GOP) presidential candidates during the elections of 2000, 2004 and 2008 within the Maryamiyyah Sufi Order. This means that Nasr was encouraging his disciples and acolytes to vote for Bush and McCain. Again, the unnamed source cited is a credible one.
5. The affiliations of the individuals in the Ivory Tower named in the article to the Maryamiyyah Sufi Order is a known one. To my knowledge, and unless you know otherwise, they have not disavowed their affiliation themselves. You may think it is silly. Others believe their presence to be a form of influence peddling and underhanded ideological gatekeeping by the Maryamiyyah Sufi Order.
6. In your critique, you have overlooked the critical role of SH Nasr's son, Vali-Reza Nasr, who I mentioned twice -- my contention being that father and son share an identical political orientation. Surely you are not disputing the fact that Vali-Reza Nasr is widely considered to be one of the leading NeoConservative intellectual figures in the United States today? If so, I suggest you read some of his countless op-eds and academic publications for your own edification to see where he actually stands.
And God knows best!
You are correct that I was misreading your article as an academic response to Nasr, while you were intending to be journalistic. My post was also excessively antagonistic. Taking your response into account, I do think you have a point about the role of people like Vali-Reza Nasr in the neoliberalization of the academy, and the related consumption of the academy by Empire. However, I do think there is a bit of generalization going on in your article, so I hope you outline more specifically what it is about the elder Nasr's work you find objectionable in the future. (For example, a more detailed comparison between the integrationist version of Islam promoted by Neo-Sufi-style converts among the Traditional School with the political Islam of the real Arab world.) Thank you for your gracious and polite reply.
Thanks for your reply.
If by "work" you mean SH Nasr's scholarly writings (esp. the early ones, eg. *Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines*, *Three Muslim Sages* etc.) then I have little problem with them, although perhaps the recent volumes of *An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia* (published by I.B. Tauris) edited by SH Nasr and Mehdi Aminrazavi could have been structured much better than how they have been produced. But if by "work" you mean the Maryamiyyah itself -- not to mention the linkages with various Beltway foundations, think-tanks and similar he has regular speaking engagements with -- then the problems are manifold, which I have alluded to in summary in the piece. In short, my overall problem with Nasr is that he has made himself into an agent of the establishment's neo-liberalization and neo-conservatization of Sufism -- or, in other words, a tool of Empire. I will return to this topic in the future, and in a venue where a submission can exceed a 2000-3000max word article.
wa allahu a'lam
As a Russian scholar I am puzzled by the attention given to Dugin, who has never been taken seriously by the Russian "imperial" :-) establishment. He has never had any tangible or even intangible influence on Russian politics. In any event, he is definitely passé today in Russia. He may have had personal interest in S.H. Nasr's work, but who cares... So do hundreds of others in Russia and elsewhere. I am not familiar with Dr. Azal's academic work, but his arguments, including his references to the "Naqshbandi Army" and the role that Sufis allegedly play in the anti-Asad insurgency, are, in my view, nothing but at attempt to gain cheap notoriety. In this he has definitely succeeded. A. Knysh
Salaam Professor Knysh,
It is rather puzzling for anyone to say that "Dugin...has never been taken seriously by the Russian "imperial" establishment..." given that his close proximity to the Kremlin is an open secret virtually everywhere. Until 2014 Dugin held an academic post at Moscow State University, and was apparently only fired from the position due to a petition made against him by faculty after incendiary remarks he made about Ukrainians on campus. Dugin's acolytes are positioned within Russia Today (RT) as among its leading punditry, one notable example being Mark Sloboda who is a regular face on Peter Lavelle's CrossTalk program, not to mention people like Marwa Osman in Lebanon, Catherine Shakdam in the UK, Joaquin Flores in Belgrade, to name a few -- all Duginists and all among regular RT punditry. Russia's current policy of pouring money into the coffers of far-right groups throughout Europe (such as the FN in France, Jobbik in Hungary, the AfD and PEGIDA in Germany, the Golden Dawn in Greece, etc) is a strategy formulated by none other than Alexander Dugin himself. I suggest you look at the academic work of Anton Shekhovtsov who has spelled out all of this in explicit detail and much more. Here is a link to his academia.edu page https://ucl.academia.edu/AntonShekhovtsov/Papers
Cheap shot or not, the open alliance of the Naqshbandi Army in Iraqi with ISIS is documented. Please refer to the following links for orientation and do your own research beyond the links offered here:
Also, please note that the theater of the Naqshbandi Army's operations is in Iraq and not in Syria. I referred to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in reference to Syria. The fact that Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi (a Qadiri)was until recently a leading spokesperson for one of its factions is quite telling indeed. He apparently is not the only figure among the Syrian turuq who took arms against the Syrian state with Gulf, NATO, Turkish and US support. Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi was also until late last year a regular on Al Jazeera, represented as a leading figure of a "government in waiting" in the event of the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's state: Aljazeera whose own partisan views on the conflict in Syria have not been remotely masked, seeing how the Qatari government is a major donor to a legion of takfiri groups operating there.
Perhaps you are out of the loop on these and related issues. However, it is your own comment which looks to me like a cheap shot. But if you wish, I am always happy and willing to publicly debate you or anyone else among your colleagues on these and other related matters on the facts.
wa allahu a'lam
Comment removed for technical reasons (it duplicated comment already published).
Your article contains certain errors and--I am sorry to suggest with such frankness--is perhaps even slanderous. I say this with complete disinterest, or rather in the interest of responsible writing. I am familiar with the writings of the Traditionalists, though admittedly I do not have access to the same "inside" sources you do. That being said, the scare quotes indicate your reliance for information solely on ex-members of the Maryamiyyah. You admitted that your article was not intended to adhere to academic standards of scholarly rigor, but the distinction between academic and journalistic modes of writing is not concinving, since naturally journalism, at least in principle, is expected to abide by standards of responsbility, balance, and rigor.
As for particular problematic points, I will mention as many as time currently allows for. First, the notion (which you qualify as merely possible) that Schuon could have been involved in some kind of plot to murder Guenon is absurd, especially insofar as you invoke the "long-term political interests" of Schuon and his order. What reliable evidence do you have of such interests other than what Avery rightly pointed out is hearsay? In your article we don't hear from any current members of the Maryamiyyah itself, whether directly or indirectly, so in spite of your impression of the reliability of your sources, the rest of us have the right to be seriously skeptical, especially considering the well-known controversy surrounding Bloomington. And this is to say nothing of the fact that one would be hard-pressed to find a recent personality more genuinely apolitical than Schuon. He evidently had no interest in politics beyond merely theoretical considerations related to his general defense of Tradition.
Second, where has Schuon ever himself claimed that the Virgin "anointed him the Avatar of the Age, the Imam Mahdi, the Return of Christ, the Fifth Buddha, the incarnations of Kalki and Vishnu, etc."? The excesses of certain of his disciples notwithstanding, if I am not mistaken it is rather you yourself who have made similar claims--albeit in an even more elaborate and, I should say, scandalous fashion--in your tome Liber Decatriarchia Mystica: "So, yes, indeed, in that function, within the Universal Solar Gnostic lineage of the Supreme Godhead, I am indeed the promised Saoshyant, the true Kalki Avatar, the true Second Coming of Christ ... the promised universal Messiah, Manjushri returned as the Maitreya Buddha, the Return of the Inca Sun-King Wirococha, the Return of Pharaoh Akhenaten, the Sixth Sun of the Mayan prophecies, the Imám al-Qayyúm (the Essence of the Seven Letters was the Imám al-Qá’im, the Imám of the Right pillar, which makes me the Imám of the Left pillar), et al., come to make the separation between the Light (gnosis) and the Darkness (exoteric religion) permanent and to thereby elevate the elect of humankind to their own already always established divinity for the fast approaching Day culminating this Universal Resurrection, Gathering and Judgement (yawm al qíyámat’ul-jam’ía wa yawm al-hashr wa yawm al-hisáb) on December 21, 2012" (pp. 109-10).
Moreover, the use of such phrases as "congenital hatred" strike one as excessive in the absence of any substantive documentation. While it is true that Schuon has spoken of "holy anger" or a sort of righetous hatred for that which opposes the Sacred, the picture you paint is one of bitter and ill-intentioned opposition on the part of the members of the Maryammiyah to those who strive, presumably with good intentions, in various social justice oriented causes, notwithstanding the fact that a Traditionalist might put forward certain critiques of such causes or movements.
There are perhaps other issues with your article, but in general it can be said, as others already have, that the connections and motivations you posit are rather tenuous, and as such risk slandering the inviduals in question.
And God knows best.
Thank you for your comment.
First, the objections of the other people here have been addressed. Second, as I noted in the piece, the charge that Guenon was possibly murdered is one explicitly broached by Abdollah Shahbazi in his Persian language book on the Maryamiyyah (the citation is provided in the article). One article on the site regnabit.com also makes the same claim. So I have not made it up nor does the claim originate with me. It is a preexisting claim already articulated by others before me. Whatever you may think of it, it is does not change the fact that it is already an allegation in the public record.
Third, the various "avataric" claims made by Schuon are recorded by Cyril Glasse and Mark Koslow in the files that the Maryamiyyah have done their utmost to keep away from public attention and scrutiny.
Fourth, I am a lawyer myself, and there is no libel in the article published by CounterPunch (please note: slander is spoken, audible defamation; libel is defamation in the written medium). The representatives of the Maryamiyyah, however, are always welcome to try their luck in a German court if they believe otherwise.
Fifth, "congenital hatred" was placed in quotation marks, meaning it is a quote. This anecdote was reported to me by an ex-Maryamiyyah member.
wa allahu a'lam
Thanks for this very interesting post, and also for hosting the also very interesting comments which cast some sort of light on issues and shadows I had not even known existed.
See an update on my blog https://wahidazal.blogspot.com/2016/11/counterpunch-me-and-shahbazi-against.html
Mr. Knysh could not have been more concise apropos his remark "nothing but an attempt to gain cheap notoriety"!
I would add that, "Wahid Azal" just one of Nima Hazini's most recent monikers; an an exhaustive list that includes but is certainly not limited to "Nima Wahid", "Wahid", "Nima Azal", "Nima Wahid Azal", "Azal", "Nima Sadra Hazini", "Sadra", "NUR", "N.U.R." "Submitter" et al ad nauseum. Nima seems to have been a man of promising future, both academically (though he shunned the academy, and who could really blame him for that!), and spiritually (as he does seem to "get" the deeper nitty-gritty of esoterica and the occult.). Unfortunately, his gifts were retarded by the obsessive compulsive, maniacal ferocity at which his brain tends to run on. This in turn has gifted him with an award winning and epochal internet trolling capability, and a towering sense of [s]ELF. His vehement, libelous, defamatory, and capricious potty mouthed touts that litter the net, are always and without fail inflated with the most dubious conjecture. Even electronic death threats involving firearms are not above him. Seek and ye shall find! As a completely self-initiated, self-appointed "Grand Shaykh" of a "sufi" tariqah, one would expect, at least, a certain semblance of adab (spiritual courtesy). But there is none...save when he receives some form of praise or accolade from someone he himself admires. And God forbid if his admiree finds a glimmer of fault in his actions or words...look out! You've just run the risk of having assembled in your name, a smear/sneer campaign of Dostoyevskian proportions! To quote a one time friend of his "you are obviously an intelligent human being; but intelligence alone is not enough. What seems to be lacking is love, humility, wisdom, and sound judgement". This is the unfortunate reality. Instead of any semblance of humility, or love, you tend to always get the overtly rancorous, and obnoxiously antinomian sentiments/rants...coloured by foul whiffs of pseudo spiritual intellectualism and bitterness.
This "exposé" of the Schuon tariqah is little more than a band-aid on an open wound that goes back years. Mr. Wahid/Azal/Whatever was once on the hunt for the mysterious "Tariqa Maramiyya"..."under the guidance of the great perennialist thinker and spiritual hierophant of our time, monsieur Frithjof Schuon" His actual words!
This was shortly after his involvement with the Baha’i community, and prior to his gnostic/occult/ayahuasca/islamicate hodge-podge concoction of his own making. The Schuon group wanted nothing to do with him, as they saw he would be trouble in the future. This rejection, coupled with his loss of faith in the Baha’i movement led to the bitter, tirading antagonist the internet has to put up with from time to time.
I say all this, as it is no longer funny to see him parading around vapid conjecture after vapid conjecture, on a plethora of personages and topics. I could care less about the maryamiyyah as such, but this is just ridiculous and even plagiarizing in some respects.
With all that, I do tend to like some of his persian gnostic translations ;)
The individual posting anonymously above is Nathan Abookire who has formed a literal obsession with yours truly. There is some suspicion that he may be an undercover US law enforcement agent: https://nathanabookireusgovernmentshill.blogspot.com/ He was also earlier attempting to post on my blog but his comments were deleted and the IP he was was posting with traced. I should add that Mr Abookire is close to prominent Maryamiyyah members Hasan Awan, Joseph Lambard, Alan Godlas, and one of Godlas' proteges, Michele L. Canty, who posted above under the pseodonym "Amber" and also goes by the name Kawther Rahmani. Abookire and Michele L. Canty were both attacking my wife and I all over Facebook for some time, and it is as a consequence of their attacks that the article about the Maryamiyyah was written. Fortunately, as Hamid Algar informs me, the article has been making the rounds and has made its impact.
Finally, I would urge Mark Sedgwick to keep the commentary here above board, like the initial comments, and delete the sorts of personal attacks we are seeing from the Maryamiyyah cultists and their assorted fellow travelers. Thanks.
As I am not in a position to edit comments, I will simply request readers to observe standard scholarly courtesies and comment on arguments that are put formward, not on the persons putting forward those arguments. Future comments that do not observe these courtesies may not be published.
Forgive my lack of tact with regards to the above comments. Any future posts will abide such courtesies. And I will not further comment on this subject.
Yes, I did write on your blog. I was less tactful there, as I knew it would be deleted by yourself. And no, I am not Abookire. I have never heard of him. I am just a reader. But thanks for more name dropping. I think your paranoid response and the time you put into the blog you assembled/posted above speaks for itself, and goes to prove something of my previous post.
I am not, nor have I ever been affiliated with the Marayamiyyah, nor do I know any of the people you mentioned. I think secret societies are rather silly,and bow to no human master...the idea of a dancing Schuon in the buff surrounded by feathered sycophants rather frightens me.
With that, I am somewhat contrite for the blog slander, you are still a human being, but so are the others that I have seen you attack.
Abookire, your IP was traced. You are also repeating the same canards you have been saying for months. Deny all you want. Honesty has never been one of your strong suits in this or any other discussion. The name is also Wahid.
Although the two above comments refer to persons, not arguments. they have been published. However, form now onwards, comments that refer to persons engaged in commenting will not be published.
The article on the CounterPunch web site appears to no longer be available, not by link, not in the archives, and not by search for "Sufism," "Maryamiyya", or "Wahid Azal."
Dear Prof. Mark Sedgwick,
Thank you for posting this important article by Wahid Azal. I appreciate how he expands upon your and other's research to explore links between the Maryamiyyah and various governments. It has become common practice among honest academics to clearly state potential biases, affiliations, conflicts of interest and the like. However, most scholars associated with the Maryamiyyah conceal their allegiances to the order, as well as associations with nation-states and their intelligence agencies. As such, their scholarship on religion and Islam in particular suffers from a lack of transparency and integrity.
I studied with Nasr for a few years and became disenchanted when I discovered some of the more sordid details related to Schuon and the Maryamiyyah from your fine book Against the Modern World and other sources. I can attest that the vast majority of what Azal wrote in his article can be confirmed, including, for example, the details concerning Schuon in Bloomington and Nasr's connection to Kissinger (your readers might simply search for "Seyyed Hossein Nasr" on wikileaks.org). I'll add that I remain interested in the perennial philosophy as a religious perspective, but think that we need critiques that challenge authoritarianism and other abuses from some of its main proponents. I think Azal's article is an act of "love, humility, wisdom and sound judgment" to challenge authoritarianism, pedophilia, and espionage in the service of empire. Such critiques also give some of us hope that Islam, Sufism, and religious tolerance in the West can be distinguished from those who have betrayed these ideals.
Michael Gogins, the original article has been removed, but (for now, at least) it is archived at
Salaam Michael Gogins, please see the update I posted on my blog last week: https://wahidazal.blogspot.com/2016/11/counterpunch-me-and-shahbazi-against.html
A further note I should add to some of the recent trolling here is that the IP of the Anonymous commentator was traced directly to one in Louisville, Kentucky. People should be aware that Louisville, Kentucky is also the North American headquarters of Fons Vitae, which (for all the great, valuable publishing work they have done over the years -- and continue to do) is a Schuonian founded outfit. I found this fact rather curious that one of my most obstinate and obdurate critics online (besides having a literal who is who of the Maryamiyyah subscribed to his own personal Facebook) also lives in the same town as the headquarters of Fons Vitae publishers.
I feel obliged to point out that my name is Ambrose, not Amber. But to leave behind questions of an individual nature in accordance with what has been said, one can see that "zooming out" in this way potentially leads to vantage points much more useful than a finger-pointing approach based on information of questionable provenance. One such vantage point could be arrived at by comparing the bodies of published work relevant to the debate concerning the nature of the Maryamiyyah. Is it is sinister entity, perfectly harmless, or somewhere in between? On the one side you have the works of the Traditionalists themselves, which are in fact often quite majestic, sober, and of undeniable seriousness and value. On the other side you have, for example, a book like Liber Decatriarchia Mystica. Individual personalities aside, there can be no question that the latter and one of Schuon's books for example have different "vibes." Let anyone who trusts his or her own discernment (and also possesses the requisite baseline of metaphysical aptitude) read the books, and take in their respectives vibes. That would be a very useful first step in the right direction.
There is of course much about Schuon's later years that is difficult to wrap one's head around, but given the thick cloud of controversy, hearsay, and outright hostility that most probably veils the vast majority of us from the true nature of the situation, it seems a much more reliable (or at least cautious) approach for those without inside information to consult the relevant books. Compare the passage I quoted above, in my other post, to any paragraph from the works of Schuon. The appearance can always be different from the reality, but it is also often a more or less reliable reflection of it. One should be careful about rashly jumping to conclusions about a man like Schuon, who composed such a large body of consistently beautiful, profound, and ennobling prose. The generous and, I might even say, manly approach is to look at the substance and keep questionable "accidents" (in the philosophical sense) at the margins of one's consciousness. This is not to stuff cotton in one's ears; it is only to reserve judgment in the absence of undeniable evidence. Maybe some people have what they consider to be undeniably damning evidence against Schuon. For my part, having heard much of the talk over the years on either side of the charged divide, I prefer to err on the side of being grateful to Schuon for his writings, and leaving the rest to God, especially when it largely consists of exchanges that can, perhaps with some justice in spite of the simplifying reduction, be summarized in the following way: "Schuon was a great spiritual master, even a saint." "No, he was a fraud and a deviant." "No, he was a great master." "No, he was a fraud." Even if one finds the first point of view unreliably hagiographic, especially given some of the stranger things that we know about the Bloomington scene, the other point of view is far-fetched, to say the very least, for the simple reason that God just doesn't let anyone write the sorts of things Schuon did (or give them the knowledge to do so in the first place). Again, it is a matter of perspective and caution.
And God knows best,
Would you (or anyone else for that matter) be willing to send me some of the material you have regarding the "sordid details" you mentioned? I am familiar with what is available publicly (the Koslow document, Prof. Sedgwick's book, etc.), but I am wondering what else exists. I simply want to have a well-rounded view on these matters, as I have benefitted greatly from the works of Schuon, Nasr, et al.
Besides the Koslow files and Prof. Sedgwick's book, there are the extensive files of Cyril Glasse (over 500+ pages); the legal archives of the Indiana Grand Jury Indictment; Abdollah Shahbazi's book in Persian which surpasses Professor Sedgwick's; plus an extensive trove of quite sordid photographs of Schuon, some held in national US government depositories open to the public.
My experience of guru types is that it is entirely possible for such a person to be a liar, a sexual abuser, and so on and yet impart transcendental and life-changing teaching. I wish life were simpler but I personally had a teacher of this sort, my late mother had another teacher of this sort, and I have read or heard what I consider to be reliable testimony about several more. I left the teacher and continue to benefit from the teaching. This is not to say all gurus are of this kind. I had other teachers who to the best of my knowledge lived entirely without harm.
I would venture the theory that any successful (in the worldly sense) spiritual teacher will face temptations of a sort that most people, including many spiritual teachers, will not withstand. Such temptations would routinely include easy sex, the power to pressure impressionable seekers for sexual favors, gratification of a lust for power, inflation of the ego, overweening pride in one's spiritual state and intellectual powers and attainments, love of luxury and "bling", being "in" with worldly powers, the use of spiritual prestige to advance nationalistic and other worldly ends, and so on. Such temptations are not just occasional, they go on and on and on.
Inasmuch as the reputation of any guru invariably becomes the object of not necessarily reliable polemic and rhetoric, a historian's or a journalist's methodology of checking evidence should be applied in all cases of controversy.
Finally, it not the case that all sins of a spiritual teacher are equal. For example, a person who keeps a secret spouse or lover is doing much better than one who sexually abuses a whole series of vulnerable adolescents.
Before adding my voice to the long chorus of the Maryamiyyah's global critics (and in my specific case, you have your own online Maryamiyyah attack dogs to thank for that), as you yourself are also well aware, I have spent the past two decades being one of the most fierce public critics of Baha'ism. I am sure this is one thing -- and probably the only thing -- that Seyyed Hossein Nasr actually appreciates about me as a person, since I have gotten direct feedback about it from numerous current and former Maryamis. I will give him this, that on the question of Baha'ism Nasr and I are on the same page, assuming he is still there and hasn't changed his views.
Now, one thing that I know very well is the flawed logic of cult narratives and the pedagogies and programing involved in getting people to get locked into them. So when you say such a thing as, "...God just doesn't let anyone write the sorts of things Schuon did..." I hear echoes of Baha'is saying verbatim the exact same sorts of things about Baha'u'llah (and his successors) as you are saying here about Schuon. Baha'u'llah, like Schuon, also styled himself as a universal Avatar -- or, as the Baha'is call it, the Supreme Manifestation of God for the Age. He (and his immediate successors) are likewise held to be infallible just like you seem to now be insinuating about Schuon. Yet, like Schuon, this man sometimes wrote some amazing prose while also like Schuon the man was deeply flawed, even a criminal (long discussion).
For your own sake, move back a little from this kind of absolutist thinking: it is a straitjacket for the mind and makes a negative idol of a very flawed guru.
I also find many things in the writings of Schuon and Nasr agreeable and a few that I would take serious issue with. It’s not really their public corpus that concerns me, but rather their private actions that have had a negative impact on men, women and children.
Regarding the Maryamiyyah’s unsavory connections with governments and their intelligence agencies, the works by Azal, Shahbazi, and Sedgwick provide ample evidence, as well as the Kissinger Wikileaks cables. Regarding Schuon’s actions in Bloomington, I assume you are aware of his nude gatherings, taking multiple wives from among his married disciples, and his appropriation of Native American, Indian, Christian, and Muslim traditions? Of course the most damning allegations are related to Schuon’s indictment by a grand jury on charges of sexually molesting children. The case was dismissed, but what can be confirmed is enough for me to know that—if he were still alive—I would not let my family near the man. More information regarding Schuon is coming to light with each passing year and I expect we will know the full extent of his actions thanks to the diligent research of outside observers.
I’m not sure Schuon’s books are relevant to this case, although they certainly have a host of problems which deserves a separate monograph. Woody Allen and Roman Polanski may be gifted writers and directors, but their actions prove that they are questionable human beings. Millions of people will also swear to you that the Baha’u’llah, Joseph Smith, and L. Ron Hubbard are prophets with their own irreproachable works. To rely on Schuon’s books alone to verify his character is to trust in a kind of insular, circular logic. I simply don’t accept this premise, which was advanced by Schuon himself and continues to have a blinding and almost hypnotizing affect on card-carrying members of the Maryamiyyah.
As I said, I tend to agree with many things that Schuon and Nasr wrote, most of which can be found in the earlier writings of Guénon, A.K. Coomaraswamy, and Corbin. Someone doing something wrong doesn’t make true statements they made false, although it may disqualify them from being a “Sufi shaykh, qutb, avatar, seal of the sages, messenger of the perennial philosophy,” etc. Being a prolific author, a philosopher, or having many followers does not make someone infallible or inerrant. Tasawwuf is not found in books, robes, and fame, and many a charlatan have tried to convince people otherwise. I would suggest that the whole affair is found in ethics.
Michael Gogins says:
"Inasmuch as the reputation of any guru invariably becomes the object of not necessarily reliable polemic and rhetoric, a historian's or a journalist's methodology of checking evidence should be applied in all cases of controversy."
Indeed, very well said, and this is precisely what was done. But the issue in the case of this specific article also revolves on the privileging of sources between languages and cultures. It would stand to reason that in the Anglo-European world (whether we are talking about the mainstream or the Ivory Tower) texts, scholarship and sources authored outside of its domain by non-Anglo-Europeans are not privileged to the same level and degree as those authored in the Anglo-European world by Anglo-Europeans. Hamid Dabashi devoted a recent book to this whole subject entitled "Can Non-Europeans Think?" The skepticism and scrutiny that a non-Anglo-European scholar or journalist is often subjected to is at a whole different level sometimes than comparable standards among Anglo-European scholars and journalists themselves, and the present controversy over the CP piece is a beautiful demonstration of this very fact. In short, forms of cultural chauvinism prevail inside the publishing world, and especially in journalism and specifically about subjects such as this.
Now, to reiterate the point I stated on my blog: in Iran Abdollah Shahbazi is regarded as one of the most eminent independent historians of modern Iran at this time. He follows a careful historical-critical method in almost everything he has published, including the book on the Maryamiyyah, which is a tour de force because he extensively utilizes the very files of Koslow and Glasse (plus interviews by ex-members) that the final published version of *Against The Modern World* did not. But because he is Iranian and his book is in Persian published in Iran, he is held to a totally different (double) standard by his Anglo-European peers and critics in the West, even though at least one of these Anglo-European critics does not even read a single word of Persian and has to rely on Google Translate to make any sense of anything Shahbazi says in Persian. So rather than investigate the text and its sourcing, the accusations of "conspiracy theorist" and similar are taken at face value by other Anglo-Europeans against an Iranian and his book -- not to mention as well as against another Iranian reporting on it. But this has nothing to do with what has been actually said in the book or the evidence it provides for the claim.
Be that as it may, my phrasing of the issue broached in Shahbazi's book regarding possible foul play in Guenon's demise was deliberately phrased in an open ended manner. I was reporting what Shahbazi has written and underscored the fact from the beginning of the paragraph that a recent book published in Iran has claimed the following. I also noted that Shahbazi is not the sole source for such a claim. Proper historiography -- as opposed to politicized historiographies which is unfortunately all too prevalent in some parts of the Anglo-European world these days, and particularly on topics such as this -- demands that the matter be noted and that one not remain selective in reporting on it. And that is exactly what I did, I reported it.
Now, people are always welcome to take the information however they like. They can also rebut it, if they have a proper counter-argument -- and hopefully some counter-evidence to back it up. But instead of doing that to then impugn the source (without even having critically examined it) and its author while making veiled threats at the same time is not about historiography at all or anything remotely known as "fact checking." It is instead about politics (and dirty politics at that), a chauvinistic privileging of sources, not to mention cold, hard racism.
It seems clear from what I wrote that I in no way suggested the infallibility of Schuon. This is a complex issue and there are several things that can be said. First, however, we should again consult Liber Decatriarchia Mystica for a passage in which the author indirectly claims for himself such infallibility. These words require no commentary:
"Amongst those who might wish to accuse me of claiming a station that was abrogated by the Prophet Muhammad (whose Return, by the way, I am as well), my primary rank and station is that of Mirror to the Essence of the Godhead (mirát dhát Allah), which contains all other stations within it but is not specifically the station of prophet legatee (nabí, nubuwwa). It is quantum levels beyond it" (p. 101).
As for the relationship between Schuon's character and his books, one should begin with the obvious, which is that there is of course no necessary consonance between a person's words and his or her actions, as Michael Gogins has already pointed out. It is also worth mentioning here that just as I never said Schuon was infallible, neither did I say that his works are irreproachable in all their details. That being said, however, Schuon's writings are clearly in a different category than, to use your examples, Zachary, the Book of Mormon or a Roman Polanski film. Why? The reason is that they do in fact contain profound expositions of sacred truths (as you seem to agree), in addition to making clear in the most complete manner the subjective or human implications of these truths (this claim will of course strike some as ironic).
Now the point relevant to our discussion is that Schuon does not merely regurgitate other's teachings; to the sensitive reader, his writings will likely bear the mark of genuine inspiration. The question then is what the existential preconditions are for the descent of such inspiration. In Schuon's case, for the very reason that his books are in fact exceptional beyond what could be achieved through mere, disingenuous imitation, it is much too simplistic and "credulous" a response to the Bloomington scandal to see the man as an outright fraud, or as insincere. There are of course means available for seizing, or attempting to seize, certain forms of knowledge in the absence of any sufficient "initiatic qualification," namely the use of psychedelic drugs, but it is not clear that, for his part, Schuon derived his knowledge from anything other than the grace of God. Zachary, what can you confirm with certainty regarding the alleged misdeeds of Schuon? It seems there are two categories of offenses. One is related to the ritual strictures of Islamic orthodoxy, and the other is related to allegations of various kinds of abuse. Even a critic like Dominique Devie has said the following:
"After all that has been said, the «child molestation side» of the Schuon case (which was mentioned in the title of my first inquiry) should be considered as it really was: a pure anecdotal aspect of the story. It is obvious that it was just a «journalist trick» in order to draw attention to the real nature of the Schuon case which is, I must repeat it again, a corrupting mixing of traditional forms" (Schuon case file, p. 16).
While I'm not sure a journalist would have much interest in exposing a relatively obscure Sufi master's antinomianism, the quotation is interesting nevertheless.
Moving forward, I also want to make a few observations of a metaphysical nature, since this level of the issue is often neglected, resulting in the obscuration of its "providential intelligibility," or of its intelligibility in the light of Providence. Recall first the fact that the microcosm and macrocosm correspond to one another, and that both are governed by certain laws. In the case of the microcosm, when a spiritual aspirant begins placing pressure on his or her ego, it is wont to bite back if it is pushed too hard, or if the rules governing its domain are too flagrantly violated, at least insofar as such "violations" do not proceed from a pure intention, and even in cases where they do (rendering the "bite" a simple test of the purity or sincerity in question). Just as the human soul is subject to a certain lapsarian "gravity," so too is the macrocosm, and to disturb its connate rhythms is to provoke a corresponding reaction. If one considers the circumstances in which Schuon was living, and in which we still live, it should be clear that his life's work constituted a flash of light in the midst of a deep intellectual and spiritual darkness. Darkness is in a way always conspiring to snuff out the light, and with the cosmic conditions having finally become favorable to the seeming realization of such a "conspiracy," one can imagine the outrage on the part of darkness when, in the midst of its increasingly hegemonic bacchanalia, the light gives the lie to it once more, in grand fashion. I am of course personifying "darkness" and am more literally describing what could be called the "genius of Maya." Bloomington was surely one of the masterworks of Maya, as evidenced by the fact that it provides an opportunity of almost unimaginable intricacy for the exercise of the discernment so championed by Schuon (that between the real and the illusory). To see only fraud and caricature is to be unaware of this dimension of things, notwithstanding the fact that it is admittedly difficult of access.
What I have just said will either appeal to a person's intuition or else likely come across as an elaborate and disturbingly delusional rationalization. But in the latter case one can respond simply by quoting the Quran: "The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein praise Him, and there is not a thing but hymneth His praise; but ye understand not their praise. Lo! He is ever Clement, Forgiving" (17:44). An evil taken by itself, and assuming it is real, is evil tout court, but one should be careful not to give evil too much credit or attention lest he fail to understand the praise of the creation. Even worse would be the mistake of seeing an evil where it doesn't actually exist. The best approach in this case is actually that of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who disapproved of the Indian Days and Primordial Gatherings from the beginning, never participated at all, and yet has not once spoken ill of Schuon. Those able to read Persian can find him discussing these matters frankly in an interview appended to the Shahbazi book.
Finally, regarding the whole question of dubious establishment connections, such misgivings are somewhat puzzling from an Islamic perspective, since one can find examples of Sufi shaykhs throughout the centuries serving as advisors to the politically powerful. While I am not familiar with the details of this history, suffice it to say that the direct exercise of power and getting one's hands dirty are for all intents and purposes, though of course not in principle, inseparable. So according to the logic put forward in Mr. Azal's article, there is a strict guilt by association in these matters such that one would have to denounce many masters of old based solely on certain outward associations.
To summarize the above, I have not claimed infallibility or inerrancy for Schuon, and I do not endorse cultishness of any kind. I only take issue with what I see as questionable and damaging condemndations of a complex figure. One should be careful not to reveal what God conceals, or to conceal what He reveals, let alone the possibility of spreading outright falsehood in the absence of certainty, especially considering the profound unlikelihood of Schuon's being a criminal. Taking issue with his extra-Islamic practices is one thing, but for those who continue to perpetuate the notion that he truly hurt people, there are those of us who are still waiting for the definitive proof, in the absence of which it is better, and even necessary from a spiritual point of view, to remain silent.
And God knows best,
Amber, you are beating a dead horse and so really ought to read Liber Decatriarchia Mystica cover to cover in order to realize -- as it it was emphasized a dozen times from the intro to the conclusion -- that the whole purpose of that book was a deliberate spoof on such claims by Baha'u'llah, Schuon and all the rest of those cats during the 19th-20th centuries proclaiming themselves to be Supreme Avatars, Incarnations, Manifestations, and all the rest. My specific target in that grimoire-cum-book was Baha'u'llah and his totally untenable, illegitimate claims. But, mutatis mutandis, it can just as well be applied to Schuon. Peter Lamborn Wilson actually quite dug it btw. You also obviously missed my quote of Ibn Farid's famous poem at the conclusion of LDM, but keep on truckin:
I was a prophet sent to myself from Myself,
And it is myself who, by my own Signs, was guided towards Myself.
إَلَيَّ رَسُولًا كُنتٌ مًنًّي مُرسَلاً
وَذَاتِي بِآيَاتِي عَلَيَّ ٱسْتَدَلَّتِ
Amber, I am a Shi'i. You seem to forget that tabarra' (cursing of the enemies of the Imam) is an article of my faith and the complimentary of the Walaya. Let me quote Moezzi for you on the matter:
For the Imams, bara’a (or tabarri) is the indispensable complement to, and opposite of, walaya (or tawalli). If we translate walaya (or tawalli) by “faithful, tender love” of the Imam, then bara’a (or tabarri) would be “wild, implacable hatred” of the Enemy of the Imam. We should be simultaneously mindful of everything that involves this opposition of “Imam/enemy of the Imam” or “the imams’ faithful believers/the partisans of the imams’ adversaries,” as well as all the corresponding pairs of opposites: the Hiero-Intelligence (‘aql) and those of the counterpowers of ignorance (jahl), the battle waged between the two from before the beginning of the creation of the physical world, the People of the Right and those of the Left, the People of Paradise and those of Hell, the continuation of the universal battle throughout the cycles of sacred history between the Imams and their faithful, on the one side, and the adversaries of the Imams and their partisans on the other, the Guides of Justice and the Guides of Injustice (a’immat al-‘adl/ a’immat al-jawr), the Guides of the Good and those of Evil (a’immat al-khayr/a’immat al-sharr), the Guides of Light and those of Darkness (a’immat al-nur/a’immat al-zalam), the initiated Masters and their disciples as opposed to the counter-initiated and their masters, the People of the exoteric and the esoteric as opposed to those of the exoteric alone, and so on. According to the Imams, one cannot fully love the Imam and his Cause without simultaneously hating the Enemy opposed to him and to his Cause since the time of creation; the “believer” who is faithful to the Imams should pledge Love and Obedience to the Master who initiates him into the Divine Sciences, and hatred and disobedience to him who stands for the opposite of this Initiation. If the world is the way it is, invaded by evil and darkness that will only increase until the triumphal return of the Mahdi, it is because the Masters of Injustice and the mass majority (‘amma) that follows them is dominant, condemning the Sages and the chosen minority (khassa) that follows them to isolation and suffering… The Divine Guide in Early Shi’ism: The Sources of Esotericism in Islam, pp.87-88.
This is about the most charitable interpretation of the whole tragedy that can be put forward. Unfortunately, none of the traditionalists are as charitable to their fellow man. I was also inclined to look the other way regarding smaller details until current and former members of the Maryamiyyah confirmed to me that Schuon’s alleged crimes involved children. Nasr has his own apparently independent scandals in DC (although not involving minors), where it seems he has perpetuated nearly every aspect of Schuon’s legacy. Longtime senior disciples of Nasr have already left the order, just as many did when Schuon’s actions came to light in the 1990’s.
The Wikileaks cables deserve a closer look because they prove Nasr is not guilty by association, but because he was an informant working as and on behalf of criminals. The documents are between former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former US Ambassador to Iran and CIA director Richard Helms. Nasr approaches Kissinger and Helms on behalf of the Shah to target the Iranian intellectual Reza Baraheni. The same year as these correspondences and meetings—1976—SAVAK is exposed for a plot involving the planned assassination of Baraheni and other Iranian intellectuals on US soil.
I do not see how it is prudent or merciful to defend criminals or pretend that their crimes do not exist when real human beings have been hurt and are in need of support.
I am happy to also discuss metaphysics. Theoretical metaphysics, however, is a cheap substitute for practical metaphysics that culminates in ethics. I close here with a few relevant quotes on the subject:
“Qualify yourself with the qualities of God.” – The Prophet Muhammad
“…Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say unto them of the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” –Jesus
“To know the real Self to be one’s own is the greatest attainment according to the scriptures and reasoning. To know wrongly the non-self such as the ego to be the Self is no attainment at all.” -Shankara
“Someone came to Ramakrishna and said, ‘Virtue and vice are both unreal, for the universe is unreal; and I am Atman. Nothing can touch me.’ To which Ramakrishna replied, ‘If this is your Vedanta, then I spit on Vedanta.’” –Ramakrishna
Your grievances, despondency and reasoning to air your concerns/findings are more than valid. Especially, from one freshly healing from feelings of betrayal.
My gripe was solely invested at funneling the truthful intentions of the article. Prof. Sedgwick's book, Koslow's exposé, the Cyril Glasse account, the dozen or so dossiers in circulation, the endless forums/message boards discussing/defaming the Schuon cult by previous members or those 'in the know' should, in some respects suffice. That is not to say there is not anything more that can be written, or that the whole fiasco is a closed case in the public eye, on the contrary. I quite like hearing new accounts from insiders. In fact, I wonder if you ever discussed any of your concerns with Nasr, face to face/man to man, and asked him not to withhold anything? Just curious. If I remember correctly, Prof. Sedgwick, in ATMW, at the last moment found it hard to confront Nasr about the whole thing (with pictures of naked Schuon in hand!) when he had his meeting with him at his office. A matter of respect for sure, but he was not an adherent/devotee such as you once were, with perhaps more of a need for confrontation. Again, I'm just curious. I'd like to think, I would confront my Master in light of mounting evidence, and see what his story/reaction is.
With regards to the above paper, there just was really nothing new to be gleaned from the paper. In fact, Wahid has previously vented about the Schuon cult on vast array forums/blogs throughout the years that are too numerous to cut/paste... http://www.arcane-archive.org/religion/islam/sufism/sufis-corruption-1.php
So why now? To what end? If not some form of self promotion. Why does the self-proclaimed "Grand Shaykh" of a "sufi" "tariqa" parade himself on end on message boards/forums blogs etc. And if you spend any time, Zachary (which I wouldn't waste time doing if I were you, in all honesty) reading through his corpus of posts/blog comments etc through the years under his literally endless pseudonyms, you will find a less than humble or honest person. Again, that is not to say his article does not contain facts, or is even, primarily, based on facts, rather than hearsay. Let's go with the assumption that it's all true. Why now?...Oh, wait...because of the "consequence", of *others*, attacks (read above), on his person that he sought retribution (on persons he has never met nor spoken too). Again, this is quite telling coming from a "sufi Master"...continued
I also find it ironic that such a one who challenges accounts of pedophilia (which may or may not be true), would harken back the glowing sentiments of Peter Lamborn Wilson. Whose grotesque corpus of writings on the topic of man-boy love is just as noxious as anything railed against Schuon. But that is to be expected of someone who had once claimed, (really), to be the prophetic successor of Aleister Crowley (again, investigate at will, google is your friend). Crowley's scandalous behavior with minors need no introduction I am sure. Each chapter of Wahid's first book "*156" is "opened by one card of the Crowley "Thoth" Tarot deck".
But if one were to line each opening of a chapter, of their hypothetical book, with a quote from Schuon, he would find excuse to antagonize.
From a quick google...
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!
To any discerning eye, it is certain that the Master Therion Frater Perdurabo Aleister Crowley (peace and salutations be upon Him) was far greater and has exercised far more penetrating influence on the minds and hearts of enlightened modern people everywhere than the self-styled "Splendour of God" Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri "baha'u'llah." Generations of thinkers, occultists, musicians, performers and artists everywhere have been influenced by Him to a far greater degree than Husayn Ali could even hope. More of Crowley's works have been sold, published, re-published, translated and are known and quoted than his, and bands like Led Zepplin and Roxy Music (which make Seals & Crofts look like a third rate Milly Vanily of their time) have even made hits with themes from Crowley's works. In many ways the spiritual dimension of the '60s Revolution, not to mention the whole postmodern New Age movement in its current form, is a tribute to the supernal genius of the great Master Therion whilst Husayn Ali Nuri can claim no influence on world culture whatsoever. Aleister Crowley was also an Iran lover, considered Zarathushtra greater than both Jesus and Muhammad, contrary to the legacy of the heirs of Husayn Ali Nuri who detest Iran and its culture and people. So I submit that Crowley has more of an entitlement to the rank of the greatest Prophet of the Age than Husayn Ali Nuri "Baha'u'llah." Whilst Husayn Ali Nuri wished to imprison people in the cage of his Kitab-i-Aqdas with some of the stupidest and most impractical laws ever devised, Aleister Crowley simply stated in His "Book of the Law" that "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law!" Love is the Love, Love under Will, Will under Life! Wahid Azal (13-1) @@Ecclesia Gnostica Bayani Universalis@@"
Prof. Sedgwick, I think your readers deserve to at least see/read the hypocrisy at play here. Your, ATMW, was a legitimate scholarly work, with honest intentions. Azal's work, by his own admission, was "consequence" of feeling attacked. The work seems, for the most part, plagiarized and paraphrased from others writing. Talk about "beating a dead horse"
Wahid says "Liber Decatriarchia Mystica" is an "deliberate spoof on such claims by Baha'u'llah, Schuon and all the rest of those cats during the 19th-20th centuries proclaiming themselves to be Supreme Avatars, Incarnations, Manifestations, and all the rest". But then himself claims to be Crowley's "prophetic successor"! Huh? Are these the words of a sufi Master? Or a wolf in sheep's clothing....
How can such a one, with "love" and "humility" cast electronic death threats (google), or write "I now have a book published which in time will be looked upon as one of the most important milestones in the history of a post-Islamic gnostic revolutionary movement" "The ebook version of 156 is selling like hotcakes and it has only been
two/three days since its release." "No need to mention that in this book I make very explicit the fact that I am Mirza Yahya Nuri Subh-i-Azal's "Return" and who himself was the "Return" of the Bab and thus the legitimate heir of the Babi faith and therefore the one Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab, meant by the title 'man yuzhiru'Llah' (He whom God shall make Manifest)." and "My focus now is to promote my
book, my ideas, continue working on my next several projects and globally build up the Neo-Babi movement which I lead. But note that the **Bayani Gnostic Universalist Faith** is now here to stay and it is here to stay until the Day of the Advent of She whom God shall Make Manifest, the final Manifestation of the Godhead in this the Aeon of the Bayan and the most complete Return of Tahirih Qurrat'ul-Ayn"...what? humility? where? I suppose that was a "deliberate spoof" as well. One could, feel inclined to see the majority of his output as a "deliberate spoof".
Which brings us back to Mr. Knysh's remarks..."nothing but an attempt to gain cheap notoriety" whose "focus now is to promote my book, my ideas"
Again, your readership Prof. Sedgwick deserves to look for themselves into the mechanics of the authors contentious mind. Please post. As I would love to hear Wahid's rebutle.
Based on Mr. Azal's invitation to examine his chief published work in detail, I will share a number of additional passages that I believe are relevant to the discussion insofar as much of it up to now has revolved around the issue of the reliability of sources of information. Please forgive the length in advance.
Regarding the attempt to explain away various claims as an exercise in spoofing, it suffices merely to read the book to see that it is quite rather the opposite of a spoof; far from merely inveighing against other heterodox and antinomian spiritual figures, the text, at least taken at face value, not only frequently displays an aggressive one-upmanship, but it also contains explicit affirmations of the seriousness of its author and his intentions. Certain of these passages will require being reproduced at length for the sake of context, and I recommend reading them in their entirety (the bolded phrases are part of the original, though I am not sure this blog supports italics, bolding, etc.):
"I believe the work I am offering here can quite possibly serve as a catalyst of sorts offering a Way out and a means to reverse this [counter-initiatic] process in order to bring about the end of this tyrannical reign of quantity, which is indeed a sign of our times.... I offer this present work as my Manifesto: a manifesto of a universal revolutionary gnosis by a revolutionary gnostic Neo-Bábí Universalist calling for a Global Revolution via a Universal Gnosis, i.e. Theophanocracy, and hence a manifesto showing a glimmer of what is possible on this planet when the inevitable happens and the tyrannical reign of quantity is by the collective choice of gnostics worldwide – i.e. the Third Wave - brought to an abrupt end and replaced with the Reign of Quality, the new Yuga and Golden Age, as it can and indeed will. It is my conviction that this is precisely my life’s calling to initiate and why therefore I have been given this Qabbalah to bring forth." (pp. 23-4)
"I am quite serious about the claims I make in this Book, not to mention the Call I am making to the true inner traditions and lineages worldwide to join me in a common endeavor to achieve the global apokatastasis, the separation of the Light from the Darkness on the horizontal, terrestrial level, i.e. the Universal Resurrection and Gnostic Restoration; if, that is, they are truly serious about what they do claim regarding themselves. Unlike others who have come making claims without very much to show for theirs, I come bearing this new Qabbalah and especially my Verses (i.e. the Versical Signs, áyát bayánát) as evidence for mine, and this is only a glimmer of what the Divine has gifted me with. Those who doubt and question, wish to quarrel for its own sake, or even wish to anathematize me out of jealousy or what have you, first, let them produce Versical Signs like unto it and a Tree of profounder scope better than this!" (p. 24)
"Finally, I should mention (as it should be evident by now to those high adepts sensitive to such things) that this whole Book is magickally charged in the same manner as is The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage and countless other grimoires and true Holy Books. Those who attempt to either abuse or contend with either its contents or its author in any conceited, underhanded or duplicitous manner, do so at their guaranteed peril! And this magickal charge shall not nor can be in any manner, shape or form broken by anyone or anything, whether in the heavens, in the earth or what is between them, other than by She whom the Godhead shall make Manifest in the number 303. And, verily, this magickal charge is a direct Command from the Archangel-Imám Itself, which is a Command from the All-High Supreme Godhead. Let those who foolishly deign to believe otherwise have mercy on themselves!" (p. 36)
Since this last passage makes reference to the Imam, we can now examine the author's stated spiritual affiliations, as they incidentally invalidate the thrust of his most recent post. In the "about me" section of his blog, Mr. Azal refers to himself as "a Twelver Shi'l Sufi Muslim." Let us now juxtapose that claim with certain passages from his tome:
"[L]et me reemphasize that I am not a Muslim but by personal conviction a Bayani Gnostic Universalist..." (p. 18)
"I am an esotericist. My true underlying religion is gnosis (‘irfán). I have no time or sympathy for exotericism (dín-i-záhirí) or its demonstrably flawed axioms and narrow minded, infantile assumptions regarding the Divine and the Kosmos together with its dumb, fear-based rules and regulations that have absolutely nothing to do with the bigger picture. As a point of fact, I have no problems whatsoever expressing my utter contempt for all forms of exoteric religion and those institutions who represent them. I am an unashamed and proud hyper-bátiní esotericist, as I have been in several of my previous gilgulim, and that is that." (p. 19)
"No need to reiterate, again, that I am heart and soul an unrepentant esoteric syncretist and that I make no apologies to anyone for my approach to these things." (p. 20)
"[E]xoteric religion as a whole – opposed to which stands universal gnosis as a whole - is therefore the true spawn and thus the true servant of the devil/satan/moloch/beelzebub/belial. True religion = gnosis and esotericism (light). False religion = exotericism and (all falsely claimed) outward authoritarian ecclesiastical power which constricts freedom of spiritual realization with the negation of lies, whitewash, demonstrably false, pernicious and insidious doctrines, all based on fear-mongering (darkness) and subservience to contrived covenants and outmoded rules and stupid regulations." (p. 109)
Needless to say, such claims would rightly arouse the contempt of any believing Twelver Shi'i. I have read Amir-Moezzi's book in its entirety (it is the best summary treatment of early esoteric Shi'ism that I, with my limited knowledge of the latter, am aware of), and nowhere in that book does one get the sense that the integral Imami doctrine it attempts to uncover is characterized by the least negation of exoterism, notwithstanding certain natural tensions between the inward and outward domains, which, at least as far as the Imams themselves were concerned, intentionally never were publicly formulated (and this is to say nothing of the fact that such a scenario would be unimaginable anyway for the purest of the immediate descendants of the Prophet). The esoteric Shi'ism presented by Amir-Moezzi never denies the necessity of exoterism, and that is not insignificant since the book actually espouses controversial, fringe positions on certain points (such as the nature of the Quran, for example). One wonders whether the Imams themselves would accept Mr. Azal's claim to tawalli. Indeed there are Imami traditions that set the bar for claiming to be a real Shi'i rather high.
That being said, we are now in a position to revisit the question of Mr. Azal's elaborate and scandalous claims to spiritual perfection. In several places he explicitly affirms that he is in fact who he claims to be:
"I am the true Promised One (ma’úd) of the Bayán, viz. the one indicated in Bayání texts as He whom the Godhead shall make Manifest (man yuzhiruhu’Llah). All who have come before me claiming this station, especially and above all Mírzá Husayn ‘Alí Núrí Bahá’ (the founder of Bahá’ism), where [sic] one and all to the last one rank imposters and false claimants. As further proof that I am precisely who and what I say I am, I offer the following glosses on the Bayánic phrase He whom the Godhead shall make Manifest (man yuzhiruhu’Llah) and a numerological interpretation of the word-ciphers ghiyáth (the assistance sought) and mustaghath (the one invoked)." (p. 98)
"The Tree, this entire treatise, the 19 Commandments below in Appendix D, and everything else flowing from the Supreme Pen (qalam a’lá) - the situs of my interior heart (fu’ád) and mind (‘aql) - before and after this, are further proof to the discerning amongst the truly realized spiritual amongst humankind, the true Ecclesia Gnostica, that I am precisely who and what I say I am. If there are those who doubt, wish to needlessly cavil, anathematize, attempt to persecute and oppose me out of hatred, territoriality, jealousy, selfishness, the arrogance of their base egos and the like, I am not one to throw down any challenge, but will make a few of my own in return: first, let them by themselves and individually produce a single verse like unto it and a Tree of profounder scope better than this!" (p. 110)
"That I have unraveled the secret of the Greatest Name from within the very own proof-texts used by the Bayání central figures is another proof that I am who I say I am, further proving that the Bahá’í founder lied and thus had no such veracity to his claim whatsoever...." (p. 142)
There is much more that could be said about this book, but I believe the above will suffice. I challenge its author to produce proof, from his own text, of the veracity of his claim that its purpose was "a deliberate spoof," especially considering the fact that he invoked "a dozen" instances of such statements.
Zachary, I plan to respond to your post in the near future, God-willing.
I have responded to Azal here:
Thank you for your more measured response. To answer your question: Yes, I confronted Nasr in person, man to man as you say. I was later told by one of his followers that no one had spoken to him as directly as I had. After a series of deflections by Nasr, the end of interaction can be summarized as follows:
me: “Schuon and others abused young children...why didn’t you tell us?”
Nasr: “What was I to do?”
me: “This is no different than the Catholic Church.”
Nasr: “Except in the Church the Pope himself was not guilty.”
me: “I just want to tell you in person that I am leaving the order.”
Nasr: “You are an angry person.”
I felt somewhat sorry for the man because his proud façade was beginning to crack and there was some recognition that his master was a deeply flawed human being. However, he should have done exactly what I did and leave. Instead, he took Schuon’s mantle and defended the man. Now I am told by reputable sources that Nasr has hurt a number of impressionable disciples of his own. It was only later that I took a closer look at his political connections and realized his moral compass (or lack thereof) had betrayed him in several respects.
Regarding Wahid Azal, I admire his political commentaries, critiques of Bahaism and the Maryamiyyah, as well as his translations and more mature writings. I wrote a number of articles and a book in the past that I wish I could distance myself from entirely. With that said, Corbin writes about “the prophets of one’s being” and Amir-Moezzi speaks of the “Imam of one’s being.” There is nothing strange about this doctrine—which originates in the teachings of the Imams and classical Sufis—because every outward phenomenon has its inner correspondence, even if the function of prophecy was sealed by the Prophet Muhammad, and the function of Imam by Muhammad al-Mahdi, peace be upon them.
I consider Azal a courageous and informed writer. I don’t have to agree with him on everything and he doesn’t have to agree with me. He does have enough sense to know that pedophilia and espionage that puts innocent lives at risk are wrong. It is very telling that so many here are coming out to defend Schuon and the Maryamiyyah, and attack Azal for standing up for what is right.
Before writing more, I want to ask for clarification regarding your most recent post. Are you saying that Dr. Nasr admitted to you in person that Schuon did in fact abuse children? What exactly was said? And to be clear, what is meant by abuse? And regarding such alleged abuse, do you consider yourself to have certainty regarding it, or mere belief based on your sources, or something in between? Did you use the word "abuse" with Dr. Nasr? Were the misdeeds he allegedly acknowledged the same as the ones you had in your mind? How extensive was your discussion? It is necessary to be precise in all of this.
Hello? Which part of the book was a spoof does Mr Abookire (IP traced to Louisville, Kentucky) and his Duginist Nazi friend not understand? The book was a spoof means the whole book is a spoof.
And Amber, which part of the poem by Ibn Farid quoted on page 340 did you not understand? This is now the second instance this is being quoted. Do you even have a copy of LDM?
I was a prophet sent to myself from Myself,
And it is myself who, by my own Signs, was guided towards Myself.
إَلَيَّ رَسُولًا كُنتٌ مًنًّي مُرسَلاً
وَذَاتِي بِآيَاتِي عَلَيَّ ٱسْتَدَلَّتِ
Dear Michele L. Canty, Nate Abookire and James Porazzo (interesting company),
When you find naked pictures of me in Native American head-dresses or find me engaging in paedophilia with the children of my disciples or taking multiple vertical wives from my disciples, etc; or do the kind of stuff that Nasr has done which there is now a long wikileaks trail for; then talk. LDM was a spoof book as indicated from the beginning to the end with the poem by Ibn Farid. It was also a great spoof book because it seems to have gotten into the heads of three different sets of cultists all at once: Bahais, Maryamis and Duginists. So, yes, you are beating a dead horse, but the book is still doing its more occult job. What is quite ridiculous, is that the Duginists are crying here because not only have I exposed them far and wide -- and their international linkages -- but here Mr Porrazzo seems to be complaining that at one point I have out-Dugined Dugin in his "syncretism." Be that as it may, if the Maryamiyyah are now taking LDM against me, pray tell, why was prominent Maryamiyyah member Faheem Chishty for several years incessantly communicating with me wanting to take me as his shaykh (which I categorically refused to do) on the very basis of this book? You and your friends, Mr Abookire, do not have a leg to stand on.
Mark Sedgwick, much of the stuff you are letting through is ad hom.
The Duginists, mendaciously running for cover, claim no connection between themselves and the Maryamiyyah. Can they explain the following, then?
Thank you for divulging further your personal history/correspondence with Nasr. I truly am empathetic towards everything you have had to endure. Its one thing to be sympathetic to, or even enthralled in the highest order with and by the writings of someone like Schuon, and then come to find out such allegations, and have to distance oneself. Yet it is an altogether different realm to have lived in an air of proximity to the teachings and members of the upper echelons, by way of initiatic rite and be confronted with such things. Again, I empathize. As I also do, when you say you felt sorry for Nasr after your confrontation. Like it has been said on this blog in the past, I think it would prove difficult to back track, given, perhaps, spiritual or intellectual egos, after having exclaimed your Master as the "cosmic intellect itself impregnated by the energy of divine grace surveying the whole of the reality surrounding man and elucidating all the concerns of human existence in the light of sacred knowledge".
I do not believe that I ever came to Schuon's defense. If my writing in anyway came across as such, let me be clear, I am not defending the man or his alleged actions. I have seen pictures of the primordial gatherings or some form of them, and other questionable photos, and it was enough for me to pull the halo off his headdress.
With regards to Mr. Azal, I believe I alluded to the fact the he is an informed writer when I suggested both his, one time, intellectual and spiritual promise. But the thing is, it is scarce for Mr. Azal to write anything, at length, without feeling the need succumb to some category of kvetching, antagonizing or contentious modes of writing behaviors. Contrary to him being courageous, I, and I imagine others, find, a habitual lack, of courtesy and, yes, honesty. A case in point for me personally, being his outright lie that I was this Abookie fellow. I could perhaps understand, and forgive, his labeling me so, were it just the a matter of mistaking me for this person he claims harassment from. But to then say my IP was traced to Kentucky? Allowing himself to air more conspiracy (and I do understand, Zachary, that what you know to be true is not at all conspiracy). I'm want to say this proves his disingenuous character, but that would put it mildly. This is an outright lie. And it is quite sad. A grown man in his 50's-60's(?), and "Grand Shaykh" of a sufi order, feeling the need to lie, in order to further slander. Shame. I would ask Prof. Sedgwick to trace my IP, and reveal whether it's location is in Kentucky, or anywhere near there. I know he would not do that, but he has my permission.
With regards to your own writings, of which you feel the need to distance yourself from, I have found much of your available on-line writing to be nothing short of honest and humble, nor did I find them once imbued with bolstering of any sort. I have found myself revisit your "The Eliatic Function" on more than one occasion. As I have, one or two lesser contentious articles of Azal's output. He is knowledgeable to a certain extent. But also quite poisonous in other regards. The fact that he has been banned from shiachat over 30 or so times (under various monikers) for absurdly contentious behavior, as well as a plethora of others, speaks volumes. An antagonist of the first order. This is a grown man, far into his adulthood. Spending hours upon hours attacking. Attack after attack. Is this a spiritual master? Is this the behavior of a "Grand Shaykh". Would you want your children adopting such a character as a spiritual father?
Henry Corbin, was never a self-promoter. The many hues of inner engelchristologie or theophanic morphology, waḥdat al-wujud etc, are not the issue. It's the way in which it is aired or put forth. With such unapologetic arrogance! If one cannot read the quotations above as coming from anything but an egotistical or unbalanced mind, well. All I can say is that if Schuon were to have written in such a way, his accusers would be more voluminous. Azal has never been embarrassed nor repentant for anything I have read from him over the years. All I have seen is a conflated ego grow, and hurtful duplicitous accusations thrown about willy nilly.
What sufi "Master" spends so much time trolling, backbiting, antagonizing? Get on with your spiritual life, if you truly have one. Which is what I should be doing rather than seemingly assassinate someones character! I say seemingly because all that need be done is scroll the web and the assassination is already self-inflicted. All of which lends less credence to the accusations (true or false), and places the motives behind such a paper in question. It certainly is not about standing up for what is right. Coming from a man who idolizes Peter Lamborn Wilson, an true pedophile. Come on.
Mr Not-So-Anonymous-Abookire (your IP is traced yet again to the same source in Louisville, Kentucky)
What kind of Orthodox Christian of your pretensions spends all their time running smear campaigns against several people all at the same time and all over the internet against myself, Eric Draitser of anti-imperialism.org and Sukant Chandran of the "Sons of Malcolm," as you have: a smear campaign in the service of dubious Fascists and paid hacks like Navid Nasr and his Duginist cronies. What kind of Orthodox Christian of your pretensions claims to be a Lebanese Druze one day then a Lebanese Maronite the next day and finally a Hungarian Jew the day after that, as you have, while promoting "The Muslim Zionism Organization"? What does Muslim Zionism even mean? What kind of Orthodox Christian associates with some of the most rabid settler Zionist Islamophobes as you do? Did you get this sort of mendacity and fancy dress-upism from Alexander Dugin whom you once unequivocally denounced on my Facebook wall but whose acolytes you now openly cavort with as comrades? And what kind of Orthodox Christian is literally obsessed with trolling people and their families, as you have, and then openly falsifying information about their interlocutor-antagonists while literally bullying other individuals who see right through your game and who called you on it, as you did? What kind of Orthodox Christian are you, really? I don't believe you are any kind of Orthodox Christian. This is your gimmick because you are a proven opportunist. As I have said in public, and as you yourself have repeatedly confirmed, you are a paid shill and a government informant -- and the word on the street about you on that score has been out for six straight years now.
More to follow...
From last post...
Moreover, while I have you here, who are you to talk for Palestine, or question why people like me or Sukant Chandran talk about Palestine, when you are associated with rabid settler Zionists and unrepentant North American Israeli-firsters like Judith Git? You are associated with a plethora of anti-Palestinian Zionist ethno-supremacists, your track-record for lying and trolling are legion and well-established, yet you have the gall and chutzpah to day in and day out question and smear Sukant Chandran, myself and Eric Draitser in London, Berlin and NYC while you yourself are located in one of the oldest Jim Crow-segregation centers of the United States; this, while claiming to be making coffee for Starbucks while you have infinite time to troll and wage online vendettas of your own as well as on behalf of Fascist hacks like Navid Nasr (who btw is family to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Vali-Reza Nasr).
No sir, you don't get to hide behind any sanctimony or holier-than-thou platitudes directed my way when you have demonstrated time and again not to even know what the words 'integrity', 'ethics' or 'moral-compass' even mean. Sorry, you have no leg to stand on to lecture anyone -- which is why you are (unsuccessfully) trying to hide behind an Anonymous log-in here in order to comment (God bless the Hacker collective). No one I have known online backbites, smears, attacks, trolls, deceives and antagonizes as much as you and your posse of friends have done over the past year -- and not just to me. Luckily, in the age of cyberspace meticulous records can be kept and -- despite your attempts to falsify information -- when (not "if") the matter finally comes to the attention of a proper legal venue, you know you will be toast. You would've had a case if your attacks were merely limited to myself and no one else. But the minute you included Eric Draitser, Sukant Chandran, Harrison Elfrink and others in your underhanded smear-campaign that is when you showed your hand as a paid political operator and a hack. So how does it feel to have someone finally stand in your face with the ability to go toe to toe and for the full 15 rounds? Refer to the introduction of Liber Decatriarchia Mystica where I talk about "the Greatest" Louisville, Kentuckian of all time: Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay) (ra).
Ball in your court...
I was very precise in my conversation with Nasr and stated that Schuon was accused of sexually abusing children. I took the aforementioned conversation quoted above as an admission from Nasr, but he was not the original source of this information. I was previously aware of these claims from Koslow’s accounts and Sedgwick’s book, which detail Schuon’s indictment by a grand jury and the fact that the case was dismissed. I had assumed, as many well-intentioned people do, that he was innocent. I was then approached by another now former disciple of Nasr who came across photographs of Schuon inappropriately touching young children. This source told me that Schuon “digitally penetrated 8 or 9 year old girls.” I did not see the pictures myself because the evidence is illegal to view or possess, but trust the person who told me. I took this information to Nasr and other members of the order I was in contact with. Nasr more or less confirmed these findings, although he usually tells people not to worry about Schuon and focus on him in so many different ways. Another senior member of the order who knew Schuon personally in Bloomington said that: “Schuon committed acts worse than what the photographs show.” I’ll note that these pictures are not the ones that have circulated on the internet that show Schuon and other adults in the nude. Independent academic scholars, some of whom admire the traditionalists’ writings, have also confirmed that Schuon and some of his closest disciples committed acts of pedophilia and pederasty. How certain I am? I wasn’t there, but I trust the dozen or so sources inside and outside of the order that I have consulted. I would suggest that others do the same.
Thank you for your sympathy and efforts to focus on the article in question. It was heartbreaking to discover that people I looked up to could hurt people in this way and cover the whole thing up. I was also discredited by Nasr and the order, and suffered personally and professionally as a result. In retrospect, I am grateful to know…to my sources, as well as Azal, Shahbazi, Sedgwick, and even Koslow, Alhamdulillah. I should have seen the signs because I do believe there is enough evidence in Sedgwick’s book to warn people that something was askew.
I don’t believe you in particular came to Schuon’s defense, but by focusing on the writer of the article you and others have (perhaps unintentionally?) distracted from the evidence and the substance of his arguments. There are people who have been hurt and they need whatever support we can find, especially outside of an establishment that protects the more powerful and well connected. I no longer have respect for words and titles like “Shaykh” or “Doctor,” but look at the actions of individuals. Azal is a fierce critic of people and groups that very often deserve criticism. However, I have found that he is actually trustworthy and kind to those who stand up for justice. You are welcome to disagree, but I think it distracts from a very important article to voice your protests in the context of Azal blowing the whistle on criminals.
“Adab is to sharpen your sword so that when you have to cut off a limb it doesn’t hurt.” –Arab proverb
“The world needs bad men. We keep the other bad men from the door.” –Rust Cohle
Thank you again for your candor. I am truly sorry to hear that you endured forms of stigmatizing on top of everything else you went through. I can imagine it's akin to literally starting over again, professionally, personally etc. You did the right thing, following your heart and discerning from facts and trusted voices. I'd like to think I could be so brave. I'd also like to think, perhaps one day, you would thoroughly write of your accounts, perhaps in the form of a small book. It takes strength to turn a Malcolm X. You obviously are cut of the same cloth.
It seems strange that PLW still garners accolade from time to time, from the Traditionalists. For instance in "In Search of the Sacred". And still is close friends with William Chittick and others, considering his oeuvre pertaining to man-boy love. Though that could, I suppose, lend credence in some way to an sinister circle. But given the fact the he has, throughout the years, as far back as the early eighties, railed against Traditionalist fundamentalism in general, and Schuon in particular, would seemingly place a target on his back. I've never seen/read any distance placed on him. Perhaps because, as far as I know, he never disfavorably vetted Nasr in particular, who was, his Master.
I think, regarding Azal, you came close to hitting the nail on the head, when you wrote he is "trustworthy and kind to those who stand up for justice". Though I think it would read more accurate were it stated "trustworthy and kind to those who stand with his particular sentiments". Though, again, I would substitute "trustworthy" with perhaps subversive. I don't doubt that you may have gotten on well with him. And I am want to believe that, had you not been hurt by all this recently, you would find your acquaintance with him less than favorable.
I can only glean from your own sentiments, that you are perhaps unaware of Azal's more nefarious incarnations. The quotes listed above only bring to light a slight glimmer of megalomania. You have been hurt in the past, this is why I warn you. And all other readers. You are a big boy though, and I am certain you know when to steer clear. For others though who may be younger and or more impressionable, Azal is indeed poisonous. A wolf in sheep's clothing if I ever have seen one. As long as you are conveying things he wants to hear or you have already established a rapport that lends itself useful to his ego, you are in the clear. And you may never see the other Azal, under his various on-line guises. Which is fine. I am not trying to convince you, or anybody else really. Just giving fair warning into the mind of a malicious and unbalanced character(s). His criticisms, political writing, interviews etc., are all , for the most part, cleverly disguised catalysts for the propagandizing of his own brand of covertly/overtly dubious and or heretical views. He is out to garner fame. And he has duped quite a few people. His various "incarnations" are not some thing of the past. Such as one maturing spiritually from say, the "occult", to more "orthodox" modes of understanding. On the contrary, he has never outgrown (if you are aware of his different pseudonyms) his "previous" "incarnations", only surfaced and concealed them as it serves him. This is an aging man here, not some young man in his twenties, still discovering his thought. This is a sick mind. And for one to use others research, or in some way capitalize on the trauma of others, for the sole benefit of self-promotion, is sinister. I understand, Zachary, you don't see the manipulation at play here. Again, I feel there must be some warning to others. Just like, I'm sure, you wish you would have had others warn you about the Maryamiyyah prior to your involvement; I feel the need to warn about the "Grandy Shaykh" of the "Fatimiyyah". Is Azal a child molester? I certainly hope not. But he has engaged with pederasts and praised them, PLW, for just *one* instance. And still holds regards for deplorable characters far worse than Schuon. So why does he bother to write his own hit piece. There are ulterior motives (plural). Azal is not blowing any whistle. The whistle was blown years ago. He's just putting his mark on an already spun and woven controversial story; in order to spread his name and thus his ideas, and own dubious "Order(s)".
You say, Zachary, that you no longer have respect for titles such as Shaykh etc., yet defend, ever so slightly, one who's list of self-appointed titles is completely staggering! You leave a proverb, speaking about adab, yet the author of this article has rarely shown adab, except to a few personal acquaintances and those who do not question his work. Azal is not to be trusted, regardless of whether he may, or may not, write agreeable political pieces, or criticize (that's putting it lightly btw) organizations one may feel rancor for. Or if one exchanges chummy polite emails. It feels like, with the best intentions, a familiar circular predicament festering.
Proceed with caution. I will bow out now, and I will not waste another moment on this issue. Though it is certain that I will be accused some more of being in Kentucky or whatever. I wish you nothing but the best Zachary. I hope you continue to write in the future, and look forward to absorbing anything you put to pen. I also hope you find your professional career placed back on track.
Azal is a wolf in sheep's clothing because he is blowing the whistle loud and clear on straight up criminals, perpetrator cultists, enablers of imperial wars, and fascists? Again, when Azal is caught taking multiple "vertical wives" from his own disciples; taking public naked pictures of himself with Lakota headdresses and imbuing such smut with sanctity; sodomizing and molesting the children of his disciples; enabling the crimes of Empire; intimidating legal prosecutors and their witnesses into silence out to bring him to book, ad nauseum, only then does someone like the so-called Anonymous have any ground to call Azal a "wolf in sheeps" clothing. Yet apologia for criminals, perpetrator cultists, enablers of imperial wars, and fascists certainly makes one mendaciously reverse narrativizing and shooting messengers in order to smokescreen from the message an outright wolf without any disguises needed, of sheep or otherwise.
We do not seem to have been entirely successful in observing standard scholarly courtesies. I suggest that we close this discussion.
As my own final note, I have published the entirety of my email correspondence with Mark Koslow, here https://markkoslow1.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-azal-koslow-correspondence.html
It indeed seems like this discussion has more or less exhausted itself. That being said, I was hoping to add some final thoughts of my own if Prof. Sedgwick deems them suitable to post.
Thank you, Zachary, for clarifying the nature of your experience. Regardless of what Schuon did or did not do (I am in no position to confirm or deny any of the charges brought against him), I think there are some important, bigger-picture considerations to keep in mind. One is that, in Islam, the sorts of allegations we are discussing are taken very seriously. Consider, for example, the punishment for fornication and the rigor of the process for arriving at a guilty verdict. Now, given the nature of things, one would have to consider sexual abuse involving children to be a much more serious crime than the sexual abuse of oneself with another mature, consenting partner. It would be beneficial for us all, and especially any Muslims reading this, to remember a few sayings from the Islamic tradition, first from the Quran:
"And those who malign believing men and believing women undeservedly, they bear the guilt of slander and manifest sin" (33:58).
And from the Hadith:
"Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: 'I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), say: 'No man accuses another of an immoral deed or kufr, but it will come back on him, if the person he accuses is not as he says he is."
"Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him say something good or else remain silent."
There is also a saying attributed to Ja'far al-Sadiq according to which "'Anyone who falsely accuses a believer, male or female, of what is not in him on the Day he will be raised will remain in 'tinat khabal' until he is released from it.' Someone asked: 'What is tinat khabal?' He said: 'It is a kind of pus that is secreted from the sexual organs of prostitutes.'"
Now in a case as ambiguous as Schuon's, and bearing in mind the requisite four eye-witnesses in cases of fornication, it is clear that one must exercise the greatest degree of caution, lest one contribute to the spread damaging hearsay (whether corresponding, in the absence of proof, to some reality or not) about a believer in God and the Last Day (this of course includes the rumors being carelessly circulated about Dr. Nasr; is it not clear that this behavior is profoundly un-Islamic?). One is also reminded of this quotation from Bawa Muhaiyaddin:
"The faultfinding thoughts of your mind are biting you like mosquitoes and drinking your blood. Chase them away and you will be free. It is useless to be finding fault with others. Correct your own faults instead."
Furthermore, I would like to share this relevant passage from Abdul Qadir Gilani's Futuh al-Ghayb:
"God the Exalted will not be with you unless all your desires and your will are smashed. And when they are smashed and nothing is left in you and you are fit for nothing but Him, God will create you afresh and will give you a new will-power wherewith to will. And if in the newly-created will there is found again even the slightest tinge of yourself, God the Exalted will break this one also, so that you will always remain broken-hearted. In this way, He will go on creating new wills in you and on yourself being found in it, He will smash it every time, till at last the destiny reaches its end and the meeting (of the Lord) takes place. And this is the meaning of the Divine words: 'I am with those who are broken-hearted on My account.'"
To relate this to our discussion, one can see how easy it would be to make an idol of a man like Schuon. There is truth to the cliche that one cannot have his cake and eat it too. God protects us when he smashes idols (whether its appearance or its reality, and whether it is inside of us or outside), and it is up to us to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Doing so is a subterfuge of the ego, which is always trying to escape the potentially (or ideally) humbling effect of broken-heartedness (this referring, in the context of our discussion, to any disillusion that one might experience, rightly or wrongly, with respect to Schuon and/or the Maryamiyyah). But regarding the latter, what matters most spiritually is the doctrine, the method, and the validity of the initiation. If these three things are there (and one of course must decide for oneself about whether they are or not), it seems that one should be very careful in tossing such gifts aside because one's shaykh, or his shaykh's shaykh in this case, was to all appearances not perfect. Guenon explains this very well in his Perspectives on Initation:
"[I]t is easy to understand that the role of the individual who confers initiation on another is veritably one of 'transmitter' in the most exact sense of the word. Such a person does not act as an individual, but as the support of an influence not belonging to the individual order; he is only a link in the 'chain' of which the starting point lies outside and beyond humanity. This is why he acts not in his own name but in the name of the organization to which he is attached and from which he holds his powers; or, more exactly still, he acts in the name of the principle that the organization visibly represents. This also explains how the efficacy of the rite accomplished by an individual can be independent of the true merit of the individual as such, something that is equally true of religious rites" (p. 53).
So a shaykh does not have to be a perfect saint. Initiatic functions do not rise and fall with the merit of those temporarily invested with or fulfilling them. And this is to say nothing of the fact that, with respect to Schuon, overflowing the boundaries of the Islamic form is one thing, and sexual misdeeds involving children are obviously another.
Schuon, by his own admission, was not an ordinary man. Neither, apparently, did his tariqa end up being ordinary, whether in its Bloomingtonian or other manifestations. I thankfully have, since the time of your last post, Zachary, established contact with a source who spent many years on the Bloomington scene who described a certain faction within it as a cult but who nevertheless came away from it all (after the death of Schuon) with the impression that the man's state of being was basically consonant with his message. This person criticized certain aspects of the Bloomington community harshly while nevertheless affirming the benefit he derived from Schuon's spiritual instruction and the efficacy of the method in which he was trained (he has remained a member of the Maryamiyyah up to the present day). For a Maryami, this seems to be the wisest approach--not covering one's eyes and blocking one's ears, but rather remembering what is truly essential while always striving for objectivity and its expression in the form of both humility and charity. As for the enigma of Frithjof Schuon, one should remember that God is Infinite. One should strive not to be outwitted by the genius of Maya and thence duped into thinking terrible thoughts when one has not himself witnessed anything first-hand. Again remember the fact that even that (the direct witness of one person) would not be sufficient in the eyes of the Shariah to convict someone of fornication, which, as was already pointed out, must be considered a transgression less severe than that of sexually abusing children.
Lastly, I wanted to make a few miscellaneous points / ask a few final questions. First is the question of how Schuon got his knowledge and wrote inspired texts. Again it is much too simplistic (not to mention almost certainly false) to see him as a fraud. It is not enough merely to reject and vilify Schuon; one must have a theory of the "Schuonian phenomenon" that takes into account all available data. Although I am not currently able to offer my own perspective at length in this regard, I would at least like to quote the following words of Schuon himself: "The spirit ... always displays a tendency to breach its formal limitations, thereby putting itself in apparent contradiction with them." Such "apparent contradiction" is naturally of a variable severity, so to speak, depending upon the immediate "cosmic context," and in the case of a figure like Schuon, one should, as I have already pointed out, not be too surprised if the veil gets sewn back up with a certain spite on the part of Iron Age phenomenality (which again--in case one should raise the following objection--does not change anything about the status of an evil taken by itself). In the theater of creation, there is always overflow and bite-back, revelation and concealment. Think of the Muslims following the death of the Prophet--the world always tries to save face by rushing back in with might and main. Thirdly, as a final note, I was surprised by your claim, Zachary, that someone (whether this be Mr. Azal or anybody else) who rubbishes, in print, the religion of the Prophet, is an informed and courageous writer. Astaghfirullah. Informed about what? Even if Schuon were guilty of everything he has ever been accused of, one still has to establish this guilt through the proper channels, and even if that had been done, Schuon is no longer alive, so the idea of preemptively protecting others from harm no longer applies, and one gets caught up in backbiting the deceased. "Do not abuse the dead, for they have reached what they put forward" (hadith). And of course there are the words of God Himself: "O you who believe! Shun much conjecture. Indeed, some conjecture is a sin" (Quran 49:12).
And God knows best,
Rubbishes in print the religion of the Prophet?!? Frithjof Schuon is the Prophet?!? And the Maryamiyyah is the Prophet's religion?!? Thank you very much for this frank, candid and unequivocal statement of kufr on your part. I will be sure to convey the message along, especially to authorities back in Iran who need to be on their guard against the activities of this NeoCon connected organization as much as they are already rightfully vigilant against the activities of the Baha'is.
My apologies for the additional post. I would like to clarify one point for your readers who follow some interpretation of Islamic law. The charge of adultery or fornication requires four witnesses, but assault--including sexual assault--does not. Thus, minors who are not in a position to give consent have been assaulted and not simply fornicated with. I believe it is important for our communities and institutions to stop protecting predators.
And God knows best!
I hereby declare this discussion closed. No more comments will be published.
I would like to stress that "no more comments" means that there will be no more comments.
This is hardly scandalous, given that, for example, Krishna, usually worshiped as the "Supreme Avatar" of Vishnu (in Hinduism), thereby placing him above figures like Jesus, the Buddha, Muhammad, and so on, did all sorts of weird things throughout his life.
Krishna stole, Krishna committed adultery, he lied, cheated, manipulated, and so on and so forth. In fact, Jainas assign Krishna to Hell for having orchestrated a massive war that ultimately lead to the death of everyone involved. He basically wiped out the entire world population. So how can this figure, advocating war, violence, deception, and adultery, be the Supreme Deity?
Or what about Trungpa, whose writings if read, are no doubt genius. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Trungpa was enlightened, his behavior is whatever, but the efficacy of his training is obvious.
I wasn't aware of any of this Schuon stuff until recently, but the point is that messengers of God have always acted "strangely," i.e. they have been "strangers." This is in the Qur'an:
Similarly, there came not to those before them any messenger except that they said, "A magician or a madman."
Jesus called his mother: "woman" and he disturbed the public peace. He ranted at a tree and associated only with the shittiest people in society. U.G. Krishnamurti was a homeless loser with a failed marriage. Jed McKenna has no people skills. The list goes on.
Anyways, let's not forget this verse:
Ye shall know them by their fruits.
I haven't heard of this Schuon-Maryamiyya issue until recently. But either way, the only way I know of Schuon is via the content of his writing, and via the application of my Intellect (ʿaql) to his own writings, I can confirm pretty much everything he says. Which ultimately means that this scandal doesn't matter, since Schuon was pretty much right about everything. Please read his actual works, i.e. the "fruit."
Someone recently left a new comment on this discussion, but it has been so long since the last comment that I am closing this discussion.
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