Friday, February 28, 2020

Yahya Bonnaud (1957-2019)

Yahya Bonnaud (1957-2019), the Shi'i Franco-Iranian Traditionalist, died on August 26, 2019 in a car accident in Côte d'Ivoire.

Bonnaud encountered the works of Guénon as a young man, and became Muslim in 1979. He studied with the great Malian ethnographer and Tijani Amadou Hampâté Bâ. In 1991, he published Le soufisme : « al-taṣawwuf » et la spiritualité islamique (Sufism: "al-taṣawwuf" and Islamic spirituality) with a preface by the French Traditionalist scholar of Ibn Arabi Michel Chodkiewicz.

While working on a PhD at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris with Henri Corbin, he studied with Sayyed Jalal-ed-Din Ashtiani, an Iranian philosopher who had himself studied under the Ayatollah Khomeini (and who also taught William Chittick). Bonnaud became Shi'i himself. His PhD dissertation was later published as L'Imam Khomeyni, un gnostique méconnu du xxe siècle : métaphysique et théologie dans les œuvres philosophiques et spirituelles de l'Imam Khomeyni (Imam Khomeini, an unrecognised gnostic of the twentieth century: metaphysics and theology in the philosophical and spiritual works of Imam Khomeini).

Bonnaud moved to Iran, where he lived in the city of Mashhad, working on a very scholarly translation of the Quran into French, referring to all the leading classical Shi'i authorities, and using copious notes to summarise his researches and thus the meanings that he had decided to translate. The note explaining the bismillah at the start of the fatiha was nine pages long. He also traveled abroad as an exponent of Shi'ism, and it was on such a mission that he lost his life.


Anonymous said...


François Gravel said...

On Christian Bonaud and friends 1/3

Christian Bonaud can be heard in a lecture explaining how he went from hippie to Muslim in his youth after having discovered René Guénon(1). In another, similar video he hails the hippie movement as "the most radical criticism of modern Western civilization that ever existed" and then he adds: "I was lucky enough at that time to come across a book by René Guénon" which left him "deeply shaken" (bouleversé), after which he read Guénon’s complete works as well as books by other traditionalist authors such as Martin Ling, Titus Burckhardt and Seyyed Hossein Nasr(2).

Most remarkable about this second video is the fact that it was produced by the Shia Muslim "Centre Zahra" which was closed by French authorities in 2018 on grounds of terrorism(3) and dissolved by decree the following year(4). To the left of Bonaud in the video sits Sheikh Jamel Tahiri, then president of the Centre Zahra, a Lebanon-trained cleric who was convicted in 2019 of incitement to religious hatred(5). To Bonaud’s right sits Centre Zahra founder Yahia Gouasmi, who also led the obscure Shia Federation of France and its political wing, the Anti-Zionist Party (both dissolved in 2019). Gouasmi had already been investigated in the 1980s in connection with an alleged terror plot(6). He later famously declared that "there is a Zionist behind every divorce"(7) and also "behind every reefer"(8).

To say that Gouasmi dislikes "Zionism" would be an understatement. For instance, he calls it "a door leading to the Hell of the damned" under the watch of "Lucifer, Satan, the Devil or Iblis"(9); "the germ and the curse of this century…the tentacle of evil…the scourge of mankind" which must be "eradicated" in order for "Gnosis and Revelation to be manifested in our hearts and minds"(10). Gouasmi lately seems to have become quite obsessed with a host of conspiracy theories involving the New World Order, the Saudi NEOM city project, AI, robots, 5G networks, the Antichrist/Dajjal and, yes, UFOs in connection with jinns and Grey aliens(11).

(2), listen from 7:44 to 9:49.
(3) See also
(9), beginning at 16:35.
(10), beginning at 10:32.

François Gravel said...

On Christian Bonaud and friends 3/3

Also of interest, the writer and video-blogger Christophe Cros Houplon whose countless conspiracist rants include a video entitled "René Guénon, a master"(23). In another video, he laments the closure of the Centre Zahra and the Anti-Zionist Party "both admirably run by this gentleman of the first order, Yahia Gouasmi"(24). Cros Houplon published a dystopian novel based on Gouasmi’s conspiracy theories around the Saudi NEOM project. "Brotherly greetings to Yahia Gouasmi and to all members of the Centre Zahra," says the novelist-blogger in a synopsis of his book(25). In 2018, the aforementioned Salim Laïbi shared on his website a video from Cros Houplon appealing for a fraternal attitude toward Muslims(26). Small world, isn’t it?

Back to Christian Bonaud, who may or may not have known about the Centre Zahra’s questionable political background. He did however send in 1989 a letter to Le Monde diplomatique seemingly endorsing Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwā against Salman Rushdie(27). Yahia Gouasmi issued a fatwā of his own, though a much less radical one, against Charlie Hebdo and its January 2015 issue depicting the prophet Muhammad. Instead of calling for the cartoonist Luz’s execution, Gouasmi sued the magazine for insulting the Prophet of whom he claims to be a descendant—a family affair of sorts(28). Turns out Gouasmi’s Lebanon-born lawyer Elie Hatem(29), a monarchist activist with Action française, is also a long-time friend of Jean-Marie Le Pen(30) who, in turn, was once greeted by the Centre Zahra(31). Gouasmi’s fatwā hasn’t met with success, it would seem, any more than Ayatollah Khomeini’s.

(24), listen from 1:22 to 1:54.