Monday, January 16, 2023

A new and independent branch of the Maryamiyya

A new and independent branch of the Maryamiyya, the "Washington-Baltimore Branch of the Maryamiyyah Tariqah," has been established, and has established an online presence. Some of the content on its main website, theperennialfoundation.org, is restricted to members, but some of it is generally available, including comments by its shaykh, Terry Moore (Shaykh al-Bashir, pictured left) about how the branch became established, which are also available on YouTube.

Moore joined the Maryamiyya in Lausanne in 1975, and separated from the main tariqa in 2017, along with Hasan Awan, who is now his khalifa (deputy), and the late James Cutsinger (1953-2020), who was a leading follower of Frithjof Schuon in a personal capacity, though never (as an Orthodox Christian) a formal member of the tariqa. 

The Washington-Baltimore Maryamiyya describes itself on its other website, maryamiyyah.org, as “orthodox and universalist.” The orthodoxy is circumscribed: they "observe the Sunna as much as feasible in our circumstances, and follow the essential elements and spirit of the Shari’ah" [my emphasis]. The universalism is described in terms of “transcendent unity,” Frithjof Schuon’s major contribution to Traditionalist doctrine, and thus “We accept the uncorrupted forms of all the orthodox religions as true and do not regard any of them, in their essence, as superior.” [my emphasis] This, again, is a limitation on their claimed Islamic orthodoxy. Moore makes clear in his book Here, Now, One: A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Life (Salisbury, England: New Sarum Press, 2021) that his starting point is perennialism: “Unfortunately… we can’t practice perennialism, as it has no form. It is a smile without a cat… In order to be operative, it must be packaged in a form that allows practice. The package it comes in is orthodox religion.”

The Washington-Baltimore Maryamiyya acknowledges the teachings of René Guénon, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Its website says that it was “the Shaykh of the Washington, DC branch of our order,” i.e. Nasr, who “authorized our two leaders to establish an independent branch of the order.” So perhaps not an acrimonious split. But evidently not all are happy, as one comment on Facebook warns that the group “has departed to a vast extent from and is critical of much of the traditionalist-perennialist perspective and the spiritual heritage and… method broadly affirmed and transmitted by all other branches of the Tariqah Maryamiyyah” and is “varyingly modernist, postmodernist, and New Age/self-help.” This post alleges that Moore and Awan are excessively influenced by the Direct Path of the Indian guru Sri Atmananda (1883-1959).

The presentation of the tariqa stresses respect for all “regardless of gender, race, class, or previous religious affiliation,” and states that "faqirat" (female members) “participate in leadership and decision making within our community at all levels.” It adds: “We require our leaders to adhere to the highest moral standards, especially in their relationship with fuqara’ [male followers] and faqirat [female followers].” This seems to be an acknowledgement of some of the problems from which the main Maryamiyya suffered in earlier periods, and a determination not to repeat then.

It is unclear how large the branch is, but Moore’s YouTube channel, herenowone, has 117 subscribers.

Two other connected websites are www.herenowone.org and radiusfoundation.org.

Many thanks to the reader of this blog who draw my attention to all this. 

 

 

 

 

 

1 comment:

Mark Sedgwick said...

My original post inadvertently implied that James Cutsinger had been a formal member of the Maryamiyya tariqa, as a correspondent pointed out. I have now edited the post to make clear that this was not the case. Thanks to the correspondent in question.