Thanks to all concerned: the readers whose interest makes this blog worthwhile, the individuals who from time to time have written to me with information and suggestions, and also the various authors of guest posts over the years. And thanks also to Google, for making Blogger available, free, and user-friendly.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
New study of the Alawiyya
The study is entitled Le Pôle - La confrérie soufie Alawiyya (1894-1952), and was written as an MA thesis at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), one of France’s leading research institutions for the social sciences and humanities. It is self-published, and available from Amazon for $22.65.
Chabry’s study is exhaustive, and carefully based on primary sources, notably the Alawiyya’s own publications. It falls into three parts: a historical study of the Alawiyya before, under, and after Shaykh al-Alawi (pp. 13-247), an analysis of the Alawiyya’s positions and activities (pp. 249-441), and a selection of primary texts, translated into French (pp. 461-560).
The historical study documents the dramatic expansion of the Alawiyya, especially between 1923 and 1934. The analysis is especially interesting, with short chapters on sanctity, legitimacy, and the Alawiyya’s positions regarding Islamic reformism, modern natural science, modernity in general, and Christianity. This section ends with a chapter on the Alawiyya’s ambition to spread Islam in Europe and another chapter on the Alawiyya’s Western disciples.
The Alawiyya’s central objective, argues Chabry, was “to lead the Sufi orders to play a role in the revival of Algerian Islam in an authentic form, and against the imported innovation of reformism, by emphasizing religious education instead of relying on tribal practices and the organizations of another age.” This involved taking modernity seriously. There is a lot more to it than that, as Chabry also shows, but that is the core of what was going on.
The chapter on Western disciples mentions Schuon, but relatively little is said of him. His relations with the Alawiyya, Chabry thinks, deserve a separate study of their own, but little light is shed on them by the published sources on which Chabry’s study is based. Even so, that study will be of interest for those who are interested in Schuon’s Traditionalism, as it reveals the context of his attachment to Sufism: the Alawiyya in general, and its (often universalist) approach to Christianity and Westerners in particular. It reminds us that Arab Muslims, as well as Westerners, played active roles in shaping relations between Islam and the West.
The study is also an important contribution to the whole question of the adaptation to modernity of Sufism in the Muslim world.
Monday, February 20, 2023
Forthcoming book on Traditionalist thought
One of the criticisms that have been made of my original Against the Modern World is that I did not pay enough attention to Traditionalist thought. I agree, and therefore a new book will come out in June 2023 focusing on ideas: Traditionalism: The Radical Project for Restoring Sacred Order. The book is a companion to Against the Modern World, not a replacement--it goes over different ground.
The publishers are Oxford University Press in the US (see cover without tree) at $29.95 (pre-order here) and Pelican in the UK (see cover with tree) at £22 or £9.99 on Kindle (pre-order here). Two very different covers, but the text is the same.
The chapters are:
1. Traditionalism and the Traditionalists
2. Historical perennialism
PART I: FOUNDATIONS
3. Traditionalist perennialism
4. Traditionalist history
5. The Traditionalist critique of modernity
6. Traditionalism, thought, and society
PART II: CORE PROJECTS
PART III: FURTHER PROJECTS
PART IV: POST-TRADITIONALISM
14. The radical right