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Frithjof Schuon

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Extract from “Faqr Equals Fitrah

Tawhīd, Dhikr, Faqr: “Testimony to Unity”, “Remembrance of God”, “Poverty”; that is, Truth, Way, and Virtue.

What is the relationship between Virtue and “Poverty”? To be “poor” is to be as God created us, without adding any artifice, any attitude of pride; it is to remain conformable to the Fitrah, the primordial Nature.

The Koran says: “O men, ye are the poor in relation to God, and God is the Rich, the universally Praised.” This means that everything the creature possesses a priori—his qualities and faculties—he has from the Creator, who is the source of every good and to whom belong all merits. This is why it may be said that virtue is “to be what we are”, what we are through the creative Will.

Tawhīd, Dhikr, Faqr: On the one hand there is something we must know, which is the True; something we must will, which is the Good; and something we must love, which is the Beautiful. On the other hand there is something we must at once know, will, and love, which is the True, the Good, and the Beautiful: Truth, Way, and Virtue. One knows the Truth, but at the same time one wills and loves it, for it is likewise a Good and a Beauty.

To know is to be aware of the nature of a given reality; to will is to be incited to action by a given reality; to love is to experience happiness through a given reality. In a certain sense to love and to be coincide: what we love calls us to union; what we must love is also what we must be. To love God is to “be” God within the limits of our possibilities, and this means precisely that we must tend toward God “with all our being”.

“Love God with all thy strength, and love thy neighbor as thyself”, which means that we must a priori love ourselves; now to love myself is to love what God wished to realize in creating me, hence to love my primordial Nature, the Fitrah, and as a consequence Faqr, Virtue aiming toward the Creator; it is in sum to love the “Kingdom of God that is within you”. And what I am, the “neighbor” is also; to love myself is to love him. And since we want God to have pity on us—“the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”—we must have pity on others; this is another reason for loving our neighbor.

From another point of view, Heaven asks us to “hate our soul”; in this case it is not our primordial Nature that is in question—obviously—but that counterfeit which is the concupiscent soul; this soul we must “hate” in the neighbor just as we do in ourselves, for otherwise there would be neither intelligence nor justice. To hate our soul is to realize, precisely, that it is not ourselves; for what Love asks us to become is what we are in the depths of our Heart.

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