F RITHJOF   S CHUON   A rchive

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Frithjof Schuon

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Extract from “The Alternative”

It is necessary to pass from the abstract notion to concrete awareness; this is the passage from hypocrisy to sincerity. Most men who admit that God takes precedence over everything and that the hereafter is better than the here-below behave as if they did not admit it; this is the most usual hypocrisy.

The Shahādah expresses an alternative not only between the Real and the illusory—this is its metaphysical meaning—but also between the here-below and the hereafter and between the Remembrance and heedlessness. The Nafy expresses the illusory, or the here-below—the world of impermanence—or heedlessness; the Ithbāt expresses the Real, or the hereafter—the world of permanence—or the Remembrance.

In the Nafy the word symbolizes the separative, illusory, and impermanent side of the world; the word ilāha refers then to the participative, symbolic, unitive side, that is, to things that allow celestial archetypes to appear through them; this symbolism encompasses everything that by its nature brings us nearer to God, whether these values are objective or subjective, natural or spiritual. In the Ithbāt the word illā symbolizes the created element within the celestial hereafter; the Name Allāh very clearly expresses the Uncreated.

The Invocation, and all that favors it, is the “earthly Heaven”; Paradise is the “heavenly Earth”.

Terrestrial beauty attaches the ghāfil to the world and removes the dhākir from the world; it draws the dhākir closer to Heaven, for he knows that it manifests the divine Rahmah; and since he sees how Rahmah is already beautiful in its earthly manifestation, he chooses Rahmah, not the world.

Among believers the dhākirūn are those who accept the Shahādah with sincerity to some degree or other, contrary to the ghāfilūn. To realize spiritual sincerity it is necessary for the soul to pass from abstract thought to concrete awareness: it does not suffice to believe in Paradise; it is necessary to live within it in a certain fashion, and one does so in and by the Dhikr, which is like a prolongation and anticipation of Paradise or which—more profoundly and truly—is even identified with the celestial Abode in the sense that it is of the same substance of Rahmah.

For where the Name of God is, there is Rahmah, and there is Paradise.

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