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Selected Books by
Frithjof Schuon

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A Resource On Frithjof Schuon's Life & Teachings

Extract from “Islamic Esoterism and Esoteric Islam”

By “Islamic esoterism” we mean that esoterism comes first and Islam afterward: in other words the esoterism is the sole essence, sufficient unto itself, and Islam is the form or framework, although there are other forms and frameworks.

By “esoteric Islam” we mean on the contrary that Islam comes first and esoterism afterward: in other words Islam is the divine Revelation and thus the basis, and esoterism is its essence perceived a posteriori; the essence is given by Islam, which thus presents itself as the conditio sine qua non of gnosis. According to this way of looking at things, Islam is the starting point of esoterism, whereas according to the preceding perspective metaphysics is the starting point, choosing for itself this or that exoteric framework if it does not find itself within one already, for in the latter case what is involved is more a question of taking advantage of a preexisting framework than an actual choice. But in no case can the path of gnosis have as its starting point an anthropomorphist, voluntaristic, individualistic, and sentimental theology, or a legalism of the same kind.

In Islamic terms: is the beginning of the Path (Tarīqah) the exoteric Law (Sharī'ah) or the esoteric Truth (Haqīqah)? The whole question is to know the level of the esoterism; if it is pure, its starting point must be an element already stemming from Knowledge.

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