Islamic Tradition ≠ ’Fundamentalism’:
“Two centuries ago, if Westerners or others were to study Islam, they would have encountered but a single Islamic tradition.” [Although there also were numerous schools of thought and interpretations, and both orthodoxy and heterodoxy in belief as well as in practice, they would however all] “have belonged in one degree or another to the Islamic tradition; that is, to that single tree of Divine Origin whose roots are the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet of Islam, or Hadith,” [a body of tradition that has grown from those roots over some fourteen centuries in nearly every inhabited quarter of the globe.]
The contingent being may be defined as one that is not self-sufficient, not containing in himself the point of his existence; it follows that such a being is nothing by himself and he owns nothing of what goes to make him up. Such is the case of the human being in so far as he is individual, just as it is the case of all manifested beings, in whatever state they may be for, however great the difference may be between the degrees of Universal Existence, it is always as nothing in relation to the Principle. RG
Since Modernity is opposed to Tradition, there are two concepts that can be invoked in the description of modern life: antitradition and countertradition. These may be perceived as the causes and effects of modernity.
Antitradition is the negation of Tradition. Antitradition weakens and dissolves traditional spiritualities, after which countertradition sets up a counterfeit in their place.
The line of decadence in religion is described by the following steps:
1. doctrinal dissolution
2. disappearance of the intellectual elements of religion
3. decline into sentimentalism
4. no longer religion, but 'religiosity'
= vague sentimental aspirations, unsanctioned by any real knowledge. RG
There are at present more people in the West than one might suppose who are beginning to see what is wanting in their civilization; if they fall back on vague aspirations and embark on research that is too often barren, and if they sometimes even lose their way altogether, it is because they lack real knowledge, which nothing can replace, and because there is no organisation that can give them the doctrinal guidance they need. RG
THE civilization of the modern West appears in history a veritable anomaly: among all those which are known to us more or less completely, this civilization is the only one which has developed along purely material lines and this monstrous development, whose beginning coincindes with the so-called Renaissance, has been accompanied, as indeed it was fated to be, with a corresponding intellectual regress …
This regress has reached such a point that the Westerners of today no longer know what pure intellect is; in fact they do not even suspect that anything of the kind can exist. RG
Islamic metaphysics should be presented as what it
is, that is, the science of Ultimate Reality, which is the one (al-Ahad)
or Allah, who has revealed Himself in the Quran, and not as a discredited branch of rationalistic philosophy. There has been no Islamic school
whose teachings are not based on the doctrine of the One, who is both
Absolute and Infinite.
In the study of this Sublime Principle, Muslim sages developed several languages of discourse … but always seeing Pure Being not as the first link in the ‘great chain of being,’ but as the Source that transcends existence altogether. S H Nasr
Human history is cyclical, all traditions agree on that times are cyclically 'wearing down' more or less and according to Islam we are in the 'Latter Times' (âkhiru zamân), when the Antichrist (Dajjâl) will appear and the beasts of Gog and Magog:
Especially in times as ours, when knowledgeable leaders of religion are fewer and fewer and when sacred knowledge is taken away, traditional metaphysics and theology (ilâhiyyât) are all the more necessary:
“Without traditional metaphysics, theology declines. → Without theology, religion and spirituality are judged only by their power to produce experience. → When experience is the only criterion of spirituality, intensity becomes its only measure. → When intensity alone becomes the goal, love and truth are excluded, and darkness fills the gap.” SAC134 Charles Upton
For the metaphysics of the Orient, pure being is neither the first, nor the most universal of principles, because it is already a determination; it is therefore necessary to go beyond being [i.e. to what cannot be expressed in words, what outstrips any expression, Infinity,] this is after all what is most important. RG
Traditional Islam as it is generally understood, does not endorse perennialism. If it is claimed - as followers of perennialism do - that the world-religions or religious traditions are all equally valid roads to God, who is the Supreme Being, then this is not the case and contradicts all the teachings of Islam.
However there are common principles of those world-religions or religious traditions, because these principles are eternal. OKN “Sound Islamic doctrine affirms the oneness of heavenly religions although the dispensations and scriptures are more than one.” GFH
Not only can metaphysics not be limited to the consideration of any complementary aspects of Being, may it concern those very special aspects such as the soul (mind) and matter, or on the contrary those aspects [which are] as universal as possible, such as those which could be designated by the terms 'essence' and 'substance', but metaphysics can never be limited by the concept of pure Being [even] in all its universality, because it may not be [limited] by absolutely anything.
Metaphysics cannot be defined as 'the knowledge of being' in an exclusive way as did Aristotle: then it is but ontology, which without doubt belongs to [a section of] metaphysics, but which for that reason does not mean that ontology constitutes all of metaphysics. RG
When thinking about the Supreme Principle one needs to know what is meant by principle in the first place. To stick to its real meaning is even more pressing considering the fact that in the post-modern world, “principles are always and everywhere lacking, … the word being commonly applied more or less regardlessly to things that are least worthy of it, and sometimes even to things that imply the negation of all true principle.”
[This is on the contrary a doctrine,] which places itself at the point of view of metaphysics and which has therefore not received any denomination in occidental philosophy, which is ignoring it. We will call this doctrine 'non-dualism' or better still 'the doctrine of non-duality', if (one wishes) to translate the Sanskrit term adwaita-vâda as exactly as possible, a term which has no common equivalent in any European language. …
[The doctrine of] Non-Dualism does not pretend that one of the two terms [of soul or matter] could purely and simply be reduced to the other; [instead] it considers them - one and the other - simultaneously as a unity of a common principle of a more universal order, and in which they are also contained, no longer as opposites, but as complementaries, by some sort of polarization which does not all affect the essential unity of this commom principle. RG - at Signposts
There are those, then, who go so far as to claim that no one can attain Deliverance without the help of a spiritual leader, by which they naturally mean a human spiritual master, to which we immediately respond that these people would assuredly do much better to concern themselves with matters less remote from them than the ultimate goal of spiritual realization, and to rest content with considering the question in reference to the first steps toward this realization, for which in fact the presence of a spiritual master is especially necessary.
As we have said before, it must not be forgotten that the human spiritual master is in reality only an outer representative and a 'substitute', as it were, of the true inner spiritual leader … RG
However far the 'solidification' of the sensible world may have gone, it can never be carried so far as to turn the world into a 'closed system' such as is imagined by the materialists.
The very nature of things sets limits to 'solidification' and the more nearly those limits are approached the more unstable is the corresponding state of affairs; in actual fact … the point corresponding to a maximum of 'solidification' has already been passed, and the impression that the world is a 'closed system' can only from now onwards become more and more illusory and inadequate to the reality. RG
The falsification of language, taking the form of the misuse of certain words that have been diverted from their true meaning, is one of the most obvious symptoms of the intellectual confusion which reigns everywhere in the present world; but it must not be forgotten that this very confusion is willed by that which lies hidden behind the whole modern deviation; this thought obtrudes itself particularly in view of the simultaneous appearance in many different quarters of attempts to make illegitimate use of the very idea of 'tradition' by people who want improperly to assimilate its significance to their own conceptions in one domain or another. RG
We have often emphasized the distinction that should be made between initiation properly speaking, which is the pure and simple affiliation with an initiatic organization, implying essentially the transmission of a spiritual influence, and the means that can thereafter be used to make effective what at first was only virtual, means the efficacy of which is naturally subordinate in all cases to the indispensable condition of a prior affiliation. Insofar as they constitute an aid brought from without to the interior work from which the spiritual development of the being should result (and of course they can never take the place of this work itself), these means can in their totality be designated by the term initiatic teaching, taking this latter in its widest sense and not limiting it to the communication of certain ideas of a doctrinal order, but including in it everything that in one way or another is of a nature to guide the initiate in the work he is accomplishing to achieve spiritual realization of whatever degree. RG
We understand here the concept of tradition from its etymological root: tradere (deliver, transmit): it refers to an essential element which has been transmitted to mankind from a heavenly source. Tradition has nothing to do with peoples' usages or customs from old, but is understood as *revealed* tradition, that is truths and principles of divine order revealed or unveiled to mankind from times immemorial. NN
Tradition is essentially of 'super-human' origin, which is quite exactly also its correct definition and nothing traditional can be qualified as such without the presence of this vital, axial[i.e. forming, or relating to an axis] and foundational element, which defines its own authentic character. RG
In this chapter S H Nasr describes the changes in (the arts and especially in) the architecture of the urban environment that surrounds Muslims living in the modernized parts of the Islamic world. These changes run in parallel to those which have already been observed in the domain of ideas. How imported foreign styles in architecture have been threatening to replace traditional Islamic architecture.
The effects of Westernization upon Muslims are first and foremost the spread of secularization, especially the desacralization of life, thought, and art.
Further the narrowing of the tradition (ad-dīn ) to include only the principles of human action as embodied in the Sharīʿah, not the principles of wisdom (ḥikmah ).
This Traditionalism is a point of view inspired by Guénon taking various different forms. What they all have in common, is a conviction that the modern world is not the result of progress out of darkness but of descent into darkness, that this — the time we live in — is a last age, a pretty low point of a last age at that. What has been lost — and what needs to be recovered, reinstated even — is "tradition". And tradition can be fairly precisely defined, as the truths that have been handed down from time immemorial.