Category Archives: René Guénon

Quest Mag Publishes Chapter From The Crescent and The Compass

quest-mag-islam-mysticismQuest magazine, which focuses on spirituality and religion, has published a chapter from my book The Crescent and The Compass, though very slightly edited for it.

The chapter has been published in the Spring issue of Quest and is on Prince Charles, Islam and Traditionalism — the spiritual school or philosophy initiated by Rene Guenon.

Quest magazine is edited by author Richard Smoley.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister a Geunonian Traditionalist?

According to Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has named Rene Guenon as one of his favorite authors.

Guenon, a convert to Islam in later life, was a Freemason, Theosophist, and Catholic earlier in life. His most important achievement was the founding of the Traditionalist school of thought, which regards all of the major religions as both valid and as a manifestation of a primordial religion.

Guenon’s Traditionalism has been influential in some schools of Islamic scholarship. Continue reading

Islamic Gnosis Versus Terrorism and Political Correctness

Over the last decade or so, in the West, we’ve heard that “all religions” teach the same truths, or that “all religions teach peace”, and so on. So convinced have we become that a Google search for the phrase returns nearly five million results.

Yet, when Western pundits, politicians, and political activists talk of a religious unity, they do not base this assumption on the idea of a gnosis at the heart of faith (at least not one that could contradict modern, “progressive” Western assumptions). In the debate in the West, neither the individual nor society as a whole is re-orientated toward the sacred in such defenses of religion, but, instead toward contemporary Western notions of rights (which are sometimes used to defend Islam — e.g., to convince us that the religion espouses modern notions of feminism, and so on — and sometimes invoked as an explanation as to why the West must intervene in the Middle East, etc).

The modern, political, conviction about the unity of religion is agnostic.

In contrast, the conviction that the religions are, in a sense, unified, by a gnosis at the heart of each is not new. It is a fundamental tenet of the Traditionalist school of esoteric thought, founded by René Guénon during the early 20th century. And it can be found, before that, in the more mystical and ecumenical beliefs of Freemasonry (a fraternity founded in London in 1717, that initiates members through rituals designed to reorient them toward the spiritual and ethical). And it can also be found in Western esotericism more broadly. Continue reading

Traditionalism, Islam, and The European Radical Right

Though little known to the general public, René Guénon’s “Traditionalism” has had a very significant affect on politics and political thought over the last half a century.

By “Traditionalism” we do not mean “conservatism,” however, since it is not concerned with the preservation of national or historical cultures in itself. A spiritual worldview, Traditionalism believes that all of the world’s major religions are expressions of a primordial Tradition (and as such, sees a spiritual unity of the different religions). It is, in other words, concerned with gnosis (direct knowledge of the Divine), or what Islam refers to as ‘Irfan.

René Guénon, father of Traditionalism

René Guénon

Ecumenical by nature, Traditionalism tends to be sympathetic to Islam in particular, since Guénon “moved into” Islam later in life.

However, it has also influenced several contemporary thinkers on the Right-wing of the political divide in Europe, especially on the “far-Right,” e.g., Christian Bouchet, a journalist at one time associated with France’s Front National, and Gabor Vona, founder of Hungary’s Jobbik party, and his adviser Dr. Tibor Baranyi. Continue reading