Friday, January 06, 2006

A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century - Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi

A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century - Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi

A good, fascinating read, if one overlooks the embedded perennialist thought. Shaykh Alawi was a true traditional murshid in every sense of the word.

An excerpt from the book in which his doctor (Dr Marcel Carret) writes of his first impression of the Shaykh:

"...‘From my first contact with him I had the impression of being in the presence of no ordinary personality. The room I was shown into, like all rooms in Moslem houses, was without furniture. There were simply two chests which, as I found out later, were full of books and manuscripts. But the floor was covered from end to end with carpets and rush mats. In one corner was a rug-covered mattress, and here, with some cushions at his back, sitting straight upright, cross-legged, with his hands on his knees, was the Shaikh, in a motionless hieratic attitude which seemed at the same time perfectly natural."


  1. Abdul Majeed Peters4:16 AM

    Lings' book is eloquent and powerful but the reader should beware of the very nontraditional subtext implied in the book: the alleged "universal validity of all religions."

    Lings implies that Shaikh Ahmad Alawi held this deviation, which is a blatant and gross untruth.

    Much of the explanation of sufi doctrine in the book can be construed as a sort of call to this untruth.

    Please ask the ulama' about this book.

  2. Wa'alaykum Assalam wa Rahmatullah Sidi,

    Jazak Allah khayr for bringing this up. Indeed this is true with most if not all of Lings' work (may Allah have mercy on him). One needs to take the good one can from it (ways of the Shaykh, his life growing up), but not believe that he espoused such a deviant belief.

    Many perennialists have translated or put out books that are good reads , but you're right in that one should not read them without the awareness that they are coming to the table with certain beliefs.

    Barak Allahu fi kum.