FURTHER THOUGHTS ON THE PARIS KILLINGS AND THE SYRIAN CONNECTION –
A DETAILED STUDY OF THE MORE ESOTERIC ASPECTS OF THE WARS WITHIN ISLAM
A CALL FOR A PEACE TREATY BETWEEN ESOTERIC AND EXOTERIC UNDERSTANDINGS WITHIN THE COLLECTIVE MUNDUS IMAGINALIS
Debate has been raging on both the internet and in journals and the news media, ever since the tragic killings in Paris on Friday 13 November. One item which has hardly been discussed at all, at least in the English speaking world, is the actual history of Syria and the reason the Alawite government of Bashar al Assad is in power in the first place. We have been brainwashed in the UK and USA into believing that the Assad family are a group of monsters, that all right thinking people should oppose. On the basis of this supposed estimation as to their evil, we are supposed to prevaricate and delay taking firm action against ISIL (KIL). As I explained in my essay on November 16, published on my blog, this is due in large part to the obsessions of the Saudi Arabian Wahhabist regime, and their allies, which have been using Western troops as applies and proxies to take out all their own rival powers for hegemony in the Middle East and in the Islamic world, since at least 1991, when they persuaded the USA and UK forces to depose Saddam Hussein, because of his temerity in invading Kuwait. They argued the Iraqi army threatened their own Saudi oil fields, and claimed to have evidence his troops were massing to invade. In fact, this turned out to be bogus intelligence, and Saddam had no intention of invading Saudi Arabia. But he was a socialist, a republican, a secularist, a moderate Sunni Muslim, and was prepared to allow inside Iraq a large degree of intellectual freedom; different faith groups were supported and protected; Sunnis and Shiias alike shared power, Christians were esteemed and their congregations safe to worship in peace. His Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz was himself a Christian. He had Bahais on his staff. All of this was hated by Saudi Arabian hard line Wahhabists who helped persuade the USA and their allies into invading to kick him out of Kuwait.
Then, after 9/11/2001, happened, there was a rerun, mark two, with history repeating itself “as farce”. Of course the Neo-cons running the younger Bush regime didn’t take much persuasion. It also suited their own agenda, because, for one thing, Saddam had made some unfortunate anti-Israeli comments (he saw himself as committed to supporting an eventual Palestinian state and believed that more should have been done to help the Palestinians) so the Neo-Conservatives were given a motive for also wanting to end his rule in Iraq. Who were these neo-cons exactly ? Well, they included figures such as Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense who was the defense mastermind of the Bush administration; Donald Rumsfeld was an elderly figurehead who held the position of defense secretary only because Wolfowitz himself was too controversial. Other neo-cons included Douglas Feith, No. 3 at the Pentagon; Lewis “Scooter” Libby, a Wolfowitz protégé who was Cheney’s chief of staff; John R. Bolton, a right-winger assigned to the State Department to keep Colin Powell in check; and Elliott Abrams, appointed to head Middle East policy at the National Security Council. One should also mention James R. Woolsey, the former CIA director, who tried repeatedly and falsely to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein, and Richard Perle, the so called “Prince of Darkness”, who was one of the main theorists behind the neocons, and was involved variously with the Hudson Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (as a resident fellow), the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). He is still also a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group. One should perhaps mention that the godfathers of the whole Neoconservative movement were Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. All of these had been direct or indirect supporters of The Project for the New American Century and all supported this converging interest in taking out Saddam on the strength of public revulsions following 9/11. It was a brilliant sleight of hand, because it diverted energies from actually investigating the trail of evidence that was beginning to show that 9/11 might have been at least partially orchestrated by forces other than the official list of 19 hijackers, largely of rogue Saudi Arabian origin and Al Quaeda affiliation, yet whose presence on the planes has never actually even been definitely established. As more and more evidence comes out, often in video and film form, pointing to holes in the official story of the 9/11 narrative, as established by the methodologically bankrupt 9/11 commission, it is becoming clear to anyone who truly examines the data objectively, that the truth has still not really come out about 9/11’s causes. Given that very considerable evidence points to Saudi Arabian collusion in the events (witness the rapid exit of all Saudi officials from USA soil, including relatives of Osama Bin Laden, immediately after 9/11) – and prior knowledge of the attacks being almost certainly in Saudi intelligence circles, which they would have almost certainly shared with at least some of their CIA contacts. It looks like a very strange world of inverted meanings, when the USA and UK have been sold the story that Saudi Arabia is our great friend and ally, and Syria, under Assad, a moderate secularist loyal to the dream of Syria, is “in fact” a monster that we ought to destabilise and remove from power.
This is a position that my Institute has not been comfortable with from the very beginning. IIPSGP was founded in 1991, the year of the first Gulf War, and we organised one of our earliest meetings in the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, to discuss the facts and interpretations and likely consequences of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The event was filmed and many speakers all shared their views, which has the whole point of IIPSGP from the beginning. As Director, I have always taken, and continue to take, the view that we (i.e. the UK, Commonwealth, Europe, Russia, USA, NATO, UN and indeed the entire international community) ought to be neutral in the wars between Sunni and Shiias in the Middle East. We should not support exclusively with Shiia or Sunni factions, and we should not intervene in these essentially religiously motivated conflicts, but rather we should encourage, through diplomacy, targeted aid, mediation, scholarship and educational funding, the growth of a whole new generation of young Muslim students and leaders throughout the Middle East who are committed to genuine inclusive and holistic peace, and who see that Islam is at its best a faith to bring about inner and outer peace, rather than violence. Since lecturing at the Muslim College in London back in 1991-993, I have maintained close friendships with many Muslims students and colleagues throughout the world, and have met many senior Muslim scholars and philosophers, who share my views. In fact, I would say it is an almost open secret in circles of advanced Islamic scholarship that the old labels of enmity such as Sunni, Shiia or Sufi, are outmoded, and that authentic Islamic scholarship embraces, encompasses and transcends them all, in a great living unity of faith and reason, whose orientation is towards peace, wisdom and love.
One of the greatest Western scholars of Islamic history and philosophy in recent times, was Louis Massignon, (25 July 1883 – 31 October 1962) of French origin. I was recently reading a very interesting new history of the Eranos conferences, (Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History Of The 20th century by Hans Thomas Hakl, Equinox, 2013) which took place in Ascona, Switzerland, as a kind of circle for wisdom sharings, with participants including Olga Froebe Kapteyn (the founder), Carl Jung, Rudolf Otto, Count von Keyserling, Helmut Wilhelm, Mircea Eliade, Karl Kerényi, Marie Louise Von Franz, Ernst benz, Martin Buber, Giles Quispel, Morton Smith, Paul Tillich, Giuseppe Tucci, Erich Neumann, Adolf Portmann Gershom Scholem, Henry Corbin, Mircea Eliade, and many others over many years. Most of these figures i wrote up in my PhD thesis appendix, A Biographical Encyclopaedia of Transpersonal Thought 1945-2001. One of those who spoke was Louis Massignon, (he was invited back every year for 18 years in fact) and the book (which is well worth reading) has this to say about him:
“Massignon’s circle of acquaintances encompassed virtually the whole elite of France at the time and included Gabriel Marcel, Leon Bloy, Paul Claudel, Jaques Maritain, Louis Aragon, Jean Cocteau, Gaston Bachelard and the Eranos speaker Cardinal jean Danielou. Massignon, who was a professor at both the College de France and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris, was even honoured on his centenary for his outstanding academic work by a commemorative session and exhibition at UNESCO which also issued a booklet in his honour. He belonged to a dozen or so of the most prestigious academic societies world-wide and was the editor of the Revue des Etudes Islamiques and the Annuaire du Monde Musulman.”
This is a small summary of what he achieved as a scholar. Massignon undertook his own PhD research into the life and thought of Al Hallaj, who was one of the greatest Sufis who ever lived, and who had been crucified by the then Islamic Caliph for “heresy”. In fact, All Hallaj had been merely an advanced freethinker and spiritual practioner, who argued that the divine consciousness dwells inside all humanity, much as Plato, Hegel and the entire idealist tradition of Western and Eastern philosophy also does, as Hinduism does likewise, especially in the Vedanta tradition and in the Upanishads, which forms the core of Hindu philosophical thinking. Massignon also became a tertiary of the Franciscan order which is something I also thought of doing in my 20’s) and he later was ordained a priest in the Melchite Greek Catholic church, which follows the Byzantine rite of Christianity. He did this because he had fallen in love and got married, yet still wanted to become a priest. In the Melchite church you are allowed to be married. All the time, as Hakl says “he worked actively to promote an intensive dialogue between the religions, especially between Christianity and Islam. In Italy, he inspired the Catholic priest Giulio Bassetti-Sani to devote his life to this dialogue. The two men had often met each other at Eranos conferences, and Bassetti later wrote a book (which I have here at the castle of the muses) about Massignon, which expresses his deep reverence for the mystical orientalist, whom he describes as an untiring advocate of inter-religious dialogue, justice and peace in the world.” (Hakl, p. 119)
In my own PhD thesis on the search for peace from 1945-2001, I also mentioned Massignon’s work and vision in some detail, sine he is a key thinker on peace in recent years. This is what I had to say about him int eh appendix to the PhD thesis.
Massignon, Louis (1883-1962) was a French ecumenical Franciscan scholar, who was born at Nogent-sur-Marne, and educated at the local Lycee where he specialised in history of philosophy. Already by 1900 he had become fascinated by the history of Islamic and Christian mysticism, and was interested in Benedictine spirituality. He commenced his work as an Orientalist scholar in Iraq in 1907-1908, and became a member of the French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo; from 1917-1919 he worked as French High commissioner for Palestine and Syria, before becoming a Professor at the College de France, and in 1926 founded the Revue des Etudes Islamiques. His work specialised in the study of the great Sufi mystic of Islam, Al Hallaj, who was martyred in 922 in Baghdad for “heresy”; he published his great biography of Al Hallaj in 1922, one of the first major attempts by a non-Muslim mind to come to terms with the innermost workings of Islamic mysticism. Massignon was attracted to a philosophical understanding of history, in which inspired individuals at various times and places were able to carry with them the force of universal consciousness; in his own time, he was an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he regarded as one such historical figure. Passionately committed to achieving peace through scholarship and inter-cultural understanding, he sought to build bridges between Islam and the West wherever he could. He supported the rights of Palestinians in the political situation of the Middle East after the independence of Israel, he had considerable influence on Cardinal Montini, who became Pope Paul V1, and who adopted a moderate attitude towards Islam, and in the attempts after Vatican 2 to see common Christian-Muslim dialogue for peace. Massignon was also especially interested in the history of Franciscan-Islamic dialogues, and discovered proof of the actual meeting between St Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil of Egypt, which he shared with his great Italian colleague, Father Basetti-Sani, author of Mohammed et St Francis (Ottawa, 1959) which was later transformed into Dialogo Christiano-Mussulmano: Mohammed, Damietta e La Verna (Milan, 1969); In an important study of Louis Massignon, by the same author, he explores how Massignon’s work to prevent problems in the Middle East since 1948 were eventually overwhelmed by the tragic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Massignon looked to the Abrahamic tradition, and invoked the person of Abraham himself, as the ultimate spiritual mediator to solve the problem of the clash of three monotheistic religions in the Holy Land. Towards the end of his life, he was invited to lecture on Islamic thought at the Universities of Columbia, Harvard, Notre Dame and in The Catholic University of America. He also wrote on Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence as the only way forward to bring peace to earth, based as it was on transpersonal spirituality. He was opposed therefore to all forms of terrorism and violence without question, and argued that the true Saint is someone who is willing to face martyrdom for the sake of the truth of non-violence, not someone who is willing to inflict violence for the sake of their own version of truth.
What I hadn’t realised before reading this book by Hakl the other day, coincidentally I think it might have been on November 13 itself, was that as well as a major scholar, philosopher, mystic and spiritual explorer, Massignon had also been involved with French intelligence during World War One, and had even helped give birth to Modern Syria. Here are the crucial sentences from Hakl’s book:
“In 1907 Massignon was imprisoned by the Turks during an archaeological expedition to Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq)… In the First World War, Massignon had not only been awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery at the front, but had also played an important military role in French North Africa. There he came into contact with T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) and learned much from his contacts with the Arabian mentality. For details see Albert Hourani “T.E. Lawerence and Louis Massignon”, in the memorial volume marking the centenary of Massignon’s birth, Presence de Louis Massignon. Hommages et Temoinages, ed. Daniel Massignon (Paris, Maisoneuve et Larose, 1987) p. 167-176. This volume contains numerous testimonies from friends as well as studies on particular phases of Massignon’s life. According to Hildegard Nagel’s report, much of Massignon’s knowledge was acquired during long conversations “sitting cross legged over black coffee with his Arab friends.” Through these conversations he came within the orbit of Shiite Islam, which recognises Ali, the cousin and son in law of Mohammed, as the legitimate successor of the prophet; he drew particularly close to those groups which revere Ali not only as a victim of the Sunnis (who do not accord Ali this high position) but also as a divine incarnation and teacher of Islamic esotericism. Among these groups one deserves special mention, namely the Alawis, who are to be equated with the Nusayri, a group famed in the world of occultism.”
For anyone interested in the history of esoteric religious groups, the Nusayria and the Alawites, are an especially interesting bunch. They are a genuinely ancient transmission and an amalgamation of elements of Christian, Zoroastrian, Sufi, Islamic and other esoteric teachings. In this respect they are similar to the Druze and the Yezidis, who are also ancient remnants of Middle Eastern spirituality, which have survived into the modern era. This Summer I listened to a book discussion at the Edinburgh Book Festival, by Gerard Russell, Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms, when the former British and UN diplomat spoke about his several years travelling to remote corners of the Middle East where these obscure faiths hang on.
Among many other things, the Nusayri (Alawites) have a kind of tantric wisdom, which believes in the power of love and esoteric sexuality. A famous American teacher of sexual gnosis, Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875) attributed his knowledge of sexual magic to the Nusayri. This is interesting and worth telling as he is largely forgotten today. (Arthur Versluis for example, in his The Secret History of Western Sexual Mysticism (Destiny Books, 2008), dismisses him as a “mere magician”.) Randolph was an African American, and became a famous trance medium, and travelled widely in the Middle East during his career as a merchant seaman. Like many Spiritualists of his era, he lectured in favour of the abolition of slavery; after emancipation, he taught literacy to freed slaves in New Orleans. In addition to his work as a trance medium, Randolph trained as a doctor of medicine and wrote and published both fictional and instructive books based on his theories of health, sexuality, Spiritualism and occultism. He authored more than fifty works on magic and medicine, established an independent publishing company, and was an avid promoter of birth control during a time when it was largely against the law to mention this topic. Having long used the pseudonym “The Rosicrucian” for his Spiritualist and occult writings, Randolph eventually founded the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, the oldest Rosicrucian organization in the United States, which dates back to the era of the American Civil War. This group is still in existence today. Randolph’s ideas also later influenced the formation of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. In 1851, Randolph even made the acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln. Their friendship was close enough that, when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Randolph accompanied Lincoln’s funeral procession in the famous train ride to Springfield, Illinois. In the biography about Randolph, Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician (SUNY, 1996) by John Patrick Deveney and Franklin Rosemon, hopefully there is more information about the contact Randolph had with the Nusayri group in Syria in the 19th century. H.P Blavatsky was also presumably interested in the Nusayri (Alawites) and surely mentioned them in her esoteric writings (although as yet I cannot locate a reference – but she is known to have travelled widely in the Middle East. There is also a useful article about Randolph in the recent study of sexuality and spirituality Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the history of Western Esotericism ed. By Wouter J Hanegraaff and Jeffrey J. Kripal (Fordham University Press, 2008) called Paschal Beverly Randolph and Sexual Magic, by John Patrick Deveney. This paper also gives some further references to Randolph’s links to the Nusayri (or Alawites as we now call them).
This name of the sect’s followers, Noṣayri, or Nusayri, appears mainly in the non-Noṣayri sources and its precise origin, like much else about them, has been subject to debate, as are the historical circumstances of the sect’s emergence. Some scholars even believe the name to be the diminutive of the word naṣārā (Christians), an allusion to similarities between Noṣayri doctrines and Christianity (see René Dussaud, Histoire et religion des Noṣairîs, Paris, 1900. p. 13; Meir M. Bar-Asher, “Sur les éléments chrétiens de la religion Nuṣayrite-ʿAlawite,” JA 289, 2001, pp. 185–216. If that were true, it would be pretty amazing and fit in with their respect for Christians generally. See also Meir M. Bar-Asher and Aryeh Kofsky, The Nuṣayri-ʿAlawi Religion: An Enquiry into Its Theology and Liturgy, Leiden, 2002.). Another possible origin is the view that it is associated with the name of Abu Šoʿayb Moḥammad b. Noṣayr Namiri (or Nomayri), a disciple of ʿAli al-Hādi (d. 254/868) and Ḥasan al-ʿAskari (d. 260/873–4), the tenth and eleventh Imams of the Twelver Shiʿites. The latter is even said to have named Ibn Noṣayr as the prophet of a new religion, the nucleus of what was to become the Noṣayri religion (see, Abu Moḥammad Ḥasan b. ʿIsā Nowbaḵti, Feraq al-šiʿa, ed. H. Ritter, Istanbul, 1931 p. 78). Original books by Moḥammad b. Noṣayr, which became available recently (Selselat al-torāṯ al-ʿalawi, vol. I), enable us to reconstruct the original doctrines of the Nomayriya/Namiriya. His most important works are the Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniya and the Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura. These books were later canonized by Ḵaṣibi (d. 956-57 or 969), the founder of Noṣayrism, and most of the issues dealt with in these two books were developed by him and by other leaders of the sect in the 10th and 11th centuries. The main issues of the Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniyaare: the account of the divine creatures of ranks (ahl al-marāteb), who dwell in heaven (Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniya, pp. 40-44, 72, 137-83); the existence of cycles of history (akwār, adwār) before the creation of the material world, in which the deity appears in the world of lights (Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniya, pp. 47, 62); the transmigration of the soul as a punishment (Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniya, p. 186); and the issue of the mystical meaning of the Iranian celebrations on the days of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the Nowruz and the Mehregān (Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniya, p. 98). The main theological discussion concerns the relationship between the two main aspects of the divinity, the maʿnā (meaning) and the esm (name), that is, the abstract God and its definition. In Ibn Noṣayr’s writings, which reflect an early stage of development of the sect’s theology, there is no clear concept of a third aspect of the divinity, the bāb (gate), which forms the later Noṣayri’s divine triad of maʿnā-esm-bāb. It was seemingly only after Ibn Noṣayr’s death and his sanctification as Bāb Allāh (Gate of God; see Ṭabarāni, p. 130) that the bāb became clearly the third inferior aspect of the divinity, which serves as mediator between the divine and the human. The Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura develops Gnostic ideas dealt with in Mofażżal b. ʿOmar al-Joʿfi’s Ketāb al-haft wa al-aẓella (Halm, 1978) concerning the heavenly world of light and its creation, before the creation of the inferior material world (Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura, pp. 208-16). It also deals with the akwār and adwār, adding the appearance of divinity also to human history (Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura, pp. 226-27). Besides, the Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura contains a mystical tradition concerning the creation of the world by the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet (Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura, p. 225), which may have been inspired by the same source as the Jewish Sefer Yetsira. Now this is fascinating to me of course, because I devoted a lot of research energy into my study of The Qabalah Runes (IIPSGP Publications, 2013) in which I posited a link between the ancient Runes of Norse and Anglo-Saxon mysticism and the Hebrew traditions of the Qabalah, going back into Paleolithic times, which I published a couple of years ago. I also referenced the fact that Sufis also say the same thing about the Arabic alphabet. It’s the same core belief. So these Alawites, according to this theory, are the holders of ancient mystical and shamanic traditions that stretch right back to ancient Paleolithic times, whn the ancestors of the Semitic people and the indo-European people had not yet differentiated into separate tribal groupings. A similar idea has also been proposed, independently to my own thesis, by the Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University, Prof Michael Witzel, in his important book The Origins of the World’s Mythologies (Oxford University Press, 2012).
But does this mean the Alawites are heretics, and it is right for other Muslims to kill them ? Not at all. They are holders of a deeper and more esoteric undertstanding of monotheism, such as Spinoza had, or Hegel, or Ibn Arabi, or Ralph Waldo Emerson, or the American New Thought movement, which in turn has inspired most of what is good about modern new age philosophy. So like the Akwār wa al-adwār al-nurāniya, the Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura repeats the main idea of the ʿelm al-tawḥid (the science of monotheism), which is that God is the one and the only, transcendental and abstract (Ketāb al-meṯāl wa al-ṣura, pp. 208-9). In other, everything we see is actually divine, every person, tree, stone, flower, child.. all are a ray or manifestation of the transcendental unity behind existence.
Nowadays of course, the Nusayris prefer to refer to themselves as Alawites, which was adopted at the beginning of the 20th century to underscore their links with the first Imam of the Shiʿites, ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb (who is also the 4th Caliph of Sunni Islam).
Another extraordinary commentator on the inner doctrines of the Nusayri’s was the Austrian magus and orientalist savant, Franz Sattler-Musallam who also describes the Nusayri as guardian of the highest esoteric secrets, including those of an erotic nature. This interesting figure of the history of esotericism, the German esotericist Franz Sättler (1884-c.1942), who often went by the pseudonym of Dr. Musalam, had quite a life story as well, that reads like a cross between a novel and a block-buster movie. He founded a new religion that he called Adonism, after Adonis, its chief deity, the God of love. Although Sättler claimed that it was the continuation of an ancient pagan religion, most sceptical academics say it is instead the single-handed creation of a highly gifted and educated man, this figure being Sättler himself. Adonism is a polytheistic and pagan religion, revolving around a belief that there are five principal gods: Belus, Biltis, Adonis, Dido and Molchos. Adonis is the most prominent of these in the group’s theology, being a benevolent figure that Sättler equated with the Christian figure of Satan. In contrast to Adonis, Molchos is believed by Adonists to be malevolent, equivalent to Yahweh or Allah, and it is he who is responsible for the enslavement of humanity through monotheistic religions e.g. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is an old motif and was a feature of some ancient pseudo-Gnostic sects, and the Cathars, who rejected the continuity between Judaism and Christianity, and argued that Christ’s new teaching of love, totally replaced the old laws of Moses. (In fact the texts don’t seem to support this thesis, and it seems sure that Jesus did identify with the teachings of Abraham and Moses and the entire prophetic tradition that preceded him, not least with the teachings of Enoch, as you will discover if you listen to my Commentary on the Gospel of St Matthew and also the Book of Enoch. Franz Sättler was born into the Bohemian region of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, proved himself to be a talented linguist, gained a doctorate in the subject and published the world’s first Persian-German dictionary. Subsequently travelling across much of Europe, he was imprisoned by the French during the First World War, where he first came across Theosophy and the occult, topics which greatly interested him. Briefly becoming an intelligence agent for the Czechoslovak government, he was again arrested and imprisoned, this time in Germany, and whilst imprisoned here he began formulating some of his esoteric ideas and writing books on the subject. Released in the mid-1920’s, he went on to begin propagating Adonism through the foundation of his Adonistic Society. Sättler would face legal trouble and a public scandal due to his beliefs in the 1930’s, leading to him renaming the Society the Alliance of Orion, before it was eventually shut down by the Nazi government in 1939. Sättler himself disappeared in the early years of the following decade, with some believing that he was executed by the Nazi authorities. It seems he was indeed one of those occultists who were killed off by the Nazis, with their own brand of pseudo-occultism and pseudo-Runic knowledge, who in fact persecuted many authentic occultists and mystics to death, not to mention millions of Jews and Kabbalists, Roma, Slavs, Poles, Greeks, French, Russians, Communists, Socialists and other advanced souls. Quite what Sattler made of the Nusayris or Alawites, and whether he met them, remains to be researched, but probably he would have argued that in their teachings they contained elements of the original pagan religions of the Middle East, such as the worship of Aphrodite and Adonis, and he may well, for all I know as yet, have been initiated into some of their mysteries. Would he have been right in arguing that the Alawites did in fact contain ancient traces of Middle Eastern paganism and the religion of Aphrodite worship – probably yes.
But what do we actually know about their teachings ? The Alawites have historically kept their beliefs secret from outsiders and non-initiated Alawites, so rumours about them have arisen. Arabic accounts of their beliefs tend to be partisan (either positively or negatively). However, since the early 2000’s, Western scholarship on the Alawite religion has made some significant advances, often using anthropological research methodology of going into the field and studying Alawites in their social contexts. At the core of Alawite belief is a divine triad, comprising three aspects of the one God. These aspects or emanations appear cyclically in human form throughout history. This is a fascinating thesis which is in effect a proposition in transpersonal history. Henry Corbin also studied this idea as it appears in Shi’ite thought in general, in his important work Cyclical Time and Ismaili Gnosis (Routledge, 1983) – the idea that prophets, sages and saints recur in cyclical intervals is a hallmark of this Islamic mystical tradition especially in Shi’ism. Rudolph Steiner and Anthroposophy also makes similar claims as do other forms of Western esoteric tradition, including Druidry, which also believed in reincarnation. The last emanations of the most crucial of these divine triads, according to Alawite belief, were as Ali, Muhammad and Salman the Persian. Alawites were tragically historically persecuted for these beliefs by the Sunni Muslim rulers of the area. Another very interesting area of research that needs to be done is to study the possible influences of the Nusayri on the Knights Templars and the birth of freemasonry in Western Europe. It is very possible that the Templars were indeed influenced by Nusayri ideas, as they are accused of some kind of sexual Gnostic practices, and it is possible therefore that they could have been taught by the Nusayris something of their own beliefs. What if the worship of Aphrodite and Adonis was indeed somehow transmitted as part of the innermost secret rituals that the Templars adopted ? And what if, as many historians of the occult allege, this transmission was then taken to Scotland, when the French order of Templars were destroyed on Friday 13th of October 1307, and then subjected to years of torture, before the grand Master, Jacques de Molay was killed by burning in Paris on March 18, 1314 ?
But hold on a minute – if this is true, and the whole history of modern freemasonry owes something to this crucial link between the Nusayris (Alawites) and the Templars, shouldn’t the people of Europe, who owe a great deal of their intellectual enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries to the rise and progress of freemasonry, actually be thanking their Alawite brethren rather than helping to destroy them ? Among important freemasons, for those not familiar with their history, one can mention Goethe, Newton, Locke, Elias Ashmole (founder of the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford), George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Sir Winston Churchill and many more. Syria has traditionally been a country where freemasonry flourished and many famous Syrian intellectuals have also been freemasons, proud of their ancient history. 1936 for example Master Mason Hanna Malek, was the secretary-general of the Syrian premiership. Grand Master Ata al-Ayyubi was also the Prime Minister of Syria and he was a key figure in the ending of French colonel rule of Syria and served as Prime Minister of Syria twice. Back in 1908, when Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire, Ata al-Ayyubi became Governor of Latakia, a city on the Syrian coast and a centre of the Alawite community. He took no part in the Ottoman-Arab conflict during the years 1916-1918, but returned to live in Damascus when the Ottoman Empire was defeated in October 1918. In the four-day interlude between the departure of the Turks and the arrival of the Arab army, he created a preliminary government with a group of Syrian notables in Damascus, headed by Prince Said al-Jazairi, an Algerian notable who was living in Damascus. In other words, when T E Lawrence turned up in Damascus, in the famous scenes depicted in the movie Lawrence of Arabia, it was Ayyubi who had organised the meeting. In March 1943, during World War II, the French General Charles de Gaulle led an Allied offensive into Syria to defeat the Vichy forces stationed in Damascus. Ayyubi then became prime minister for a transition period and also appointed himself Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Interior. He supervised presidential elections and left office in August 1943 when President Shukri al-Quwatli came to power. He resigned from political life but was honoured by the National Bloc when independence was achieved in April 1946. He was hailed as a moderate and a dedicated nationalist. He is most remembered in Damascus today because of his great palace in the Afif neighbourhood and has a street named in his honour.
Theologically, Alawites today claim to be Twelver Shiites, but traditionally they have been designated as “extremists – ghulat” and outside the bounds of Islam by the Muslim mainstream for their deification of Ali. Until recently, only one holy book of the Alawites, Kitab al Majmu`, has been translated into French and printed. This was done in Beirut in the mid-nineteenth century by an Alawite convert to Christianity, who was later killed by a fellow Alawite for his disloyalty. The Alawite religion has indeed many similarities to Isma’ilism. Like Ismaili Shi`as, Alawis believe in a system of divine incarnations as well as an esoteric reading of the Qur’an. Unlike Ismailis, Alawis regard Ali as the incarnation of the deity in the divine triad. As such, Ali is the “Meaning;” Muhammad, is the “Name;” and Salman the Persian is the “Gate.” Alawi catechism is expressed in the formula: “I turn to the Gate; I bow before the Name; I adore the Meaning.” Alawites believe that they are the true and best Muslims. The Alawite religion is secret and Alawites do not accept converts or the publication of their sacred texts. The vast majority of Alawites know precious little about the contents of their sacred texts or theology which is jealously guarded by a small class of male initiates. At the age of 15 or 16 all Alawite men are given a few hours of initiation classes, but from then on, it is up to them to decide whether they want to become students of the religion, attach themselves to a Sheikh, and begin the lengthy initiation process and a course of study in the religion. Because only one book has been translated, outsiders know little about Alawite theology. Hanna Batatu’s last book has a short but reliable section on Alawite doctrine, theology and recent debates within the community. Hanna Batatu was a remarkable historian of Palestine origin, who utilised Marxist class analysis in his historical studies, much as Eric Hobsbawm did in the UK. He was an expert on the history of the iraque Communist Party, and travelled inside Iraq, and interviewed many prisoners and Communists being held in jail, and managed to reconstruct the grand narrative of the Communist movement inside the country. Born in Jerusalem in 1926, Hanna Batatu emigrated to the United States in 1948, the year of the Nakba – the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. From 1951 to 1953, he studied at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He gained his doctorate at political science in Harvard University in 1960, with a dissertation entitled The Shaykh and the Peasant in Iraq, 1917-1958. From 1962 to 1982 he taught at the American University of Beirut, then from 1982 until his retirement in 1994 at Georgetown University in the United States. Batatu started studying Iraqi history in the 1950’s, taking a particular interest in the revolutionary movements which were then prominent in that country and especially in the Iraqi Communist Party. From the late 1950s on he travelled to Iraq several times, and succeeded in having access to communist political prisoners and secret police files before the revolution of 1958. He was allowed access to security service archives from various periods of Iraqi history, up until the 1970s, and used this and his considerable range of personal contacts with figures from different political movements to compose his study of political change in Iraq, The Old Social Classes and New Revolutionary Movements of Iraq (published in 1978). This work, although largely focusing on the Iraqi Communist Party, also provides a wealth of information about the other revolutionary movements in the country as well as the ruling classes prior to 1958, and is considered one of the fundamental works on modern Iraqi history. Batatu’s methodology is grounded in political sociology and considers in detail the social factors for the developments he covers, and even more so the social composition of the movements in question. It was his last work, when he also undertook a similar study of Syria, Syria’s Peasantry, the Descendants of Its Lesser Rural Notables, and Their Politics (published in 1999) that carried some useful information about the Alawite movement.
From a peace studies perspective, which is the purpose of this essay, the war between mainstream Muslim Sunnis and Alawites is a tragic example of inter-religious miscomprehension. Rather than taking sides and going against the Alawites, as the USA and UK Foreign Office keep insisting we should do, even to the extent that hitherto it has turned a blind eye against extreme ISIS butchery, in my considered opinion, we should be working to mediate and heal these splits, with any rational party that is prepared to sit around the negotiating table, We need a metaphysical and spiritual disarmament process to parallel the political process. We need senior Muslim scholars to sit down with Alawite sages, and with Syrian Christians and come up with a formula for interfaith harmony in the new Syria that can hopefully arise from the ruins.
The French tried to pressure leading Alawite Shaykhs to declare the Alawite religion a separate, non-Muslim religion during the early 1920s but they lost their battle because many religious leaders refused to do so. After all, Alawites declare themselves to be Muslims in their catechism and believe that Muhammad is God’s messenger. The Alawite religion seems to be based on Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism. According to Alawi belief, all persons at first were stars in the world of light but fell from the firmament through disobedience. The material world is a place of danger, enemies and impurity. The essential evil of this present existence can be escaped by the help of the divine creator. Every Alawite has within his soul a bit of the light of the divine creator, which can be accessed and lead him on the right path and salvation. Faithful Alawis believe they must be transformed or reborn seven times before returning to take a place among the stars, where Ali is their prince. If blameworthy, they are sometimes reborn as Christians or Jews, among whom they remain until atonement is complete. Because of the highly syncretistic nature of the religion, scholars have claimed that Alawism is related to Christianity because they have a trinity, drink wine as a possible form of communion, and recognize Christmas. Various sources claim that their rites include remnants of Phoenician sacrificial rituals dating from ancient pagan times of worship, as we have seen was claimed by the German esotericist Franz Sättler. Although Alawites recognize the five pillars of Islam, they consider them as symbolic duties and few perform them. But so too probably most Anglicans would interpret quite a lot of the 39 articles as “symbolic statements” and many Roman Catholic theologians would likewise probably interpret a great deal of traditional catholic dogmatic assertions as falling under the same rubric. Hafiz al-Assad’s efforts to bring his people into the main-stream of Islam included building mosques in major Alawite towns. Reforming clerics have encouraged fellow Alawites to pray regularly and perform the basic tenets of mainstream Islam. Bashar has also followed his father’s lead in pushing his community to shed their idiosyncratic rituals and theology. So the religious dimension of the revolt against Bashar al Assad is doubly tragic and based on a total misunderstanding. The imported brand of extreme Wahhabi doctrine that fuels KIL (ISIL) is something utterly alien to Syrian spiritual traditions. After all in Damascus the grave of Ibn Arabi is to be found, the greatest of all Sufi sheiks, the brain, so to speak, to Rumi’s heart.
Here’s a section from one of the only books of the Alawites so far translated into any Western language:
Je t’implore, ô Possesseur du pouvoir, ô Émir des abeilles, ô ‘Alî, ô Généreux, ô Préexistant, ô toi qui pardonnes, qui as poussé la Porte, Je t’implore par les cinq Élus, par les six Révélations, par les sept astres brillants, par les huit robustes porteurs du trône, par les neuf Mohammédiens, par les dix coqs purs, par les onze tours de la Porte, et par les douze personnages de l’Imâmah, par leur foi en toi, ô Limite du Tout, ô Émir des abeilles, ô maître de la puissance suprême, ô toi le Un, dont le Nom est unique, dont la Porte est l’unité, ô toi qui es apparu dans les sept tabernacles essentiels, je t’implore de rendre fermes nos cœurs et nos membres dans ta sainte connaissance.
This seems to me to be an entirely innocent and pure text, and shows a genuine piety that one could hardly call heretical. Useful footnotes which explain this complex text are given here: http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/arabe/kitab/nosairis.htm#_ftn26
Now back to Massignon. His PhD thesis was on al Hallaj, and it was Al Hallaj who had likewise argued, like the gnostsic and Sufis of all the ages, that the official version of history as presented in the Koran or the Bible has to be supplemented by other, oral and esotier cteachings. Massignon devoted his academic career to pursuing his deep, personal interest in Ḥallāj, completing the edition of manuscripts of his works as well as numerous studies based on a wide variety of primary sources. The most famous of the latter is his four-volume study of the life, works and legacy of Ḥallāj, entitled La Passion de Husayn Ibn Mansûr al-Hallâj (Paris, 2nd ed., 1975). Although highly interpretative in parts, it is a result of the importance of the subject for Massignon’s own spiritual odyssey, during which he first converted to Roman Catholicism, then converted to Islam, and then converted back to Roman Catholic Christianity. All Hallaj wrote a pioneering work of philosophy and exegesis, called Ṭawāsin, his most important. Sadly, he left a relatively small body of works. His main work, the Ṭawāsin (ed. Massignon, 1913), consists of eleven reflective essays, in which he frequently employs line diagrams and cabbalistic symbols, in what seems to be a determined struggle to convey profound mystical experiences which he could not express in words. A small collection of poetry has also been attributed to him (Diwān al-Ḥallāj, ed. Massignon, Paris, 1931), and there is a collection of biographical reports which transmit anecdotes about him and his recorded utterances (Aḵbār al-Ḥallāj, ed. Massignon, 3rd ed., Paris, 1957). Ḥallāj is renowned for having identified closely with and glorified Iblis . In by far the longest essay of the Ṭawāsin, the “Ṭā-sin al-azal wa’l-eltebās,”he depicts Iblis as the most sincere and uncompromising of monotheists for refusing to bow in obeisance to anyone but God, even when ordered by Him to do so before Adam with the threat that he would be cursed as punishment for disobedience (Ṭawāsin, pp. 41-55). This glorification of Iblis became popular among many Persian Sufi authors influenced by Ḥallāj, including most famously Aḥmad Ḡazāli, ʿAyn-al-Qożāt Hamadāni and Ruzbehān Baqli (qq.v.; see EBLĪS II; Awn, 1983). Al Hallaj argued that Iblis, the devil figure in Islam, was apparently according to exoteric Islam was thrown out of heaven, like Lucifer, for refusing to bow down and worship Adam, Allah’s latest creation, as all the other angels did. And that’s the reason most Muslims hate Iblis and call the West “The great Satan” etc. That why during the pilgrimage to mecca, orthodox Muslims throw stones at a pillar representing Iblis. The Koran is full of reasons why Iblis is nasty and not nice at all. Mostly it goes back to the refusing to bow down story, as in:
“And surely, We created you (your father Adam) and then gave you shape (the noble shape of a human being), then We told the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”, and they prostrated, except Iblis, he refused to be of those who prostrate. (Allah) said: “What prevented you (O Iblis) that you did not prostrate, when I commanded you?” Iblis said: “I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” Sura 7:11-12
I give a fuller interpretation of this passage in my long and detailed commentary on the Quran (now available as a talking book). Now this hatred of Iblis, is in fact a kind of mental hubris, since the story is really about why mankind is amazing, important and superb, so that an angel, and indeed the noblest and wisest and most powerful of all the angels, created long long before mankind, and created from fire and not from clay, should have dared to remain faithful to God rather than be seduced into worshipping the newly created anthropos. Actually, when you look around the world as it is, doesn’t the angel have a point ? Of course, it may all just be a myth, a psycho-drama, in which people get to let off steam against the “enemy”. The trouble is that the killers who work for KIL (Isil) and also maybe some who work for other similar terrorist groups around the planet, believe the story literally, and see their barbarous acts as ok because they are only committed against agents of Iblis (i.e. the West). This is why in Nigeria, education is Haram (hence Boko Haram) because it comes from Iblis. This is also why Muslims don’t (on the whole, apart from liberal ones) like freemasons, because they are also devil worshippers. And its why Muslims, on the whole don’t like pagans, and would, if they could, blow up every single “pagan temple” on the planet. Well, as an Archdruid and founder of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Stonehenge, I can’t say that exactly warms the cockles of my heart. The key problem, the real theological sticking point, seems to be this myth about the devil (which most pagans don’t believe in as such – there is no devil in Druidry for example). Indeed, in a recent lecture at the University of London and Oxford Brookes University, in which I called for the launching of a new academic discipline, Comparative Diabology (on our You Tube Channel at IIPSGP1) I described Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam as essentially the Satanic religions because each of them, in their own way, propagates the myth of the Devil, as a character who is absolutely essential to their grand narratives of history, including salvation history. This is why Christ, it would seem, is always going on about the Devil, because without the Devil, there’s no need for the Messiah. It’s a double bill, so to speak. (Same for Zoroaster, Muhammad, Moses etc.)
But just to realise all this doesn’t solve the problem. There deranged agents of misconstrued ancient mythologies out there who are still running around projecting Devils onto the Illuminati, or the freemasons, or the Zionists, or the CIA or the Tories or the Capitalists or the Communists, or the Jews or the Muslims or the whatever else you care to name.. obviously they haven’t read their Jung, they haven’t read my doctoral thesis, and they don’t believe a word of what I am saying, if they could be bothered to read it. Because for them the Devil has to be literal, has to be true, or else the whole edifice of their rage, their justification for killing, goes away. It was the same with Hitler, he had to honestly believe the Jews were literally a demonic force, as various occult groups in Germany at the time also did, (studied by my late friend and colleague Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke for his own PhD at Oxford University), and were therefore deserving to be wiped out, for him to justify mentally to himself (and his accomplices) his extermination projects. What I am calling for therefore, as a peace academic, is a peace treaty, a breathing space, an agreement to differ, rather than continuing to fight this war of literalism right through to the end. What happened to All Hallaj might have been a tragic foretaste of what Kil (ISIL) have been doing to their opponents in both Syria and Iraq. On 24 Ḏu’l-qaʿda, after 9 years imprisonment in Baghdad, Ḥallāj received a thousand lashes, had his feet and hands cut off, and was eventually hanged to death on the gibbet. His corpse was burned and the ashes poured into the Tigris. His students apparently fled eastwards to Khorasan. Some of them ended up in Scotland ! (Joke that, to see if any reading this is still awake)
In order to get right down to the bottom of the Devil myths and fallen angel myths that haunt our collective psyches, I am at present also working on a commentary on the Book of Enoch, which appears to be a later recension (2nd to 1st century BC) of an ancient set of spiritual esoteric teachings that were “given to Adam at the moment of first creation”, and which were passed down to Enoch, who treasured them and studied them intently. Enoch has been sacred to Jewish tradition, Islamic teachings (where he is known as Idris, and regarded as the first philosopher) and in Christianity. There is a growing agreement among close students of the intertestamental period of history and the sources of Christianity, that Jesus and his close circle of students not only had copies of the Book of Enoch, but to some extent modelled their agenda according to its teachings. Certainly the Alawites likewise honour Enoch (Idris) – and so does the Quran itself. My reason for working on a detailed Commentary on the Book of Enoch for our times (nothing has really been attempted before in this comprehensive direction) is to try and provide a theological bridge between all the religious communities of the Middle East (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Paganism, Baha’ism, Zoroastrianism etc.) and also wherever their adherents have spread. Enoch is thought most likely to have been modelled on ancient Sumerian sages, and his appearance in Genesis coincides with the founding of the first cities in Sumeria. What is really at stake then in these wars that have bedevilled this crucial region, is whether human civilisation itself is viable. We invented writing (actually, archetypally Enoch invented writing, or Idris, or Hermes, or Thoth – they are all said by esotericists to be the same person, the archetypal sage or Merlin figure) – and yet now writing is driving us all apart, as those of us with different sacred books and holy scriptures cant get on with each other, and we are determined to blow each other to bits rather than sit down and have a nice cup of tea !
The questions facing us in Syria and Iraq therefore, following on from the disastrous attacks in France recently, is whether we in the UK or Europe should continue to support the failed policies of neo-cons of the USA, who have dominated American foreign policy in alliance with Saudi Arabia, basically since the time of the election of Bush in the debacle of the hanging chads (when the election was actually stolen from the American people it would appear, in November 2000) followed immediately, disastrously and most suspiciously by the events of 9/11 the following year, which Saudi and USA foreign policy and military advisers then seized on as a great opportunity to invade Iraq. There are huge historical questions to be answered about all this, and as chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East, I would still like to see them answered.
The USA-Saudi desire to bring down Assad, constantly repeated even now by Obama, seems philosophically speaking like yet a further revivification of a zombie which failed last time, led to endless suffering and misery in Iraq, and yet is being played again in Syria. Has there been no learning at all since 2003 ? Has there been no learning since 1979 when the USA and Saudi Arabia together armed militant Jihadists to bring down its political enemies (then the USSR) ? It seems to the philosophers among us that the USA-Saudi-UK alliance is still playing basically the same tune – arming militant jihadists to bring down its political enemies. I was told as much directly, openly, by the Foreign office head of Syria desk when I spoke to them by phone some 3 years ago and offered to help with the interfaith mediation of the war developing in Syria. Marx rightly said that history comes in cycles of repetition – and history tends to repeat itself the second time round in farcical form. The stupidity and ignorance of Western policy towards Syria, in permitting KIL(Isil) to get a bridgehead there, and to terrorise first the indigenous populations, to act brutally towards all Muslims they disagree with (especially Shiia) and then to terrorise the Yezidis etc; to then attack and seek to destroy the ancient pagan remnants of an advanced Hellenistic Arab civilisation, as at Palmyra and their beheading of the archaeologist who refused to help them (brave and good man that) – this truly shows us what these people are like. And it is to the utter shame and discredit of Western policy leaders, foreign office officials, and politicians, of all parties, throughout the UK and the USA, that they have sat back and not only done nothing about it, but also supported and encouraged it. John McCain for example, seems to have gone and met with KIL leaders early on and pledged them support. The governing mantra or meme behind all of this has been the driving idea – “we must do all we can to bring about the downfall of Assad”. Are they really saying “we cannot do anything to upset the Saudis” ? If so, let it be said in public and let us have this debate in public, on the floor of the house of commons and in the learned journals and newspapers of the UK. Are we really that afraid of the Saudi’s ? According to what scale of ethical values is Saudi Arabia a better ally and partner for the UK (and the USA) than, say, Russia ?
But this is to practice what Dick Cheney has called “working through the dark side”. Alastair Crooke, a former MI6 operative, EU special rapporteur, BBC foreign policy consultant and an old friend of Yasser Arafat, has stated in print that US and UK foreign policy has indeed been disastrous in this respect, ever since 1979, when Brezinski decided to do a deal with extremist Islamic fighters to lure the then USSR into invading Afghanistan. As I said in my blog of 16 November, the West have ever since then summoned up a cloud of dark spirits, extremist Muslim terrorist fighters, who have a simple monochrome ideology, and who, while we could turn them in the direction of Anti Soviet shock troops, were useful to the interests of the west, but in the person of Osama Bin Laden, they turned against us in a series of spectacular attacks, culminating in the attacks of 9/11 (probably helped along a little from the inside so to speak, from Cheney’s dark side). Now these same failed Western policy blunderers have led us directly to the mass shootings on the streets of Paris on November 13. You don’t have to invoke conspiracy theories apart from the general conspiracy of ignorance to explain this progression. What would Massignon have made of this ? A man who loved France and also Islam, Christianity and world spirituality – an advanced soul if ever there was one? Let us return to the book of Thomas Hakl, that has inspired largely this essay, and see what he says about this.
“Amongst these esoteric groups one deserves special mention, namely the Alawis, who are to be equated with the Nusayri, a group famed in the world of occultism. In Syria, where France held dominion from 1920- to 1945 following the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, the Alawis, with their alleged friendly disposition towards the French, came to be the ruling group, and reportedly it was Massignon who helped them to power. Indeed, the Alawis remain the rulers to this day. With its power base residing primarily in the armed forces, the leading Baath party is a predominantly Alawite movement. After many years of struggle, its leader Hafez al Assad came to power in 1070 via the military, and the office of president was assumed after his death by his son Bashar al Assad, who still governs today. The future outcome of the unrest that broke out in Syria in 2011 remains unclear”. (Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History Of The 20th century by Hans Thomas Hakl, Equinox, 2013, p. 118)
This is what Hakl explains, and I would ask the reader to assimilate this information slowly, as it came as something of a shock, or an “aha” moment when I read it a couple of days ago. Massignon actually helped the Alawites get to power in Syria, back when Syria was a French mandate. What an amazing, interesting and extraordinary piece of information. One of the greatest mystical commentators and thinkers of the 20th century, one who had done their PhD on Al Hallaj, someone who called himself an “interiorist for whom inspiration and an attitude of belief and sympathy were necessary in order to reveal the pure divine transcendence in the sacred writings”.. Who knew and practiced regularly the prayer rituals of all the three Abrahamic religions, that such a man should have “helped the Alawites into power in Syria” to my way of thinking establishes an important covenant with history. Not knowing the details behind this statement (perhaps someone at SOAS or the Sorbonne has done a PhD on the events and ideas hiding behind this simple phrase ?) – but the meaning for us is I think clear. We should not tinker around with constitutions, governments and states, simply on the whim of deranged crazy Wahhabi fighters who have been brainwashed into thinking that everyone who doesn’t follow their narrow minded and bigoted version of Islamism can be killed, executed, tortured and persecuted, raped and humiliated. Are we really to follow and ally with such people ? These are the people who are behind the massacres on the streets of Paris a few days ago. These are the people who are behind the massacre in Beirut a few days before that, and so on, in a sad dim spectacle stretching back in time in an endless succession of crazy self-and-other immolations. You can trace the line, if you want, all the way back to the killing of Imam Ali, who, on January 25/26, 661 CE, while praying in the Great Mosque of Kufa, was attacked by the Kharijite Abd-al-Rahman ibn Muljam. He was wounded by ibn Muljam’s poison-coated sword while prostrating in the Fajr prayer. Ali ordered his sons not to attack the Kharijites, instead stipulating that if he survived, ibn Muljam would be pardoned whereas if he died, ibn Muljam should be given only one equal hit (regardless of whether or not he died from the hit). Ali died a few days later on January 31, 661 CE (21 Ramadan 40 A.H). Hasan fulfilled Qisas and gave equal punishment to ibn Muljam upon Ali’s death. ʿAlī died at the age of sixty-three and was buried near Kūfa. The burial was kept secret, but in the time of Hārūn al-Rašīd his tomb was identified a few miles from Kūfa and a sanctuary was established around which a town called Naǰaf grew up. Of his fourteen sons and nineteen daughters by nine wives and several concubines, Ḥasan, Ḥosayn, and Moḥammad b. Ḥanafīya are well known (busy man, that). ʿAlī’s political discourses, sermons, letters, and sayings were collected by Šarīf Rażī in a book entitled Nahī al-balāḡa (“The road of eloquence”), and are well known in Arabic literature (we have a copy at the Castle of the Muses).
Or you can trace the line of violence back to the killing of Ali’s son, Hasan, who made a peace treaty with Mo’awiya after Ali’s death, and tried to live a peaceful life, having 15 sons and 9 daughters from six wives and three named concubines (another busy man). Ḥasan died, according to the most reliable reports, on 2 April 670. The early sources are nearly unanimous that he was poisoned. While most accuse his wife Jaʿda, daughter of the Kinda chief al-Ašʿaṯ b. Qays, of the crime, others mention his wife Hind bt. Sohayl b. ʿAmr of ʿĀmer Qorayš. Usually Moʿāwiya is identified as the instigator. In other words, poor Hasan was murdered by one of his wives at the instigation of his mortal enemy. It all begins to sound like the days of Nero and Caligula in Rome, and further evidence for Lord Acton’s adage that “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Hasan was eventually buried next to his mother Fatima in Medina, and Ḥasan’s tomb became a pilgrimage site, especially for Shiʿites, and later a dome was built over it, one of the highest in the cemetery. It was twice, in 1806 and 1927, destroyed by the Wahhābis, which of course is one of the complaints the Shiite Muslims and the Alawites have against the Wahhabis, who have on innumerable times desecrated the tombs of spiritual figures important to the history of Islam. This is why the Kil (Isil) forces desecrate all the tombs they can that fall within their own control, such as that of the prophet Jonah, which was agreed by all to be in Mosul in Iraq. In 2014 Kil (Isil) took control of Mosul and a disturbing wave of violence ensued, in which the Kil (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – ISIS) terrorist group destroyed churches, monasteries, and statues, and disturbed the grave of the biblical prophet Jonah. A video posted on YouTube July 9 2014 showed the tomb being destroyed with a sledgehammer, and Nineveh officials said the grave is that of Jonah. Kil (ISIL) control of Mosul on June 10 2014, and they also took control the Iraqi cities of Baiji and Fallujah, and parts of Syria. The Sunni Muslim extremists have persecuted, raped and killed thousands of Christians and Shiite Muslims across the two countries. Churches and Shiite shrines have been bombed, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled the area because of the violence. The latest acts of terrorism, according to Nineveh Police spokesman Major Ahmed al Obaidi, occurred on a single day. “They torched 11 churches and monasteries out of 35 scattered across the city of Mosul, and hours later destroyed statues of poets, literary and historical figures of which Mosul has long been proud.” The mosque containing Jonah’s tomb has been under the terrorist group’s control since they took over the city, local official Zuhair al-Chalabi said. “There is almost certain information stating the fact that the elements of ISIL dug up the grave of the Prophet Younis (Jonah).” The grave of biblical prophet Seth was also destroyed, according to Major al Obaidi. Three Sunni clerics, Khattab Hassan, 43, Riyadh al-Wandi, 39, and Abdul Ghafoor Salman, 48, rejected ISIS and refused to flee Mosul. They were killed by the terrorists in separate parts of the city. These were brave men and authentic Sunni Muslims who could see through the fanaticism of Kil and realised they were not dealing with any normal Sunni group, but a maverick, heretical and extremist group that is in fact outside authentic Islam.
The whole history of Islam’s birth and then its early evolution after the death of Muhammad is littered with violence and in many ways you can argue that the Sunni and Shia split inside Islam is an overblown family dispute between Ali and Khadijah, that has not gone away, and over 1400 years later is threatening the safety and stability of the entire Middle Eastern region. As an expert in religious dispute resolution, this is why I am calling for the West not to take sides in this dispute, but to do all they can to work with reputable and learned Islamic scholars, academics and philosophers, both Sunni and Shiia and Sufi, and try to heal and resolve the dispute. A special peace commission should be established at the highest levels of Shiia and Sunni theological debate and research, and intensive energy should be devoted towards finding a solution. What is it that all Muslims can agree on? What are the absolute common bedrocks of their faith ? I would argue that it is a commitment to peace and harmony in society and in the spiritual worlds, and have explained this position in full in my commentary on the Koran. I would ask Muslim scholars and philosophers around the world to study this commentary and to join in this work.
Imam Hussein, to the Shi’ah the 4th Imam, also died a violent death, at the Battle of Karbala in Iraq. The battle of Karbalāʾ lasted from morning till sunset on 10 October 680. ʿOmar b. Saʿd, who had been sent out from Kufa to attack Hussein, who had been marching towards Kufa with a small group of loyal followers. Hussein had been invited to go there by some of the leading people of Kufa, but since the invitation had been issued, a political change had overtaken Kufa. Now a Kufan army of 4,000 men arrived under the command of ʿOmar b. Saʿd b. Abi Waqqāṣ arrived, who had been appointed by ʿObayd-Allāh governor of Rayy to lead the army against Ḥosayn. As the son of one of the most eminent early Companions of Moḥammad, he was at first loath to use force against the Prophet’s grandson, but had been bullied into accepting the command. And the governor ʿObayd-Allāh had been appointed by Yazd, the son and successor to Moawiyah, with strict instructions to “get tough on Hussein”. Yazd was not recognised as the genuine successor Caliph by Hussein, or by all those others who would in time become known as the Shiiah party of Islam. All these events are still subject to disputed interpretations by historians, depending on whether they are Sunni or Shi’iah in orientation. At first ʿOmar b. Saʿd hoped to isolate Hussein and force him to surrender, and did not order a general attack that would inevitably have resulted in a quick massacre. The reports rather describe numerous incidents of single combat, skirmishes, assaults, and retreat. Ḥussein ordered heaps of wood and reeds to be burnt in a ditch behind the tents to prevent an attack from the rear. From the front he was protected by his men, and he was not involved in actual fighting until close to the end. As the Kufans also suffered losses because of the self-sacrificing bravery of Ḥussein’s followers, the fighting gradually became more brutal. In one attack the enemy set the tents on fire, but the flames at first hindered their own advance. Šamer (Šemr) b. Ḏi’l-Jawšan is mostly described as the moving spirit, viciously driving on the assault. Ḥussein was first wounded by an arrow hitting his mouth or throat as he was trying to reach the Euphrates to drink. After receiving further wounds, he eventually was stabbed with a spear by Senān b. Anas Naḵaʿi. As he fell, Senān and Ḵawali b. Yazid Aṣbaḥi joined to cut his head off. In accordance with ʿObayd-Allāh b. Ziād’s instructions, ʿOmar ordered his body to be trampled by horses. Later he was buried by the Banu Asad of the nearby village of Ḡāżeriya in the spot where the sanctuary of Ḥosayn arose. His head was carried to ʿObayd-Allāh b. Ziād in Kufa and then to Yazid in Damascus. Later there were claims in regard to several locations to be its burial place.
The dead on the side of Ḥussein are said to have numbered seventy or seventy-two. At least twenty descendants of Abu Ṭāleb were among them. The first one of these to be killed was Ḥussein’s own son ʿAli Akbar. As a nephew of the caliph Yazid he was offered a safe-conduct, but he refused it, proudly proclaiming that he valued his descent from the Prophet more highly (Ibn Saʿd, p. 73; Zobayri, p. 58). Ḥussein’s son ʿAbd-Allāh was still a child and is described as having been killed by an arrow while placed on his father’s knees. Six of Ḥosayn’s paternal brothers, sons of ʿAli, fell. Four of them were sons of Omm Banin bt. Ḥezām of the Banu Kelāb. Her brother’s son, ʿAbd-Allāh b. Abi Moḥell b. Ḥezām, obtained a letter of safety for them from ʿObayd-Allāh b. Ziād, but they rejected it. Three sons of Ḥasan and three sons of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Jaʿfar were killed, as well as three sons and three grandsons of ʿAqil b. Abi Ṭāleb. Ibn Saʿd lists among the dead two other Hashemites, a descendent of Abu Lahab, and a descendent of Abu Sofyān b. Ḥāreṯ b. ʿAbd-al-Moṭṭaleb. Among the survivors of the Prophet’s family, being led off as captives, he mentions two sons of Ḥasan, a son of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Jaʿfar, a son of ʿAqil, and five women. According to Abu’l-Faraj Eṣfahāni (Maqātel, p. 119), three sons of Ḥasan survived, among them Ḥasan b. Ḥasan, who was severely wounded. Ḥussein’s other son named ʿAli survived because he was sick and unable to fight on the battle day. He was brought as a captive before ʿObayd-Allāh b. Ziād and then before Yazid in Damascus. The latter treated him well and sent him with the women to Medina. He eventually became recognized as the fourth Imam of the Shiʿites.
What happened to ʿObayd-Allāh (b. ca. 28/648), the Omayyad governor responsible for the death of the Imam Ḥosayn b. ʿAlī ? He was the son of Zīād b. Abīh, a favorite of Moʿāwīyah, and a Persian slave called Marjāna. He was given the governorship of Khorasan in 54/673 at the age of twenty-five, and soon afterward, he was appointed governor of Baṣra, where he subdued Kharijite unrest (Ṭabarī, II, pp. 168, 172, 185-87). At the accession of Yazīd I (r. 60-64/680-83), he forestalled the planned Shiʿite rebellion in Kūfa by intimidating the chiefs of the main tribes and publicly executing known agents of Imam Ḥosayn. When Ḥosayn and his family reached Iraq, Ibn Zīād sent the army of Ibn Saʿd against him; Ḥosayn was killed with his followers and most of the men of his family at Karbalāʾ on 10 Moḥarram 61/10 October 680. After Yazīd’s death in 64/683, Ibn Zīād claimed the caliphate for himself, but finding little support in Kūfa and Baṣra, he fled to Syria, supporting the claim of Marwān b. Ḥakam after the death of Moʿāwīa II (64/684; Ṭabarī, II, pp. 433 ff.). Under Marwān and his son ʿAbd-al-Malek, he fought to maintain control of Iraq, destroying thetawwābūn (repentants, i.e., those who repented for having left Ḥosayn to meet his fate) at the battle of ʿAyn-al-Warda (65/685). The Kufan Shiʿites revolted again under Moḵtār, who organized the mawālī (freed slaves and non-Arab freemen, mostly Persians), overwhelmed the Arab opposition, and sought revenge on those responsible for Ḥosayn’s death. Moḵtār’s general, Ebrāhīm b. Mālek Aštar, defeated the Syrian army near Mosul and killed Ibn Zīād (on the day of ʿĀšūrāʾ 67/6 August 686), sending his head to Moḵtār, who dispatched it to ʿAlī Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn, the son of Imam Hussein (who it is said smiled for the first time since his father’s death; Yaʿqūbī, II, p. 309).
The above account has been given in some detail just to explain how steeped in blood this entire history is, and particularly the tragic split between Shiia and Sunni Islam. To tell the whole story in detail would require a book rather than an essay, and interested readers can do their own research on this matter. Suffice it say here, that this split is ultimately the cause (along with a myriad of other factors, mostly involving human ignorance) of the violence that has spilled out finally onto the streets of Paris in Novemeber 2015, and that has prompted and caused the bitter conflicts inside Iraq and Syria that are still ongoing. When computers malfunction, one can reboot them back to a previous start point, the last time they actually functioned correctly. If one were to reboot history, where would one reboot it to ? To just prior to 9/11 ? To just prior to the USA/UK invasion of Iraq in 2003 ? To just before the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand that triggered World War One ? To just prior to the Battle of Karbala ? To just before the crucifixion of Jesus ? To just prior to the fall of the angels as recounted in the Book of Enoch ?
The trouble is of course, that we cannot have that luxury except as a thought experiment. Transpersonal historians however can go back in time and examine in depth these tragedies from all sides. They can try and remain impartial. They can look at the sad stories of wars, violence, cruelties, murders and so on, and try and heal, retrospectively the pain of all those involved, on all sides. They can be like something of an intellectual red cross, criss crossing the battlefields of history and trying to bring healing and succour to the dead of all sides.
Both Shiias and Sunnis are full of accusations against each other. But genuine Islamic scholars and philosophers are not, and it has been my own good fortune to meet some of these and to work with them. The Shi’ia (including the Alawites) have been saying for 1400 years that the violence inherited by some groups of Sunnis is actually arising from their ignorance of the real meaning and purpose of esoteric or spiritual Islam. These Shiias say these Sunnis have as much link to Islam as Christians who just observe Christmas because they like the presents. So for them, they see an Islam that has been instead turned into a kind of shopping trip to the Meccan malls and the performance of a few antiquated rituals whose meaning is lost (like throwing stones at the devil pillar) etc. Likewise, the Sunni accuse the Shiia of constructing an elaborate theology of projected elements, in which Ali and the other Imams, and Fatima, Ali’s wife, are all overlaid with a kind of elaborate superimposition of Zoroastrian and Gnostic elements, that may make sense to an overblown theosophical imagination, but are hardly understandable int ethereal world. For example,. In Shi’ism much is made of the theosophical glory of Fatima, daughter of Muhammad and wife of Imam Ali.
Fāṭima was counted among the Prophet’s house (ahl al-bayt) the five people of the mantle (ahl al-kesāʾ), and the people of the ordeal (mobāhala) and thus occupies a central place in the pleroma of the immaculate ones, enjoying ontological, initiatory, and eschatological privileges of the same order as those attributed to the Prophet and the Imams. Her luminous pre-existential entity, issuing from the divine light thousands of years before the creation of the world, devoted itself to the praise of God while circumambulating the divine throne. Her name, like those of all the people of the mantle, was derived from a divine name (al-Fāṭer “the Creator”). She was present in the light of the fourteen impeccable ones when it was placed in Adam’s loins (ṣolb). It was because of this light that angels were ordered to prostrate themselves before him (Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī, pp. 219 ff.; Ibn Bābūya, 1385/1966, pp. 6, 209; idem, 1405/1985, p. 255). Among the names God taught to Adam (Koran 2:31-33) were those of the people of the mantle, including that of Fāṭima (Ḥasan al-ʿAskarī, p. 217; Forāt, p. 56). Her conception and birth were miraculous. Her origin was in a fruit from paradise, often identified as an apple or a date, that Moḥammad had eaten during one of his ascensions and that had become “the water of his loins” (Forāt, pp. 75-76; Ibn Bābūya, 1385/1966, pp. 183-84). According to one tradition, this fruit had previously been touched by the sweat and a plume from the wing of the angel Gabriel (Forāt, pp. 321-22). It was for this reason that the Prophet always said that Fāṭima was a celestial being in human form (ḥūrāʾ ensīya), that she emitted the perfume of paradise, and that she had a name in heaven (usually Manṣūra). Fāṭima spoke with her mother while still in the womb. All the most pious women recognized from pre-Islamic religions were present at her birth, namely, Sarah (Sārā), Āsīa, Sephora (Ṣafūrāʾ), and especially Mary the mother of Jesus (Ibn Rostam, p. 9; Ḥosayn, pp. 48 ff.). These names are often linked with that of Fāṭima, and parallels with Mary are particularly frequent, parallels emphasized by Massignon in all his works on Fāṭima (cf. Ayoub, 1976, pp. 165 ff.; idem, 1978, s.v.; McAuliffe, 1981). Yet Fāṭima’s superiority to other women is always underscored. She is given the epithet “the Great Lady/the Best of Free Women” (sayyedat/ḵīārat al-nesāʾ/al-ḥarāʾer; cf. the epithet of the mother of the qāʾem “the Great Lady/the Best of Slave Women [al-emāʾ]; Noʿmānī, pp. 331 ff.; Ibn Qūlūya, pp. 54, 78, 123-24). At her birth Fāṭima pronounced sacred formulas and announced future events; the world was bathed in light (Ibn Šahrāšūb, pp. 119 ff.) And so on. Well, it sounds to me like Muhammad was truly delighted with his daughter. As a father of three girls myself, I know well that every father thinks his daughter is something magical and special, around whom the entire universe should revolve. So I recognise the source of these theosophical imaginings for what they are – the loving adoration of a fond father for his “special girl”. They are poetry. Indeed, it was Louis Massignon, is his study of the Alawites, who opened up to Western scholarship for the first real time, the in depth understanding of the full extent of adoration that Shiia mysticism places on Fatima and the other members of the Prophet’s household. Is there a problem here ? If we recognise that Shiia imaginings arise from love, why is that a threat worthy of death and persecution? The more you persecute a tradition, the more it picks up energy from the mystical Mundus Imaginalis, as Henry Corbin called it.
The challenge to peace historians and transpersonal peace historians especially, is how to find places of common confluence and agreement within the collective Mundus Imaginalis of humanity, so that these ancient wars can be put into museums of the imagination, where they belong, and we can all work together to repair, heal and reconcile the fractured tribes and peoples of actual humanity.
Another key question everyone is asking: is there a moderate Sunni opposition in Syria ? Yes of course there are large numbers of moderate Sunni Syrians who are fed up with the war, fed up with violence, and who want nothing more than to get Syria back to living in peace. The way forward is for this moderate Sunni population to become part of a ceasefire process, and to agree to vent their political ambitions in a democratic direction rather than to continue with armed struggle, which simply plays into the hands of the extremist Wahhabi and externally funded Al Quaeda and KIL (Isil) armed opposition groups. Likewise the West must stop absolutely and irrevocably from funding and supporting these extremist Sunni rebel groups. The only truly “moderate” Sunni groups are those willing to stop fighting and join an actual ceasefire, to sit round the table politically in Damascus, and to work out a road map to peace. Nor should there be preconditions that Assad should go, as the USA demands constantly. It is not up to the USA to dictate the political map of Syria, and it never has been. Imagine if such a situation had happened inside the USA. Imagine a group of extreme terrorist Christian right wing Catholic fanatics had declared Texas an independent state and were smuggling in arms from all over Latin America to support their cause. They were now also blowing up buildings all over California with the help of foreign powers. Imagine Italy, Spain and France started sending huge amounts of weapons to support their cause, through covert means. Then France declares the USA President has to step down before peace talks can begin. Crazy, right? But that is exactly what the USA has been doing in Syria. Yes, crazy indeed.
So in Syria the absolutely priority is a ceasefire. The normalisation of political relationships back to a peaceful mode of discourse. The return of democratic faith in institutions which can be restored, and rebuilt. A date should be set for national elections, in which all Syrians, including those living in temporary exile, can be registered. Foreign fighters in the country should leave, and disband their arsenals and factions. Kil (ISIL) probably won’t do this voluntarily. They can be reasoned with and senior Muslim scholars can point out the theological error of their whole Caliphate project and the fact that what they are doing is anti Islamic, and has no sanction whatsoever from Sunni theological or legal opinion. Their funding sources can be shut down and all Middle Eastern states can agree to work jointly on this. The authentic voice of Sunni theologians and jurists can speak loud and clear against the Kil (Isil) vision. Syrian Sunni leaders can agree to a formula, as in Lebanon, whereby constitutionally all the factions and layers of Syria’s complex cultural and religious and political mosaic can work together. Constitutional experts and political scientists can assist them, to come up with a formula such as De Hondt advised for the solution of Northern Ireland’s complex political fracture lines, whereby each different cultural faction is guaranteed representation in parliament. Shiias, Sunnis and Alawites, Druze, Christians – all can sign a peace pact agreeing to work together for the good of Syria and for the rebuilding of the country. Once Kil (Isil) is sent packing (either through theological reasoning or through military reasoning) the international community can help rebuild Syrian society as the mosaic of elements living in harmony that it once was. Schools can reopen, hospitals get going again, power plants be rebuilt, shops and businesses restart, and the refugees living abroad, in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Europe and elsewhere can return and play a part in the rebuilding of this ancient and beautiful nation.
For this to happen, there has to be above all a ceasefire and a peace treaty between esoteric (Alawite, Sufi, Shiia) interpretations of religion, and exoteric interpretations of religion (Sunni). The scholars representing the different parts of the complex equation that is Islam need to sit down, and as it were remember what it is truly to be a Muslim. Personally, I think this has been long lost sight of in the fog and miasmas of a thousand battlefields. It is easier, I think to say what it is to not be a Muslim, and I think we can all agree that the terrorists who killed 129 people and wounded hundreds more in Paris the other day, are not Muslims in any way shape or form, except perhaps in their own diseased imaginations. Nor are the forces of Kil (Isis) who are rampaging in Syria and Iraq, raping, killing, looting, and terrorising. If any Western policy makers or intelligence operatives have helped and assisted the rise of Kil (Isis) then I would ask frankly, is that really where 10,000 years of European and Middle Eastern history have brought us? Is that where the quintessence of the European enlightenment has led us, to support such primitive and violent ideas and to allow them to nearly overwhelm one of the last bastions of esoteric secularism (Syria) that still exists in the middle east ? Or should we not perhaps give a sigh of relief that at least our Slavic neighbours in Russia have intervened realising what is indeed at stake, and taken up the baton that the old Templars dropped long ago, knowing that sometimes, some causes actually need the strength of steel to protect the gentle interior of the heart.
But the military and intellectual defeat of Kil (Isis) is only part of the work that is needed – the really difficult work will be the reconstruction of Syria after they are gone, and the reconstruction of Iraq – the repairing of the wounds between Shiia and Sunnis, the repairing of the long conflict between exoteric and esoteric Islam, the establishment of a genuine peace treaty between Shia and Sunni and Sufi Muslims, not in a way which threatens non-Muslims, but in a way which once again declares that Islam, truly and genuinely, wants to become a religion, a path, a sunna, towards an holistic, integral, authentic and spiritually empowering peace.
Such an Islam could sign peace treaties with all other religions (as in the Interfaith Peace Treaty – https://interfaithpeacetreaty.wordpress.com/) and such an Islam could work with Judaism and Christianity and all other faiths, in rebuilding this planet away from war and violence, and back towards the pristine divinely authored world that it is meant to be from the beginning. Such an Islam could help us collectively reopen the Golden Gate in the eastern wall of the old city of Jerusalem and see a peace tent on the temple mount where peace pilgrims from all over the world can join together in common pilgrimage and prayer, discussion and debates, aimed towards peace and joyism, not war and terrorism.
Such is the vision that IIPSGP stands for, and that our work is intended to facilitate. Our Commentaries on the Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures are intended to provide something of the detailed scholarship that will be needed for such an interfaith peace breakthrough. The proposal of transpersonal historiography provides the scientific underpinning for this venture in theological reconciliation. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East can provide the structural architectonic that can help to make such as rebuilding process possible. The Centre for Peace Policy Research based here at the Castle of the Muses can help persuade Western diplomats, and foreign and defence policy experts that the prioritisation of peace is now an absolute moral imperative for mankind. Instead of just funding increases in military expenditure and intelligence and security spending, all countries also have a duty, in our view, to spend at least one percent of the total defence budget on active and proactive peace policy proposals and initiatives. Please join us in this work, and together we can succeed. Rather than cursing the darkness, let us light the candles in our hands, as Rumi said.
Dr Thomas Clough Daffern
Castle of the Muses
20 November, 2015
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Daffern, Thomas C. Towards A Transpersonal History Of The Search For Peace 1945-2001 (Published version of PhD thesis, minus appendices, Lulu, 2010)
Daffern, Thomas Clough John Dee: Magus and Philosopher of the renaissance – a sketch of His Life and Works (John Dee Symposium, IIPSGP, Brithdir Hall, Powys, 2005)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Lord Edward Herbert: An Outline of His life and Works (Lord Herbert of Chirbury Symposium, IIPSGP, Brithdir Hall, Powys, 2007)
Daffern, Thomas Clough The Periodic Table of the World’s religious and philosophical traditions (Lulu, 2009)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Clio Encounters Thanatos: On the history of research into psychopathology, violence and aggression in human behaviour, war psychology and conflict research 1945-2001, (Lulu, 2008).
Daffern, Thomas Clough Collected Poems of Thomas Clough Daffern (4 volumes, Lulu, 2006-2010)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Multilingual Dictionary for Mulitfaith and Multicultural Mediation, Peace and Global Philosophy (London, 1999, Lulu, 2005)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Selected philosophical and Historical essays 1985-2005 (Lulu, 2007)
Daffern, Thomas Clough The History of educational ideas and institutions and the search for peace 1945-2001 (Lulu, 2009)
Daffern, Thomas Clough The Philosophical Interpretation of History (Lulu, 2009)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Transpersonal history and Peace Historiography: towards a definition of the field (Lulu, 2009)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Wisdom affairs: towards a cartography of enlightenment, enlovement and joyism for wisdom lovers (Lulu, 2009)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Druid Observations on a Cycle of Poems 2004-2006 (Lulu, 2009)
Daffern, Thomas C. Musings – Autobiographical reflections 1956-2014 (6 volumes) (Lulu, 2008-2015)
Daffern, Thomas C. The Memory of Light (Lulu, 2005)
Daffern, Thomas Clough Sophiaphobia (Lulu, 2008)
Daffern, Thomas C. Pagan Enlightenments (2003)
Daftary, Farhad The Ismāʿīlīs: Their History and Doctrines, Cambridge, 2007.
Dussaud, René Histoire et religion des Noṣairîs, Paris (1900)
Deveney, John Patrick and Franklin Rosemon Paschal Beverly Randolph: A Nineteenth-Century Black American Spiritualist, Rosicrucian, and Sex Magician (SUNY, 1996)
Encyclopedia Iranica (Bibliotheca Persica Press, 1985 onwards)
Friedman, Yaron The Nuṣayrī-ʿAlawīs, Leiden, 2010.
Hakl, Hans Thomas Eranos: An Alternative Intellectual History Of The 20th century (Equinox, 2013)
Kazimi, Nibras Syria Through Jihadist Eyes, (ebook)
Lind, Michael How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington – And Launched A War (2003)
Lind, Michael Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics (2002)
Massignon, Louis La Passion de Husayn Ibn Mansûr al-Hallâj (Paris, 2nd ed., 1975)
Modarressi, Hossein Crisis and Consolidation in the Formative Period of Shiʿite Islam, Princeton, 1993.
Modarressi, Hossein Tradition and Survival: A Bibliographical Survey of Early Shīʿite Literature, vol. I, Oxford, 2003,
Perle, Richard An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror (2003)
Pipes, Daniel The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria, 1989
Russell, Gerard Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms (2015)
Versluis, Arthur The Secret History of Western Sexual Mysticism (Destiny Books, 2008),
Witzel, Michael The Origins of the World’s Mythologies (Oxford University Press, 2012).