Greetings of Peace. This blog contains selections from my correspondence and other sources on a variety of subjects related to religion, philosophy, and spirituality. I hope that they may be of benefit to the interested reader. Concerning the title of the blog, read this entry.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Maryami Assimilation of Muhammad (as)

Within the Islamic tradition as a whole, the Prophet Muhammad and by extension the Imams within Shi'ism - may peace and blessings be upon them - are the premier foci of devotion whose remembrance is inextricably intertwined with remembrance of Allah. The Prophet Muhammad, as you are well aware, possesses not only a historical and personal reality, but also a cosmological and metaphysical significance within the anthropocosmic vision of Islam.

In my opinion ... within the context of the doctrine and method of the [Maryamiyyah] Tariqah as transmitted by Shaykh Isa, much of the significance traditionally and exclusively afforded to the Prophet Muhammad is assimilated into the person of Sayyidatna Maryam. There are several reasons for this which may be identified.

For instance, the Prophet is depersonalized through identification with the abstract principle of the Logos and the personal relationship with him is replaced to a certain degree by vicarious participation in Shaykh Isa's personal relationship with Sayyidatna Maryam who is also considered a feminine manifestation of the Logos. He experienced intimate tantric visions of Maryam and as a result believed that he, and by extension the entire Tariqah, had been blessed by her. He also produced numerous poems, litanies, and paintings inspired by her including a Maryami Wird ...

A second level of assimilation of the significance of Muhammad occurs through the spiritual identity of the faqir with the religio perennis within the context of the Islamic form. Under Shaykh Isa, fuqara were taught to emulate his functional identity with universal metaphysics and the religion of the heart while eschewing the limitations and prejudices of individual religious identity. As Maryam is considered the prophetic embodiment of the religio perennis while Muhammad is limited to the Islamic form, she is given a certain functional precedence as a result.

Within [certain branches] of the [Maryamiyyah] Tariqah, virtually all of the Maryami devotional elements have been rigidly excluded and something of the distinctly Islamic identity has been restored in addition to the emphasis upon the spiritual significance and centrality of devotion to the Prophet. Practically, the only Maryami elements that remain [in those contexts] are the recognition of Sayyidatna Maryam as something of a patron saint of the order bestowing a subtle emphasis on aesthetics, the optional recitation of the Salatu'l Maryamiyyah, and certain doctrinal expositions found in Shaykh Isa's texts.

Something of an answer to your question may be obtained by examining the role of additional litanies historically appended to the Wird within the Shadhiliyyah heritage. The role afforded to the Salatu'l Maryamiyyah within [the Maryamiyyah] has traditionally been filled by the recitation of the Salatu'l Mashishiyyah within the Darqawiyyah, a powerful litany in praise of the Prophet of which the former is derivative. Within the Alawiyyah by contrast, the Wird is preceded by the recitation of Surah al-Waqia.

Of course, [within the Maryamiyyah Tariqah] the Salatu'l Maryamiyyah is [considered] entirely optional, just as the special appreciation of a pre-Islamic Prophet is entirely a matter of personal affinity. I have always been specially attracted to the Prophet Idris, for example, but not in such a way as to detract from or even affect my profound love for Muhammad. There is certainly nothing to keep you from employing any of the other famous litanies that are part of [the Shadhili] heritage instead of or in addition to the Salatu'l Maryamiyyah such as the Burda of Al-Busiri, the Dala'il al-Khayrat of Al-Jazuli, the various litanies of Abu'l Hasan Al-Shadhili, or the aforementioned Salatu'l Mashishiyyah of Ibn Mashish. The Shadhili tradition is vast and beautiful and I believe that only good things can come from exploring it and connecting with it.

For a traditional Islamic Interpretation of Sayyidna Isa and Sayyidatna Maryam, see Mary of the Soul and Jesus of the Heart. For a thorough exposition of the Shadhili Heritage see The School of the Shadhdhuliyya Vol. 1 & 2.


  1. Hello, Desmond,

    Just wondering if you were told to delete the
    post on the scandal surrounding SH Nasr's new
    "soul mate" & his "healing touch/sessions".

    Best wishes,


  2. Dear Neon Knight,

    Greetings of Peace. I was told that if I didn't take it down that I would be responsible for the persecution and torture of people in Iran.

    In Peace,

  3. Salaam, Desmond,

    Hope you are well.

    So sorry to hear you were put into that position & threatened in that way; amazing how "initiates" have to use threats like these to protect their reputations and suppress compromising information,
    "No right greater than (the) Truth", sure.

    For what it's worth, I applaud your willingness to discuss these & other troubling matters concerning Schuon/Maryamiyya openly. Honesty and courage are not Maryami strong suits; there is an air of dissimulation & duplicity surrounding the order evident to anyone with the slightest discernment.
    Again, then, I applaud your courage in seeking the truth of these disturbing allegations.

    I've been meaning to write you for some time, but ill health & lifelong difficulty in expressing myself through writing have prevented me from doing so. Though I never entered the tariqa, I briefly fell under the spell of Schuon, and even met two of his khalifas---namely, William Stoddart (Sidi Imran Yahya) & Dr. Nasr (then "Sidi", not "Shaykh", Hossein)---to explore initiation into the order. Though I convinced myself otherwise, I knew the tariqa wasn't for me, and when I caught wind of the scandal ("irregularities") surround- ing Schuon through a notice in Gnosis Magazine & Peter Lamborn Wilson's (I know, I know!) "Sacred Drift", the end was near. This was all 1992-94.

    (When I visited Nasr in late 1992, I helped move the zawiya from the apartment of Sidi Nizamuddin (David Dakake) to the house of Sidi Bayazid, an OT in the US Army who was a Bloomington "refugee". Darrell Blakeway kindly took me to Halalco, and I also remember meeting M. Faghfoory, P. Laude (I think his wife was Asian), and Zailan Moris (her husband
    worked at the Malaysian Embassy). There was also a very old Safavid cloth/tapestry at the back of the zawiya & something special about the nail holding it up.)

    Anyway, sorry for going on so long; there's
    more I'd like to share with you, but now is not the time---and that's assuming you have time for me! I've also collected some interesting material which sheds light, at least to me, on the curious nature of Schuon's ijaza, the so-called "Diplome de Moqaddam". I'll try & post some of that soon.

    Got to go, but thanks again for the blog, for seeking the truth, & for not sweeping things under the (Traditional Persian) rug.

    Best wishes,


    p.s. you might like these two short audio clips of Michel Valsan (Shaykh Mustafa Abd al-Aziz):

    1. Dear R,

      wa-alaykum as-salaam. Thank you for reaching out and taking the time to comment. This was not the first time that I have been faced with the "death threat" as I have come to call it. I received a virtually identical response from Bloomington when I began inquiring into and openly writing about Shaykh Isa's tantric practices. It was alleged that if I wrote openly about his (extensively and publically documented) practice of sacred nudity, that I would be responsible for the death of people in Iran.

      It should be born in mind, as I am sure you already know, that the most extreme positions and cultish rhetoric are not ubiquitous and that the vast majority of participants are devoted Muslims with strong intellectual inclinations and diverse interests. Having any kind of scandal within one's organization, past or present, is very challenging and there are no guidelines with how to deal with it effectively (although considering the frequency with which scandals erupt across religious boundaries you would imagine that collectively we might have learned something by now!). Some people react by having a crisis of faith across the board, some by joining another organization, some by suspending critical judgement and possibly even increasing their faith in the process.

      Personally, I have learned that it is not necessary to reject an enterprise if it is truly legitimate, nor is it necessary to suspend my critical faculties and turn a blind eye to minor or more serious problems. I find that serious, open-minded inquiry is more honest and appropriate. It is difficult to live with the prospect that I do not have absolute certainty or to recognize that my Shaykh is a fallible man and not the legendary qutb, but perhaps this is better than a false certainty and an erroneous association.

      I would be very interested to hear more about your story and researches when you have time.

      You can reach me at

      In Peace,

      P.S. Thank you for the links.