Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad explains why the Perennial Philosophy is false

After recent controversy surrounding the Perennialist bias of the new Study Quran it is refreshing to hear a Muslim scholar explain why this ideology is false.

Categories: Christianity, God, Islam, Judaism, Philosophy, Quran, Rumi, Sufism, Wisdom

10 replies

  1. Thanks. Very useful video. I think I wll re-upload this.

    My first impression of perennialist ideas is that it springs from a desire to unify and do away with exclusivism – it goes back to the idea of religion being a divisive tool.

    For me, it really it really appears as though these individuals actually undermine the faith (be Christianity or Islam) when they paint it with the perennialist brush.

    What’s the point of faith if one has perennialist ideas? How can one who is devoutly believing in pure monotheism be on par with one who is a polytheist?

    And what about the Prophet’s career – why would he go to such lengths and trials in order to get the Polytheists of Mecca to accept pure monotheism in his original idea was Perennialism?

    Maybe I’m simplifying their stance to the point of unfair caricature

    Really good to see Dr Winter distancing Sufism from this ideology and highlighting the reason why this philosophy is attractive to some as well as highlighting the intellectual problems which come with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yahya i have been studying a little bit about perennial philosophy. I recommend Aldous Huxley’s book Perennial philosophy as a good starting point.

      This philosophy states that there is an objective truth. More than one religion points to this objective truth yet they also maintain that not all religions do.

      Among the religions that do point to the same objective truth not all are equal. Some religions provides a better spirituality than others yet in the end practioner of both traditions will know the core truth.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Perrenialism undermines faith—–may or may not be the case, but Tawheed does not…because Tawheed is not a binary construct. Any time we fall into binary dichotomies we have to beware that we do not fall into shirk.
      Tawheed says all humanity is of equivalent value…..the Quran also says if God had intended…he would have made everyone the same….but he did not intend this….what is the point of diversity? It is a test of faith. When the qibla was changed to the Kaaba….there were still idols there….the Quran says it was a test of faith! The point about faith/deen is not that it is better than theirs—–thats just ego….the point about faith and deen is that it makes u a better human being.
      Prophet career—We Muslims are not simply monotheists—or else we would have been Jews—the type of Oneness we believe is Tawheed which is wholistic monotheism…..balanced and in harmony. Both Jewish monotheism and polytheism are unbalanced because they are hierarchical not Tawhidic. That is why the Prophet brought the message… correct the imbalances……notice though that the Quran did not change the label of Allah into some new name the way Judaism did. The Quran continues to use the generic Allah. Why? Because The compassion and mercy of Allah is open to all humanity. Neither the Quran nor the Prophet forced anyone to convert.
      Tawheed contributes to the betterment of humanity because the ethics and laws formulated under Tawhidic framework are balanced with both justice and compassion. It is a wholistic framework so that it improves all human relations from those between spouses, families, nations, to those between man and God.
      The Quran criticizes the Jews yet also affirms they received a message from God. Those areas in Judaism….or any other religion….that align with Tawheed are truth….those that do not are unbalanced.
      We Muslims should remember that the way of Islam/Quran is sophisticated and nuanced and should not get sidetracked into the simplistic, confused thought patterns of Christians.


    • “Maybe I’m simplifying their stance to the point of unfair caricature”
      Maybe yes. The great perennialist minds of the last century Guenon, Schuon, Martin Lings were confessed Muslims


    • poitierfrance

      Thanks for the recommendation. I can’t find it on Kindle so hopefully there’s a PDF somewhere out there.


  2. “there are four things to be done or four jewels that should never be lost from sight: first, to accept the Truth; second, to keep it in mind continually; third, to avoid whatever is contrary to Truth and the permanent consciousness of Truth; and fourth, to accomplish whatever is in conformity with Truth. All religion and all wisdom is reducible—extrinsically and humanly—to these four laws: in every tradition we see indeed an immutable truth; then a law of “attachment to the Real”, of “remembrance” or “love” of God; and
    finally prohibitions and injunctions. Here we have a fabric of elementary certainties that encompasses and resolves every human uncertainty and in this way reduces the whole problem of earthly existence to a geometry at once simple and primordial.”
    ― Frithjof Schuon, Logic and Transcendence


  3. Very beautiful quote by Fritjof Schuon who is a convert to Islam but also a perennialist.

    And good point Poiierfrance.

    However, in the final analysis, perennialism is just wrong, incorrect, a mirage, a harmful mirage that deceives those who fall for its charms.

    I essentially agree with Yahya.

    My one caveat is that we can still not judge every individual since all people have not been exposed to knowledge and to truth to the same level.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Depending on how it is defined, Perennialism can can go against Tawheed or align with it.
    If we assume “Truth” = God/Allah…then those that say there are “many truths” (relativism) would not align with Tawheed…on the other end of the scale, is Exclusivism…those that say there is only one exclusive truth, and it is my truth and all others are “untruth” (takfir) is a view that would not align with Tawheed. This is because in both cases “Truth” has been fractured/divided—in one case into many truths (many Gods) and in the other case into a true/false dichotomy splitting God into two, one true and one false.

    The type of Perennialism that would align with Tawheed is to say there is Only One Universal “Truth”(God)—but it is understood and expressed in particular ways. There is only One God that all of humanity prays to—regardless of the different names and concepts and there is only One God that bestows grace and blessings regardless of what our religious label might be. The prayers of Hindu parents for the health and safety of their child—will go to the One God/Allah because there is only One God in existence. It is he who chooses to grant his blessings and grace on whomever he pleases—-it is not we humans who decide who gets Gods grace and blessings–we do not have that power. This humility is essential if we are to avoid arrogance in our relations with others. To have humility opens us up to compassion and mercy for others even if their “way” may seem inadequate or incorrect. This then, opens the way to co-operation and reciprocity which opens the way towards peace in interrelationships.

    This is why correct belief is important—Hierarchical belief systems (Shirk) have the potential to lead towards discord instead of peace because they fracture the Divine and thus they also fracture humanity—divisions lead to arrogance which can open the way to all manner of negative emotions such as anger, envy greed etc…which contribute to discord….(and aspects of Western history is a good example of how a fractured world-view can harm humanity)


  5. A good balance on how to think about perennialsm

    and other scholars thoughts:-


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