Islam and the Perennial Philosophy
This is Frithjof Schuon's third book on Islam. Like the two previous books it is rooted in Sufism, and like them it has a rich vein of comparative religion, which demonstrates the unity of all true religions on the plane of metaphysical truth. The opening chapters leave us with a much clearer understanding of the relationship between the great religions and their necessary diversity on the plane of forms. Among particular matters dealt with are certain spiritual and psychological problems relating to the Companions of the Prophet. In this connection, an altogether new light is thrown on the origins of Shi'ism - a light which, strange to say, may "achieve the impossible" and satisfy both Sunnis and Shiites. This opening survey also contains, amongst other things, Some illuminating passages on sacred art.
The central section of the book is largely concerned with metaphysical questions, which the past has handed down to us unanswered or badly answered. The author pleads for a general use, in expounding religion, of "arguments of a higher order, intellectual rather than sentimental," and he himself leads the ways. Many examples could be quoted of his pre-eminence in this respect. Particularly striking is his treatment of the age-old stumbling block: how can we explain the existence of evil in the light of the truth that God is both Good and Omnipotent?
The final chapters are on the Afterlife, one of them being in part a commentary on the Quranic promise that for each blessed soul there shall be two Paradises - a much neglected doctrine which contains a solution to more than one enigma. Those who remember the remarkable chapter on the Afterlife in the author's Dimensions of /slam will be delighted to have these further teachings.