Revisiting “Which Religion is Most Beloved to God?”


Narrated by the Companion Ibn ‘Abbas:

“The Messenger of God was asked, ‘Which religion is the most beloved to God?’ He replied, ‘Primordial and Generous Faith. (al-hanifiyya al-samha)’” (Quoted by Ahmad b Hanbal. Authenticated hadith, found in al-Bukhari)


The fact that God’s Beloved Messenger (saw), did not respond by claiming that “Islam” in the form of the final revelation was “the most beloved to God” or ‘the most superior religion’, and answered instead with a spiritual quality or innate orientation (al-hanafiyya al-samha) is quite profound in and of itself.  Although this hadith does not exclude the possibility that this “most beloved religion” is Islam as the final religion, we must bear in mind there is an inexhaustible teaching regarding the subtle nature of “the most beloved religion” contained in the Prophet’s words.  The wisdom contained in this Prophetic tradition (Hadith) has personal implications regarding how Muslims should devout themselves to God (primordial faith) and  their comportment with others (generous faith). This Hadith also has Intra-Faith and Inter-Faith implications regarding how we view  “Others”  who do not belong to our religious denomination or the overall religion in general, especially in light of being “generous in faith” towards others through upholding the possibility of the spiritual sincerity in the Other, and a genuine devotion to the One and Only God as the Lord of Mankind, recognizing the inherent nature of primordial faith embedded in the heart and spirit of all humanity and all revealed religion.

We hope that expounding upon certain teachings contained in this Hadith shed light upon how any view of the religious other should be rooted in a humility and good opinion (a generous faith) towards them, which leaves open the possibility that these “others” could be practitioners of “the most beloved religion” in God’s Eyes, due to their sincere intentions and the quality of their inner devotion to God. For any “other” may be “more beloved” in God’s view than ourselves, especially if they inwardly realize and outwardly manifest “primordial and generous faith” regardless of religious orientation. Such wisdom humbles the believer in God and seeker of truth, and prevents anyone from arrogating “the best religion” only to themselves or how they understand it to be, and in which manner they practice it. For the Beloved Messenger of God (saw) the “most beloved religion” is more a recognition of  spiritual qualities than a mere adherence to a particular extrinsic religious dogma or teaching, according to this Hadith.

Let us try to further distill the wisdom contained in this Hadith with what is implicit in the Prophetic narration and then move to what is explicit in the same response.

Implicit in the question asked in this Hadith is both the awareness of religious multiplicity as well as religious unity. Religious multiplicity: that there is a recognition by the companion (ra) that there is more than one religion revealed by God, and that beyond the formal diversity and human vicissitudes of revealed religions, there may be a religion “most loved by God”–hence the question. Implicit in the response given in this Hadith is an awareness of an inner quality of all revealed religion which in a sense transcends religious forms and even determines ‘when’ and ‘if’ a given ‘religion’ or ‘religious adherent’ is most beloved to God. This can be understood as the unifying principle of all true Religion and its expressions. In other words, regarding Religious unity: there is in essence only ‘one religion’ (al-Din) which manifests itself in time and space in diverse forms through the Prophetic founders of a given religion. The more this very essence or heart is realized or manifested by a given religion or follower of a religion, the more beloved that revealed religion or religious follower and his spiritual practice is to God, here and now, irrespective of which revealed religion may be more “approved” or “acceptable” to God. One witnesses such wisdom pertaining to both religious diversity and religious unity in many places in the Quran and Hadith, but the following should suffice:

“Every Religion has a special quality and the particular quality of Islam is modesty”–Hadith/Saying of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).

“Say: We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which is revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was given unto Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have submitted. (3:84)

“Truly We have revealed unto you as We have revealed to Noah and the prophets after him, as We revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as We bestowed upon David the Psalms; and Messengers We have mentioned to you before and Messengers We have not mentioned to you–and God spoke directly to Moses–Messengers giving good tidings and warnings, so that mankind might have no argument against God after the Messengers. God is ever Mighty, Wise .” (4:163-165)

“…For each We have appointed a Law and a Way. And had God willed, He could have made you one community. But in order that He might try you by that which He has given you [He has made you as you are]. So compete with one another in good works. Unto God you will all return. He will disclose to you [the truth] about that in which you all differed.” (5:48)

From this inclusive point of view, “islam” as “submission (or peaceful surrender) to God” encompasses all revelations and revealed religions. And since “islam” is the principle and essence of all revealed religions, than to the extent that a given religion manifests “islam”–that is “submission to God “and “peaceful surrender to God”–it is to that extent that it is “most beloved” to God. In other words, since all authentic religions originate with God through Revelation and Prophecy, it is significant to note that what is being considered here as the answer by the Beloved Messenger is recognizing ‘how’ or ‘why’ a given religion or religious follower is ‘most beloved’ to God, and not ‘which’ form of of revealed religion per se, is more superior by point of fact. Again, this can be appreciated by looking directly at the Prophet’s response to his companion which does not relate the name of any revealed religion-even his own–yet relates a general quality or spiritual orientation which can be seen to be the essence and heart of all true authentic religion and religious following: ‘al-hanafiyya as-samha’, that is ‘primordial and generous faith’. This kind of faith can be seen to be embedded in the very substance of the human spirit or spiritual heart, and found at the heart or core of each revealed religion.

Such reflections direct us naturally to recognizing that “islam” as “universal submission” is first and foremost a primordial state of being, an inner, spiritual orientation: an innate disposition (fitra) of creation before one’s Lord who is The Originator (al-Fatir), even before ‘islam’ can be viewed as a revealed form of guidance given to all Prophets in general or the final religion in particular. We find this kind of “islam”, that is a mode of being in perfect harmony, peace and submission with the Divine Intention and Purpose for creation in the following verses:

“…And there is not a thing [in creation] that does not sing His Praise (17:44)

“Seek they other than the religion of God (Din Allah), when unto Him submits [in islam] whomsoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly? (3:83)

It is this level or reality of “islam” which may be identified with “universal submission” or “universal peace”, found only through the awareness of one’s most intimate connection with one’s creator: a connection which precedes all revealed manifestations of “Islam” through the Prophets and their revealed religions. Certainly the Quran in 3:85 which follows this more inclusive and universal verse mentioned above, which reads, “Whoever seeks a religion other than al-Islam (submission to God) it shall not be accepted of him..”, may be read to specify the general or generic “islam” in this verse and restrict its meaning or scope to understand “Islam” as the final religion. As legitimate and normative of a reading as this is, it nonetheless stands that the literal sense of the term “al-islam” need not be restricted to this definition alone, as its more encompassing definition does not violate or contradict both the literal sense of the Arabic wording and its meanings found in a multitude of verses. This more encompassing understanding of the term “al-islam”  would resonate with the overall thrust and message contained in the verses immediately preceding this verse, and speaks more directly to the “inclusive” nature of ‘islam’ as the substance through which “primordial and generous faith” flows quite naturally as “the most beloved religion” as found in the human heart and the heart of all revealed religion.

For these reasons, it is this kind of ‘islam’ (universal submission) which can be seen to be that “religion” which is “most beloved” to God, or the “religion of the primordial monotheist” (din al hanif) who purifies his connection to God in his heart, and sincerely devotes his whole self to the Divine through religion (what the Qur’an refers to as ‘mukhlisina lahud-din’in various places). This Qur’anic term “mukhlis” (purifier/effacer) is often affiliated with the Prophet Abraham, along with the “religion of the original/primordial nature” (din al-fitrah) which is the true “Origin” and true “Goal” of all revealed religion and Prophetic Tradition:

“So set thy purpose for Religion with unswerving devotion (din al hanifi)–in accordance with the original nature which God fashioned (fitra-t-Allah); for there is no altering God’s creation (la tabdillah khalqilla): and that truly is the right religion (dalika din al-qayyima), but most men know not.” (30:30)

To return to our Prophetic statement in light of the above, that which the Prophet of Islam (saw) identifies as “the most beloved religion to God” is also what the Qu’ran refers to as “the right religion” since it is described as the religion through which one “sets one’s face (wajh) with unswerving devotion”. It is this very religion, or spiritual orientation innately within us and within our revealed traditions, that in its essence is immutable, incorruptible, ‘un-abrogated’ and unalterable (la tabdila khalqillah, according to the above verse), because it is identified with our very inner spiritual heart. It is also, this “religion” or “religious essence” beyond all forms of revealed religion or personal devotion which can be said to be the true criterion of sincerity and the true substance of “the most beloved” or “better religion” known only to God. We find this wisdom in the following verse:

“Who is better in religion than one who submits (aslama) his whole self/face (wajh) to God, and who is beautifully virtuous, and follows the creed/way of Abraham the devout in Faith (hanif); for God took Abraham as an Intimate Friend (khalil)”. (4:125)

It will again be noted that in this verse we find very specific descriptors of the practitioners of this “better/more beloved religion”: that the ‘person’ who is better in religion is the one who has devoted his whole being or inner face (wajh) entirely to God–such spiritual intimacy resulting in a beautifully virtuous character (wa huwa muhsin). It is in this way that such an individual “follows” the way of Abraham (millati Ibrahim), who is described as purely devout in Faith/Worship (Hanifan) and thereby an Intimate of God (khalil). This “way of Abraham” is immediately appreciated to be more an inward disposition and spiritual station (maqam),  rooted in what could be called the ‘spiritual archetype’ of purity and sincerity (ikhlas) modeled after the Prophet Abraham’s (as) own personal intimacy with God. In this light it can be appreciated that such a way is “uniquely” expressed for each individual worshiper through their unique inner face (wajh) which “turns” or “faces” God uniquely–a manner of devotion which transcends any limitation one may find in their outward religious orientation.

In other words, there is no explicit specificity that this “best religion” is an actual religious form to be found or proclaimed extrinsically. Such a “religion” then, be can be seen to be more of a psycho-spiritual state of inner disposition of yearning and spiritual realization, then an actually embodied formal religious teaching. It should be noted however, that many Muslim commentators on this above verse advocate Islam in its final form as being the fullest and complete manifestation of “the way of Abraham”. Yet the Qur’an’s literal wording and meanings leave this door open for diverse views, as found in various Sufi commentaries on this and other verses.

Therefore, it can be appreciated that in this particular Prophetic response to the questioner (ra), the Prophet (saw) is identifying the “the most beloved religion” with an inner spiritual orientation described as “al-hanafiyya as-samha”, one of these terms being directly identified in the Qur’an with the Prophet Abraham as the spiritual model par excellence for this kind of spiritual disposition, described as a hanif who is “the better in religion”. So the “better religion” or “the most beloved religion” can be viewed to be the person who has the most sincere inner orientation to the Divine Beloved. This recognition can not but promote humility as it may be possible that a believer in a religious tradition foreign to our own may be “more beloved” to God then we are, due to an inherent sincerity in devotion that God Sees, and we do not…


To strive then, with the utmost sincerity of sacred direction (qibla) towards the Divine Reality within the heart, in order to realize our connection to God, is to realize that which is ever-present at the heart and origin of all true revealed religion–and vice versa. For that which the Qu’ran refers to as the “right religion” (din al qayyima), “the better religion”, or “the most beloved religion”, is inextricably linked to the heart of one’s individual being and the heart of one’s revealed religion. It is truly ‘that religion’ (or ‘that which binds’–the root meaning of religare in Latin–in our case, to God), that original, primordially generous and unswerving faith (al-hanafiya as-samha), which is the “most Beloved” to God and found directly buried within our heart. It is the “religion” of the “covenant of Alastu bi-rabbikum” (Am I not your Lord, 7:172), the oath that all of humanity took in pre-Eternity, witnessing God’s Oneness through His Lordship to us: a divine knowledge and primordial faith embedded in the very substance of our hearts.

And ‘that religion’ should not be seen as privy or exclusively bound to one form of a religion in space and time, but rather as the true heart and transcendent essence of all revealed religion and of all humanity beyond any historical and spatial accretion. A truth, which our Beloved Messenger (saw) so succinctly transmitted to us in a single sentence response! A truth which we so direly need to be reminded of now more than ever before in our secular yet multi-religious world seeking to better understand and fully live one’s own religion while being respectful to how others view or and live in the Sacred in our new existential predicament. To call ourselves and others then, to “the way of Abraham” the purely devout (hanif), to the way of “primordial and generous faith” is to call seekers back to their own heart where they may find the Beloved, and thereby “the most beloved religion”, which is none other than the religion of God found within the core of all revealed religion and the heart of all human souls.

So know God in your heart and have “primordial faith”, and through that faith, have “generous faith” towards all others since by the very virtue of their existence, they share in this “primordial and generous faith”. Then perhaps you will be “most beloved” in the Beloved’s Eyes.

And God Knows Best.


Suggestions for further reading:

1. “The Spirit of Tolerance in Islam”, by Reza Shah-Kazemi. The most succinct and comprehensive evaluation of the Quranic, Prophetic and Historical roots and manifestations of the spirit of tolerance in Islam to date (published 2012). The book opens with this very hadith treated here.

2. “Generous Tolerance in Islam”, by Hamza Yusuf, in “Seasons: Semiannual Journal of Zaytuna Institute, 2 (2005), which provides a profound and much needed traditional perspective on the term “al-hanafiyya as-samha”. The etymological references to these Arabic words are discussed as well.

3. “Ideals and Realities of Islam”, by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, especially his chapter: ‘Islam, the Last Religion and the Primordial Religion’. The whole book is a landmark book which is a pure classic and synthesis of Sufi and Philosophical teachings on the universal dimensions of Islam, and is catered to a Western audience.


***Note: This is an expanded version of an original blog posted here in 2012.

Merry Christmas and Merry Mawlid: ‘Light Upon Light’

Merry Christmas and Merry Mawlid as “Light Upon Light”:

“He said, “Thus said your Lord, `It is easy for Me. We will render him (Jesus) a sign/revelation (ayah) for mankind , and a mercy from Us. This is a matter decreed.” Holy Qur’an 19:21

As a “sign for mankind”, Jesus Christ’s (as) miraculous birth is celebrated by his followers and the “revelation” he brought (that is, his very self) and the religious traditions he inaugurated are honored throughout the world to this day by both his followers, and the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
As “a mercy from Us”, he is spiritually present for his followers “here and now” through the Holy Spirt, and shall be present for them, “there and then” as a means of intercession insha’Allah (God-Willing). Similarly the Prophet Muhamamd (saw) is a “Mercy from Us” and is present for us “here and now, through the Baraka Muhammadiya (Muhammadan Blessing) and “there and then” as a means of intercession (shifaa) for Muslims as well as for “all of mankind”, according to certain Prophetic reports.
As a “Word of God” (KalimatuLlah, in the Qur’an), and as “revelation (ayah) for mankind”, Jesus Christ (as) is the Incarnation of the Word and Spirit of/from God. He is the founder of the World’s largest Religion to date, whose Prophecy and religion is honored by the Prophecy of Muhammad (saw) in the Qur’an (which is the “Speech of God”, Kalaam Allah). The Christ (as) is thereby “included” in Muhammad’s Prophecy which for Muslims, completes and seals the cycle of Prophetic Guidance, whose Prophecy has been “sent as a mercy to all worlds”–even “other” religious worlds.
For these reasons, it can only be “Light upon Light” to use Qur’anic metaphor, that the occasions of the celebrations of these two Divinely Revealed Lights coincide at the end of the Solar Gregorian year 2015 and the Lunar Hijri year 1437. And there is “no distinction” between one spiritual light from another spiritual light when they are put together–as they have been put together this year by God’s Decree. As Rumi says:
“If ten lamps are present in one place, each differs in form from the other. Yet to distinguish without any doubt the light of each, when you turn your face toward their light, is impossible….In things spiritual there is no division and no numbers; in things spiritual there is no partition and no individuality.” (Mathnawi verses 678-679 and 681).
So when the two greatest and most influential Prophetic Lights–who have founded and inspired the two largest world religions–eclipse each other and coincide, it can not but create a synergism of Light, or “Light upon Light”: a Light which inwardly is One and indivisible, despite their sacred outwards distinctions.
And this is all “a matter decreed”…
Merry Christmas and Mawlid Mubarik of Sayiduna Isa (as) and Sayiduna Muhammad (saw) to All!

Between ‘Divine Willing’ and ‘Divine Permitting’: A Reflection on Religious Diversity, Divine Mercy and Human Response

“For each [Prophetic Community] We have appointed a Law and a Way. Had God Willed, He could have made you one community. But in order to test you with what He has given you [he has made you as you are]. So compete with one another in good works. And Unto God you will all return. He will reveal to you [the truth] of that about which you differed” (Holy Qur’an, 5:48)

When something is considered Divinely Providential such as the Quranic recognition of religious diversity (such as in 5:48 above), is Divine Providence in regards to religious diversity understood to mean something which God directly Willed or just ‘Permitted’?

I think both the ‘Divine Willing’ and ‘Divine Permitting’, although not being mutually exclusive, are distinct categories. Providentiality encompasses both God ‘directly Willing’ something to occur and/or ‘Permitting’ something to occur. In a sense, God more directly Wills the good to occur while only ‘permitting’ an ‘experience’ of evil to occur in one’s life or destiny, for example. However, with regard to God’s Willing of diverse revelations and messengers  along with the human response to Divine Revelation in a given Traditional world, there is a kind of meeting between God’s direct Will ‘to be’ and God’s permission ‘to exist’. God directly Wills for a revealed Perspective or Narrative to take a particular form, while God ‘permits’ humanity (or a particular religious humanity) to exercise their free will and intellect in shaping and molding that revealed narrative in order to promote, maintain, and transmit in an integral fashion, a Divinely revealed teaching on the human plane of religious discourse, all of which serve to spiritually nourish the souls attracted to a given revealed religion. It is perhaps through this very process that a revealed wisdom tradition transmits in a dynamic and progressive fashion its ‘orthodox’ and traditional religious teachings from generation to generation, while weeding out heresies or forms of misguidance which result from the challenges inherent in the human condition throughout history.

In this regard, the perspective of Frithjof Schuon, the Western Sufi Master and Swiss Metaphysician of Comparative Religion, on what he terms the “human margin”, or the margin of human response to a Revelation in a given Traditional framework is an apt means of reconciling how religious diversity is both a “Divine Willing” and a “Divine Permitting”. The ‘human margin’ can be seen as a  kind of “margin” of human speculation “allowed” or “permitted” by God in order to transmit certain timeless and universal teachings of revelation within a given, particular human context which are diverse by nature.  This “margin” which is the meeting of Divine Mercy and human response can be seen intra-religiously and inter-religiously. Intra-religiously: with the flowering of many oft-competing Intellectual, Theological and/or Spiritual Schools from Christianity to Islam to even Hinduism or Buddhism for example, each school or perspective serving the psychological, intellectual and spiritual needs of its adherents. Inter-Religiously: with the human and Divine ‘barriers of mutual incomprehension’ (each developing in their own ways) which delineate the multiplicity of Revealed Sacred forms and allow their independent flourishing in space and time. In this sense, the ‘human margin’ is a ‘divine margin’ as well. To quote the above referenced Quranic verse (5:48) again:

“For each [Prophetic Community] We have appointed a Law and a Way. Had God Willed, He could have made you one community. But in order to test you with what He has given you [he has made you as you are]. So compete with one another in good works. And Unto God you will all return. He will reveal to you [the truth] of that about which you differed” (5:48)

In this particular Quranic verse, religious diversity is clearly seen in a very positive (and even dynamic and competitive) light, whereas in other verses the Quran does in fact remain a bit ambiguous about religious diversity and even at times views diverse religious opinion as negative especially when the Quran criticizes the human behavior to split into factions or sects after the clear coming of Guidance. Yet factions and sects based on ‘human desires’ and ‘conflicts’ (itself the result of the “test” of religious diversity as mentioned in this Qur’anic verse) is one thing, and the Divine Wisdom and Mercy in diversifying and multiplying revelation in order to meet real human needs, something else. It is this latter, positive view of religious diversity which this particular Quranic verse overwhelmingly seems to refer to.

All this dovetails nicely into certain inquiries regarding the Muslim or ‘Islamic’ critiques of Islamic Universality which serve more to delineate exclusivist views from universalist ones. From an exclusivist point of view which has its Quranic precedent as well, God only ‘permits’ the continuity of ‘false’ or ‘deviated’ religions while Willing directly the Truth (or more superior Truth) of the Islam of Muhammad (saw) to flourish and live on; much like how God permits falsehood and truth while directly Willing only the truth, etc. And this kind of reasoning underlies some of the more intelligent critiques of certain Muslim Universalist perspectives out there (in fact offered by Leggenhausen in his critique of Nasr’s ‘perennialism’, a critique which in our opinion does not do full justice to Nasr’s perspective which we would term “Islamic Universalism”). Yet the difference between Muslim exclusivists or critics of Islamic universality, and Muslim universalists is the ability of the latter to expand their awareness of Religious Truth in a manner which situate the exclusive nature of religious truth on a particular level of religious discourse while viewing this exclusivist level from the vantage point of a more profound and encompassing Quranic understanding of the Divine Nature, Wisdom, Justice and Mercy.

In other words, the universalist as defined in this blog, recognizes the religious legitimacy of the claim of Islamic finality (in the form of Islamic abrogationism, etc) on the level of religious awareness which views Truth only in  exclusivist terms for certain (in fact many) Muslims, and acknowledges how in certain ways this is sufficient to resolve any tension regarding the Truth of the Self and the continued existence of the Other for exclusivists. However, the universalist or inclusivist goes a step further in his understanding or awareness of Divine Providentiality as it pertains to the Divine Wisdom  of religious diversity and Islamic finality in the Holy Qur’an. For the universalist Muslim, or any kind of religious adherent whose intellectual or spiritual awareness of religion and religious truth expands to include the Other to some degree of universality, what appears to be God’s ‘neutral’ or ‘ontological permission’ to allow other religions to flourish is now seen to be more a direct and ‘positive’ Willing than a mere ‘Permitting’. Islamic finality then, can be seen to function not only in an exclusive sense through which all religions preceding the Islam of Muhammad (saw) are abrogated, but also (and more profoundly) in an inclusive manner through which the same revealed religions are “affirmed” and “integrated” into a more encompassing awareness of the ‘chain’ and ‘circle’ of  Prophecy. Ultimately, the awareness of the Divine Providentiality regarding the authentic Other expands to include and recognize not just an ontological and even ‘accidental’ ‘validity’ of the other, but rather a ‘substantial’ and ‘sacred’ validity for the Other: a validity ‘rooted’ in the same ineffable Sacred Root which is the ‘root’ and heart of one’s own Religious Self.

It was from this purely essentialist and universal perspective that many a Sufi in the history of the Islamic Tradition (from Persia, to Africa and to the SubContinent) elucidated their own versions of sublime and universal openings to the Religious Other through recourse to poetry while maintaining their Muslim normativity. These poetic outpourings on religious universality which make up a significant part of the heritage of Sufi Literature should not be seen as ‘heterodox’, or extraneous and separate from the Quranic and Islamic worldview. In fact such poetic expressions, far from just being reduced to “theoophanic elocutions” resulting from ecstatic spiritual states which Sufis should be “excused” for,  should be viewed as part and parcel of the Wisdom (Hikma) which the Islamic tradition has to offer especially our context. Such poetic renditions of the principle of religious universality find their direct source of inspiration in many Qur’anic verses which elucidate Truth from this level of religious discourse which in a way serve as commentaries on the Quranic verses pertaining to spiritual universality and religious diversity.

Many examples can be given (and shall be given in future posts) but the following should suffice for now as it serves as kind of commentary on the Holy Qur’an 5:48 in the context of religious diversity. To take for example the words of the Sufi martyr Al-Hallaj,  it should be duly noted that these words of wisdom were proclaimed about 1000 years before the wisdom of certain Western Sufis Sages such as Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr  ‘providentially’ ever came into existence in the form of the “Traditional School” in the West. Words which proclaim a teaching which views the “root of all religion” (asl al-din) to be inclusive of all revealed religions as “branches” of the one and only Tree of Tradition (al-Din):

“Earnest for truth, I thought on the religions:
They are, I found, one root with many a branch.
Therefore impose on no man a religion,
Lest it should bar him from the firm-set root.
Let the root claim him, a root wherein all heights
And meanings are made clear, for him to grasp.”
[emphasis added]

And God Knows Best


Suggestions for further reading:

1. “Transcendent Unity of Religions”, by Frithjof Schuon. The most explicit and precise formulation of the Quranic understanding of the ‘inner unity of religions’, from a non-confessionalist, metaphysical and esoteric perspective. Other of Schuon’s articles which are noteworthy in this regard and present an almost complete but highly sophisticated teaching on this above topic are: “Diversity of Revelation” and “The Human Margin”, both of which can be found in “The Essential Frithjof Schuon”, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

2. “Beyond Faith and Infidelity: The Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari”, by Leonard Lewisohn. A penetrating academic analysis of the universalist statements in the Poetry of the Persian Sufi Tradition, with a focus on the great Persian Sufi Poet, Mahmud Shabistari.