Watercolor from Mughal India circa He was first punched in the face by his executioner, then lashed until unconscious, and then decapitated [11] [12] or hanged. According to Carl W. Ernst , the legal notion of blasphemy was not clearly defined in Islamic law and statements of this kind were treated inconsistently by legal authorities. Many Sufi masters felt that it was inappropriate to share mysticism with the masses, yet Al-Hallaj openly did so in his writings and through his teachings.

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His father, Fernand Massignon — , a painter and a sculptor under the pseudonym Pierre Roche , was an intimate friend of novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans. Exploring the sources of his study in Morocco in he vowed to dedicate himself to the study of Arabic after a dangerous confrontation in the desert. Conversion to Christianity[ edit ] In , he was sent on an archeological mission to Mesopotamia.

In Baghdad he was the guest of the great Muslim family of the Alusi, who introduced him to the brand of Arab hospitality Seidel he was to honour throughout his life. It was the Alusi who saved him from a very dangerous situation in the desert when in —during the ferment of the Turkish revolution—he was captured as a "spy" and almost killed. The Alusi also helped him gather the sources for his magnum opus on Al-Hallaj. This situation of captivity, and the experience of Muslim spirituality, also brought about his conversion to Christianity: In mortal danger, which filled him with extreme, physical anguish, he first felt remorse for his past life, made an abortive and tentative suicide attempt, fell into a delirium and a state of great agitation later diagnosed as either malaria , a stroke caused by sun and fatigue, or mania , and finally experienced the presence of God as a "visitation of a Stranger", who overwhelmed him, leaving him passive and helpless, feeling judged for having judged others harshly, and almost making him lose his very sense of identity.

Yet he also experienced this visitation as a liberation from his outer captivity, and a promise that he was going to return to Paris Gude , pp. He himself interpreted the state of delirium as a "reaction of [his] brain to the forced conversion of [his] soul" Gude , p. Massignon strongly felt that he was assisted in his encounter with God and in his conversion by the intercession of living and deceased friends, among them Joris-Karl Huysmans Wessinger , p. Thus, his conversion provided a firm basis for his lifelong association with the latter.

He made Massignon the executor of his spiritual legacy: the Directoire—the Rule for the foundation of the Little Brothers of Jesus , which Louis Massignon duly saw to publication in after a long hesitation by the Church authorities over the imprimatur. Instead, in January , he married a cousin , Marcelle Dansaert-Testelin. At the Sykes-Picot Mission he became acquainted with T. Lawrence , with whom he had several friendly interviews among others on the Handbook for Arabia, which served as an example for his own Annuaire du Monde Musulman.

They both shared the same sense of honour and betrayal after the collapse of the Arab-Anglo-French relationship on the disclosure of the Balfour Declaration. France he had started his own career as a keen Francophile. He was finally given the chair in January , when Le Chatelier retired.

His four-volume doctoral thesis on Hallaj appeared in Likewise, his great openness for Islam was seen with skeptical eyes by many Catholics. Religious commitments[ edit ] In the s, Francis of Assisi played a great role in his life: In , Massignon became a Franciscan tertiary and took the name of "Ibrahim".

This vow led to the formal foundation of the Badaliya prayer association in This indirectly allowed Massignon to be closer to Arab Christians and Muslims alike. As a Greek Catholic, he could be ordained as a priest although he was married yet it was not for this reason that he had had himself transferred to Greek Catholicism.

He was ordained by Bishop Kamel Medawar on January 28, , with the permission of Patriarch Maximos IV , despite some opposition from the Holy See , which, however, finally accepted his priestly ordination. Being a priest meant for Massignon offering his life in substitution for others, especially for the Muslims. After World War II , while still remaining active as a scholar, his focus of attention shifted to political action to help Muslims and Arab Christians.

In this he followed the model of Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of non-violent action ahimsa and satyagraha. He was also president of the Amis de Gandhi association. He made it clear that he did not hope for success in all his areas of action, but that, first and foremost, he wanted to bear witness to Truth and Justice, just as Jesus Christ had done.

The committee finally reached this amnesty For a peaceful solution of the colonial tensions in Algeria which culminated in the Algerian War of Independence Dialogue was very important for him; he also talked to the Iranian religious sociologist Ali Shariati who would later become extremely influential as a modernist Muslim thinker in Iran.

Shariati had immense respect for Massignon and adored him as a teacher and a master in his book Kavir book. Massignon died on October 30, and was buried on November 6 in Pordic , Brittany. Among his students were many scholarly luminaries: Henry Corbin , whom he directed towards his major study of Suhrawardi Shaykh Al-Ishraq.


Louis Massignon





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