Ziad ElmarsafyApr 30, 2021
Esoteric Islam in Modern French Thought
Massignon, Corbin, Jambet
In his new book Esoteric Islam in Modern French Thought: Massignon, Corbin, Jambet (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2021) Ziad Elmarsafy maps the intellectual and personal genealogies of three French specialists of Islam, Louis Massignon, Henry Corbin, and Christian Jambet and the ways in which esoteric Islam, be it Sufism, Shi‘ism and/or Islamic philosophy informed their academic projects and worldviews. The first chapter situates Massignon’s travels (i.e., Iraq) and his studies of Arabic and Sufism (especially of Mansur al-Hallaj), which defined his conceptualizations and embodiments of hospitality and desire. Massignon’s student Corbin would also turn to the traditions of Sufism, Shi‘a thought, and metaphysics to grapple with notions of vision or theophany in his intellectual work. Finally, Christian Jambet, a student of Corbin, and a Maoist atheist would turn to the revolutionary history of the Alamut and Nizari Ismailis, as well as Mulla Sadra, to think through ideas of political change, eschatology, and resurrection. Throughout these rich and detailed chapters, one finds a textured discussion of the diverse ways in which esoteric Islam defined the intellectual lives and projects of twentieth and twenty-first century France. The book will be of interest to those who think and write about esoteric Islam, Islam in the west, Islamic and French philosophy, Shi ‘ism, and Sufism.
Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.