Claudio Mutti "Islam in the eyes of Julius Evola"

The auspicious reception of EvolaТs works in the Islamic world probably dates back to the early 1990Тs, when the Muslim nationalist philosopher Gedjar Dzemal (1), founder of the Party for Islamic Renaissance, supplied the first channel on Russian television with a transmission devoted to Julius Evola.

In 1993, Revolt against the modern world was evoked, in an interview published in issue n.77 of У…lйments,Ф by another Muslim intellectual: the Algerian Rachid Benaissa, disciple and heir of that maоtre а penser of the УIslamic RenaissanceФ who was Malek Bennabi.

In 1994, due to the initiative of a professor in Islamic theology at the University of Marmara, Insan, a publisher from Istanbul, published a book titled Modern Dьnyaya Baзkaldпrп, namely the Turkish translation of Revolt against the modern world. The editorial presentation made express reference to Renй Guйnon, an author two works of whom appeared the same year in Turkish, The crisis of the modern world (Modern Dьnyanin Bunalimi, Agac, Istanbul) and The reign of quantity and the signs of the times (Niceligin egemenligi ve зagin alвmetleri, Iz, Istanbul).

If Julius EvolaТs name is not unknown in the Islamic world, what was EvolaТs breadth of knowledge of Islam?

The portrayal of Islam in Revolt against the modern world occupies but a few pages, but presents with sufficient depth the aspects of Islam that, from the Evolian perspective, allow it to be characterised as Уa tradition at a higher level than both Judaism and the religious beliefs that conquered the West,Ф (RMM 245) that is to say, Christianity.

In the first place, Evola points out that Islamic symbolism clearly indicates a direct connection of this tradition to the Primordial tradition itself, such that Islam is independent from both Judaism and Christianity, religions whose characteristic themes he rejects (original sin, redemption, sacerdotal meditation, etc.) Again in Revolt against the modern world one can read:

УAs in the case of priestly Judaism, the center in Islam also consisted of the Law and Tradition, regarded as the formative force, to which the Arab stocks of the origins provided a purer and nobler human material that was shaped by a warrior spirit. The Islamic law (shariah) is a divine law; its foundation, the Koran, is thought of as GodТs very own word (kalam Allah) as well as a nonhuman work and an Уuncreated bookФ that exists in heaven ab eterno. Although Islam considers itself the Уreligion of Abraham,Ф even to the point of attributing to him the foundation of the Kaaba (in which we find again the theme of the Уstone,Ф or the symbol of the УcenterФ), it is nevertheless true that (a) it claimed independence from both Judaism and Christianity; (b) the Kaaba, with its symbolism of the center, is a pre-Islamic location and has even older origins that cannot be dated accurately; (c) in the esoteric Islamic tradition, the main reference point is al-Khadir, a popular figure conceived as superior to and predating the biblical prophets (Koran 18:59-81). Islam rejects a theme found in Judaism and that in Christianity became the dogma of the basis of the mystery of the incarnation of the Logos; it retains, sensibly attenuated, the myth of AdamТs fall without building upon it the theme of Уoriginal sin.Ф In this doctrine Islam saw a Уdiabolical illusionФ (talbis Iblis) or the inverted theme of the fall of Satan (Iblis or Shaitan), which the Koran (18:48) attributed to his refusal, together with all the angels, to bow down before Adam. Islam also not only rejected the idea of a Redeemer or Saviour, which is so central in Christianity, but also the mediation of a priestly casteФ (RMM 244).

Absolute purity of the doctrine of Unity, exempt from every trace of anthropomorphism and polytheism, integration of every domain of existence in a ritual order, ascesis of action through jihad, ability to model a Уrace of the spiritФ: these are, respectively, the aspects in Islam that retain EvolaТs attention. He writes:

УBy conceiving of the Divine in terms of an absolute and pure monotheism, without a УSon,Ф a УFather,Ф or a УMother of God,Ф every person as a Muslim appears to respond directly to God and to be sanctified through the Law, which permeates and organizes life in a radically unitary way in all of its juridical, religious and social ramifications. In early Islam the only form of asceticism was action, that is, jihad, or Уholy warФ; this type of war, at least theoretically, should never be interrupted until the full consolidation of the divine Law has been achieved. It is precisely through the holy war, and not through preaching or missionary endeavour, that Islam came to enjoy a sudden, prodigious expansion, originating the empire of the Caliphs as well as forging a unity typical of a race of the spirit, namely, the umma or УIslamic nationФФ (RMM 244).

Finally, Islam, Evola points out, is a complete traditional form, in the sense that it is endowed with a living and operational esoterism that can provide those who possess the necessary qualifications the means to attain a spiritual realisation that goes beyond the exoteric goal of УsalvationФ:

УFinally, Islam presents a traditional completeness, since the shariah and the sunna, that is, the exoteric law and tradition, have their complement not in a vague mysticism, but in full-fledged initiatory organisations (turuq) that are characterised by an esoteric teaching (tawil) and by the metaphysical doctrine of the Supreme Identity (tawhid). In these organizations, and in general in the shia, the recurrent notions of the masum, of the double prerogative of the isma (doctrinal infallibility), and of the impossibility of being stained by any sin (which is the prerogative of the leaders, the visible and invisible Imams and, the mujtahid) lead back to the line of an unbroken race shaped by a tradition at a higher level than both Judaism and the religious beliefs that conquered the WestФ (RMM 244-245).

Of all these themes, the one to which Julius Evola, given his Уpersonal equationФ, is most directly receptive, is obviously the theme of action, sacralised action. EvolaТs gaze is thus fixed on the notion of jihad and on its double-application, in conformity to the famous hadith of the Prophet: УRaja'nв min al-jihвd al-aзghar ilв-l jihвd al akbar", that is to say: УYou have returned from a lesser struggle to the greater struggle;Ф or, if we prefer: Уfrom the lesser to the greater holy war.Ф That hadith, which provides the title for a chapter in Revolt against the modern world (УThe Greater and the Lesser Holy WarФ), is additionally commented by Evola:

УIn the Islamic tradition a distinction is made between two holy wars, the Уgreater holy warФ (el-jihadul-akbar) and the Уlesser holy warФ (el-jihadul-asghar). This distinction originated from a saying (hadith) of the Prophet, who on the way back from a military expedition said: УYou have returned from a lesser holy war to the greater holy war.Ф The greater holy war is of an inner spiritual nature; the other is the material war waged externally against an enemy population with the particular intent of bringing УinfidelФ populations under the territory of УGodТs LawФ (dar al-Islam). The relationship between the УgreaterФ and the Уlesser holy warФ , however, mirrors the relationship between the soul and the body; in order to understand the heroic asceticism or Уpath of action,Ф it is necessary to recognise the situation in which the two paths merge, Уthe lesser holy warФ becoming the means through which Уa greater holy war is carried out, and vice versa: the Уlittle holy war,Ф or the external one, becomes almost a ritual action that expresses and gives witness to the reality of the first. Originally, orthodox Islam conceived a unitary form of asceticism: that which is connected to the jihad or Уholy war.Ф

The Уgreater holy warФ is manТs struggle against the enemies he carries within. More exactly, it is the struggle of manТs higher principle against everything that is merely human in him, against his inferior nature and against chaotic impulses and all sorts of material attachmentsФ (RMM 118).

Elsewhere, Evola sees in the idea of jihad a Уlate rebirth of a primordial Aryan heritage,Ф such that Уthe Islamic tradition serves here as the transmitter of the Aryo-Iranian traditionФ (MW 96).

The Islamic doctrine of the lesser and of the greater Уholy warФ occupies in EvolaТs work a privileged position and acquires a paradigmatic value; it exemplifies, in fact, and represents the general conception that the world of Tradition attributes to the warrior experience, and, generally speaking, to action as a path to realisation. The teachings regarding the warrior action of various traditional milieus are thus considered in the light of their essential concurrence with the doctrine of jihad and are exposed through a notion that is also of Islamic derivation: the notion of УAllahТs wayФ (sabil Allah).

УIn the world of traditional warrior asceticism the Уlesser holy war,Ф namely, the external war, is indicated and even prescribed as the means to wage this Уgreater holy warФ; thus in Islam the expressions Уholy warФ (jihad) and УAllahТs wayФ are often used interchangeably. In this order of ideas action exercises the rigorous function and task of a sacrificial and purifying ritual. The external vicissitudes experienced during a military campaign cause the inner УenemyФ to emerge and to put up a fierce resistance and a good fight in the form of the animalistic instincts of self-preservation, fear, inertia, compassion, or other passions; those who engage in battles must overcome these feelings by the time they enter the battlefield if they wish to win and to defeat the out enemy of the Уinfidel.Ф

Obviously the spiritual orientation and the Уright intentionФ (niyya), that is, the one toward transcendence (the symbols employed to refer to transcendence are Уheaven,Ф Уparadise,Ф УAllahТs gardensФ and so on), are presupposed as the foundations of jihad, lest war lose its sacred character and degenerate into a wild affair in which true heroism is replaced with reckless abandonment and what counts are unleashed impulses of the animalistic natureФ (RMM 118-119).

Evola refers to an entire series of Koranic passages (from Luigi BonelliТs Italian translation, which he slightly modifies) related to the ideas of jihad and УAllahТs wayФ (RMM 119-120): 4:76; 47:4; 47:37; 47:38; 9:38; 9:52; 2:216; 9:88-89; 47:5-7. Moreover, he cites two maxims to illustrate these ideas: УParadise lies under the shade of the swordsФ and УThe blood of the heroes is closer to God than the ink of the philosophers and the prayers of the faithfulФ (RMM, 125; cf. DF, 308). However, if the former saying is effectively a hadith, the latter, extracted perhaps from some dubious Orientalist study, is poles apart with the hadith, cited by Suyuti in his Al-jamiТ al-saghir, which literally says: УOn the day of Last Judgment, the savantsТ ink will be weighed with the blood of martyrs, who gave their lives for the sake of Allah, and the ink will weigh heavier.Ф

Before passing on to the exegesis on the doctrine of Уholy warФ in non-Islamic traditional milieus (especially India and medieval Christendom), Evola makes an analogy between the death of the mujahid and the mors triomphalis of the Roman tradition (RMM 120); this theme is again taken up later, when the significance of УimmortalisationФ attributed to the warriorТs victory by certain European traditions is measured with Уthe Islamic idea according to which the warriors slain in a Сholy warТ (jihad) have never really diedФ (RMM 137). A Koranic verse is cited to illustrate this: УDo not say that those who were slain in the cause of Allah are dead; they are alive, although you are not aware of themФ (Koran 2:153). The specific parallel to this is also found in Plato (Republic, 468c), whom Evola cites: УAnd of those who are slain in the field, we shall say that all who fell with honour are of that golden race, who when they die, according to Hesiod, СDwell here on earth, pure spirits, beneficent, Guardians to shield us mortal men from harmТФ (RMM 137).

In Revolt against the modern world, another subject allows Evola to make certain references to the Islamic doctrine: that of the chapter УThe Law, the State, the EmpireФ. Noting that Уup to and including medieval civilisation, rebellion against authority and the imperial law was considered as serious a crime as religious heresy and that the rebels were considered just like heretics, namely, as free enemies of their own natures and as beings who contradict the law of their very own beingФ (RMM 21-22), Evola mentions an analogous concept in Islam and refers the reader to the 4th Koranic surat, v. III. Another link is then drawn between, on the one hand, the Romano-Byzantine concept that opposes law and the pax of the imperial ecumenism to the barbarianТs naturalism, while affirming the universality of its right, and, on the other hand, the Islamic doctrine, in which Evola notes can be found Уthe geographical distinction between Dar al-Islam, or СLand of Islam,Т ruled by divine laws, and Dar al-Harb, or СLand of War,Т the inhabitants of which must be brought into Dar al-Islam by means of jihad or Сholy warТФ (RMM 27).

In the same chapter, evoking the imperial function of Alexander the Great, conqueror of the peoples of Gog and Magog, Evola refers to the Koranic figure of Dhul-Qarnain, generally identified to Alexander, and to what is said in the 18th surat of the Koran (RMM 26).


The analogies existing between certain aspects of Islam and elements corresponding to other traditional forms are also mentioned in The Mystery of the Grail; but whereas Revolt against the modern world deals with purely doctrinal parallels Ц comparing to Islam traditional forms that never came in contact with the Islamic world Ц in the essay on the Уimperial Ghibelline idea,Ф the similarities between Islam and the Templars are, on the contrary, brought in the concrete historical framework of the relations maintained by representatives of Christian esotericism and Islamic esotericism. For instance, in the following passage:

УMoreover, the Templars were charged with keeping secret liaisons with Muslims and being closer to the Islamic faith than to the Christian one. This last charge is probably best understood by remembering that Islam too is characterised by the rejection of Christ worship. The Уsecret liaisonsФ allude to a perspective that is less sectarian, more universal, and thus more esoteric than that of militant Christianity. The Crusades, in which the Templars and in general the Ghibelline chivalry played a fundamental role, in many respects created a supra-traditional bridge West and East. The crusading knighthood ended up confronting a facsimile of itself, namely, warriors who abided by corresponding ethics, chivalrous customs, ideals of a Уholy war,Ф and initiatory currentsФ (MG 130-131).

This is followed by a summary description of what Evola inappropriately calls Уthe Arab Order of the IsmaelisФ, namely the heterodox movement that was closely linked to the Templars:

УThus the Templars were the Christian equivalent of the Arab Order of the Ismaelis, who likewise regarded themselves as the Уguardians of the Holy LandФ (in an esoteric and symbolic sense), and who had two hierarchies, one official and one secret. Such an order, which had a double character, both warrior and religious, almost met the same fate as that of the Templars, and for analogous reasons: its initiatory character and its upholding an esotericism that despised the literal meaning of the sacred scriptures. In Ismaeli esotericism we find again the same theme of the Ghibelline imperial saga: the Islamic dogma of the УresurrectionФ (kiyama) is here interpreted as the new manifestation of the Supreme Leader (Mahdi), who became invisible during the so-called period of УabsenceФ (ghayba). This is so because the Mahdi at one point disappeared, thus eluding death, leaving his followers under the obligation of swearing allegiance and obedience unto him as if he were Allah himselfФ (MG 131).

Islamic esotericism is defined by Evola as a doctrine that goes as far as Уrecognising in man the condition in which the Absolute becomes conscious of itself, and that professes the doctrine of Supreme IdentityФ (OO 212), such that Islam constitutes Уa clear and eloquent example of a system that, although including a strictly theistic domain, recognises a higher truth and path of realisation, the emotional and devotional elements, love and all the rest losing here (...) every УmoralФ signification, and every intrinsic value, acquiring only that of a technique among othersФ (OO 212).

Indeed, Islamic esotericism, in the teachings of its masters and its universe of notions and symbols, offers Evola bases and references of some importance. Regarding symbols and notions, it is imperative to highlight the importance attributed to the polar function in EvolaТs works. As he explains, in the УNear EastФ (to speak of the Islamic world would be more accurate), Уthe word qutb, СpoleТ, does not only designate the sovereign, but, more generally, he who dictates the law and is the head of tradition of a given historical period.Ф (R 50) (More precisely, the qutb, Уthe poleФ, represents the peak of the initiatic hierarchy). However, an entire chapter in Revolt against the modern world, the third of the first section, rests on the idea of this traditional function and makes use precisely of the terms УpoleФ and УpolarФ. What is strange is that that chapter contains no explicit reference to the Islamic tradition, although the names of Islamic esoteric masters such as Ibn СArabi, Hallaj, Rumi, Hafez, Ibn AtaТ, Ibn Farid, and Attar are mentioned in several works by Evola.

The first mention of Ibn СArabi, al-shaykh al-akbar (= doctor maximus), appears in an unsigned glossary to Introduction to Magic, but which is certainly due to Evola: the case of Ibn СArabi is cited to illustrate Уthe inversion of roles in relation to the state where, duality having been created, the divine image incarnating the superior I becomes to the mystic like a different beingФ (IaM, I, 71). To expand on this idea, Evola refers to the corresponding doctrine in Sufism:

It is interesting to note that in Islamic esoterism there is a specific term to indicate that change: shath, which literally means Уexchange of partsФ and expresses the level at which the mystic absorbs the divine image, feels it as himself and feels himself, instead, as something else, and speaks as a function of that image. There are, in fact, in Islam, certain Уsure signsФ by which to distinguish the objective shath from a mere illusionary feeling in a person (IaM, I, 71).

In addition, he recalls that Уthe end of Al-Hallaj, who is considered as one of the main masters of Islamic esotericism (Sufism),Ф was a consequence of his divulging the secret that is connected to the realisation of the highest condition. Evola returns to this point elsewhere in his work, writing:

УIn reality, if certain initiates with undoubted qualification were condemned and even at times killed (the most popular case being that of al-Hallaj in Islam), that is because they had ignored that rule (the rule of secrecy); it was therefore not a question of СheresyТ, but of practical and pragmatic reasons. According to one saying: УThe sage must not trouble with his wisdom the one who does not knowФ (AC 108).

The other brief allusion to Ibn СArabi found in Introduction to Magic is also due to Evola; in the text titled Esotericism and Christian mysticism and signed with the pseudonym СEaТ, he notes that what lacks in Christian asceticism, despite the discipline of silence, is Уthe practice of the most interiorised degree of this discipline, that does not only consist of putting an end to the spoken word, but also to thought (Ibn СArabiТs notion of Сnot speaking with oneselfТ)Ф (IaM, III, 281).

In Metaphysics of sex, having pointed out that Islam, Уlaw destined for the person engaged in the world, not for the asceticФ (MS 262), does not hold Уthe idea of sexuality as something blameworthy and obsceneФ (MS 256), such that prior to sexual congress with woman man pronounces the ritual formula УBismillah al-Rahman al-RahimФ (In the name of God, the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful), Evola observes that Ibn СArabi Уgoes so far as to speak of a contemplation of God in woman, of a ritualisation of the sexual orgasm in conformity with metaphysical and theological valuesФ (MS 257).

That is followed by two long citations from Fusus al-hikam (The Seals of Wisdom), from Titus BurckhardtТs translation, followed by this conclusion:

УIn this Sufistic (sic, editorТs note) theology of love, one must see the amplification and the elevation to a more lucid conscience of the ritual world with which man from that civilisation has more or less distinctly assumed and experienced conjugal relationships in general, starting from the sanctification which the QurТanic Law confers to the sexual act in not only a monogamist, but also polygamist structure. Whence derives the special meaning which procreation can acquire, understood precisely as the administration of the prolongation of the divine creating force existing within manФ (MS 258).

Another passage of Fusus-al-hikam serves to illustrate, in Metaphysics of sex, the Уkey to Islamic techniqueФ (MS 349), which consists of assuming Уthe dissolution through womanФ as a symbol of the extinction in Divinity. Related to the same order of ideas is the significance of GallusТ (pseud. of Enrico Galli Angelini) УExperience among the ArabsФ, a text in Introduction to Magic from which Evola cites some certain extracts related to the Уorgiastic practices for mystical ends (...) attested (...) in the Arabo-Persian worldФ (MS 372).

In what Jalal ad-Din Rumi had to say on dance (УHe who knows the power of the dance of life does not fear death, because he knows that love killsФ) (MS 128), Evola distinguishes another УkeyФ of Islamic initiatic techniques, Уthe key to the practices of a chain or school of Islamic mysticism that has been transmitted for centuries and which considers Jalal ad-Din Rumi as its masterФ (MS 370).

In Arabo-Persian Sufi poetry, known to Evola through M.M. MorenoТs Antologia della mistica arabo-persiana (Laterza, Bari 1951), he discerns themes of a certain relevance to his Уmetaphysics of sexФ: for instance, in applying masculine symbolism to the initiateТs soul, such that, as he writes, Уdivinity (...) is considered as a woman: she is not the Уcelestial brideФ, but the УBelovedФ or the УLoverФ. That is, for instance, the case in Attar, Ibn Farid, Gelaleddin el-Rumi, etcФ (MS 293 footnote 1).

In Sufi poetry, Evola also finds the idea of love as a Уforce that killsФ the individual self, an idea which he traces in Rumi (MS 108-109 and 345) and Ibn Farid (MS 288).

An entire glossary in Introduction to Magic, which we think can be attributed to Evola, is dedicated to a characteristically Sufi technique, the dhikr. The correspondence between this Islamic technique, the Hindu mantra and the repetition of sacred names practised in Hesychasm is particularly underscored (IaM, I, 396-397). The glossary also mentions Al-Ghazzali, citing him in other pages that are surely attributable to Evola (IaM, II, 135-136 and 239).

Even more fruitful was EvolaТs encounter with Islamic Hermeticism: in fact, of all Muslim authors, the one most often cited by Evola is Geber, that is Jabir ibn Hayyan. Regarding the role played by the Islamic Hermetists, Evola writes:

УBetween the seventh and twelfth centuries it was known among the Arabs, who became the instruments of the revival, in the medieval West, of the older legacy of the pre-Christian wisdom traditionФ (MG 150).

In his special study on Hermetic tradition, Evola uses a very large number of citations taken from Islamic texts compiled by Barthelot and Manget. As we have said, he privileges Geber: but if we consider the mass of GeberТs corpus, this is not surprising; Razi is also mentioned and a number of anonymous books are cited, of which the famous Turba Philosophorum, translated into Italian in the second volume of Introduction to Magic. About the Turba Philosophorum, Evola says that it is Уone of the oldest of western hermetic-alchemical textsФ (HT 8); in reality, in 1931, the year the first edition of The Hermetic Tradition was published, J. Ruska indisputably demonstrated the Arabic origin of the text in question.


As is known, a large part of EvolaТs work is based on certain traditional teachings that were made widely accessible by the writings of Renй Guйnon. Evola thus owed a great deal to the latterТs works, from which he took up concepts and adapted them to his own Уpersonal equationФ. Even so, given GuйnonТs belonging to Islam and the Islamic derivation of certain fundamental teachings in his work, it would not be irrelevant to consider what Evola wrote about GuйnonТs integration in the Islamic tradition:

УGuйnon was convinced that certain depositaries of Tradition still survived, despite everything, in the East. Practically speaking, he had firsthand contacts with the Islamic world where initiatic chains (Sufi and Ismaeli) continued to exist parallel to the exoteric (i.e. religious) tradition. He then УIslamisedФ completely. Having settled in Egypt, he received the name of Sheikh Abdel Wahid Yasha (sic, editorТs note) and also the Egyptian nationality. He had a second marriage to an ArabФ (R 210).

УIn GuйnonТs case, this (initiatic) connecting must have been realised Ц as weТve said before Ц through Islamic initiatic Уchains.Ф But to people who do not want to turn themselves into Muslims and Orientals, GuйnonТs personal path has very little to offerФ (R 212).

УGuйnonТs caseФ therefore made Evola admit that there still exist, despite everything, possibilities of initiatic connection; furthermore, Evola affirms that, given the present conditions, the choice of Islam is practically necessary for those who are not satisfied with mere theory.

УWe can also mention an Islamic report proper to the Ismaeli initiatic current, more precisely to that of the so-called УTwelve-Imam.Ф The Imam, the supreme chief of the Order, manifestation of a superior power and the highest initiator, went into Уoccultation.Ф His reappearance is awaited, but the present epoch is that of his Уabsence.Ф

УIn our opinion, this does not mean that initiatic centres, strictly speaking, no longer exist. It is certain that some still exist, even if the West is not concerned here and that one would have to turn to the Islamic world and the EastФ (AC 227).

We take this opportunity to note that Evola probably mistook the Twelver-Imam ShiТa movement as a particular branch of the Ismaeli movement, and such an oversight would be truly excessive, especially coming from an УinsiderФ. In the same way, Evola seems to think that the Imam is Уthe supreme chief of the OrderФ as much in the Ismaeli perspective as in that of the Уso-called Twelver-ImamФ; and this would also be a significant inaccuracy, since for the Twelver-Imam ShiТa, the Imam, as a successor of the Prophet, is not only the supreme chief of an Order, but of the entire community.

Nonetheless, that is of importance here. What matters, rather, is that according to Evola an initiatic connection in the present epoch is still possible, provided one turns Уto the Islamic world and the East.Ф

In the same context, Evola raises a problem regarding the relationship existing between initiatic centres and the course of history:

УThe course of history is generally interpreted as an involution and dissolution. But what is the position of initiatic centres with respect to the forces that operate in that direction?Ф (AC 228)

This problem obviously implies Islam, as Evola writes:

УFor instance, though it is certain that initiatic organisations exist in the Islamic world (those of the Sufis), their presence has been far from stopping the УevolutionФ of Arab countries in an anti-traditional, progressist, and modernist direction, with all its inevitable consequencesФ (AC 228).

This question was raised by Evola as part of an exchange of ideas with Titus Burckhardt (1), a well-known Swiss scholar who had associated with Islamic esotericism and resided in an Islamic country, and who, with full knowledge of the facts, Уhad remarked that possibilities of this type (that is to say, of an initiatic connection) survived in non-European regionsФ (CC 204). We do not know if, and how, the Swiss writer replied to EvolaТs objections; in any case, it may be said, first of all, that the УArab countriesФ, with which Evola seems to identify the Уland of IslamФ, in reality constitute but one tenth of the Islamic world, and therefore that it would not be accurate to make their УevolutionФ coincide with the development of the general condition of the Islamic ummah. Secondly Ц and, today, we are in a better position to observe this than during EvolaТs time Ц an УIslamic awakeningФ that has been taking ground in some Arab countries seems to be announcing a radical change of orientation. Finally, even when the У(Sufi) initiatic centresФ do not oppose, by their action, the process of general involution, it is not justified to claim that their function is illusionary (2). In fact, connection to initiatic centres Ц from which proceeds every regular transmission of spiritual influences Ц constitutes the only possible solution for whoever considers reacting to the degenerative course of the modern world: an unavoidable course, since it is bound to the precise cyclic laws that govern manifestation. It is the function of connection to an initiatic centre Ц and through it to the supreme centre Ц to ensure the continuity of transmission of spiritual influences for the entire period of the present human cycle, and thus to allow participation to the Spirit realm until the closure of the cycle. From such a perspective, the involution process appears as illusionary: in fact, it concerns but manifestation Ц which, given its fundamentally contingent character, represents absolutely nothing with respect to the Absolute.

(1) СIl cammino del cinabroТ was published in 1963. The Уexchange of ideasФ with Burckhardt thus necessarily dates back earlier than 1963.

(2) Evola, in fact, wrote exactly: УThe realistic point of view which I thought necessary to assume in СRide the TigerТ led me, eventually, to some polemical exchanges with milieus which still delude themselves about the possibilities offered by the Уtraditional residuesФ existing in the world todayФ (CC 203).

Abbreviations of the works by Julius Evola cited in the text:

AC = LТarco e la clava (Milano, Scheiwiller, 1971)
CC = Il cammino del cinabro (Scheiwiller, Milano, 1963)
HM = The Hermetic Tradition (Inner Traditions, Vermont, 1994)
IaM = Introduzione alla Magia, a cura del Gruppo di Ur. (Mediterrane, Roma, 1971)
MG = The Mystery of the Grail (Inner Traditions, Vermont, 1997)
MS = Metafisica del sesso (Edizioni Mediterranee, Roma 1969)
MW = Metaphysics of War (Integral Tradition Publishing, 2007)
OO = Oriente e Occidente (La Queste, Milano, 1984)
R = Ricognizioni. Uomini e problemi (Mediterrane, Roma, 1974)
RMM = Revolt against the Modern World (Inner Traditions, Vermont, 1995)