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Antitradition And Countertradition

Two Important Concepts by René Guénon

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Concerning the term Tradition, it refers to the divine, eternal message which has been revealed to mankind since the time of Adam. Specifically for our times it refers to the latest and the last divine message - the one brought by Prophet Muhammad (saws).

Since man is forgetful (اِنسان - نَسِىَ) (insān), it has been necessary to confirm and actualise the divine guidance over and over again. This was on - one level - the function of those different prophets who rose throughout the course of history (some of them came with new legal systems) and on another level of those special people of insight (basīrah) and knowledge (ʿilm) of Allah.

1.1 Modernity or Modernism

Our definition[*] of modernity or modernism has nothing to do with what may be generally perceived as existing now-a-days as being 'very new' or 'up-to-date', instead, what is here defined as modern, is that which is cut off from the Divine, the Transcendant, or the Supernatural, everything that does not refer to - and is isolated from - "the immutable principles which in reality govern all things and which are made known to man through revelation in its most universal sense. Modernism is thus contrasted with tradition (ad-dīn); the former [including] all that is merely human and now ever more increasingly subhuman, and all that is divorced and cut off from the Divine source. [Additionally] tradition has always accompanied and in fact characterized human existence, whereas modernism is a very recent phenomenon." S H NasrTIM

”Since Modernity is opposed to Tradition, there are two concepts that can be invoked in the description of modern life: antitradition and countertradition. These may be perceived as the causes and (respectively) effects of modernity.” TRT

Antitradition is the negation of Tradition. ”Antitradition weakens and dissolves traditional spiritualities, after which countertradition sets up a counterfeitfn1 in their place. Since Guénon’s time, as is well known, anti-traditional forces have greatly advanced worldwide.”TRT

1.2 Antitradition

”In The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, René Guénon characterizes antitradition as a mere negation of Tradition. In other words, the characteristic symptoms of modernity, such as materialism, democracy, and secular humanism are a denial of Tradition, merely in the sense of failing to recognize it; theyfn5 are a deviation without actually becoming openly hostile.”TRT

”When anti-tradition had succeeded in throwing the world into an atmosphere of wide-spread, general materialism, the more inferior forces were able to rise (to the surface). They did this under the the disguise of (what RG called) 'countertradition.'”DRG

”While antitradition is fully in force in the West, and has begun to spread to other parts of the world, we can already see countertraditional movements rising to the highest echelons of global political, economic, and religious power. The existence of these movements would never be possible without the denial of tradition (i.e. antitradition).”TRT

1.3 Countertradition

”Countertradition, however is a step further along the path of degeneration. It is the satanic inversion of true spirituality, leading to the regime of Antichrist.”TRT

”Countertradition is a caricature of spirituality and an especially fearsome counterfeit to be. In fact it is a real 'spirituality in reverse,' ... in such a way that it presents itself as the opposite (of its true nature).”DRG, fn4
'It is but a false spirituality, false to the worst degree, worse than what can be apprehended.' In reality it is all about an unregulated unleashing of psychic forces, finally ending with the advent of that pretended 'New Age,' into which they try their utmost to enter today's humanity.'

History is seen as a descent from Meaning (or Quality) toward Matter (or Quantity); but after the Reign of Quantity - modern materialism and the 'rise of the masses' - there will be a reign of 'inverted quality' just before the end of the age: the triumph of the 'counter-initiation', the kingdom of Antichrist ( Dajjal ).fn7

Tradition has however foreseen this situation, and its denouncing the 'false prophets' and 'miracle-makers' are legion in all sacred scriptures, f ex in Matthew 24, 24.fn2
And countertradition is exactly what is called the 'reign of the Antichrist.' This reign of the Antichristfn3 reunites and regroups all the forces of the countertradition into 'a false spiritual restauration.'

”The two may be thought of as cause and effect, and is consistent with the principle of degeneration. Antitradition weakens and dissolves traditional spiritualities, after which countertradition sets up a counterfeit in their place. Since Guénon’s time, as is well known, anti-traditional forces have greatly advanced worldwide. The genesis of antitradition came from within humanism, for as Guénon states, humanism 'implies a pretension to bring everything down to purely human elements' (p 193). Guénon further goes on to posit that Protestantism and rationalism are further examples of the early antitradition.”TRT

2. Quotes from René Guénon

"It will also appear later that this [materialistic point of viewfn8] nevertheless represents as it were an eminently unstable state of equilibrium, and that the world has even now reached a point where the security of ‘ordinary life’, on which the whole outward organization of the modern world has rested up till now, runs serious risks of being troubled by unanticipated ‘interferences’."fn9 [Italic by the editor]

René Guénon also wrote (some time before 1950):

”As for the counter tradition, we can still only see the preliminary signs of it, in the form of all things that are striving to become counterfeits in one way or another of the traditional idea itself.”

As for what we see in our times (2022) counter tradition has metastasized from the preliminary signs to full impact signs. okn

A warning from R Guénon
"Something much more formidable is in preparation for a future considered by some to be near, and the growing rapidity of the succession of events today is an indication of its proximity."fn6 (Written before 1950)

3. Notes

- [*] Our definition: and it should be the standard definition!

- TIM: Traditional Islam In The Modern World; Seyyed Hossein Nasr; p.98
[This quote is at: Modernism And Postmodern Thought; Modernism And Postmodern Thought]

- The above short description of the two concepts is from a now defunct and lost website, which in turn was based on the teachings by René Guénon.

- DRG: Dictionnaire de René Guénon, Jean-Marc Vivenza, Grenoble 2005

- fn1: ”A counterfeit is worse than a simple error…”
Understanding postmodern Mentality: … because "a counterfeit obfuscates specific metaphysical truths."

- fn2: ”For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Bible, NT; Matthew 24:24

- fn3: The System Of Antichrist: Quotes From Charles Upton

- fn4: What Is Traditional Islam? S H Nasr; “(Also in) Islam one must distinguish … between authentic tradition and pseudotradition. [Concerning the prophetic traditions - the hadith, this has been done throughout the centuries, and is done still today.] (Pseudotradition) is antitraditional and now more and more countertraditional, (although it) displays certain characteristics outwardly similar to the traditional.” [Superficiality, ignorance and political agendas threaten at times an objective and sincere treatment of the Islamic tradition.]

- fn5: ”they”: The powers to be (TPTB); although in reality there is no power except Allah (swt), The Almighty, The True.

- fn6: From: The Deception of the New Age Gornahoor.net

- fn8: Materialistic point of view because of "the reduction of everything to an exclusively human point of view".

- fn9: "The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times", R G; chapter "The Illusion of the ’ordinary life’", p. 106

"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924

صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم

The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .



Related texts
link-in From Anti-Tradition to Counter-Tradition, RG
link-in Tradition And Islamic Tradition
link-in Metaphysics


* Living Islam – Islamic Tradition *