EDIT: I want to make clear this post is not an endorsement of perennialism. Gai Eaton was not perennialism’s biggest proponent, but it was one of his influences and his books do not go into it indepth. Perennialism misguides but it has its helpful critiques of the modern world and that is about as much benefit one can get from it.
Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah
Shaykh Hasan Le Gai Eaton
The Grandfather of Islamic development in the West
Last night I heard of the news that Gai Eaton, also known as Shaykh Hasan Charles Le Gai Eaton, passed away. According to the comments on this website he passed away February 26th at 10am in London, I believe. I can’t describe the shock at hearing such news and from what it seems, the news is true. How can you deal with such a reality especially when someone has had such a powerful impact on your life? How much more when I am so weak in comparison?
Overwhelmingly, much of the good on this blog and website is inspired by his work. This man, by far, had the biggest impact on my Islamic and intellectual development. His ideas were influenced by the Perennialist school of thought, but largely he stood within orthodox Islam. A very rare master of the English language, his books, Islam and the Destiny of Man and King of the Castle represent the major work of Muslim thought on Modernity and Westernisation. I cannot find works that even come near to them. Islam and the Destiny of Man is THE premier single work, that has brought many swiftly into the fold of Islam, bringing myself much more closer to the deen. If you were to ask around his work would be cited as one of the most influential and to my surprise a work too powerful that I’m surprised it hasn’t been banned. Some comments around the web have mentioned his role in Imran Khan’s return to Islam, and his writings being used by Christian priests. That is not surprising at all.
I don’t know how many realize what a giant has passed away. How many have even heard of him, I am not sure, especially in our age of Islamic illiteracy and tribalistic jahiliyya, but history will most definitely prove him to be a giant. In the past, we had great thinkers but this period of time squarely belonged to Gai Eaton, Rene Guenon and to Fritjof Schuon (they disagreed and varied on levels of orthodoxy and spiritual imagination). While the Saudis grapple with modernity using petro-dollars, the brain-dead mullahs back home with modernity using violence and ghadari and the fossilized Sufis and Salafis with isolationism and personality cults, Gai Eaton dealt with modernity on the basis of the mind and the dynamic capacity of tradition for growth and creativity. Had you read him or any of the thinkers he drew from, you realized how genuine of a teacher he really was, because in large part his story was so powerful because you knew exactly what he meant, because an agitation in your soul had told you something similar. In this way, he tapped into the fitra and the essential spirituality in every human being.
As a tribute I am going to share my excerpts from his two works. You can download them and read them to get a glimpse of his writings. I still remember reading them and highlighting just about every page and just whispering to myself, “wow!” How few are there today whose words can bring about such transformation!
And here are a number of links I am collecting and downloading for review. It is best if I benefit from his works and perhaps thereby help as a sadaqa jariya in his grave.
Articles and other Publications:
From the Journal of Comparitive Religion
Interview: The Talented Mr Gai Eaton
International Institute of Islamic Thought
Living Islam 1 2 3 4
Radical Middle Way lecture on the Drunkenness of Ignorance
I will try and find more and post here as I can find it.
May Allah bless this man, and allow us the mercy to better appreciate and benefit from his works, ameen.