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Henri Vergès and mysticism

 

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Testimony of a friend of Brother Henri Vergès

11/05/2011: General House

The installation of Henri Vergès at Sour-El-Ghozlane has allowed us to deepen our knowledge of the mystic in general, on his presence in Algiers, with the direction of the Saint Bonaventure school. His professional life did not leave him enough free time to deepen his knowledge of Islam in all its  dimensions. His associations were almost limited to the Catholic community living in Algiers.

On his arrival in Sour El Ghozlane, Vergès had free time available. This time allowed us to mutually enrich each other on the spiritual plane. It allowed him to discover Islam in its moral, human, and especially spiritual dimensions. It made me discover the history of the Church written by   Daniel Rops and various writings of Christian saints which we meditated on together, especially Saint Augustin and, in particular, his book « The Confessions ». He was always asking me to tell him about it and to make him a summary of my reading.

For my part, I spoke to him of the spiritual journey, of what one can call  “the aspirant”, in Arabic “el mourid”: the Moslem who is versed in the path of mysticism. He did not hide his astonishment at observing the existence of a great similarity in Islam and Christianity.

One day, I described to him the state of the aspirant in his spiritual journey and sanctity in Islam. “El mourid”, the aspirant, is one who wants nothing other than his Lord and Master.

Three categories of this can be distinguished. The first, one who fosters the will to receive the blessings and divine protection, but whose aspirations are weak or who retains too many worldly attachments. The second is one who fosters the will to arrive at the divine presence proper to people of detachment and to those with a strong determination. The third is the one who fosters the will to attain to the rank of lieutenant or perfect gnosis, one whose gift of intelligence has become manifest, whose merit has achieved perfection and whose function of lieutenant has been proclaimed by a  “schaykh”, a great spiritual master, or by an authentic interior way, “hatif”.

 

Vergès followed my explanation very attentively. It happened frequently that I could not find the French words to give the exact explanation in the Arabic Sufi terminology.

It was at the monastery of the Trappists at Médéa and with the monks of this monastery that we discussed these matters. In my inner being, I was trying to find out the degree of spirituality of these monks with many years of prayer, austerity and meditation. This was one of the reasons which drove us to create the journal « the link », « RIBAT » in Arabic.

I conclude this testimony by praying to God and his saints for peace among all peoples.                                                                          

Read more about Br. Henri Vergès

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Sour-el-Ghozlane
5 September 2007

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