October 21, 2018.

Dear Friends,

We will gather together for our Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute faith sharing on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm at St. Paul Church in Cambridge, in the small chapel located in the Parish Center. Please join us in person or in spirit as we encourage Inter-faith relations and pray together for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East and especially in the Holy Land.

It seems to me that it may be worthwhile in today's gathering of Christian and Muslim friends to provide a short biography of the founder of the Badaliya Prayer Movement for our further reflection and understanding of the foundations for our faith sharing gatherings.

Louis Massignon's intense personality and vast areas of interest and inquiry cannot be understood or contained in one article or one book. He confused his contemporary scholars since he can only be described as both an evolved spiritual thinker, or mystic, and a fully trained and gifted scholar. He had an unrelenting curiosity about many fields of inquiry. His own contemplative religious experience of both Christianity and Islam and his knowledge and study of all three Abrahamic traditions along with many others, including Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religious traditions converged into a universal experience of the Divine Oneness of God experienced as the fullness of life in Christ. The substitutionary prayer that he called the Badaliya led to an offering of himself for the well-being of others, especially his Muslim brothers and sisters. The love of God and one's neighbor led him from intense contemplation and prayer to active social action. His intense personality was driven, by his own admission, by his "rage to understand" the language, mind and heart of both Islam and the Arab world that was grounded in both the Christian mystical tradition and the orthodox magisterium of Catholic theology, belief and practice. All of his research was seen through the lens of his own deeply contemplative experience of his Catholic Christian identity.

Publishing, lecturing and speaking in more than ten languages, his linguistic gifts informed his meticulous scholarship and search for the sources of his inquiry into fields as diverse as the most current scientific theories of his time to a fifty-year exploration of the minutest detail of the "curve of life" and witness to the Divine by the 10th century Sufi mystic known as al-Hallaj. Massignon's research continued to point to the words expressed by this Sufi saint that inspired him, and us as well, with sayings such as:

"He (God or Allah) is closer than consciousness is for the imagination, and more intimate than the sparks of inspiration."

In establishing the Badaliya Prayer Movement Massignon owed much and referred often to the spiritual writings and experience of his friend and mentor, Blessed Charles de Foucauld who wrote,

"You know that to love is to forget oneself for another who we love a thousand times more than ourselves. To love is not to be concerned nor desire to be happy, but only to desire with all one's heart that the other be loved."

Our re-visioning of the Badaliya Prayer Movement for our time and here in the USA owes its spirit to a brilliant mind and compassionate human being whose love of Christ and love of Islam led to lasting friendships with Jews, Christians and Muslims and many others. It highlights the value in "crossing over to the other" and empathetically entering into the mind and heart and soul of another struggling human being. Let us remember Louis Massignon in our shared prayer today as he passed into eternal life on October 31, 1962, the eve of All Saints Day in the Roman Catholic Church tradition.

Peace to you,


  1. Massignon, Le Diwan de Al-Hallaj. 1995. Paris. Librarie Orientalists, Paul Geuthner. no.11, p. 48
  2. From Jesus Caritas no. 30, Inner Search

(See www.dcbuck.com for all past letters to the Badaliya and Peace Islands Institute)