The sufi and his cat

René Guénon, aka shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya, died in 1951. There has been an European Sufi shaykh, Mustafa ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, who has been the first in modern times to introduce the teachings of shaykh Ibn al-‘Arabi in depth to the west. His French name is Michel Valsan.

Shaykh Mustafa ‘Abd al-‘Aziz has written a letter about the death of shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahid Yahya:

Paris 18th June 1951.

I think you have already received the sad information about the death of René Guénon by means of newspapers and radio. It took place on the night of the 7th to the 8th of January. I have received your letter on the 8th of January at the same time as news of his being in a state of suffering. I was informed the next day that he has passed away. He has already been suffering for several months and he had stopped all his writing since the end of November.

He was suffering of an edema in his leg, caused by rheumatism. [more details follow which have not been translated]. But he has been lucid upto his last moments.

Now, I’ll tell you some very moving details: During his last days, he was aware of the fact that he was going to die. During the afternoon of the 7th of January he performed a very intense dhikr, while he was supported on both sides by his wife and another family member. These women became very tired and completely exhausted near him. They told that from that moment his perspiration smelled like the perfume of flowers. He finally asked with some insistence their permission to die, which shows that he was able to choose his moment of death.

The women begged him to stay alive for a longer time. He ultimately asked his wife: “Can I not die now? I’ve suffered so much!” She agreed and said: May God protect you!” He died only a few moments later on, after having repeated one or two final invocations.

Some extra details: his cat, which appeared to be in perfect health, started to moan and died a few ours later on.

On the day of his (the shaykh’s) death, he surprised his wife by telling her that after his death she needed to leave his room unchanged. No one should be allowed to touch his books or his papers. He made it very clear that otherwise he would not be able to see them, i.e. his wife and their children, while in a room which would not be disturbed, he would remain sitting at his desk and would thus be able to see them, even though they would not be able to see him.