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Dallh Minlib, The Sufi and the Friar

David Burell
p. 305-306
Bibliographical reference

Dallh Minlib, The Sufi and the Friar, Albany, SUNY Press, 2017, 214 p.

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1Interfaith dialogue, practitioners soon learn, is among people, not religions. Minlib Dallh understands this perfectly, so he selected a Dominican confrere as his subject, who had initially worked at the Institut dominicain d’études orientales (Idéo) in Cairo, where I also studied. In selecting a Dominican confrere and his master, Anṣārī, Minlib assured that his study would be eminently personal. And so it is.

2The friar is Serge de Laugier de Beaurecueil (1917-2005) a French Dominican from an aristocratic family who would cast his lot with the Dominican order, and soon follow Georges Anawati with others to Cairo at the end of World War II. It was a venture into the world of Islam with a scholarly face, and with the help of Louis Massignon, young Serge chose an Afghan mystic, Anṣārī, as the focus of his work. In that promising milieu, he spent nearly twenty years learning textual skills in Arabic codicology to become an able interpreter of Anṣārī. Then Herat beckoned, and possibility of learning Anṣārī’s milieu from the inside out. So he was able to turn a CNDS grant into a University position in Kabul for another twenty years. By then enracinated in Anṣārī he became fascinated by needy young people who stole his heart, as he took up an apostolate among Muslims, much as Charles de Foucauld would in Morocco. Then came the Russians and his unceremonious exit from Afghanistan in 1983.

3The link between friar and sufi, as we shall see, is the heart of the study which focuses on Serges’ transformation into a sufi. Minlib wonders how, and this narrative provides the answer, leading us from the fact to the possibility. Here Serges’ fulsome commentary on Anṣārī’s work shows the way. “His is a journey characterized […] by experience rather than allowing theological conjecture to prescribe and limit his ministry” (p. 130). His journey of discovery among Muslims encourages us all. When we spent time in the library at the Dominican house in Cairo (in 1985), the youngest in spirit was Serge! Read the story. You are in for a spiritual and intellectual interfaith celebration.

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Bibliographical reference

David Burell, “Dallh Minlib, The Sufi and the FriarMIDÉO, 33 | 2018, 305-306.

Electronic reference

David Burell, “Dallh Minlib, The Sufi and the FriarMIDÉO [Online], 33 | 2018, Online since 05 July 2018, connection on 16 June 2024. URL:

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About the author

David Burell

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The text only may be used under licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. All other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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