The root of the word Badaliya in Arabic, means to replace or exchange one thing for another. The French scholar and spiritual seeker, Louis Massignon (1883–1962), interpreted the word as a willingness to put oneself in the place of another, to give one’s own life for the sake of someone else. This offering of himself for the well-being of his Muslim brothers and sisters was the inspiration for Massignon’s entire life. In 1947, the renowned orientalist, who had regained his Christian faith and identity while on a research expedition in Baghdad, in present day Iraq, established an international prayer association that he named, the Badaliya and for which he remained the organizer until his death in 1962.
The fifteen annual letters and ninety-one monthly convocations of the Badaliya are as much invitations to prayer and a consecration of individual lives as they are a witness to the incarnational spirit active and alive in our contemporary world today. These letters read like a diary that follows the events and conflicts of the time but also, due to the genius of Massignon’s mystical reading of history, these precious documents reveal fifteen years of a singular spiritual adventure. Framed by an introduction presenting the context and genesis of the prayer movement and completed with a description of the Badaliya today, this book permits the reader to grasp the fruitfulness of the spirit of the Badaliya. No other text has yet permitted us to so deeply penetrate the heart of the spirituality and the struggles of Louis Massignon, who remains, even today, a master for our time.