Chapter

Reflections on Islam and the West: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Hossein Nasr Seyyed

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
Reflections on Islam and the West: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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Educated in Iran and the United States, Nasr graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. Nasr taught at Teheran University until 1979 and founded the Iranian Academy of Philosophy. He is University Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University. A prolific author, he has made major contributions to the field of Islamic and Iranian studies and been a Ieader in a school of thought known as the perennial philosophy. Among his many publications are Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man, Islam: Religion, History and Civilization, Philosophy of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Islam and the Plight of Modern Man.

Nasrs scholarship is wide-ranging, though he is probably best known for his works on gnosis (irfan). He studied under one of Shiisms greatest scholars in this field, Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabtabi (18921981), whose monumental commentary on the Qurn, al-Mizan, is recognized by the Shii ulema (clergy) as the finest work of its genre in the last several generations. In this selection from 2000, Nasr emphasizes diversity among Westerners and Muslims, warning against conflating and reifying these categories. It is his view, however, that differences among Muslims about religion and faith are fewer than among Westerners. The conflict between Muslims and Westerners is caused by the desire of Muslims to live according to the tenets of their faith rather than on the basis of values and norms imposed upon them in the course of external economic domination of their societies. Nasr notes ironically that though many Christians refuse to accept Islam as an authentic religion, Islam has more in common with Christian doctrines than Christians know. Indeed, while Muslims accept the historical authenticity of Christ, some Christians reject it. To put it bluntly, Nasr writes: the greatest support in the world today for traditional Christian and Jewish beliefs comes from Islam. Nasr is realistic about mutual dialogue. It is tremendously important, but it cannot succeed if one side expects the other to become more secular while the other side sees the first as Godless.

Chapter.  5525 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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