The Heart of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Enduring Values for Humanity

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Synopsis

As the specter of religious extremism has become a fact of life today, the temptation is great to allow the evil actions and perspectives of a minority to represent an entire tradition. In the case of Islam, there has been much recent confusion in the Western world centered on distorted portrayals of its core values. Born of ignorance, such confusion feeds the very problem at hand.

In The Heart of Islam one of the great intellectual figures in Islamic history offers a timely presentation of the core spiritual and social values of Islam: peace, compassion, social justice, and respect for the other. Seizing this unique moment in history to reflect on the essence of his tradition, Seyyed Hossein Nasr seeks to "open a spiritual and intellectual space for mutual understanding." Exploring Islamic values in scripture, traditional sources, and history, he also shows their clear counterparts in the Jewish and Christian traditions, revealing the common ground of the Abrahamic faiths.

Nasr challenges members of the world's civilizations to stop demonizing others while identifying themselves with pure goodness and to turn instead to a deeper understanding of those shared values that can solve the acute problems facing humanity today. "Muslims must ask themselves what went wrong within their own societies," he writes, "but the West must also pose the same question about itself . . . whether we are Muslims, Jews, Christians, or even secularists, whether we live in the Islamic world or in the West, we are in need of meaning in our lives, of ethical norms to guide our actions, of a vision that would allow us to live at peace with each other and with the rest of God's creation." Such help, he believes, lies at the heart of every religion and can lead the followers of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as well as other religious and spiritual traditions to a new future of mutual respect and common global purpose.

The Heart of Islam is a landmark presentation of enduring value that offers hope to humanity, and a compelling portrait of the beauty and appeal of the faith of 1.2 billion people.

 

About Seyyed Hossein Nasr

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Born in Tehran, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the son of an educator, received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1958, after which he returned to Iran to teach and eventually to become a university chancellor. He was compelled to leave his native country after the revolution of 1979 and since then has taught in universities in the United States. Deeply influenced by the mystical Sufi tradition, Nasr is less concerned with reconciling the faith with modernism and is more concerned with presenting a traditionalist, though mystical, interpretation of religion that offers a way out of the contradictions of modernity. Through authentic spiritual experience, Nasr holds, one can penetrate the superficiality of modern scientific and other knowledge to find eternal truth. He is associated with the neotraditionalist school of philosophy. Undoubtedly, Nasr has had more general influence in the Western philosophical world than any other contemporary philosopher in the Islamic tradition.
 
Published March 17, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 352 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Heart of Islam

Publishers Weekly

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Nasr, a professor at George Washington University and a living legend in Islamic studies, was commissioned by Harper San Francisco to write this book after the attacks of September 11.

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Spirituality & Practice

In "Human Responsibilities and Human Rights" Nasr focuses on a variety of topics including freedom of religion and Islam's goal of serving "as the middle people to the creation of harmony between religions, peoples and civilizations the world over."

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