Conceptions of Nature and Methods Used for its Study by the Ikhwān al-Safā, Al-Bīrūnī, and Ibn Sīna


AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC COSMOLOGICAL DOCTRINES Conceptions of Nature and Methods Used for its Study by the Ilchwan Al-Biruni, and Ibn Sina Seyyed Hossein Nasr Studies of the Western Orientalists as well as contemporary modern Muslim scholars of the cosmological and natural sciences in the Islamic world have been carried out with the aim of establishing a relation between these sciences and those cultivated in the modern world with rare attention given to the general world view of the Muslims themselves. Nasr clarifies some of the cosmological principles and brings into focus the contours of the cosmos in Which the Muslims lived and thought, and which to a certain extent still provides the framework in which they envisage the world. It is the only book to deal with classical Islamic cosmology as it was formulated during the tenth and eleventh centuries influencing all the later centuries of Islamic history by creating the cosmological framework within which all later scientific activity in the Islamic world was carried out.
“This study opens up a relatively unexplored, hence unfamiliar, aspect of Islam. The majority of modern Muslim rationalists will no doubt join in chorus with the formalist orthodox theologians to deny that its subject can be identified with Islam “in any true sense.” But their perspective is false. The theme of Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s study is one no less vital than the tracing out of one line in the complex process by which the Islamic Community gradually discovered its own nature and habitat.” -H. A. R. Gibb


Seyyed Hossein Nasr

(b. 1933)

Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born in Tehran, where he received his early education. He studied in the West and gained his BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his MA and PhD from Harvard University, where he studied the History of Science and Learning with special concentration on Islamic science and philosophy. In 1958, he returned to Iran to teach at Tehran University, where he was Professor of the History of Science and Philosophy. In 1962 he was visiting lecturer at Harvard University, and he taught there during the summer of 1965. During 1964-65, he was the first holder of the Agha Khan Chair of Islamic Studies at the American University of Beirut. He also served as Vice Chancellor of Tehran University and Chancellor of the Arya-Mehr University of Technology in Iran. He was the founder and first President of the Iranian Academy of Philosophy and is presently University Professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D. C. and President of the Foundation for Traditional Studies. Professor Nasr has lectured in America, Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Japan, and Australia and was the first Muslim Scholar to deliver the Gifford Lectures. He is the author of over twenty-five books and five hundred articles in Persian, English, Arabic and French. His works have appeared in more than ten languages. His important contribution is three generations of scholars he has trained in the course of his fifty-year scholarly career in Iran and the West.


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