This collection of essays by one of the best known contemporary Muslim scholars writing in the English language covers many facets of Islamic life and thought. The author has brought together studies dealing with practical as well as intellectual aspects of Islam in both their historical and contemporary reality. Although concerned with the scholarly dimension of the subjects with which he deals, the author devotes himself especially to the contemporary significance of such themes as religion and secularism, the meaning of freedom, and the tradition of Islamic science and philosophy. The traditional perspective of the author runs throughout all of these studies and provides a unified framework for the work despite the diversity of the subjects treated. The essays, many of which have appeared over the years in various journals and collections on Islamic studies, have been re-written and revised in the light of later research and scholarship as well as certain issues which have become of special contemporary significance. Considering the current interest in the Islamic world in the West and the necessity felt by many to gain firsthand knowledge of Islam as both religion and civilisation, the present work is a timely addition to the small collection of writing in European languages which provide veritable keys for a better understanding of Islam and Muslims while remaining faithful to the perspective of the Islamic tradition.


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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