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  • 7/9/2003

Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, currently University Professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. is one of the most important and foremost scholars of Islamic, Religious and Comparative Studies in the world today. Author of over fifty books and five hundred articles which have been translated into several major Islamic, European and Asian languages, Professor Nasr is a well known and highly respected intellectual figure both in the West and the Islamic world. An eloquent speaker with a charismatic presence, Nasr is a much sought after speaker at academic conferences and seminars, university and public lectures and also radio and television programs in his area of expertise.

Born on April 7, 1933 (19 Farvadin 1312 A.H. solar), Nasr, as a young boy, attended one of the schools near his home. His early formal education included the usual Persian curriculum at school with an extra concentration in Islamic and Persian subjects at home, as well as tutorial in French. However for Nasr, it was the long hours of discussion with his father, mostly on philosophical and theological issues, complemented by both reading and reaction to the discourses carried on by those who came to his father's house, that constituted an essential aspect of his early education and which in many ways set the pattern and tone of his intellectual development. This was the situation for the first twelve years of Nasr's life. Nasr's arrival inAmerica at the young age of twelve marked the beginning of a new period in his life which was totally different and therefore, discontinuous from his early life in Iran. He attended The Peddie School inHighstown, New Jersey and in 1950 graduated as the valedictorian of his class and also winner of the Wycliffe Award which was the school's highest honor given to the most outstanding all-round student. It was during the four years at Peddie that Nasr acquired his knowledge of the English language, as well as studying the sciences, American history, Western culture and Christianity.
Nasr chose to go to M.I.T. for college. He was offered a   scholarship and was the first Iranian student to be admitted as an undergraduate at M.I.T. He began his studies at M.I.T in the Physics Department with some of the most gifted students in the country and outstanding professors of physics. His decision to study physics was motivated by the desire to gain knowledge of the nature of things, at least at the level of physical reality. However, at the end of his freshman year, although he was the top student in his class, he began to feel oppressed by the overbearingly scientific atmosphere with its implicit positivism. Furthermore, he discovered that many of the metaphysical questions which he had been concerned with were not being asked, much less answered. Thus, he began to have serious doubts as to whether physics would lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality. His doubt was confirmed when the leading British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, in a small group discussion with the students following a lecture he had given at M.I.T, stated that physics does not concern itself with the nature of physical reality per se but with mathematical structures related to pointer readings.
The shock of discovering the real nature of the subject he had chosen to study, together with the overbearingly scientific atmosphere at his Department, led Nasr to experience a major intellectual and spiritual crisis during his second year. Although the crisis did not destroy his belief in God, it shook certain fundamental elements in his worldview, such as his understanding of the meaning of life, the significance of knowledge and the means to find the Truth. He was prepared to leave the field of physics and M.I.T. and depart from America in quest of the Truth. However, the strong discipline in him, inculcated by his father, prevented him from abandoning his studies altogether. He remained at M.I.T. and graduated with honors, but his heart was no longer with physics.
Having realized in his second year that a study of the physical sciences would neither lead him to an understanding of the nature of physical reality nor deal with some of the metaphysical questions he was concerned with, Nasr decided to look at other fields of study for his answers. He started to read extensively and to take many courses in the humanities, especially those taught by Professor Giorgio Di Santillana, the famous Italian philosopher and historian of science. Under ProfessorDi Santillana's instruction, Nasr began his serious study of not only the ancient Greek wisdom as contained in the philosophies of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus but also European, Medieval philosophy, Dante's highly mystical and symbolic Divine Comedy, Hinduism and a critique of modern Western thought. It was also Di Santillana who first introduced him to the writings of one of the most important traditionalist writers of this century, Rene Guenon. Guenon's writings played a decisive role in laying the intellectual foundation of Nasr's traditionalist perspective. Nasr also had the great fortune of having access to the library of the late Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, the outstanding Singhalese metaphysician and historian of art.
At twenty-five, Nasr graduated with a Ph.D. degree from Harvard and on the way to completing his first book, Science and Civilization in Islam. His doctoral dissertation entitled "Conceptions of Nature in Islamic Thought" was published in 1964 by Harvard University Press as An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines.

He has trained different generations of students over the years since 1958 when he was a professor at Tehran University and then, in America since 1979, specifically atTemple University in Philadelphia from 1979 to 1984 and at theGeorge Washington University since 1984 to the present day. The range of subjects and areas of study which Professor Nasr has involved and engaged himself with, in his academic career and intellectual life are immense. As demonstrated by his numerous writings, lectures and speeches, Professor Nasr speaks and writes with great authority on a wide variety of subjects, ranging from philosophy to religion to spirituality, to music and art and architecture, to science and literature, to civilizational dialogues and the natural environment.

For Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the quest for knowledge, specifically knowledge which enables man to understand the true nature of things and which furthermore, "liberates and delivers him from the fetters and limitations of earthly existence," has been and continues to be the central concern and determinant of his intellectual life.Bibliography of Seyyed Hossein Nasr: 1960s:
Ahammiyat-i tahqiq dar falsafah-'i Islami dar 'asr-i hazir [Importance of Studying Islamic Philosophy Today] Tehran: SN, 196-?
Vujd va takassur-i an [Being and its Polarization] Tehran: Danishkadah-i Adabiyat, 196-?

Sadr al-Din Shirazi [in Persian]. Tehran: Tehran UP, 1961

An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines: Conceptions of Nature and Methods Used for its Study by the Ikhwn al-Safa, al-Buruni, and Ibn Sina.  Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1964
Tehran: Chapkhana-i Iran, 1964 [Nazar-i mutafakkiran-i Islami dar barah-i tabiat khulussahi az ara'i Ikhvani-i safa va-Bayruni va-Ibn Sina raji'bi-jihan]
London: Thames & Hudson, 1978
Tehran: Intisharat-i Khvarizmi, 1980, 1981
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1985 [Islâm kozmoloji ö?retilerine giris]
Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1992 [Pengenalan doktrin kosmologi Islam]
Albany: SUNY Press, 1993
Three Muslim Sages: Avicenna, Suhrawardi, Ibn Arabi.  Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1964
Delmar: Caravan, 1964, 1976
Tabriz: Kitb-i fursh-yi Surush, 1967 [Seh hakim musulman]
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1985, 1996 [Üç müsülman bilge]
Beirut: Dar al-nahar li'l-nashr, 1986 [Thalathah hukama' nuslimin]

Ideals and Realities of Islam. New York: Praeger, 1966, 1967
Boston: Beacon P, 1966, 1972, 1975
London: Allen & Unwin, 1966, 1975, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1990
Paris: Buchet-Chastel, 1975 [Islam: pespectives et realites]
London: Mandala, 1988
Cairo: AUC P, 1989
Munich: Diederichs, 1993 [Ideal und Wirklichkeit des Islam]
London and San Francisco: Aquarian, 1994
Istanbul: Iz Yayincilik,1996 [Islam: idealler ve gerçekler]

Islamic Studies: Essays on Law and Society, the Sciences, and Philosophy and Sufism.  Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1967
Beirut: Al-dar al-Muttahida li'l-Nashr, 1975  [Dirasat Islmiyya]

Science and Civilization in Islam.  Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1968
New York: New American Library, 1968, 1970
Tehran: Nashr-i Andshah, 1972 [Ilm va tamaddun dar Islam]
Milan: Feltinelli, 1977 [Scienza e civilita nell'Islam]
Paris: Sinbad, 1979 [Sciences et savoir en Islam]
Lahore: Suhail Academy, 1983
Shah Alam [Malaysia]: Dewan Pustaka Fajar, 1984
Bandung: Penerbit Pustaka, 1986 [Sains dan peradaban di dakam Islam]
Cambridge: ITS, 1987
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1989 [Islam ve ilim: Islam medeniyetinde aklî ilimlerin tarihi ve esaslari]
The Encounter of Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man.London: Allen & Unwin, 1968, 1976, 1990
Milan: Rusconi, 1977 [L'huomo e la natura]
Istanbul: Yeryüzü Yayinlai, 1982 [Insan ve tabiat]
Istanbul: Agaç Yayincilik, 1991 1970:
Ma'arif-i Islami dar jahan-i mu'asir [Islamic philosophy in the modern world].  Tehran: Shirkat-i sahami-i kitabha-yi Jibi, 1969 1972:
Islamic Philosophy in Contemporary Persia: A Survey of Activity during the Past Two Decades Salt Lake City: U of Utah P, 1972
Sufi Essays:  New York: Schoders Books, 1972, 1977
London: G Allen and Unwin, 1972
Rome: Academia nazionale dei Lincei, 1973 [Les etats spirituels dans le soufisme]
Milan: Rusconi, 1975 [Il sufismo]
London: Unwin, 1980 [Living Sufism]
Paris: A Michel, 1980 [Essais sur le soufisme]
Albany: SUNY P, 1991 1973:
Al-Buruni: An Annotated Bibliography.  Tehran: Higher Council of Culture and Art, 1973
Abu Rayhan Biruni: Scientist and Scholar Extraordinary Tehran: Ministry of Culture and Arts, 1973
Iran (Persia).  Tehran: Offset Press, 1973.
Tehran: Offset Press, 1973 [Iran (Perse): un aperçu sur son histoire et sa culture]
Transl [into Persian] Henry Corbin Histoire de la philosophie Islamique.  Tehran: Amir Kab r, 1973

Jalal al-Din Rumi: Supreme Persian Poet and Sage.  Tehran: Conseil superieur de la culture et des arts, 1974
Rumi and the Sufi Tradition.  Tehran: RCD Cultural Institute, 1974
Al-Islam: ahdfuhu wa haqa'iquhu.  Beirut: Al-dar al-Muttahida li'l-Nashr, 1974 1975:
Religion and the Order of Nature New York: Oxford UP, 1975
Islam and the Plight of Modern Man.  London: Longman, 1975
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1984, 1996 [Islam ve modern insanin çikmazi]
With William C Chittick. An annotated bibliography of Islamic Science. Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy, 1975-
Lahore: Suhail Academy, 1985
With Roloff Beny.  Persia, Bridge of Turquoise.  Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1975 1976:
Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study. London: World of Islam Festival Publishing Company, 1976
Tehran: Surush, 1987 [Ilm dar Islam]
Science and Technology in Islam.  London: Science Museum, 1976
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1992 [Islam sanati ve maneviyat]
Western Science and Asian Cultures.  New Delhi: Indian Council for Cultural Relations, 1976 1977:
(Ed.) Ismaili Contributions to Islamic Culture Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy, 1977
(Ed.) Mélanges offerts à Henri Corbin Tehran: Tehran Branch, McGill U, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1977

Sadr al-Din Shirazi and his Transcendent Theosophy: Background, Life and Works.  Tehran: Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy, 1978
Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1992 [Sadr al-Din Shirazi dan hikmat muta'aliyah] 1981:
Islamic Life and Thought.  Albany: SUNY P, 1981
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1988 [Islam'da düsüce ve hayat]
Knowledge and the Sacred [U of Edinburgh Gifford Lectures, 1981].  New York: Crossroad, 1981
Cambridge: Quinta Essentia, 181, 1988
New York: Crossroad, 1981
Albany: SUNY P, 1989
Munich: Diederichs, 1990 [Die Erkenntnis und das Heilige]
Istanbul: Iz Yayincilik, ND [Bilgi ve Kutsal] 1982:
Muhammad: Man of Allah.  London: Muhammadi Trust, 1982
Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1993 [Muhammad insan kamil]
Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1995 [Muhammad: Man of God]
(Ed.) Philosophy, Literature and Fine Arts.  London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1982
Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1989 [Falsafah kesusasteraan dan seni halus] 1985:
Bati felsefesi ve Islâm.  Istanbul: Bir Yayincilik, 1985 1986:
(Ed.) The Essential Writings of Frithjof Schuon.  Amity, NY: Amity House, 1986
Shaftesbury: Element, 1991 1987:
Traditional Islam in the Modern World. London and New York: Kegan Paul, 1987
Kuala Lumpur: Foundation for Traditional Studies, 1988
Istanbul: Insan Yayinlari, 1989, 1996 [Modern dünyada gelenksel Islam]
London: Routledge, 1990
Islamic Art and Spirituality.  Albany, SUNY Press, 1987
New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, 1990
New York: Oxford University Press, 1990
Bandung: Mizan, 1993 [Spiritualitas dan seni Islam]
Tehran: NP, 1997
(Ed.) Islamic Spirituality: Foundations.  New York: Crossroad, 1987 1988:
With Hamid Dabashi and Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr.  Shi'ism: Doctrines, Thought and Spirituality Albany: SUNY P, 1988 1989:
With Hamid Dabashi and Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr. Expectation of the Millennium: Shi'ism in History.  Albany: SUNY Press, 1989
Etika kerja dalam tradidi Islam.  Kuala Lumpur: Nurin Enterprise, 1989 1991:
(Ed.) Religion of the Heart: Essays Presented to Frithjof Schuon on his Eightieth Birthday Washington: Foundation for Traditional Studies, 1991, 1997
(Ed.) Islamic Spirituality: Manifestations.  New York: Crossroad, 1991, 1997 1993:
A Young Muslim's Guide to the Modern World. Chicago: Kazi, 1993
Cambridge: ITS, 1993
Petaling Jaya [Malaysia]: Mekar Publisers, 1994
Istanbul: Iz Yayincilik, 1995, 1996 [Genç Müslümanlara modern dünya rehberi]
The Need for a Sacred Science.  Albany: SUNY P, 1993
Richmond: Curzon, 1993
Islam and the Challenge of the 21st Century.  Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 1993 1995:
History of Islamic Philosophy London: Routledge, 1995
Religion and the Order of Nature.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1995 1996:
The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia.  Richmond: Curzon Press, 1996
With Oliver Leaman.  History of Islamic Philosophy.  London and New York: Routledge, 1996. 1997:
With Sajjad S. Haider.  Love, Virtues and Commandments: An Interfaith Perspective.  NP: Library of Islam, 1997
Ed. Al-As'Ilah wa'l-ajwibah / Questions and Answers: Including the Further Answers of Al-Biruni and Al-Ma'sumi's Defense of Ibn Sina.  NP, 1997 1998:
Poems of the Way.  NP, 1998 1999:
The Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of the Environmental Crisis.  London: Temenos Academy, 1999
With Mehdi Aminrazavi.  An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 2000:
A Journey through Persian History and Culture.  Lahore: Iqbal Academy, 2000.

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