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The world’s fastest-growing religion is also the most misunderstood in the West. In Islam in the Modern World, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the world’s leading experts on Islamic thought, explains why traditional Islam exists in tension with modern Western culture, while at the same time it is also opposed by many currents of Islamic “fundamentalism.” Islam in the Modern World offers an inside look at this increasingly factious religion with increasing global relevance....
The world’s fastest-growing religion is also the most misunderstood in the West. In Islam in the Modern World, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the world’s leading experts on Islamic thought, explains why traditional Islam exists in tension with modern Western culture, while at the same time it is also opposed by many currents of Islamic “fundamentalism.” Islam in the Modern World offers an inside look at this increasingly factious religion with increasing global relevance.
Newly revised edition of a well-considered academic study of the modern challenges to traditional Islam.
To reflect some of the staggering world developments since he published this work more than 20 years ago, Iranian-American scholar Nasr (Islamic Studies/George Washington Univ.; The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam's Mystical Tradition, 2007, etc.) provides significant revisions and added material. As a deeply believing Muslim as well as a scholar, Nasr imparts a tremendous sense of the Muslim's responsibility and worldview, organically linked to Islam's origins as a religion of divine revelation, and only recently having endured intrusions by secularism. The author takes great pains to define the many types of Muslims, though he believes that for most, their religion defines their ethical and social code and shapes their relationships to family, friends, nation, business, etc. For the first 1,000-plus years of its existence, "Islam lived with full awareness of the truth and the realization of God's promise to Muslims that they would be victorious if they followed His religion"—yet then succumbed to Western domination and manipulation, the latter in the form of Arab nationalism and the Taliban in Afghanistan. In response to the mutual mistrust of the West, strains of fundamentalisms have emerged, such as the Wahhabi movement, the Society of Islam in Pakistan, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and Mahdiism, whose adherents anticipate a messiah "who will destroy inequity and reestablish the rule of God on earth." In discrete, carefully honed essays, Nasr looks at some of Islam's thorny issues, such as jihad, which is really the "continuous exertion" of a believer to maintain equilibrium in all things; work ethics; the roles of male and female and the central divinity of erotic love; considerations of Shi'ism; and a holistic approach to education, encompassing philosophy, art and science (traditional Islamic vs. Western).
Scholarly appendices (e.g., traditional texts used in the Persian madrasas) give an idea of the erudite, wide-ranging purview of this rigorous study.
List of Transliterations xiii
Preface to the Revised Edition xv
Preface to the Original Edition xvii
Prologue: What Is Traditional Islam? 1
I Contentious Issues Debated in Islamic Circles Today
1 Islam in the Present-Day Islamic World An Overview 17
2 Jihad Its Spiritual Significance 42
3 Islamic Work Ethics 50
4 The Male and the Female in the Islamic Perspective Remembering Certain Basic Principles 62
5 Traditional Twelve-Imam Shi'ism and the Reality of Sht'ism Today 73
II Traditional Islam and Modernism
6 Islamic Spirituality
Reflections on Conditions Today and Prospects for Tomorrow 89
7 "Development" in the Contemporary Islamic World 119
III Tensions Between Tradition, Modernism, and "Fundamentalism"
8 Islamic Education, Philosophy, and Science A Survey in Light of Present-Day Challenges 129
9 Islamic Philosophers' Views on Education 149
Philosophy and Science
10 Teaching Philosophy in Light of the Islamic Educational Ethos 165
11 Traditional Islamic Science and Western Science Common Heritage, Diverse Destinies 188
Art and Architecture
12 Islamic Art and Its Spiritual Significance in the Contemporary World 205
13 The Architectural Transformation of the Urban Environment in the Islamic World 227
14 The Principles of Islamic Architecture and Urban Design, and Contemporary Urban Problems 242
15 The Islamic World Present Tendencies and Future Trends 259
Appendix I The Traditional Texts Used in the Persian Madrasahs and the Question of the Revival of Traditional Islamic Education 283
Appendix II Philosophy in the Present-Day Islamic World 298
Appendix III Western Interpreters of the Islamic Tradition Academic Scholars 323
A In Commemoration of Louis Massignon: Catholic Scholar, Islamicist, and Mystic 325
B Henry Corbin: The Life and Works of the Occidental Exile in Quest of the Orient of Light 343
Appendix IV Islam and Some of the Major Western Traditionalists 361
A René Guénon and His Influence in the Islamic World 362
B Frithjof Schuon and the Islamic Tradition 376
C With Titus Burckhardt at the Tomb of Muhyi al-Din ibn 'Arabi 390
D Martin Lings and His Islamic Legacy 395