THE HEART OF ISLAM: Enduring Values for Humanity

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Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
Category: Miscellaneous Books
ISBN: 0-06-051665-8

THE HEART OF ISLAM: Enduring Values for Humanity

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
Category: ISBN: 0-06-051665-8
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THE HEART OF ISLAM: Enduring Values for Humanity

THE HEART OF ISLAM: Enduring Values for Humanity

Author:
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN: 0-06-051665-8
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought


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THE HEART OF ISLAM

Enduring Values for Humanity

SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR

Table of Contents

Preface 6

CHAPTER ONE: ONE GOD, MANY PROPHETS. 9

GOD THE ONE. 10

CREATION OF THE WORLD AND OF HUMAN BEINGS. 13

MANY REVELATIONS, MANY PROPHETS. 16

THE QURAN. 20

THE PROPHET OF ISLAM.. 23

ISLAM’S ATTITUDE TOWARD OTHER RELIGIONS IN HISTORY. 29

WHO IS A BELIEVER AND WHO IS AN INFIDEL? 31

ISLAM AND RELIGIOUS PLURALISM TODAY. 33

CHAPTER TWO: THE SPECTRUM OF ISLAM.. 40

ISLAMIC PATTERNS. 41

FACTORS THAT CREATE UNITY. 41

SOURCES OF DIVERSITY: THE HIERARCHICAL LEVELS OF MEANING AND INTERPRETATION OF THE TRADITION. 42

SUNNISM AND SHI ‘ISM AND THEIR BRANCHES. 46

RELIGIOUS SECTS WITHIN THE ISLAMIC WORLD. 53

INTELLECTUAL AND THEOLOGICAL DIVERSITY. 56

THE QUESTION OF ORhTHODOXY AND HETERODOXY. 59

CULTURAL ZONES IN ISLAMIC CIVILIZATION. 61

TRADITIONAL, MODERNIST, AND “FUNDAMENTALIST” INTERPRETATIONS OF ISLAM TODAY  70

CHAPTER THREE: DIVINE AND HUMAN LAWS. 78

THE PHILOSOPHY OF LAW IN ISLAM.. 79

THE SOURCES OF THE SHARI‘AH AND THE METHODOLOGY OF ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE  82

TO WHOM DOES THE SHARI‘AH APPLY? 84

CATEGORIES OF ACTIONS AND VALUES. 86

THE CONTENT OF THE SHARI‘AH: ACTS OF WORSHIP AND TRANSACTIONS  88

Acts of Worship. 88

PUNISHMENTS AND RESTRICTIVE ORDINANCES. 101

DIVINE AND HUMAN LAWS: CRISIS AND CONFRONTATION TODAY  103

THE DIVINE LAW, ETHICS, AND THE RELIGIOUS ETHOS. 104

CHAPTER FOUR: THE VISION OF COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY. 106

THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY. 107

DAR AL-ISLAM AND DAR AL-HARB. 110

MUSLIM MINORITIES. 111

MINORITIES WITHIN THE “ABODE OF ISLAM” 112

ISLAMIC SOCIETY: THE IDEAL AND THE PRACTICE OF THE GOOD LIFE  114

THE STRUCTURE OF ISLAMIC SOCIETY. 117

ISLAM AND SLAVERY. 123

THE FAMILY WITHIN ISLAMIC SOCIETY. 124

THE MALE AND FEMALE IN THE ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE. 127

WOMEN IN THE FAMILY AND IN SOCIETY. 127

ISLAM AND THE INTEGRATION OF SOCIETY. 133

CHAPTER FIVE: COMPASSION AND LOVE, PEACE AND BEAUTY  136

COMPASSION, LOVE, PEACE, AND BEAUTY AS DIVINE QUALITIES  137

COMPASSION AND MERCY. 138

LOVE. 141

PEACE. 144

BEAUTY. 147

THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ISLAMIC ART. 151

IHSAN: VIRTUOUS BEAUTY, BEAUTIFUL VIRTUE. 156

CHAPTER SIX: DIVINE AND HUMAN JUSTICE. 158

THE INNATE HUMAN SENSE OF JUSTICE AND THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE  159

DIVINE JUSTICE. 160

THE BALANCE. 162

ISLAMIC ESCHATOLOGICAL DOCTRINES. 163

JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD: THE VIEWS OF ‘ALI 166

HUMAN JUSTICE AND ITS MODES. 169

JIHAD. 171

CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH WAR CAN BE FOUGHT. 177

MARTYRDOM.. 179

TO ESTABLISH JUSTICE AND PEACE. 181

CHAPTER SEVEN: HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS  183

TO BE HUMAN. 184

HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES. 186

HUMAN RIGHTS. 188

FREEDOM FROM RELIGION VERSUS FREEDOM OF RELIGION. 194

CONTEMPORARY MUSLIM RESPONSES TO THE ISSUE OF FREEDOM AND HUMAN RIGHTS  198

THE 303 HUMAN CONDITION AND THE ROLE OF ISLAM.. 200

EPILOGUE: THE ETHICAL AND SPIRITUAL NATURE OF HUMAN LIFE, EAST AND WEST  204

E - book Afterword. 210

CIVILIZATIONAL DIALOGUE AND THE ISLAMIC WORLD. 210

Notes of Epilogue 217

Notes of The Book. 219

CHAPTER ONE. 219

CHAPTER TWO. 219

CHAPTER THREE. 219

CHAPTER FOUR. 219

CHAPTER FIVE. 219

CHAPTER SIX. 219

Bibliography. 220

Dedicated to the Sacred and Enduring Presence of Shaykh Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-Shadhili al-‘Alawi

Preface

The past few decades have witnessed a growing interest in Islam in the West, increasing with each global event involving the name of Islam: from the Lebanese civil war to the Iranian Revolution of 1979 to the rise of Islamic movements among Palestinians. This rising interest now stands at unprecedented levels since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The world is thirsty for information about Islam, especially in America, yet this thirst has generally not been quenched with healthy water. In fact, a torrent of “knowledge” has flooded the media from books to journals, radio, and television, much of which is based on ignorance, misinformation, and even disinformation. Not only has this torrent failed the cause of understanding, it has too frequently rendered the greatest disservice to the Western public in order to further particular ideological and political goals.

Of course, distortion of matters Islamic in the West is not new; it has a thousand-year-old history going back to monstrous biographies of the Prophet of Islam written mostly in Latin in France and Germany in the tenth and eleventh centuries. This earlier portrayal of Islam as a Christian heresy, however, still showed an intellectual respect for Islamic civilization and thought. During the Renaissance such figures as Petrarch abandoned even this respect in favor of outright disdain. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain figures such as Voltaire tried to use aspects of Islam to attack Christianity, while a number of exceptional figures like Goethe and Emerson held Islamic teachings in great love and esteem. Meanwhile, the new methods of rationalist, historicist, and skeptical scholarship about religion growing out of the so-called Age of Enlightenment (which was in reality an age of the darkening of the soul and eclipse of the intellect) began to apply their methods to the study of Islam in the name of orientalism. Even when they were not serving colonial powers, most of these orientalists studied Islam in the arrogant belief that they possessed a flawless scientific method that applied universally to all religions. The last thing such scholars cared about was what Muslims, or for that matter Hindus or Buddhists, thought about their own religion and how they experienced their own religious universe. Of course, there were exceptions, but these only proved the rule. Orientalist studies of Islam began and ended with the unspoken presumption that Islam was not a revelation, but a phenomenon contrived merely by human agency in a particular historical situation. In this chorus the voices of Louis Massignon, H. A. R. Gibb, and Henry Corbin, followed by a later generation of sympathetic Western scholars such as Annemarie Schimmel, remain truly exceptional.

It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that born Muslims well versed in Western languages and methods of research and expression began to write in-depth works on Islam in European languages to explain the tradition in a serious way to the Western audience. They were joined in this task by a number of Western intellectual and spiritual figures and scholars who had been able to penetrate the Islamic universe of meaning and to speak and write from within the Islamic tradition. As a result of the efforts of these two groups, a number of authentic and profound books on various aspects of Islam appeared in English and other European languages.

In contrast to earlier periods, such works were at least available, but their voices continued to be drowned out by the cacophonies of those who rejected Islam from positions of either Christian or Jewish polemicism or secular agnosticism. In fact, there is no religion about which so much has been written in the West by those opposed to it as Islam. No such parallel can be found for Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, or Buddhism.

Since the September 11 tragedy, with the rise of interest in Islamic matters, the cacophony has become louder, necessitating an explanation of the authentic teachings of Islam anew in light of the challenges of the present-day situation. This book is a humble effort toward achieving this end. It was commissioned by Harper San Francisco and has been written with the express purpose of explaining certain basic aspects of Islam and widely discussed issues in a manner acceptable to mainstream Islamic thought and comprehensible to the general Western public. It seeks to render a service to all those Westerners genuinely interested in understanding authentic Islam and its relation to the West rather than relying on the distorted images of Islam often presented to them. Needless to say, in a single book of this size it is not possible to deal with all the relevant issues, but I have sought to deal at least with the most significant ones Preface ix in an effort to open a spiritual and intellectual space for mutual understanding. I also point to principles enabling Muslims and Westerners alike to live in peace and harmony with each other and to join hands against all those from both sides who seek to fan the fire of hatred and to precipitate clashes of civilizations and nations.

I wish to thank Stephen Hanselman of Harper San Francisco for his many suggestions for the book, Katherine O’Brien for helping to prepare the manuscript for publication, and Joseph Lumbard for proofreading the manuscript. May this humble effort serve as a small step toward bringing about better understanding between people of good will in the West and in the Islamic world.

Bethesda, Maryland

March 2002

Dhu’l-hijjah a.h. 1423

CHAPTER ONE: ONE GOD, MANY PROPHETS

The Unity of Truth and the Multiplicity of Revelations

Say: He, God, is One, God the Self-Sufficient Besought of all.

He begetteth not, nor is begotten, and none is like Him.

Quran 112: v.1-41