As the specter of religious extremism has become a fact of life today, the temptation is great to allow the evil actions and perspectives of a minority to represent an entire tradition. In the case of Islam, there has been much recent confusion in the Western world centered on distorted portrayals of its core values. Born of ignorance, such confusion feeds the very problem at hand.
In The Heart of Islam one of the great intellectual figures in Islamic history offers a timely presentation of the core spiritual and social values of Islam: peace, compassion, social justice, and respect for the other. Seizing this unique moment in history to reflect on the essence of his tradition, Seyyed Hossein Nasr seeks to "open a spiritual and intellectual space for mutual understanding." Exploring Islamic values in scripture, traditional sources, and history, he also shows their clear counterparts in the Jewish and Christian traditions, revealing the common ground of the Abrahamic faiths.
Nasr challenges members of the world's civilizations to stop demonizing others while identifying themselves with pure goodness and to turn instead to a deeper understanding of those shared values that can solve the acute problems facing humanity today. "Muslims must ask themselves what went wrong within their own societies," he writes, "but the West must also pose the same question about itself . . . whether we are Muslims, Jews, Christians, or even secularists, whether we live in the Islamic world or in the West, we are in need of meaning in our lives, of ethical norms to guide our actions, of a vision that would allow us to live at peace with each other and with the rest of God's creation." Such help, he believes, lies at the heart of every religion and can lead the followers of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) as well as other religious and spiritual traditions to a new future of mutual respect and common global purpose.
The Heart of Islam is a landmark presentation of enduring value that offers hope to humanity, and a compelling portrait of the beauty and appeal of the faith of 1.2 billion people.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr is university professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University. Author of over fifty books, Professor Nasr is a well-known and highly respected intellectual figure both in the West and in the Islamic world. Born in Tehran, raised from the age of twelve in the United States, and a graduate of MIT and Harvard University, Nasr is well qualified to explain Islam to a Western audience. He appears frequently on Meet the Press, as well as other national news shows.
“This is exactly the right book... to counter the demonizing stereotypes of Islam proliferated by the war on terrorism” — Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions
“Professor Nasr has put the beauty and appeal of Islam into clear and readable English.” — John Shelby Spong, author of A New Christianity for a New World
“This sensitive, insightful and beautifully written book comes as a ray of sunshine.” — Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God
“Filled with challenge and insight...an indispensable text.” — Rabbi Michael Paley
“A lasting, honest, and intimate tour of Islam’s basic aspects...” — The [New Jersey] Star-Ledger
“A first-tier Islamic scholar ... it is hard to imagine a better introduction to the faith.” — Library Journal
“[I]t is hard to imagine a better introduction to the faith.” — Library Journal
“An illuminating new book that explores the spiritual and social values of the faith of one-fifth of humanity.” — Christian Science Monitor
“The most important study of Islam in all its breadth and all its depth available in the English language.” — Gai Eaton, author of Islam and the Destiny of Man
“Concise, clear, and eloquent, it has the crystalline ring of the voice of reason and cuts through layers of ignorance.” — The World & I