Islamic Life and Thought by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

By Seyyed Hossein Nasr

This choice of essays via the most effective recognized modern Muslim students writing in English covers many aspects of Islamic lifestyles and notion. the writer has introduced jointly experiences facing the sensible in addition to highbrow elements of Islam in either their ancient and modern fact. The modern importance of issues resembling faith and secularism, the that means of freedom, and the culture of Islamic technological know-how and philosophy is given specific awareness.

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Of course we do not propose that Muslims should remain oblivious of the world around them. This is neither desirable nor possible. No Islamic state can avoid owning trains and planes, but Muslims can avoid hanging surrealistic paintings on their walls. By this is meant that there are certain conditions in twentieth-century life which the Muslim world cannot alter and with which it must live while others can be avoided. The whole difference lies in the attitude towards the modern world. One can regard a situation as one in which it is difficult to practise the Shari'ah* fully, not because the Shari'ah* itself is imperfect, but because the conditions in which we live have fallen short of those immutable principles which of necessity ultimately govern all things.

That is the basic reason why Westerners cannot usually understand the meaning of the Shari'ah * and Westernised Muslims approach the problems of Islamic Law in the modern world from the point of view so prevalent today. To this misunderstanding must be added the psychological factors which are the result of centuries of pressure imposed by the West on all Oriental civilisations. In the minds of many Muslims, there is a sense of inferiority visà-vis the West, which forces them to be its blind followers and to regard their own tradition either with disdain or at best with an attitude of apologetic acceptance.

On the contrary, he should consciously uphold and be proud of the Islamic tradition with all its intellectual and spiritual riches and not see Islam just as a simple rational faith devoid of a spiritual dimension as some have tried to make it. At the same time, he must know the Western world well, know it well but not in a second-hand fashion that would make him take for new clothing what has already been discarded by the Western intelligentsia. He must know the inner forces that motivate the Western mind and have a clear grasp of the philosophical, scientific, religious, artistic and social life of the West in their religious and historical roots as well as in their present-day manifestations.

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