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The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity

The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity [Kindle Edition]

Seyyed Hossein Nasr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Description


“This sensitive, insightful and beautifully written book comes as a ray of sunshine.” Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God

“Filled with challenge and insight… an indispensable text.” Rabbi Michael Paley

“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

“A lasting, honest, and intimate tour of Islam’s basic aspects…” The [New Jersey] Star-Ledger

Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 548 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (17 Mar 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC123W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #410,916 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Gareth Smyth VINE VOICE
Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s ‘The Heart of Islam’ is not so much a survey of, or indeed and introduction to, Islam, as a restoration of the centrality of ‘tawhid’ or one-ness in Islam and so an attempt to counter those who blow certain of its aspects out of proportion.
His main target audience seems to be westerners, especially those who are skeptical of the ridiculous images and misunderstandings of Muslims relayed by the dumbed-down international media (one recent example was the BBC’s Paul Wood, who told us during the Iraq war there was “no tradition of martyrdom in Iraq”).
But that such demonizing can succeed – witness the random attacks on Muslims after September 11 – is testimony to the remarkable fact that one can be considered “educated” in the west without having any knowledge whatsoever about the faith which historically protected much of the earliest western thought and is today followed by one-fifth of the people on the planet.
Parts of the book have a defensive tone (as Seyyed Hossein “protects” Islam against western distortions), and it reads far better when he outlines the extraordinary ready-made contribution Islam can make to the really big issues facing the world – international justice, economic inequality, man’s relationship to nature and the universe.
Seyyed Hossein argues compelling that the man-centred approach of secularism has contributed massively to the disruptions and lack of balance in the modern world. This is a message that any reader – Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist – might find stimulating. It is certainly one the non-Muslim world needs badly to hear.
And he argues too that Muslims can find the confidence to confront the modernism, globalism and often western-backed tyranny that threatens them by reaching back into the riches of their own traditions for renewal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will open up your heart. A vital read. 29 Dec 2005
An excellent book; a vital read for any Westerner who wants to know the truth about Islam and for any western muslim who feels jaded by the modern fundementalist and extremist phenomenon in modern times and wants to go back and find out more about the traditional heart of the religion.
This book serves as an excellent introduction and is also an easy, exciting read from start to finish.
Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most flowing and lucid writing 31 May 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book highlights the indivudual intellectual evolution intended for man and womankind throughout their lives. The writing is most gracious and generic without being patronising. This is not just a book for non-muslims but muslims as well so we can prevent our minds from misinterpreting a universal message constantly under threat of dogma and bias both from within and outside the Muslim community
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5.0 out of 5 stars Islam - a detailed overview 15 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very interesting overview of this major religion.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Dandelo
Not the most exciting read. Westerners certainly need to get to grips more with what Islam is all about but this book is not the way in for most.

The problem is it is just too balanced and ends up being bland.You get the feeling that the author is being too defensive and trying to iron out anything that might offend anyone.

The real problem for Muslims and all of us have is how you can reconcile a religion that rejects the secular society with the secular society most westerners want to have. This book deals with this fundamental problem by pretending it does not exist.

Most readers would probably wish to know a bit more about differences within Islam as between Sunni and Shi'ite and certainly you can't understand Islam without going into this. The Sufis get very little mention.

I read a previous book by Mr Nasr called Traditional Islam in the Modern World which I found to be an eye opener. It is particularly good in explaining why Muslims have a problem with aspects of the West. For instance, it explains why Muslims can't stand Baroque architecture.

That kind of revealing detail is absent from this book but nevertheless it is good in its limited way
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If the great sin in Christianity is disobedience, which has warped the will, the great sin in Islam is forgetfulness and the resulting inability of the intelligence to function in the way that God created it as the means to know the One. That is why the greatest sin in Islam and the only one God does not forgive is shirk, or taking a partner unto God, which means denying the Oneness of God, or tawhd. &quote;
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The two primary features of being human are servanthood and vicegerency: being passive toward Heaven in submission to God’s Will, on the one hand, and being active as God’s agent and doing His Will in the world, on the other. &quote;
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The call of Islam therefore concerns, above all, the remembrance of a knowledge deeply embedded in our being, the confirmation of a knowledge that saves, hence the soteriological function of knowledge in Islam. &quote;
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