The Muslims of America

By Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad | Go to book overview

apologetic to others. This is based not only on the grounds that he has said and said well what is important in this connection, but that the very resources he brings to the task of pursuing the transcendent dimension of interfaith conversation argue for his continued attention to such concerns. One hopes that the present situation of Islam in the world context, and perhaps especially of Muslims in America, does not dictate that a scholar of the capacity of Hossein Nasr remain unnecessarily locked into a cycle of defense, well-articulated as that position may be. Were he to be able to continue to apply his considerable skills, knowledge, and insight to further investigations of the esoteric and sapential dimensions of religion in general and Islam in particular, he would, in this writer's opinion, serve both traditional Islam and the cause of interfaith understanding.

A final word needs to be said, given the context of this presentation, about the ramifications of Hossein Nasr's analysis for those Muslims living in the West and particularly in America. To talk about the influence of secularism and rationalism is one thing, and a matter to which he certainly is not alone in having turned his attention. But a deeper concern comes out of Nasr's writings that I think must be addressed—his emphasis on context, atmosphere, and ambiance. What does it mean for Muslims to live in an environment that is not part of an ongoing tradition, in which there are not even remnants of Islamic civilization, art and architecture, history and philosophy? If the "totality" is wrong, is there hope that the remnant community can ever achieve that goal of movement from the periphery to the Center to which Nasr is so firmly committed and of whose validity he is so deeply persuaded?

I leave that important and potentially troubling matter—troubling at least to those who share Seyyed Hossein Nasr's convictions—to the Islamic community in America to ponder.


Notes
1.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Traditional Islam in the Modern World ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), p. viii; Islam and the Flight of Modern Man ( London: Longman Group Ltd., 1975), p. xi. Unless otherwise noted, all works cited are those of Nasr.
2.
Traditional Islam, p. viii.
3.
Islamic Life and Thought ( Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981), p. 2.
4.
"The School of Ispahan," in M. M. Sharif, ed., A History of Muslim Philosophy, II ( Karachi: Royal Book Co., 1983), p. 905.
5.
The Plight of Modern Man, p. 123; see also Traditional Islam, p. 207.
6.
Islamic Life and Thought, p. 2.
7.
Edward Said, Orientalism ( New York: Pantheon, 1978).
8.
Ideals and Realities of Islam ( New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1967), p. 78.
9.
Ibid., p. 250; The Plight of Modern Man, pp. 7-8, 125; Islamic Life and Thought, p. 33.

-92-

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