A comprehensive overview of the Islamic philosophical tradition.
Islamic Philosophy from Its Origin to the Present offers a comprehensive overview of Islamic philosophy from the ninth century to the present day. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr attests, within this tradition, philosophizing is done in a world in which prophecy is the central reality of life -- a reality related not only to the realms of action and ethics but also to the realm of knowledge. Comparisons with Jewish and Christian philosophies highlight the relation between reason and revelation, that is, philosophy and religion.
Nasr presents Islamic philosophy in relation to the Islamic tradition as a whole, but always treats this philosophy as philosophy, not simply as intellectual history. In addition to chapters dealing with the general historical development of Islamic philosophy, several chapters are devoted to later and mostly unknown philosophers. The work also pays particular attention to the Persian tradition.
Nasr stresses that the Islamic tradition is a living tradition with significance for the contemporary Islamic world and its relationship with the West. In providing this seminal introduction to a tradition little-understood in the West, Nasr also shows readers that Islamic philosophy has much to offer the contemporary world as a whole.
“Nasr explores varied approaches to the Muslim philosophic concepts of hikmah and falsafa throughout history, but at all times stresses the inexorable connection in Islamic thought between the philosophic sciences and the Muslim faith, emphasizing that Islamic philosophy ‘functions in the world of prophecy.’” -- Middle East Journal
“Combining history with metaphysical exposition and mature contemplation on the unique character of a philosophy which can flourish ‘in the land of prophecy’, it is not so much a coherent overview as a series of contemplations, crammed with information and ideas, drawing on a lifetime of scholarship and experience … This is a rich and rewarding book, full of information and always concerned to address contemporary issues.” -- Temenos Academy Review
“Nasr once again tackles a complex subject … [he] demonstrates that philosophical rationalism remains largely foreign to the Muslim ethos, even though such rationalism (which led to secularism in the West) was rarely a complete stranger to the Muslim world (despite attempts by Sunni Ash`arites, among others, to suppress it) … Nasr goes far beyond a discussion of ‘Arab’ philosophy, affirming that Islam is a multicultural, polyglot mosaic united in its allegiance to the one God who reveals himself through prophecy.” -- CHOICE
“One of the author’s great gifts is to set down the significance of what is fundamentally at issue in philosophical thinking and to show the relevance of that thinking to the human situation across the board. No one else in the field of Islamic philosophy has such a sweeping vision of what that philosophy has been and is all about, nor is there anyone else who can suggest as clearly why this and kindred traditions are utterly central to us as human beings today.” -- William C. Chittick, author of The Self-Disclosure of God: Principles of Ibn al-Arabi’s Cosmology
Seyyed Hossein Nasr is University Professor of Islamic Studies at The George Washington University. He is the author and editor of many books, including Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization.