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The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity Paperback – August 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060730641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060730642
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nasr, a professor at George Washington University and a living legend in Islamic studies, was commissioned by Harper San Francisco to write this book after the attacks of September 11. Presented as "an explanation of the authentic teachings of Islam anew in light of the challenges of the present-day situation," this is an adequate and accurate reference tool, particularly for comparisons of the text of the holy books of the three major, monotheistic Western religions. Further, Nasr's ability to perceive profound spiritual meaning from Islamic theory, though exploited only a few times in this book, has no rival. The writing is best when he's discussing his own life. He also succeeds when taking on current critics of Islam, especially his persuasive counter-arguments to the "What Went Wrong?" school of thought. However, Nasr's fans, and those seeking to improve their understanding of Islam, will be disappointed. In aiming to discuss each value that is significant in Islam, Nasr has created an unfocused, sometimes dull book. He discusses the importance of values like justice and community and distinguishes between true Islam and local, tribal culture, but the absence of a guiding thesis alienates the reader. Though his purpose is to counter negativity about Islam in the post-9/11 era, Nasr instead rambles on about esoteric, irrelevant points. This is an unengaging read that fails to illuminate the titular "heart" of Islam.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

HarperCollins commissioned this book to cut through misinformation and give American readers a clear sense of just what Islam is and what it isn't. A first-tier Islamic scholar, Nasr (George Washington Univ.) speaks for traditional Muslims (as distinct from "modernists" and "puritan reformers"), and it is hard to imagine a better introduction to the faith. Nasr does not sidestep the issues that non-Muslims have on their minds, but he addresses them within the context of the vitality and vision of Islam more generally. In the process, he conveys both the "outer sense" of the Qur'anic scripture and sacred traditions that shape the faith as a social phenomenon, and the "inner sense" that is the root of its spiritual power. Nasr does a very good job of expounding the commonalties and contrasts of Islam with other faiths, especially Judaism and Christianity. Rather than seeing Islamic strength as a threat, he argues that Islam and other religions share values that commit them to opposing the deadening effects both spiritual and literal of secularism and globalization. Recommended for all academic and public libraries. Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It's a true look at Islamic theology.
143
Mr Nasr kept the premise simple yet supplied much information which was disseminated in a very readable fashion.
John J. Lyons Jr.
Its the best book for anyone wanting to know the truth about islam.
P. Ndiour

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Ogara on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've read all the previous reviews on Amazon on this book, and I was surprised to find what I consider to be the major message of this book overlooked by all the reviews.

First of all, let me say that I found this to be an excellent, elegant exposition of just what the title indicates - the "Heart of Islam." Professor Nasr explains better that any other writer I have ever read just what things like love and justice mean to Muslim inner life. On the one hand, he was addressing the post 9/11 world, and attempting to nurture a sense of balance about what the terrorist attacks meant, from a mainstream Muslim perspective. That believers of religions do not always live up to the ideals expressed by their faith is nothing new, and Professor Nasr certainly isn't trying to deny that.

But another major point - one suggested by the subtitle "Enduring Values for Humanity", and one that has taken on a more serious demeanor since 9/11 - was Professor Nasr's attempt to show that Islam, as a society, sees itself as threatened by secularism and globalism, which are basically western creations which western society has assumed, without any really good reason, to have a universal application, and which western governments, from the beginning of the imperialist period up to the present, have foisted on the Middle East, theoretically in its own good.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Following 9/11, the misinformation and prejudice directed at this religion have left most Americans ill-equipped to understand global events. While the neo-conservative administration hawks, Christian fundamentalists and Fox News all have reason to poison the minds of Americans and turn the tragic and despicable events of 9/11 into a clash of civilizations, this book will help us realize that our war is not with Islam, but with a group of terrorists that need to be stopped. These terrorists no more speak for Islam as the people on Fox News speak for me. This book is a must read for anyone who wishes to undertsand this religion. All others, tune in and get your propaganda straight from Fox's talking heads.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By 3rdeadly3rd on November 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Seyyed Hossein Nasr may not be the most well-known Muslim author in the West, but that is to our detriment. This Iranian-born philosopher is clearly one of the more compelling voices in his faith and one which should be heard much more often.

"The Heart of Islam" is, as the title suggests, another book which sets out to explain the basics of Islam for a Western audience. What sets this one apart from the rest - totally aside from Nasr's abilities as a writer - is the fact that the same author has to his credit "The Young Muslim's Guide To The West". Nasr, it would seem, is quite gifted at explaining cultures to each other.

The basics of the religion are all present and correct. In fact, as a specialist in the field, I find that Nasr's outline of the basics is often superior to many other authors as he breaks down the various types of action (permissible, forbidden and so on) with scriptural examples - which is a feature very few books have. If all you're after is a quick run through the basics, though, the Five Pillars and so on are more than covered here. There is also a well-argued piece on jihad, that area of Muslim doctrine which is so easily misunderstood.

For the beginner, however, "Heart of Islam" may not be the best book to buy. Nasr's style of writing is a little too literary at times and his approach to various aspects of his religion is slightly more mystical than perhaps it should be. I understand that he describes himself as something of a Sufi, which would also explain the prominence he gives the Sufi concepts of "tariqa" and the like. This is not to say that Sufism should be ignored totally, but there is a risk of losing perspective with the structure Nasr has adopted here.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For a more in-depth look at the underlying values of Islam and its lessons for humanity as a whole, Seyyed Nasr's intellectual analysis presented in The Heart Of Islam, offers a focus on the spiritual and social values of Islam: peace, compassion, and social justice. Islamic scripture and traditional sources are probed, counterparts in other faiths are contrasted, and Nasr challenges others to understand Muslim society and beliefs � including his own people.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Nasr offers another great book on Islam with the intellectual depth and honest, unapologetic , style that can only come from a true scholar whose only goal is the truth. Set aside all the other books you have bought in an attempt to understand Islam after 9/11, this is the only one you really need to read.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Shobert on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Too many Christians fall into the trap of believing their own press when it comes to other religions. Having a dialogue with other faiths is much harder, particularly on your own beliefs, when you set aside your own "experts" and entertain the beliefs of others from within their own community. I think this is the heart of real dialogue. For American Christians, Nasr's book is a must-read if you wish to have the slightest insight into what Islam is really about. I found much to build on with Muslims and look forward to learning more about this faith.
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