Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Seyyed Hossein Nasr (/ˈnɑːsər, ˈnæsər/; Persian: سید حسین نصر‎, born April 7, 1933) is an Iranian University Professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University,[15] and an Islamic philosopher. He is the author of scholarly books and articles.[16][17]

Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Hossein nasr.jpg
Seyyed Hossein Nasr at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007
Seyyed Hossein Nasr

(1933-04-07) 7 April 1933 (age 88)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology (SB 1954, Physics)
Harvard University
ChildrenVali Nasr
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionIslamic philosophy
SchoolPerennialism, Sufism
Main interests
Metaphysics, Philosophy of religion, Philosophy of science, Sufism, Islamic philosophy
Notable ideas

Nasr speaks and writes on subjects such as philosophy, religion, spirituality, music, art, architecture, science, literature, civilizational dialogues, and the natural environment. He has also written two books of poetry (Poems of the Way and The Pilgrimage of Life and the Wisdom of Rumi) and has been described as a polymath.[18][19]



Nasr was born in 1933 in south-central Tehran to Seyyed Valiallah, who was a physician to the Persian royal family, and one of the founders of modern education in Iran. He wrote many essays which still remain in manuscript form, some of which have been assembled by Nasr into a book called Danish wa Akhlaq (‘‘Knowledge and Ethics’’).[20] His parents were originally from Kashan. He is a descendant of Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri from his mother's side, through him is related to the communist political leader and urban planner Noureddin Kianouri, is the cousin of Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo as well as the father of American academic Vali Nasr.


Nasr went to Firuz Bahram High School in Tehran[21] before being sent to the United States for education at thirteen. In the US, Nasr first attended Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey, graduating in 1950 as the valedictorian of his class and also winner of the Wyclifte Award.[22]

A scholarship offered by MIT in physics made him the first Iranian undergraduate to attend that university.[23] There, he also began studying under Giorgio de Santillana and others in various other branches such as metaphysics and philosophy. During his studies there he became acquainted with the works of the Traditionalist authority Frithjof Schuon. This school of thought has shaped Nasr's life and thinking ever since. Nasr had been a disciple of Frithjof Schuon for over fifty years and his works are based on the doctrine and the viewpoints of the perennial philosophy.

After receiving an MIT B.S. degree in physics in 1954, Nasr obtained a master's degree in geology and geophysics in 1956, and went on to pursue his PhD degree in the history of science and learning at Harvard University.[24] He planned to write his dissertation under the supervision of George Sarton, but Sarton died before he could begin his dissertation work and so he wrote his dissertation under the direction of I. Bernard Cohen, Hamilton Gibb, and Harry Wolfson.

At the age of twenty-five, Nasr graduated with a PhD from Harvard and completed his first book, Science and Civilization in Islam, the title being a direct tribute to Science and Civilization in China, the work by Joseph Needham which had for task to present to Westerners the complex developments of the history of science and technology in China, a mission Nasr was himself following for the Islamic civilization, "although I was working single-handedly, a twenty-five-year-old scholar, and he had a whole group working with him at Cambridge".[25] His doctoral dissertation entitled "Conceptions of Nature in Islamic Thought" was published in 1964 by Harvard University Press as An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines.

Apart from mastering Arabic he was initially taught in his childhood, during his student years, Nasr also learned different languages, namely French (he could read Guénon and Schuon in the text), Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish and German (mainly to work on Hegel for his PhD thesis).[26]

Back to IranEdit

Nasr began his teaching career in 1955 when he was still a young doctoral student at Harvard University.

After Harvard, Nasr returned to Iran as a professor at the University of Tehran, and also served as the President of Aryamehr University (now Sharif University of Technology) from 1972 to 1975.[4]

Nasr also learned Islamic philosophy from the philosophers Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i, Allameh Sayyed Abul Hasan Rafiee Qazvini and Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Assar during the period leading up to the Revolution.[4]

Nasr was appointed personal secretary to Farah Pahlavi, Empress of Iran, as Head of the Empress's Private Bureau.[27] In 1974 she commissioned him to establish and lead the Imperial Iranian Academy of Philosophy (now the Institute for Research in Philosophy),[27] the first academic institution to be conducted in accordance with the intellectual principles of the Traditionalist School. During that time, Nasr, Tabataba'i, William Chittick, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Kenneth Morgan, Sachiko Murata, Toshihiko Izutsu, and Henry Corbin held various philosophical discourses. The book Shi'ite Islam was one product of this period.

Return to the WestEdit

Nasr in 2002

Upon his return to the west, Nasr took up positions at University of Edinburgh, Temple University, and since 1984 has been at The George Washington University where he is now a full-time University Professor of Islamic Studies.

Nasr helped with the planning and expansion of Islamic and Iranian studies academic programs in several universities such as Princeton, the University of Utah, and the University of Southern California.

He was an advisor for the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet (2002), produced by Unity Productions Foundation.[28]

Awards and honorsEdit


Nasr is the author of over fifty books[34] and five hundred articles (a number of which can be found in the journal, Studies in Comparative Religion) on topics such as Traditionalist metaphysics, Islamic science, religion and the environment, Sufism, and Islamic philosophy.[16] He has written works in Persian, English, French, Arabic and Indonesian.[35] Listed below are most of Nasr's works in English (in chronological order), including translations, edited volumes, and Festschriften in his honor:

As author [16]
  • An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines: Conceptions of Nature and Methods Used for Its Study by the Ikhwan al-Safa, al-Biruni, and Ibn Sina (1964)
  • Three Muslim Sages: Avicenna—Suhrawardi—Ibn Arabi (1964)
  • Ideals and Realities of Islam (1966)
  • Science and Civilization in Islam, with a preface by Giorgio de Santillana (1968)
  • Islamic Studies: Essays on Law and Society, the Sciences, and Philosophy and Sufism (1967)
  • The Encounter of Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man (1968)
  • Sufi Essays (1972)
  • Islam and the Plight of Modern Man (1975)
  • Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study, with photographs by Roland Michaud (1976)
  • Sadr al-Din Shirazi and His Transcendent Theosophy: Background, Life and Works, 2nd edition (1977)
  • Knowledge and the Sacred: The Gifford Lectures,Free Download In Several Formats [36] (1981)
  • Islamic Life and Thought (1981)
  • Islamic Art and Spirituality (1986)[34]
  • Traditional Islam in the Modern World (1987)
  • A Young Muslim's Guide to the Modern World (1993)
  • The Need for a Sacred Science (1993)
  • The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia, edited by Mehdi Aminrazavi (1994)
  • Muhammad: Man of God (1995)
  • Religion and the Order of Nature: The 1994 Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham (1996)
  • Poems of the Way; put to music by Sami Yusuf in Songs of the Way (vol. 1) (1999)
  • Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization (2001)
  • The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity (2002)Free Download
  • Islamic Philosophy from its Origin to the Present: Philosophy in the Land of Prophecy (2006)
  • The Pilgrimage of Life and the Wisdom of Rumi: Poems and Translations (2007)
  • The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism, Islam's Mystical Tradition (2007)
  • Islam, Science, Muslims, and Technology: Seyyed Hossein Nasr in Conversation with Muzaffar Iqbal (2007)
  • The Essential Seyyed Hossein Nasr, edited by William Chittick (2007)
  • Islam in the Modern World (2012)
As editor
  • An Annotated Bibliography of Islamic Science, edited with William Chittick and Peter Zirnis (3 vols., 1975)
  • Isma'ili Contributions to Islamic Culture (1977)
  • The Essential Frithjof Schuon (1986)
  • Shi'ism: Doctrines, Thought, and Spirituality, edited with Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr and Hamid Dabashi (1988)
  • Expectation of the Millennium: Shi'ism in History, edited with Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr and Hamid Dabashi (1989)
  • Islamic Spirituality (Vol. 1: Foundations, 1987; Vol. 2: Manifestations, 1990)
  • Religion of the Heart: Essays Presented to Frithjof Schuon on his Eightieth Birthday, edited with William Stoddart (1991)
  • In Quest of the Sacred: The Modern World in the Light of Tradition, edited with Katherine O'Brien (1994)
  • History of Islamic Philosophy, edited with Oliver Leaman (1995)
  • Mecca the Blessed, Medina the Radiant: The Holiest Cities of Islam, photographs by Kazuyoshi Nomachi; essay by Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1997)
  • An Anthology of Philosophy in Persia, edited with Mehdi Aminrazavi (5 vols., 1st in 1999)
  • The Essential Sophia, edited with Katherine O'Brien (2006)
  • The Study Quran (Editor-in-Chief); Caner Dagli, Maria Dakake, and Joseph Lumbard (General editors); Mohammed Rustom (Assistant editor) (2015)
As translator
  • Shi'ite Islam by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabataba'i
  • The Book of Metaphysical Penetrations by Mulla Sadra (edited, introduced, and annotated by Ibrahim Kalin)
Works about Nasr
  • The Works of Seyyed Hossein Nasr Through His Fortieth Birthday, edited by William Chittick
  • Knowledge is Light: Essays in Honor of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, edited by Zailan Moris
  • Beacon of Knowledge - Essays in Honor of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, edited by Mohammad Faghfoory
  • Islam, Modernity, and the Human Sciences (second part of the book), by Ali Zaidi
  • Religious Pluralism in Christian and Islamic Philosophy: The Thought of John Hick and Seyyed Hossein Nasr, by Adnan Aslan
  • In Search of the Sacred with Ramin Jahanbegloo
  • From the Pen of Seyyed Hossein Nasr: A Bibliography of His Works Through His Eightieth Year, edited by Nicholas Boylston, Oludamini Ogunnaike, and Syed A.H. Zaidi
  • Islam and Modernity: Dissecting the Thought of Seyyed Hossein Nasr: A Discourse on the Compatibility or Incompatibility of Islam with Modernity (Lap Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011) by Musa Yusuf Owoyemi
  • Traditional Islamic Environmentalism: The Vision of Seyyed Hossein Nasr (University Press of America, 2013) by Tarik M. Quadir

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Zbidi, Monika (2013). "Islamic environmentalism: The call to eco-jihad". - Dialogue with the Islamic World. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  2. ^ John Hart (ed.), The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Ecology, John Wiley & Sons, 2017, p. 328.
  3. ^ Nidhal Guessoum (2014). "Islam and Science". In S. Fuller; M. Stenmark; Zackariasson, U. (eds.). The Customization of Science: The Impact of Religious and Political Worldviews on Contemporary Science. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-137-37961-0. "Sacred science, which Seyyed Hossein Nasr developed almost single-handedly (though it was later adopted and defended by several of his disciples)."
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Ramin Jahanbegloo, In Search of the Sacred : A Conversation with Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought, ABC-CLIO (2010), p. 10, 39-40, 45-46, 56, 59, 67, 81-90, 97, 106-108,114-115, 160.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Markwith, Zachary (2009). "Muslim Intellectuals and the Perennial Philosophy in the Twentieth Century". Sophia Perennis. Iranian Institute of Philosophy. 1 (1): 39–98 [84, 85, 90].
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Markwith, Zachary (2010). "Review: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam in the Modern World: Challenged by the West, Threatened by Fundamentalism, Keeping Faith with Tradition". Sacred Web. 28 (1): 103–116 [115].
  7. ^ Mozaffari, A. (2010). Inscribing a Homeland: Iranian Identity and the pre-Islamic and Islamic Collective Imaginations of Place. p. 231
  8. ^ Trine Stauning Willet, Krzysztof Stala, Catharina Raudvere (eds), Rethinking the Space for Religion: New Actors in Central and Southeast Europe on Religion, Authenticity and Belonging (Nordic Academic Press, Jan 1, 2012) p. 269, 272.
  9. ^ John Andrew Morrow, Religion and Revolution: Spiritual and Political Islam in Ernesto Cardenal (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Mar 15, 2012) p.8
  10. ^ Roy Jackson (2020). Muslim and Supermuslim: The Quest for the Perfect Being and Beyond. Springer Nature. p. 112. ISBN 978-3-030-37093-0.
  11. ^ Mathiesen, Kasper (2013). "Anglo-American 'Traditional Islam' and Its Discourse of Orthodoxy". Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies. 13: 191–219. doi:10.5617/jais.4633. ISSN 0806-198X.
  12. ^ a b c d Widiyanto, Asfa (2016). "The Reception of Seyyed Hossein Nasr's Ideas within the Indonesian Intellectual Landscape". Studia Islamika. Center for the Study of Islam and Society, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University of Jakarta. 23 (2). doi:10.15408/sdi.v23i2.3002. ISSN 2355-6145.
  13. ^ Foltz, Richard (2013). "Ecology in Islam". In Runehov, Anne L. C.; Oviedo, Lluis (eds.). Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions. Springer. p. 675. ISBN 978-1402082641.
  14. ^ a b c Tarik M. Quadir (16 September 2013). Traditional Islamic Environmentalism: The Vision of Seyyed Hossein Nasr. UPA. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-7618-6144-7.
  15. ^ "How Freelance Diplomacy Bankrolled by Rockefellers Has Paved the Way for an Iran Deal". Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  16. ^ a b c "Google Scholar Page".
  17. ^ John F Haught, Science and Religion, Georgetown University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-87840-865-7, p.xvii
  18. ^ Egbert Giles Leigh Jr (1998). "Review: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Religion and the Order of Nature", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Volume 44, Number 2, p. 124-126 [124]
  19. ^ Clivre Irving (1979), Crossroads of civilization: 3000 years of Persian history, Littlehampton Book Services, p. 145
  20. ^ Ramin Jahanbegloo, In Search of the Sacred : A Conversation with Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought, ABC-CLIO (2010), p. 4
  21. ^ جهانبگلو. رامین. در جستجوی امر قدسی (مصاحبه با دکتر نصر). نشر نی. 1385
    Interview with Ramin Jahanbegloo in: Dar Jostejooye Amr e Qodsi. ISBN 964-312-848-2 p.229
  22. ^ Sheikh, Nadia. "Islamic scholar calls GW home" Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine, The GW Hatchet, February 20, 2007. Accessed February 5, 2011. "As a 12-year-old, Nasr came to the United States to study at the Peddie School, a New Jersey boarding school where he graduated in 1950 as valedictorian."
  23. ^ "Biography / Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr". 1933-04-07. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  24. ^ "Seyyed Hossein Nasr". The Gifford Lectures. August 18, 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  25. ^ Ramin Jahanbegloo, In Search of the Sacred : A Conversation with Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought, ABC-CLIO (2010), p. 53
  26. ^ Ramin Jahanbegloo, In Search of the Sacred : A Conversation with Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought, ABC-CLIO (2010), p. 47
  27. ^ a b Knight, Michael M. William S. Burroughs vs. The Qur'an, Soft Skull Press, Berkley 2012, p61
  28. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  29. ^ Lewis Edwin Hahn (ed), The Philosophy of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Library of Living Philosophers, Volume XXVIII, Open Court, 2001, ISBN 0-81269-413-9.
  30. ^ "Press Release Archive: University Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr Wins Award For Best Course In America In Science And Religion". Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  31. ^ "Knowledge and the Sacred, Seyyed Hossein Nasr". 1980. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
  32. ^ "Honorary doctorates - Uppsala University, Sweden".
  33. ^ "Charles-Blanc Prize Winners".
  34. ^ a b "Sacred Web Conference contemplates the role of religion in a secular age". The Vancouver Observer. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  35. ^ Jawad, Haifaa "Seyyed Hossein Nasr and the Study of Religion in Contemporary Society" in American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences Vol. 22 No. 2 (2005)
  36. ^ Seyyed Hossein Nasr. "Gifford Lecture Series - Lectures/Books". Archived from the original on 2013-09-23. Retrieved 2013-09-26.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Mohammad Reza Amin
Chancellor of Sharif University of Technology
Succeeded by
Mehdi Zarghamee