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Seyyed Hossein Nasr

historian , Philosopher

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, American philosopher, educator. Recipient Royal Book Award of Iran, 1963, International Gittler prize, Brandeis University, 2010. Chief advisory Al-Furqan Foundation, 1991.


Nasr, Seyyed Hossein was born on April 7, 1933 in Tehran, Iran. Arrived in the United States, 1979. Son of Seyyed Valiallah and Ashraf Kia Nasr.


Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1954. Master of Science in Geology and Geophysics, Harvard University, 1956. Doctor of Philosophy in History of Science and Philosophy, Harvard University, 1958.

Doctor (honorary), University Uppsala, 1979. Doctor (honorary), Lehigh University, 1996.


Teaching assistant Harvard University, 1955-1958. From associate professor history of science and philosophy to professor Tehran University, 1958—1979. Aga Khan professor Islamic studies American University Beirut, 1964—1965.

Professor religion Temple University, Philadelphia, 1979—1984. Professor Islamic studies The George Washington University, Washington, since 1984. A.D. White professor-at-large Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 1991—1997.

Visiting professor Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1962, Cambridge, 65, Princeton University, New Jersey, 1975, University Utah, 1979. Chairman, board governors Iran-Pakistan-Turkey Cultural Institute, 1964—1966. Dean, faculty of letters Tehran University, 1968—1972, vice chancellor, 1970—1971.

Pre. Aryamehr University, 1972—1975. Founder, president Iranian Academy Philosophy, 1974—1979. Member organizing committee Muslim World Educational Conference, Mecca, 1975—1977.

Lecturer, presenter in field.


  • Other Work

    • Author: A Young Muslim's Guide to the Modern World, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, Ideals and Realities of Islam, Islam-Religion, History, and Civilization, Islam and the Plight of Modern Man, Islamic Art and Spirituality, Islamic Life and Thought, Islamic Science-An Illustrated Study, Knowledge and the Sacred, Man and Nature-The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man, Muhammad-Man of God, Religion and the Order of Nature, Science and Civilization in Islam, Sufi Essays, The Islamic Intellectual Tradition in Persia, The Need for Sacred Science, Three Muslim Sages, Traditional Islam in the Modern World, The History of Islamic Philosophy, 2 vols, Ideals and Realities of Islamic, Islam and the Plight of Modern Man, The Transcendent Theosophy of Sadr al-Din Shirazi. Contributor articles to professional journals.


Nasr is a very prolific writer on both modern and traditional Islamic philosophy, and his training in modern Western philosophy has not prevented him from seeing the significance of ishraqi thought. A particularly important contribution which he made to modern Iranian intellectual life was its introduction to more traditional forms of Islamic philosophy in such a way as to show its relevance. He has done much to popularize Suhrawardi’s philosophy, and especially his Persian mystical narratives.

Nasr has dealt with a wide range of topics, ranging from humanity and nature to cosmology, aesthetics and metaphysics. Many of his works undertake to provide a specifically Islamic response to the challenges of modernity. In general, he argues that the spiritual poverty of the West is explained through its secularization of knowledge and the loss of contact with the sacred.

The identification of knowledge with scientific knowledge in a narrow sense has led the springs of sacred knowledge to dry up, and it is now necessary to turn to the East for spiritual refreshment.

Nasr regards metaphysics as the basis of Islamic philosophy, and both ontology and science are linked to a notion of pure being as the origin of existence. Religious law represents the practical side of that existence, and the Qur’an itself has to be related to the inner meaning of the aims of humanity which lie in the nature of being. Like Schuon and Corbin, Nasr sees philosophy in the Islamic world continuing after Averroes in the Shiite world through the influence of Suhrawardi and Sabzawari, with a continuing development of neo-Platonic ideas and Islamic insights into the nature of spiritual harmony and perennial philosophy which represent the progress of wisdom.

This sort of wisdom is common to a variety of religions, but is perhaps most clearly portrayed in mystical and Sufi forms of thought. By showing how these disparate forms of expression are linked with more modern types of philosophy Nasr has gone a long way towards reconciling twentiethcentury philosophy with earlier philosophical approaches in the Islamic world. He has not only influenced contemporary philosophy through his publications, but has been active in organizing conferences and academic institutions for the pursuit of Islamic philosophy.

These have had a considerable impact in the Islamic world.


Chief advisory Al-Furqan Foundation, 1991.


  • Philosophers & Thinkers

    Corbin. Schuon. Mulla Sadra, Avicenna and Shiite thinkers.

  • Other Interests

    Shiite philoSoPhy; mysticism.


Married Soussan Daneshvary. Children: Seyyed Vali Reza, Laili.

Seyyed Valiallah

Ashraf Kia Nasr

Soussan Daneshvary

Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr

Laili Nasr