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Jason

Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Shia or Sunni?...

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I'm wondering if anybody here can confirm which branch of Islam does

the scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr adhere too? I've heard from some sources

that he is Shia, but none of the books/interviews I have read of his actually confirm this. Though he has written much on Shiite spirituality, what I have read is written in such a way that it seems to be so extremely unbiased in allowing one to make a distinction as to which particular school Prof. Nasr himself follows. I also heard from someone who said he once knew a close relative(of Nasr) and he is a Sunni, he said he was pretty sure that Nasr is a Sunni as well. And that the Nasr family is originally from a part of Iran which is close to the Turkish border(being sunni territory).

On the The Nasr Foundation bio page http://www.nasrfoundation.org/bios.html

it says "He also traveled to Morocco in North Africa, which had great spiritual significance for Nasr who embraced Sufism in the form taught and practiced by the great Sufi saint of the Maghrib, Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi." Now, the al-Alawi tariqa from what I understand is part of the Shadhiliyyah-Darqawi Order is it not? And is this Order not fundamentally Sunni? Or am I mistaken?

Is it that within certain Tariqas' it matters little as to wheather or not you come from Sunni or Shia backrounds? Or?

I'm just extremely curious as to wheather or not Prof. Nasr is a

practicing Shia sufi or did he perhaps "forsake" Shiism(I'm assuming

he at least was probably raised Shia given his Iranian heritage)to

follow the Shadhili-Alawi tariqa?

Anyone with some knowledge about this, I would greatly like to hear your comments!

God Bless,

Jason

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Guest newshia

As he was a discipline of Allama Tabatabai (great Irani Shia Muslim scholar and gnostic)... how could he not be Shia?

Shia means 'follower' or 'devotee of'. By 'Shia', people mean followers of Imam Ali (as) and all the other Imams (as) (Imam Ali's descendents), and Seyyed Hossein Nasr is surely that, as far as I understand...

I believe that others here will also agree with me. Regarding the other sufis you've mentioned, I believe they also believe in the Imamate...

Perhaps others could say more...

ws

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(bismillah)

(salam)

Wohaaaaaaa, how freaky. I was reading this post, then i scrolled down and saw the google ads, and look what was the first ad (see attached image).

Link was to http://english.spiritusmundi.net/authors/nasr_seyyed.htm

I always suspected he was shia, but looks like he's a suffi.

ws

post-1-1093163192_thumb.jpg

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This is a question I've had as well. I've actually met the man a couple times and prayed with him. I wasn't close to him when we prayed but it seemed to me he prayed like a sunni.

Also I know (very well) several of his students. I never asked any of them whether Sheik Nasr was sunni or shia, BUT all of the students of his I knew were sunni. I think he may be in some "middle ground" between sunni and shia.

His writings have helped and guided a lot of Muslims and non-Muslims in the US and may Allah (swt) reward him for that.

In the end, Allahu Alim.

in peace,

q

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He has written and translated many shia books and documents. He praised and blessed the ahlul bayt in preface and in his writing. I am 100% sure that he is 100% Shia Ithna Ashare. He has also translated and written alot of thing about Iranian Sufism and Irfan, but not sure him being a sufi or Sunni :unsure: Interesting. :huh:

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Wa Salaam,

Seyyed Hossein Nasr's writings on spirituality are written in a style similar to the way Abdul Aziz Sachedina writes regarding Imamate. They both write for academia which is why the books are unemotional and detached, per se.

"Is it that within certain Tariqas' it matters little as to wheather or not you come rom Sunni or Shia backrounds? Or?"

I know many Shi'a who follow the tariqah way. There is even one Shi'a brother that I know who is considered a shaykh within the Qadiriyya tariqah. I have mentioned a Senegalese shaykh before in some of my postings. I know of Shi'a who follow him in the tariqah way. It's not really an issue about Sunni or Shi'a but rather, if both the follower and the teacher are knowledgeable and can distinguish between innovation and halal techniques that can assist you in attaining proximity to S.W.T. So you can say that within the world of spirituality there exists other schools of spiritual fiqh that are not necessarily bound by external fiqh. So, to respond, yes. Yes, there are tariqahs that care less about what school of thought you come from. It may only come into play when you are given a prescription by the shaykh of that particular order for whatever your issue is. The prescription may be in accordance with the shaykh's school of thought. However, there are shaykhs who are knowledgeable of ALL schools of thought and will work with you based upon your orientation.

I got the feeling that Seyyed Nasr was Shi'a. I read his bio at his website and this is what caught my attention.

"Another very important dimension to Nasr's intellectual activities after his return to Iran in 1958, was his program in re-educating himself in Islamic philosophy by learning it at the feet of the masters through the traditional method of oral transmission. He studied hikmah for twenty years under some of the greatest teachers in Iran at the time, reading traditional texts of Islamic philosophy and gnosis, three days a week at the Sepahsalar madrasah in Tehran and also in private homes in Tehran, Qom and Qazwin. Among his venerable teachers were Sayyid Muhammad Kazim Assar, an alim who was an authority on Islamic law, as well as philosophy, and a very close friend of Professor Nasr's father; the great luminary and master of gnosis, Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai and Sayyid Abul-Hasan Qazwini, a great authority on Islamic law and the intellectual sciences who knew mathematics, astronomy and philosophy extremely well. Nasr read and studied several of the major texts of Islamic philosophy under these masters such as the al-Asfar al-arbaah of Mulla Sadra and the Sharh-i manumah of Sabziwari and benefited greatly from the invaluable insights and commentaries provided by them orally. In this way, Nasr had the best educational training both from the modern West and the traditional East, a rare combination which put him in a very special position to speak and write with authority on the numerous issues involved in the encounter between East and West, and tradition and modernity, as demonstrated very clearly by his writings and lectures."

May Allah bless you all.

Wa Salaam,

Djibril

Edited by Bro.Djibril

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I sent an e-mail to the Nasr Foundation but I recieved a "mailer-deamon" almost immidietly. Would anyone hear know of an alternate e-mail other than info@nasrfoundation.org for the Foundation or perhaps how I could get in contact with Prof. Nasr directly to clarify this issue? In reality it certainly is not an "issue", but with the tremendous influence this great man has had on the Muslim intellectual world and beyond I think this information should be known. I mean with most Muslim scholars there usually is no doubt as it is either openly stated by them in books and or interviews article etc., whether or not they are Sunni or Shia.

In Prof. Nasr's case this seems to be a mystery. I tend to think he might be on some sort of "middle ground" as well(but how would one do that??). Oh well, if anybody could clarify it would be nice.

Jason

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I'm wondering if anybody here can confirm which branch of Islam does

the scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr adhere too? I've heard from some sources

that he is Shia, but none of the books/interviews I have read of his actually confirm this. Though he has written much on Shiite spirituality, what I have read is written in such a way that it seems to be so extremely unbiased in allowing one to make a distinction as to which particular school Prof. Nasr himself follows. I also heard from someone who said he once knew a close relative(of Nasr) and he is a Sunni, he said he was pretty sure that Nasr is a Sunni as well. And that the Nasr family is originally from a part of Iran which is close to the Turkish border(being sunni territory).

On the The Nasr Foundation bio page http://www.nasrfoundation.org/bios.html

it says "He also traveled to Morocco in North Africa, which had great spiritual significance for Nasr who embraced Sufism in the form taught and practiced by the great Sufi saint of the Maghrib, Shaykh Ahmad al-Alawi." Now, the al-Alawi tariqa from what I understand is part of the Shadhiliyyah-Darqawi Order is it not? And is this Order not fundamentally Sunni? Or am I mistaken?

Is it that within certain Tariqas' it matters little as to wheather or not you come from Sunni or Shia backrounds? Or?

I'm just extremely curious as to wheather or not Prof. Nasr is a

practicing Shia sufi or did he perhaps "forsake" Shiism(I'm assuming

he at least was probably raised Shia given his Iranian heritage)to

follow the Shadhili-Alawi tariqa?

Anyone with some knowledge about this, I would greatly like to hear your comments!

God Bless,

Jason

Sayyid Nasr is a Twelver Shia, but one who is a renowned exponent of the "perennial" philosophy within Islam i.e. he draws attention to what the major world religions have in common , as well as what the divisions within islam have in common with each other, rather than highlight their differences.

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Nasr was my professor and mentor at The George Washington University; I have taken all of his courses, as well as his colleague Professor Mohammad Faghfoory's courses. Nasr is the least biased. He thought majorly Sunni-based courses without any sign of bias towards either sect. Faghfoory is more biased in favor of Shiism (he is definitely Shia). I also have strong ties with the two Sufi Orders, Naqshbandi (Abu Bakr Golden Chain) and Mevlevi (Ali Golden Chain), which he is also close to. Nasr is closer to the American Mevlevi Order, although he recently cut ties due to the amount of women versus men. Because he is a Sufi, that does not mean he is not Sunni or Shia - both sects follow the Tariqah and it is the largest misconception that Sufism is a sect (it is not). He was responsible for recommending me to a local Sunni-based Islamic institute, so that may or may not say something about his faith. Nasr was denied an Islamic honor, because he is Shia (or at least of Shia background). If he had converted to Sunni Islam from Shia Islam, I believe that would be enough for him to receive the Sunni award. Further, he was a disciple of Ayatollah Tabatabai. None of his books talk about Sunni fiqh or theological beliefs (if so, they are briefly mentioned). His Sufi/esoteric books do mention Shia Sufism in great detail. I know for a fact he is not Alawai. I have heard others claim he is Sunni, but from my opinion, having taken his courses, read his books and knew him personally, I would say he is Shia.

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Sorry to burst peoples bubble but Twelver Shi'ah has NOTHING to do sufism. Do you people even read narrations from the Ahlebayt (as) or do you just make up your own interpretation of faith as you see fit?

He's an intelligent, well-read person who loves the Holy Family (as), that suggests at heart he is Shi'ah but I don't know for sure.

Slightly worrying he doesn't say one way or other; you can't be both no matter how many PC Pills you take.

ALI

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Sorry to burst peoples bubble but Twelver Shi'ah has NOTHING to do sufism. Do you people even read narrations from the Ahlebayt (as) or do you just make up your own interpretation of faith as you see fit?

He's an intelligent, well-read person who loves the Holy Family (as), that suggests at heart he is Shi'ah but I don't know for sure.

Slightly worrying he doesn't say one way or other; you can't be both no matter how many PC Pills you take.

ALI

No one, at least for me, is disagreeing with you. But it is something we must acknowledge is Shia do practice Sufism, whether wrong or right. There are specific tariqah requirements for Shia that defer from Sunnis. It's always best to expand one's knowledge :)

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(bismillah)

One thing I covet about the Sufism I have seen is the close relationship between student and teacher; the pure, sincere devotion to Allah سبحانه وتعالى.

في أمان الله

Is Sufism mostly a man thing? Because I can't really imagine a Muslim woman having such a close relationship/bond with her male teacher.

I am assuming being a Sufi master/teacher is a male profession/career.

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No one, at least for me, is disagreeing with you. But it is something we must acknowledge is Shia do practice Sufism, whether wrong or right. There are specific tariqah requirements for Shia that defer from Sunnis. It's always best to expand one's knowledge :)

Agreed, many do. In Indo-Pak region Shi'ah and traditional sufis revere the same awliya, attend the same events - there is lots of similarity in the (outward) behaviour - witness the high esteem for Hazrat Sarkar Lal Shahbaz Qualandar Sahib (ra) in Sindh for example or the joint processions in Muharram in many places.

I didn't mean to come across harshly towards sufis (or Shi'ah who have sufi leanings), just saying that people need to tread carefully as our Imams (as) were quite clear about it although how close modern-day sufi practice is to those times I have no idea.

ALI

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Nasr was my professor and mentor at The George Washington University; I have taken all of his courses, as well as his colleague Professor Mohammad Faghfoory's courses. Nasr is the least biased. He thought majorly Sunni-based courses without any sign of bias towards either sect. Faghfoory is more biased in favor of Shiism (he is definitely Shia). I also have strong ties with the two Sufi Orders, Naqshbandi (Abu Bakr Golden Chain) and Mevlevi (Ali Golden Chain), which he is also close to. Nasr is closer to the American Mevlevi Order, although he recently cut ties due to the amount of women versus men. Because he is a Sufi, that does not mean he is not Sunni or Shia - both sects follow the Tariqah and it is the largest misconception that Sufism is a sect (it is not). He was responsible for recommending me to a local Sunni-based Islamic institute, so that may or may not say something about his faith. Nasr was denied an Islamic honor, because he is Shia (or at least of Shia background). If he had converted to Sunni Islam from Shia Islam, I believe that would be enough for him to receive the Sunni award. Further, he was a disciple of Ayatollah Tabatabai. None of his books talk about Sunni fiqh or theological beliefs (if so, they are briefly mentioned). His Sufi/esoteric books do mention Shia Sufism in great detail. I know for a fact he is not Alawai. I have heard others claim he is Sunni, but from my opinion, having taken his courses, read his books and knew him personally, I would say he is Shia.

Salaam

I have sat in courses taught by Dr.Nasr and Dr.Faghfoory. Dr.Nasr had mentioned in the Foreword to Sheikh Fadhlallah Haeri's Son of Karbala (I am paraphrasing) 'in both Haeri and myself there is a rare meeting of Shadhili Sufi spirituality and Shi'ism.' So I do not think he is a Mevlevi although he has also written forewords to books regarding Mevlevi spirituality such as Shems Friedlander's work on the whirling dervishes. Dr.Faghfoory's translation of a work by a Dhahabiya Sufi Sheikh, Sabzawari Khurasani, titled "The Golden Chain of Sufism in Shi'ite Islam" also shows that he is very much open to Sufism, specially in the introduction to that particular work where he shows no spec of prejudice against Sufism and talks rather reverentially about the Sheikhs of the Dhahabiya Sufi Order (who are Jafari in fiqh and aqeedah).

Also, Dr.Nasr has mentioned he is a twelver Shi'i in this particular lecture available online: http://vimeo.com/25207438

 

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Dr. Nasr is Shi'ite. There is no doubt about that. However, as a scholar of the Perennial philosophy from the Sufi perspective, he doesn't focus too much on sectarian labels. His main concern is the revival and revitalization of a spiritual Islam and Islamic philosophy. Most of the books he writes on Sufism pay very special attention to the historical Shi'ite understanding and practice of Sufism. As far as I'm aware, he's one of the foremost scholars and lecturers in the English and Persian speaking world on this subject. 

 

Dr. Nasr's concern though is not focusing too much on sectarian differences between the sects and branches of Islam, but rather helping to build bridges of understanding between Sunnis, Shi'ites and Sufis, between Muslims and non-Muslims and combating modernist philosophies. It's clear his own personal beliefs and practice of Islam leans in a Shi'ite direction as he focuses so much on Sufi-Shi'ite studies and defending Shi'ism from the standpoint of Sunni teachings and comes from a Shi'ite background. He has links to members of a number of Sufi orders, both of Shi'ite and Sunni. One Sufi teacher he had personal and scholarly connections to in particular was Frithjof Schuon, who he references in a number of his works on Sufism as an authority. However, Dr. Nasr also wrote an introduction to Allamah Hussayn Tabatabai's overview of Shi'ite Islam, which he himself also translated from its original Persian.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shiite-Allamah-Sayyid-Muhammad-Tabatabai/dp/0873953908

 

While from my perspective, Dr. Nasr is definitely a true Shi'ite of a legitimately Sufi persuasion, if you were to ask him personally what he was, he would probably just say "Muslim," and leave it at that (most of the time).  :)

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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almost all the Sufi chains of transmission of gnosis/irfan/spiritual knowledge trace their origins through the Babul Ilm Maula Ali, which fact alone should be a very strong sign for the followers of Imam Ali as to the veracity of this source of strengthening Iman; the whole world is undergoing a spiritual rennaissance of sorts -isn't it time for the Shias, too, to move from Majlisi to Sadra?

Edited by arius

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interesting note is Mulla sadra gave allama majlisi permission to narrate hadith ^

Henry corbin  believed the issue with sufism (in our hadith) is that they decented from Ahlul Bayt (AS) this is why we do not hold everything found in sufism to be correct and we have our own brand of spirituality called irfan. 

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Salaam

I have sat in courses taught by Dr.Nasr and Dr.Faghfoory. Dr.Nasr had mentioned in the Foreword to Sheikh Fadhlallah Haeri's Son of Karbala (I am paraphrasing) 'in both Haeri and myself there is a rare meeting of Shadhili Sufi spirituality and Shi'ism.' So I do not think he is a Mevlevi although he has also written forewords to books regarding Mevlevi spirituality such as Shems Friedlander's work on the whirling dervishes. Dr.Faghfoory's translation of a work by a Dhahabiya Sufi Sheikh, Sabzawari Khurasani, titled "The Golden Chain of Sufism in Shi'ite Islam" also shows that he is very much open to Sufism, specially in the introduction to that particular work where he shows no spec of prejudice against Sufism and talks rather reverentially about the Sheikhs of the Dhahabiya Sufi Order (who are Jafari in fiqh and aqeedah).

Also, Dr.Nasr has mentioned he is a twelver Shi'i in this particular lecture available online: http://vimeo.com/25207438

 

 

Thanks, this video is 100% confirmation that he's a Shi'i. For a second he said "I was born a Shi'ite" and I thought to myself, "born" so perhaps he changed? But then he said that when he speaks today he needs to speak in such a way that Sunnis will also listen to him (thus meaning that he's a Shi'i). He also mentions in that video that some Sunnis were concerned about one of his books because he was a Persian Shi'i and Hassan Nadwi (whom he knows) said that he'd give a fatwa for them to read it. Notice here all throughout he's confirming and reconfirming that he's a Shi'i. 

 

I think part of the doubt lies in the fact that he speaks in such a way so as not to alienate people from the core message he's trying to convey, namely that Islam is a rich intellectual and spiritual message and his respectful tone to the Sunni heritage might make him misunderstood. With his attitude he has managed to get many Sunnis to respect the Shi'i intellectual heritage, something which many politically incorrect Shias have failed to do (in fact they have managed to do the opposite).

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I had never heard of this Scholar before but after a quick search he sounds as if he's on some kind of middle ground, which I think is great. No divisions within Islam seems to be an opinion of his. I found this interesting though.

He was nominated and won King Faisal Foundation award, but his prize was withdrawn upon the prize knowledge of his being a Shia. He was notified of winning the prize in 1979 but later the prize was withdrawn with no explanation.

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Without a doubt he is shi'a. This was answered for me years ago. From disciples of his. Somewhere in this video series below (do not have the time to see which part, or find the time frame...sorry), he states unequivocally that he "is of the Ahlul Bayt". For any who doubt just watch the videos and look for the statement. No more confusion. End of story.

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Al-salamu alaykum,

 

Seyyed Hossein Nasr relates the following in "The Philosophy of Seyyed Hossein Nasr":

 

"During the Strasbourg colloquium, one day Corbin and I took a walk to Mont St. Odile, the church and mausoleum of the tenth-century saint who had brought Christianity to that region of northern Europe. We stood on the hill where the mausoleum is located, behind us France and before us the Black Forest and Germany. Corbin put his arms around my shoulders and said that when he was young he had descended from the trail stretching now before us to go to Fribourg to meet Heidegger. Then he added with a smile, "Now that I have a Shi'ite philosopher standing by my side, I do not need to descend on that path again." (p.49-50.)

 

He also states in another source (which I don't currently have access to) that he was invited to attend and present a paper at a conference in Saudi Arabia (if I remember correctly) but once they discovered he was a Shi'i they revoked the invitation.  

 

I also heard him state it in one his speeches, but I cannot recall at this moment which one it was exactly.  In the event that I do, I'll post it insha'Allah.

 

Wassalam.

Edited by Ruh.Mujarad

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