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Ideals and Realities of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr pdf

Book Title Ideals And Realities Of Islam By Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Book AuthorSeyyed Hossein Nasr
Total Pages246
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Ideals and Realities of Islam by Seyyed Hossein Nasr


Islam-The Last Religion and The Primordial Religion-Its Universal and Particular Traits

every revealed religion is the religion and religion, the religion in as much as it contains within itself the Truth and means of attaining the Truth, a religion since it

emphasizes a particular aspect of the Truth in conformity with the spiritual and psychological needs of the humanity for whom it is destined and to whom it is addressed. Religion itself is derived from the word religio whose root meaning is to bind.

 It is that which binds man to the truth. As such every religion possesses ultimately two essential elements which are”its basis and foundation:

a doctrine which distinguishes between the Absolute and the relative, between the absolutely Real and the relatively real, between that which has absolute value and that whose value is relative; and a method of concentrating upon the Real, of attaching oneself to the Absolute and living according to the Will of Heaven in accordance with the purpose and meaning of human existence.

These two elements, the doctrine and the method, the means of distinguishing between what is real and what appears to be real, and attaching oneself to the Real, exist in every orthodox and integral religion and are in fact the essence of every religion.

 No religion, whether it be Islam or Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism, can be without a doctrine as to what is Absolute and what is relative. Only the doctrinal language differs from one tradition to another.

Nor can any religion be without a method of concentrating on the Real and living according to It although the means again differ in different traditional climates.

Every religion is rooted in a transcendent Reality that stands above the world of change and becoming. Yet, no religion has claimed that the world on its own level of existence is completely unreal.

Even the Hindu miiyii is not so much illusion as the “Divine play” or lila which veils and hides the Absolute. Were the world and the soul to be completely unreal, there would be no meaning in trying to attach the soul to the Real, to the Absolute.

The doctrine is thus discrimination between the Absolute and the relative and between grades of reality, degrees of universal existence. And the method is pre­cisely the means of attaching the relatively real to the absolutely Real once one realizes that the reality of the soul and the world that surrounds it is not absolute but relative, that both the soul and the world derive their sustenance from a Reality that transcends both the soul and the world.

Now, Islam like every orthodox religion is comprised of a doctrine and a method and it is for us to see how the Islamic revelation deals with these cardinal elements, how it envisages the relation between man and God. It is of course God who is the Absolute and man the relative.

 And it is for man to come to realize this truth, to know that only God is God, that is, only He is the Absolute, and that man is a relative being who stands before Him given the free choice of either accepting or rejecting His Will.

This relation between man and God, or the relative and the Absolute is central in every religion. Only each religion emphasizes a certain aspect of this relationship, while inwardly it contains the Truth as such in its teachings, whatever the outward limitations of its forms might be.

That is why to have lived any religion fully is to have lived all religions and there is nothing more meaningless and even pernicious than to create a syncretism from various religions with a claim to universality while in reality one is doing nothing less than destroying the revealed forms which alone make the attachment of the relative to the Absolute, of man to God, possible.

Without the “dictum of Heaven,” without revelation in its universal sense, no religion is possible and man cannot attach himself to God with­ out God having Himself, through His grace, provided the means for man to do so.

Every orthodox religion is the choice of Heaven and while still intact contains both the doctrine and the method which “save” man from his wretched terrestrial condition and open to him the gates of Heaven.

In the confrontation of man and God, Islam does not emphasize the descent or incarnation or manifestation of the Absolute, nor the fallen, imperfect and sinful nature of man. Rather, it considers man as he is in his essential nature and God as He is in His absolute Reality.

The Islamic perspective is based upon the consideration of the Divine Being as He is in Himself not as He is incarnated in history. It is based on the Absolute and not on the “descent of the Absolute.”

Likewise, Islam considers man not as what he has become after that very significant event which Christianity calls original sin and “fall” but as man is in his primordial nature, in his fitrah, a nature which he bears deep down within his soul.

It might of course be said that not only Islam but every religion is based on God and man’s relation to Him. But there are certain religions which emphasize a particular incarnation of the Divinity or various manifestations of the Absolute.

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