The Value of a Society

"From the Islamic point of view, the value of a society before the eyes of God lies in its virtuous quality, its moral excellence, and not in its power and wealth. It is this basic truth that Muslims must remember as they confront the powerful forces of secularism, globalization, and consumerism that threaten the very foundation of the Islamic order."
The Heart of Islam

The Sacred Body

"The body has also been compared to a city belonging to God and is therefore His domain; although given to us and made obedient to our will, the body is ultimately responsible to God. Furthermore, we are also responsible to God for its preservation and well-being. In any case, the sacredness of the human body, with its correspondences to the macrocosm and even its metacosmic significance, symbolically speaking, is so evident in the various religions of the world that it hardly needs to be debated or demonstrated. It is sufficient to view the sacred architecture of places as different as Luxor and Chartres, all related to the body of what the Sufis call the Universal Man, to realize the universality of the doctrine of the sacredness of the body of the prophet and avatar and by extension of all human beings, a doctrine that still survives to a large extent in many parts of the world."
The Essential Seyyed Hossein Nasr

The Sufi Tradition

"The Sufi tradition contains a vast metaphysical and cosmological set of doctrines elaborated over a long period by masters of gnosis. It contains methods of spiritual realization that address nearly all the different spiritual possibilities on the levels of action, love, and knowledge. It has preserved over many centuries going back to the Prophet a regular chain of transmission of initiatic power (walayah/wilayah) and the grace (al-barakah) necessary for the spiritual journey. And above all, it can enable men and women to reach a state of sanctity."
The Garden of Truth

Sufism as Practice

"I have been concerned with living the spiritual life since my twenties. My association with Sufism is not only in writing about it but more than anything else by living it, besides, of course, practicing Islam which I do most assiduously. I have never missed a prayer a single day, a single time since I was twenty years old except for when I was in the hospital having a heart operation. But even then, I made up the missed prayers later. Nor have I missed fasting except when I have had stomach problems or been incapacitated otherwise. As for specifically Sufi practices, I have engaged in invocation (dhikr) every day of my life during the past fifty years. So both on the level of the practice of the religion and also on the level of spiritual practice itself, I have been associated with the practice of Sufism since my early twenties. Of course that is a private aspect of my life about which I do not usually speak. That is why for those who have only read my books, it appears that I am more interested in the study of Sufism rather than in its practice. But since you asked this question openly, I must say that I agree completely with Thomas Merton as far as my own personal life is concerned."
—In Search of the Sacred

Three Grand Revelations

"There are in fact three grand revelations: the cosmos, the human state, and religions — all three of which Islam sees as "books." There is, first of all, the cosmic book to be read and deciphered. Then there is the inner book of the soul, which we carry within ourselves. And finally, there are the sacred scriptures which have been sent by God through His Mercy to guide humanity throughout the ages and which are the foundations of various religions and keys for reading the other two books, that of the cosmos and that of the soul."
The Heart of Islam

The Perfect Model

"The Prophet exemplifies the virtues of humility; nobility; magnanimity and charity; and truthfulness and sincerity. For Muslims, the Prophet is the perfect model of total humility before God and neighbor; nobility and magnanimity of soul, which means to be strict with oneself but generous, charitable, and forgiving to others; and finally, perfect sincerity, which means to be totally truthful to oneself and to God."
The Heart of Islam


"A term often used by Sufis is found also in most of the major languages of the Islamic peoples. It is adab, which means at once comportment, courtesy, culture, refined speech, literature, correct ethical attitudes, and many other concepts. It is really untranslatable and perhaps should be used in English in its Arabic form like terms such as karma and guru, which have entered English recently from Sanskrit, or jihadfrom Arabic. All traditional societies have tried to inculcate their own forms of adab within members of society from childhood, and Islamic civilization is no exception. For traditional Muslims, adab encompasses nearly all aspects of life from greeting people to eating to sitting in a gathering to entering a place of worship. As for quintessential adab, it has always been associated by Sufis with the actions and words of the Prophet himself. Adab is the means of controlling the passions, which affect and often originate human actions. It is also a way of formalizing human actions in such a way that they display harmony and beauty rather than disorderliness and ugliness."
The Garden of Truth

Sufism and the Mystical Quest

"The presence of Sufism in the world is thus a sign of both the perennial character of the mystical quest and the eternal effusion of the Divine Mercy. It is a reminder of the eternal covenant made between God and man by virtue of which man remains in quest of the Divinity as long as he remains truly human. The man who remembers this pact and his own true identity remains ever faithful to his nature, hence faithful to his quest for the Divinity, for that Divinity which is already present at the centre of his being. Precisely because it is a message of the eternal to what is permanent and abiding within man, Sufism, like other authentic spiritual ways, is perennial and remains engraved in the very texture of the human soul. Men come and go but Sufism remains immutable and transcendent like the vault of heaven, reminding man of the immortality and beatitude that are principle and could become so in fact through Divine grace and his own spiritual effort."
Sufi Essays

The Wisdom of the Body

"The rediscovery of the wisdom of the body and its assertion as authentic knowledge is the key to the reestablishment of the correct rapport with the world of nature and the rediscovery of its sacred quality. As long as we consider the body as a mere machine, it is not possible to take seriously the religious understanding of the order of nature nor to live in harmony with it. To rediscover the body as the theater of Divine Presence and manifestation of Divine Wisdom as well as an aspect of reality that is at once an intimate part of our being and a part of the natural order is to reestablish a bridge between ourselves and the world of nature beyond the merely physical and utilitarian."
The Essential Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Muslims Throughout the World

"As for how a Muslim can live in the modern world, Islam is the last major religion of this world, and God knew of course what He was doing in revealing it. He created Islam in such a way that it is perhaps the easiest of all religions to practice almost no matter where you are, if you really want to practice it. Its laws are such that you can always apply them to yourself. You might not be able to apply them to the whole society if you are a minority in a non-Islamic society, but you can certainly always practice Islam yourself practically no matter where you are. Its rites are such that you can perform them anywhere. You do not need to have, let us say, a priest officiating in a mass in order to participate in the rite of the Eucharist, which is the central rite of Christianity, or have a Brahmin to perform very complicated forms of sacrifice that you have in Hinduism and so forth. In Islam, every man and woman is a priest. All you need is some water to make your ablution and a piece of earth to perform your canonical prayers. You can perform them in Detroit or in Johannesburg, as well as in Cairo or Tehran. You can fast during the month of Ramadan wherever you are. No doubt performing these rites becomes more difficult in the modern world, because of the secularized ambience that is there, no doubt about it; but it is not impossible to live as a practicing Muslim anywhere, even in societies openly opposed to religion such as communist countries."
In Search of the Sacred