Wednesday, March 30, 2011

His Malaysian students

I began to have students from Southeast Asia, specially from Malaysia, and some of my best students belonged to this group, including Osman Bakar, who is today one of the greatest scholars in Malaysia and the Malay world. Like Haddad Adel, he also studied mostly the Islamic philosophy of science along with Sufism with me. Along with Chittick, Pourjavadi, A‘vani, and Haddad Adel, I consider him among my best students in the field of Islamic thought. Anyway, Osman Bakar has done even more work in the field of Islamic science than Haddad Adel, because after the advent of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 Haddad Adel became deputy minister of the ministry of Irshad and then head of The Academy of Letters (Fahangestan-e Adab), followed by speakership of the parliament, and has not done as much work until now in the field of the Islamic philosophy of science as well as philosophy in general as I had hoped he would, although he has made important contributions in other fields. Like myself, he began in physics and then shifted to philosophy. He was a physics student at Pahlavi University in Shiraz when I gave a lecture on Mulla Sadra there. That event changed his life, and he decided to devote himself completely to the study of philosophy, especially Islamic philosophy. Along with him, there was also a friend of his, Ahmad Jalali, who was the Iranian Ambassador to UNESCO until recently. He also became my student for many years and then went from Iran to Oxford. These men belonged to that period of my training of students.

To come back to my Malay students, I must mention Zailan Moris, who did her Ph.D. thesis on Mulla Sadra with me here in Washington. She is, as far as I know, the only distinguished woman philosopher of the Malaysian world in the field of Islamic philosophy and also comparative philosophy. There is also Baharuddin Ahmad, now a well-known scholar of comparative mysticism in Kuala Lumpur, and Saleh Yaapar, who later became dean of humanities at the University of Penang and who is one of the leading literary figures of the Malay world, and his wife Fatimah. Both of them did their Ph.D. work with me. I also wish to mention Ali Abd al-Aziz, who did his thesis on Islamic law under me and Faruqı. There are many other Malay and Indonesian students whom I shall not mention here. But I need to refer to two students, Sulayman and Khadijah, who studied with me but did not do their Ph.D. under my care. They were both interested in Islamic art and both are today among the leading figures in the art world of Malaysia. So after 1979, I had for the first time a whole group of students from that part of the world, whom I had not had in Iran. Now they have become distinguished scholars and leaders in their countries.

Reference:  Nasr, S. H. (2010). In Search of the Sacred : A Conversation with Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought/Seyyed Hossein Nasr with Ramin Jahanbegloo; Introduction by Terry Moore. California: Praeger. p. 71-72

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