Who is Man? The Perennial Answer of Islam

Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Who is this man to whom the world is said to belong, the world or the “earth” which he has conquered yet is on the verge of destroying at the very moment when his conquest seems most complete.

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Modern science may enable man to know how he is constituted chemically or biologically, or where he is in galactic space. But this form of science cannot tell man who he is, where he was before his earthly existence and where he will be after it. It cannot reveal to man where he stands in what has been called “existential space,” in the hierarchy of universal existence. It therefore cannot pro-vide for man “orientation,” for to orient man’s life means to know where he comes from, where he is to go and most of all who he is.

Originally published in Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 2, No.1. Republished here with thanks to World Wisdom Books.

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