May 22, 2002

Prominent Islamic scholar Seyyed Nasr has sharply criticized the American Muslim community for what he called a failure to explain "the truth of Islam" to other Americans following the Sept. 11 terrorist acts.

"All that one has to do is turn to the media and even bookstores ... 90 percent [of books] are written by people who hate Islam," Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University in Washington told a mostly Muslim audience of academics, activists and journalists at an American Muslim conference at Georgetown University Conference Center April 23.

"The thirst is being quenched by something that is not pure water," he said at one of the conference's sessions, "Muslims in America Since Sept. 11: Challenges and Opportunities."

Nasr said American Muslims must step out of their "cocoons" and live up to the responsibility of explaining the intellectual tradition of Islam, which he said is based on spiritual life, moral order, philosophy, virtue and a universal metaphysics.

To do that, Muslims must move into new areas that will allow them to project their views: the media and the intellectual and political centers in the country, he said. Instead, Muslims have gravitated toward science-related fields.

"They [American Muslims] must have people who can sit down with Larry King... and not be toppled over in five minutes - who can stand their own ground and who know the West well enough to do so," he said.

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