Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s latest book on Sufism, The Garden of Truth: The Promise of Sufism, Islam’s Mystical Tradition (p. 56) reveals the mystical branch of Islam.

You’ve written over 50 books, including this new one on Sufism. What was your purpose for this book?

It’s not only a book about Sufism. It’s really a Sufi book to present Sufism to the American reader in an intellectual way.

What is the importance of Sufism in the post-9/11 world?

Sufism is important, whether it be in the post-9/11 world or the pre-9/11 world, because it is the inner, spiritual aspect of Islam. It is one of the best-preserved spiritual traditions in the world today. Terrorism equates a whole tradition with an extremist fringe. Sufism is the other tradition, which plays a very special role in trying to set the balance straight.

Do you think you can still be objective about Muslims even though you are Muslim and a practicing Sufi?

The very word objective here is an imposition upon religion. Can one be Christian and talk about Christianity? This is an absurd dichotomy that has been created. A Muslim can speak objectively. Religion is such that it cannot be reduced to a pure object. People who think they are being totally objective by being disassociated with religion are missing out on a reality of the faith.

Who are the critics of your work and what are their criticisms?

The critics of my work fall into several categories. First, atheistic and secularist philosophies. Second, the older Orientalism, which is based on very narrow studies, paraded around as objective knowledge. The third group is Islamic modernists, who oppose my presentation of traditional Islam, which is holistic as Islam has always been. Finally, there are those fundamentalists who oppose interreligious dialogue and my interest in Islamic art. My writings and my thought represent a view that has many followers and many opponents.

Many of your recent books are 200 pages or less, while similar books are much longer. Why are your books shorter than the average book on Islam?

I have written lengthy books on Islam. In the last few years, I have also written a number of books, which I have tried to prevent from being excessively long for the interested American reader who may find long books unapproachable. These books are not just for scholars in the field.

Are you working on a new book, and if so, what is it about?

I have now put everything aside to work on a study of the Qur’an to be published by HarperCollins. It is a very major effort, including not only a new text of the Qur’an but running commentaries and explanatory sections.