Seyyed Hossein Nasr
I was a very precocious child, so both of my parents had spent a great deal of time educating me. So, although formally I was going to the Iranian schools, which were based on European models by then, but I had a lot of private training at home, and I received a much more classical, traditional Persian-Islamic education to what was being taught to me at home.1 I went to a school in Tehran, for elementary school and the first half of high school, first two years of high school, much of junior high school. And then that phase of my life ended at the young age of 12-13, I came to the United States because my father was very sick and dying. He had an accident during the Second World War.
They couldn’t bring him to Europe to operate, his pelvis bone was broken, and from that he finally got pneumonia and died, and since I was very close to him, my parents did not want me to be there at the moment of his death, so my uncle who was the Iranian consul in New York, asked to have me come there, to be my guardian, and so I came to this country when I was only twelve and a half years old.2 That early period of my life therefore combines a very rigorous education, Persian classics and the universe of the Koran, learning about the religion of Islam, but also a great deal of emphasis on ethics and spirituality.3 My father himself was a member of a Sufi order. He was a very ethical man and well known for his works written on spiritual ethics in Iran, and this was very much emphasized in our life.
And so from childhood, I was also brought up in the Sufi tradition in many ways, both literally and also through the example of my father, and I also had a remarkable opportunity, because my father being who he was, I’ve seen almost every important intellectual and spiritual figure in Iran at that time, from leading scholars in Persian universities to Sufi masters and religious scholars, ulama and so forth and so on. So, it was really an exceptional ambience in which I was brought up.