Shari?at-Shangalaji, Reza-Qoli (1890–1943)

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A reformist Iranian theologian during the secularizing reign of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi, Reza-Qoli Shari˓at-Shangalaji was considered a heretic by his religious peers for his attempts to modernize and reform Islam in Iran. He supported Twelver Shi˓ism: namely, the existence of free will in human beings, the infallibility of the imam, and the idea that the twelfth, or current, imam is hidden from the world and will emerge again. However, he also advocated the use of scientific thought in Islam and the pursuit of social justice, and may have been an admirer of Wahhabism, which was hostile to Shi˓ism. His main suggestion, to use ijtihad (discussion) for the purposes of reform in order to get rid of taqlid (conservatism), was rejected as too secular by the religious leaders of the Iranian ulema, who were conservative and already felt under attack by Reza Shah's own secularizing and authoritarian reforms. After Reza Shah's fall from power, they reestablished control and reinstituted strict Islamic law in Iran. Shangalaji's reformist thought was subsequently declared heretical and ignored, particularly under the current, fundamentalist regime, which advocates traditional interpretations of Muslim law and opposes reform. Since his death, Shangalaji's ideas have fallen into obscurity.

See alsoMuhammad Reza Shah Pahlevi ; Reform: Iran ; Shi˓a: Imami (Twelver) .


Richard, Y. "Shari˓at Shangalaji: A Reformist Theologian of the Rida Shah Period." In Authority and Political Culture in Shi˓ism. Edited by S. A. Arjomand. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.

Paula Stiles