Shari?ati, ?Ali (1933–1977)

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SHARI˓ATI, ˓ALI (1933–1977)

Born in 1933 in the province of Khorasan, northeast of Iran, ˓Ali Shari˓ati died in 1977 in London of natural causes. His intellectual disposition was formed in early adulthood through his involvement with the Center for the Propagation of Islamic Truths, an educational and advocacy institute founded by his father, and later with the movement God-Worshiping Socialists. Both organizations advocated a reformist Islam, the goal of which was to liberate religion from its "regressive" and "passive" outlook and to promote social justice. Shari˓ati never received any traditional seminarian education. He earned a bachelor's degree in French from Mashad University in 1958 and received his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1963. His residence in Paris in the early 1960s and his exposure to African anticolonial movements and their French intellectual advocates proved to be significant in the development of his Islamic worldview.

Shari˓ati formulated an Islamic Weltanschauung in his most celebrated book Islam-shenasi (Islamology), published in 1969. He identified a dynamic and progressive "true Islam" of Imam ˓Ali (Alavid Shi˓ism) and distinguished it from the petrified institutionalized Islam of the clergy (Safavid Islam). Through a revisionist genealogy of Islamic concepts and ideas, he articulated a philosophy of history and social change that he believed would appeal to young modern Iranian intellectuals. He conceived his Islamic Weltanschauung as a counter hegemonic ideology against the "trinity of oppression"—the economic power of capitalism, the coercive political power of monarchy, and the cultural dominance of the Safavid Islam. Although Shari˓ati came to be known as the ideologue of the Iranian revolution par excellence, his ideas remained marginal to the state-sanctioned interpretations of Islam in postrevolutionary Iran.

See alsoReform: Iran .


Rahnema, Ali. An Islamic Utopian, A Political Biography of ˓Ali Shari˓ati. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1998.

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi