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Ali Shariati
Religion: Twelver Shi'a Islam

Ali Shariati (Persian: علی شريعتی) (November 23, 1933 in Kahak - 1977 in Southampton, England) was a highly influential Iranian revolutionary[1] and sociologist, who focused on the sociology of religion. He is held as one of the most influential Iranian intellectuals of the 20th century[2] and has been called the 'ideologue of the Iranian Revolution' [3].



Ali Shariati was born in 1933 in Kahak (a village in Mazinan), a suburb of Sabzevar, found in northeastern Iran[4]. His father, Mohammad-Taqi, was a teacher and Islamic scholar, who opened in 1947 the 'Centre for the Propagation of Islamic Truths' in Mashhad, in the province of Khorasan [5], a social Islamic forum which became embroiled in the oil nationalisation movement of the 1950's[6].

In his years at the Teacher's Training College in Mashhad, Shariati came into contact with young people who were from the less privileged economic classes of the society, and for the first time saw the poverty and hardship that existed in Iran during that period. At the same time he was exposed to many aspects of Western philosophical and political thought. He attempted to explain and provide solutions for the problems faced by Muslim societies through traditional Islamic principles interwoven with and understood from the point of view of modern sociology and philosophy. His articles from this period for the Mashhad daily newspaper, Khorasan, display his developing eclecticism and acquaintance with the ideas of modern Islamic and extra-Islamic thinkers such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad Iqbal, Sigmund Freud and Alexis Carrel[7].

In 1952 he became a high-school teacher and founded the Islamic Students' Association, which led to his arrest after a demonstration. In 1953, the year of Mossadeq's overthrow by the CIA and allied Iranians, he became a member of the National Resistance Movement. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Mashhad in 1955. In 1957 he was arrested again by the Shah's police, along with 16 other members of the National Resistance Movement.

Ali Shariati then managed to obtain a scholarship for France, where he continued his graduate studies at the University of Paris. There he was considered a brilliant student and elected best student in letters in 1958. He worked towards earning his doctorate in sociology, leaving Paris before he was able to complete his studies in 1964. During this period in Paris, Shariati started collaborating with the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) in 1959. The next year, he began to read Frantz Fanon and translated an anthology of his work into Persian.[8]. Shariati would introduce Fanon's thought into Iranian revolutionary émigrée circles. He was arrested in Paris during a demonstration in honour of Patrice Lumumba, on January 17, 1961.

The same year he joined Ebrahim Yazdi, Mostafa Chamran and Sadegh Qotbzadeh in founding the Freedom Movement of Iran abroad. In 1962 he continued studying sociology and history of religions, and followed the courses of Islamic scholar Louis Massignon, Jacques Berque and the sociologist Georges Gurvitch. He also came to know the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre that same year, and published in Iran Jalal Al-e Ahmad's book Gharbzadegi (or Occidentosis) .

He then returned to Iran in 1964 where he was arrested and imprisoned by the Imperial Iranian authorities for engaging in subversive political activities while in France. He was released after a few weeks, at which point he began teaching at the University of Mashhad.

Shariati then went to Tehran where he began lecturing at the Hosseiniye Ershad Institute. These lectures proved to be hugely popular among his students and were spread by word of mouth throughout all economic sectors of the society, including the middle and upper classes where interest in Shariati's teachings began to grow immensely.

Shariati's continued success again aroused the interest of the Imperial authorities, who arrested him, as well as many of his students. Widespread pressure from the populace and an international outcry eventually led to his release after eighteen months in solitary confinement, and he was released on March 20, 1975.

Shariati was allowed to leave the country for England. He died three weeks later in a Southampton hospital. It is unclear who was responsible for his death.


Shariati's works were highly influenced by the Marxism and Third Worldism that he encountered as a student in Paris — ideas that class war and revolution would bring about a just and classless society — from one side, and the Islamic puritanism (or the Islamic Reformation) movements of his time from the other side. He is said to have adopted the idea of Gharbzadegi from Jalal Al-e Ahmad and given it "its most vibrant and influential second life." [9]

He sought to translate these ideas into cultural symbols of Shiism that Iranians could relate to. He believed Shia should not merely await the return of the 12th Imam but should actively work to hasten his return by fighting for social justice, "even to the point of embracing martyrdom", saying "everyday is Ashoura, every place is Karbala." [10]

Shariati referred to his brand of Shiism as "red Shiism" which he contrasted with clerical-dominated, unrevolutionary "black Shiism" or Safavid Shiism. His ideas have been compared to the Catholic Liberation Theology movement founded in South America by Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez and Brazilian Leonardo Boff.[11]


Shariati's most important books and speeches

  1. Hajj (The Pilgrimage)
  2. Marxism and Other Western Fallacies : An Islamic Critique
  3. Where Shall We Begin?[1]
  4. Mission of a Free Thinker[2]
  5. The Free Man and Freedom of the Man[3]
  6. Extraction and Refinement of Cultural Resources[4]
  7. Martyrdom (book)[5]
  8. Ali
  9. An approach to Understanding Islam PART1-[6]PART2-[7]
  10. A Visage of Prophet Muhammad[8]
  11. A Glance of Tomorrow's History[9]
  12. Reflections of Humanity
  13. A Manifestation of Self-Reconstruction and Reformation
  14. Selection and/or Election
  15. Norouz, Declaration of Iranian's Livelihood, Eternity
  16. Expectations from the Muslim Woman
  17. Horr (Battle of Karbala)
  18. Abu-Dahr
  19. Islamology
  20. Red Shi'ism vs. Black Shi'ism
  21. Jihad and Shahadat
  22. Reflections of a Concerned Muslim on the Plight of Oppressed People
  23. A Message to the Enlightened Thinkers
  24. Art Awaiting the Saviour
  25. Fatemeh is Fatemeh
  26. The Philosophy of Supplication
  27. Religion versus Religion
  28. Man and Islam - see chapter "Modern Man and His Prisons"

See also


  1. ^ 30th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Islamic Republic, A Revolution Misunderstood. Charlotte Wiedemann
  2. ^ Gheissari, Ali. 1998. Iranian Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  3. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand. 1993. ‘Ali Shariati: ideologue of the Iranian revolution’. In Edmund Burke and Ira Lapidus (eds.), Islam, politics, and social movements. Los Angeles: University of California Press. First published in MERIP Reports (January 1982): 25-28.
  4. ^ Rahnema, Ali. 1998, 2000. An Islamic Utopian. A Political Biography of Ali Shari‘ati. London: I.B. Tauris, p. 35.
  5. ^ An Islamic Utopian, p. 13.
  6. ^ An Islamic Utopian, pp. 13-18.
  7. ^ An Islamic Utopian, pp. 61-68.
  8. ^ «La jeune génération est un enjeu», interview with Gilles Kepel in L'Express, 26 January 2006 (French)
  9. ^ Mottahedeh, Roy, The Mantle of the Prophet : Religion and Politics in Iran, p.330
  10. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.128-9
  11. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.129

Further reading

  • Rahnema, Ali. 1998. An Islamic Utopian. A political biography of Ali Shariati. London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Gheissari, Ali. 1998. Iranian Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote


Ali Shariati (November 23, 19331977) was an influential Iranian sociologist and revolutionary.


'Shariati on Shariati & the Muslim Woman' by Laleh Bakhtiar

  • We see that all of Islam, all of its practices & beliefs were not presented by the Prophet in the first year, but rather presented over a period of 23 years. He presented them in a gradual way. First he presented the idea of monotheism. For 3 years he added nothing to the admonition, "Say: 'God is One,' & be saved." What is the prescribed fast? pilgrimage? poor-due? These had not as yet been presented. Thus the people who accepted Islam in the first 3 years and came to believe in the oneness of God and died were possibly people who drank wine, did not perform the prescribed fast, had not performed the prescribed pilgrimage & had not participated in the struggle in God's way [jihad]. His method was to gradually present Islam. He first presented an intellectual world view.
  • In 7 or 8 AH the modest dress was presented as well as the issue of wine. While still in Mecca, the Prophet did not say, "O people! O nation of Islam! O Arabs! Now that you have accepted monotheism, you must now do everything!" No. In the 7th or 8th year after his actualization, the issue of wine was presented in 3 phases. Look at this method of educating!
  • He was first directed to say, "Do not perform the prescribed prayer when you are drunk" [4:47]. What does this mean? It means you can drink wine but when you enter the mosque for prescribed prayer, do not stagger or appear to be drunk or have your breath smell of wine. Everyone accepted this. Even those who drank were prepared to accept this one limitation.
  • Little by little came the second stage. "There is a great sin as well as profit for some people drinking alcohol and gambling" [2:219]. You see how delicately he discussed alcohol and did not entire negate its profits. Its harm was greater because it had great social and individual harm (even though it did have profit), he negated it. People will listen to this kind of reasoning.
  • Then when the movement reached its peak of struggles in God's way (martyrdoms, victories, etc) suddenly it was revealed, "Certainly wine, gambling are impure & the actions of satan so avoid them" [5:90]. He had worked on them for 20 years and prepared the ground. When he went to the street, he saw everyone had broken his jug. Historians have confirmed that the streets were filled with broken jugs and wine holders.
  • When we present values which are higher then the values represented by Miss Universe, a woman may become attached to those better values. When she has formed an attachment to these elevated values, she will endure and incorporate all of those values herself. She will choose herself and will not sense any belittlement or abasement.
  • This is not traditional dress. It is not the dress of my class. It is the dress of my thoughts. These clothes show how I think & to what I am affiliated, how a mujahid thinks. What do your clothes represent? Your clothes are a reflection of how much money you or your father or husband earn. Thus they reflect money rather than a way of thought. One form of dress reflects a belief system, while the other is monetary.
  • Why did Mrs.Ghandi not feel inferior when she met leaders from all over the world in a dress which was 3000 years old? When she entered to speak, 500 representatives stood and applauded her. By wearing the sari she said: I have studied Western women's journals through which the West propagates its mode of dress in an attempt to dominate and impose its culture, civilization, & style on us & I have rejected it.
  • Every day is Ashura, Every land is Karbala.

External links

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Simple English

[[file:|thumb|Ali Shariati]] Ali Shariati Mazinani (1933-1977) (Persian: علی شريعتی مزینانی‎) or Shariati was an Iranian Muslim philosopher, sociologist, poet and writer.

Shariati's life

Shariati was born in 1933 in Mazinan, Iran.He stuided sociology in the University of Paris.He returned to Iran in 1964. When he returned to Iran, the Shah regime arrested and imprisoned him for political reasons. He was released in 1965. Shariati began teaching at the University of Mashhad.He began lecturing at the Hosseiniye Ershad institute in 1967. The Shah regime, arrested him again. And when he was freed in 1975, he was not allowed to teach or publish anything. Shariati decided to leave the country for England. Three weeks later he died in Southampton.He was buried in Damascus,Syria.

Shariati's most important books

  1. Hajj (The Pilgrimage)
  2. Where Shall We Begin?
  3. Mission of a Free Thinker
  4. The Free Man and Freedom of the Man
  5. Extraction and Refinement of Cultural Resources
  6. Martyrdom (book)
  7. Arise and Bear Witness
  8. Ali
  9. An approach to Understanding Islam
  10. A Visage of Prophet Muhammad
  11. A Glance of Tomorrow's History
  12. Reflections of Humanity
  13. A Manifestation of Self-Reconstruction and Reformation
  14. Selection and/or Election
  15. Norouz, Declaration of Iranian's Livelihood, Eternity
  16. Expectations from the Muslim Woman
  17. Horr (Battle of Karbala)
  18. Abu-Dahr
  19. Hossein Heir of Adam
  20. Islamology
  21. Red Shi'ism vs. Black Shi'ism
  22. Jihad and Shahadat
  23. Reflections of a Concerned Muslim on the Plight of Oppressed People
  24. A Message to the Enlightened Thinkers
  25. Art Awaiting the Saviour
  26. Fatemeh is Fatemeh
  27. The Philosophy of Supplication
  28. The Fall
  29. One, in front of it,Zeros to eternity
  30. Father,mother,we are culprits
  31. The Tale, My brother
  32. The Three Idols
  33. History of Civilization
  34. Man and Islam - see chapter "Modern Man and His Prisons"
  35. Religion versus Religion

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