Dr. Shariatie – a revisit to the source of political Islam in Iran


by Azada

More than three decades past and after a painful Islamic Republic experience, we are conveniently in position to disdain his works as being the first in legitimizing political Islam in our country. However, contrast to his role in insinuating a generation toward religious political alternative, studies of his works in post-revolution Iran amasses little. The cold reception to Shariati works is a few areas that the secular opposition and the theocratic government are on same page.

Depth of his words is sill resonating with us. Few can argue his mastery of the Persian language. He wrote beautifully. His speech was straight down ready to be published. He was genius to convey his message effectively – mesmerizing thousands of students in his lecture hall at Hossiena Ershad and even millions later via his recorded speeches and books leading to 1979 revolution. This is our history that we need to understand and of which it is somehow and mysteriously left in dark.

He was a product of natural evolution of Iranian intellectualism of post Constitutional Revolution and in direct interfacing and as the result of modernity and expansionism of Western political thoughts and interests.

If not first, Ali Shariati was the most prominent and successful and by large, par to our historical experience, the guiltiest intellectual in Iranian modern history to mix religion with Western thoughts such as nihilism, pos-war French existentialism, dialectical materialism, Hegalism, socialism and class struggle, along with natural independent movement of anti-colonial Third Worldism of 1950s.

Shariati was the first who single handedly caused this wave among his generation toward Islamisization – although I believe he would be on other fence pioneering secularism if he was alive. I also think he had that rare intellectual sincerity to give a decisive apology – something so lacking now among Islamic reformists for the condition their brand of ideology has caused our nation.

The complexity of the demand in our broader society of the time for such intermingling of ideas is beyond this article. It was a socio-psychological trend that demands an in-depth analysis.

Nevertheless, Shariati’s efforts to challenge traditional religion to face modernity – as avant-garde were at the time, was repressive in its nature. The source of this repression is his ideological push for religion that by our reformed concept now should be in business of heart and spirituality and not politics. But few could see it then. Nor care to investigate it now.

Something totally irrelevant to Western thought evolution; Islam was a socio-political response by a genius strategist Mohammad to his challenging times of Jahiliyyah – aiming to unit an otherwise a desperate desert people stagnated in tribal rivalry. Yet, Sharitie tried then and some still insisting, though much hopelessly, to map these unmixable phenomena.

The consequence of this hodgepodge of religion with modern philosophy and sociology turned a distasteful recipe for fundamentalism Islam in our country - galvanizing repressive groups from MKOs to Hezbollah.

Nonetheless, in mixing West/Islam - these two such incongruous worlds – credit to his ingenious imagination and by demands of his times, Dr. Shatriati was very successful.

As this is fortunately unwinding and cooling in Iran at a big price we have already paid and still paying but ending seem closer than ever, this trend is now in many other Islamic countries is in its primitive stages and is underway though in its Sunni set and in as much if not more aggressive and reactionary formats. This is a danger the Free World has accurately identified. The danger which outweighs communism of last century due to its rationalization for after-death rewards.

The ramification of this mix, at least to Iranian experience, is impossible to overlook by even the most biased Islamists. No surprise, these days, we are even hearing yearning for Shah Times – not this time from some reformed leftist but from some ex-Islamists who see their faith is robbed into such political fiasco to our nation. In this, Ali Shariati has had a special role.

The aim of my article here is not to demonize Dr. Shariati. Perhaps first and most, I like to remind my generation of 79 revolution that the sin for Islamic Revolution is too widespread and we are all responsible.

The middle class, educated elites, seculars and religious liberals failed to closely study personal history, written works and backward thoughts of the incoming revolutionary leader. First though, they were prepared and pumped up by pioneers such as Shariati to bite this Mullah bait.

This is the core of my argument. That we need to watch out for Islamists of all forms who try to give new face to political religion such as compatibility to democracy and human rights while in private they remain royal to relativism and their strict conservative religious politics.

In his core imagination, Shariati was really battling on three fronts. On one hand, and by far his longest and constant amusement perhaps, was religious regression loss to ideas of political left among university students. To balance this spread, and perhaps in mutual interest but quiet agreement with Shah’s Savak, his goal was to show an alternative Islam.

The second prominent battle in his mind was traditional Shiites Akhoonds such as Sheikh Kaffi – who resembled religion in best classical definition of Marxists – the opium fed to the masses.

Modernity in forms of Western consumerism and life style – depicting and propagating by Shah was his third battle. In this too, he felt in competing with Marxists for they were already there and had formed an international soviet block to challenge it.

In early 1970s political stage complex, Dr. Shariati was just a champion in advocating a weirdo form of socialistic religious system via manipulating holy Shiites icons such Hossien, Zinab, Fatema, Abozhr and Ali.

But the rest, the followers by large, were mediocre intellectuals incapable of seeing much far. Fed up by lack of political pluralism, or rather any experience of it, they were ready to trade a modern Shah to a backward fundamentalist Mullah. On emerging Mullahtarism, the Left, too, played their synthesizing role.

The record to this ideological Islam in our country are millions migrated and thousands imprisoned, jailed, executed, and stoned - resulting in a notorious world-known intolerance system. We seen it the first and seen it the last – seen it in tears and seen it in blood and stoning of women and homosexuals. We have experienced Taliban Shiites. And to this, thinkers like Shariati and their emerging sorts of Islamists who try to give new face to their ideological agenda can not be discounted.


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be sure...

by shushtari on

that this fool is right there next to khomeini and khalkhali in hell.....

he died of too much kabob barg probably......but, of course, the akhoonds(and brits) used this to blame savak, just like they did with cinema rex......


enjoy the fire boys 



by Simorgh5555 on

Sometimes, I wish he did!


Savak did not kill him!

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

No evidence whatsoever.

I am not here to hurl personal slander at him or defend him. he is dead and not here to answer back. However as far as his so called Ideology is concerned - a mish mash of contradictions, trying to marry aethiest Marxism theory with Islamic values- It had been proven to be practically incorrect and not implementable. On a human front, it had been a tragedy for almost an entire Iranian generation.

Let's learn a lesson from this tragic mistake of our history and move on. Mr Shariati has got his own place in Iranian history and does not need us to defend or attack him.



JJJ has read ALL of Shariati's books. See how he turned out!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred

Soosan Khanoom

Saavaak killed him ....

by Soosan Khanoom on

Saavaak killed him ....  

Mullahs did not even consider him as someone with islamic knowledge .....

Groups like monafegheen khalgh hijacked him.   

And ignorant people denied and labeled him

That is what happens when hearts our filled with hate rather than truth and knowledge.    

I am not spending another second defending someone who absolutely needs no defend ....  He was simply the best of best at his time  




Azarin Sadegh

Shariati, the poison!

by Azarin Sadegh on

He was a pseudo-intellectual-hezbollahi-marxist-anti women-anti freedom...the fake, the tyrant, the poison!

And on top of everything, one of the most dishonest writers ever...stealing/copying ideas from Fanon and his book, the wretched of the earth and the advocacy for the use of violence...there is nothing original about Shariati, excepted for him becoming the sperm donor for the birth of MKO and islamist marxist groups like that..:-)

Soosan Khanoom

I do not know what would

by Soosan Khanoom on

I do not know what would have happened to Dr. Shariati if he had been alive today. Probably he would had been sent to prison or forced to live in the exile by current regime..... similar to what Shah did to him.  

But I know this for sure that never before in our history have we had such a brilliant and passionate person.  

Revolution was not an action it was a reaction towards the crulety of Pahlavi's regime with all its corruptions and injustuses.  Ofcourse we are facing the same thing today.... khar hamooneh paaloonesh avaz shodeh ......  Still if we listen Shariati has many things to say ......... if we just listen rather than blaming him and closing our eyes to the facts. 

David ET

Informative and important article

by David ET on

Immortal Guard


by Immortal Guard on

As we say in Persian: "Haalaa khar biyaaro baaghaali baar kon".

The guys like Shariati served a purpose. They served as social catalysts and knew how to appeal to easily impressionable guys who believed themselves as "antellectuals"! They knew how garner attention for elusive illusions!

But nevertheless on the positive side they have contributed to Persian literature!


Thank you

by Fred on

A very erudite article, I suspect once the aging charlatan Ali Shariati infected have left the scene, coolheaded views like this will begin the post mortem autopsy of the genesis of Islamist madness’ takeover of Iran 

Only then the role of others likewise psychologically disturbed culprits like fardid and his students have played in IRR will become even clearer.

Thank you for the article.

Sargord Pirouz

In the last paragraph, you

by Sargord Pirouz on

In the last paragraph, you forgot to mention that the Islamic Republic of Iran opened its borders to many millions of Afghan and Iraqi refugees, on humanitarian grounds.

But that's way too inconvenient for your anti-Iran narrative- isn't it?