Ali Shariati

Written by Serena Berger
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Ali Shariati is a controversial philosopher and teacher from Iran. A brilliant thinker, he realized that he would not be able to receive a thoroughly unbiased education in his native country, and successfully applied to finish his post-graduate work in Europe. In 1964 he received a doctorate in sociology from the Sorbonne, France's most elite University.

Ali Shariati as a Teacher

He returned to Iran to pursue his dream of explaining the problems of troubled Muslim societies in light of Islamic principles. He was arrested immediately upon his return to Iran, allegedly for participating in political activities in France, but released in a year given a lack of evidence of wrongdoing. He began teaching at Mashhad University, and gained tremendous popularity with students from all backgrounds. Unfortunately, his forward-thinking approach to sociology threatened the regime, and he was let go from Mashhad University. He then taught at the Houssein-e-Ershad Religious Institute, where he was just as popular, and began publishing books, the initial message of which was the importance of integrating the "intelligencia" and the masses, instead of keeping them separate, allowing their interests to be antagonistic, and keeping enlightenment from the poor.

Ali Shariati was jailed for the second time, along with many of his followers, because of the "subversive" nature of his first book. After 18 harsh months, international pressure achieved Dr. Shariati's release, but for two years, he was unable to write or contact his students due to continued surveillance by security agents. He successfully emigrated, but was murdered three weeks later in England; it is assumed the assassination was ordered by SAVAK, or the Iranian secret police.

Ali Shariati leaves behind millions of devoted students, some of whom consider him a great martyr. Among these followers are those who believe in giving their own lives for the Mujahid ideals in which they believe. While Shariati deeply venerated Islamic values and the Quran, there are those who believe his interpretation has led to another dangerous form of fanaticism, despite its ostensible humanitarianism. If you wish to find out more for yourself, copies of his popular writings can be found online at a variety of specialty and general book retailers.


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