ʿAlī Sharīʿatī and the Notion of tawḥīd: Re-exploring the Question of God’s Unity

In: Die Welt des Islams
Elisheva Machlis , Tel Aviv

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This paper evaluates the intellectual roots of ʿAlī Sharīʿatī, the leading ideologist of the Islamic revolution in Iran. It focuses on his unique worldview of tawḥīd and places his writings within the broader context of both Western and Muslim thought. Sharīʿatī ­created a new merger between a holistic approach to Islam promoted by both Sunni and Shiʿi reformists, and an existentialist worldview, tied to a religious-philosophical basis. Through this exchange with existentialism, Sharīʿatī sought to transform Shiʿi Islam into an all-encompassing faith, anchored in human existence and reaching its full realization through political action. His aim was to mobilise the Iranian intelligentsia towards an Islamic revolution by relying on a dualist Muslim-existentialist vocabulary. The outcome was a new blend between ontology, ethics, society and politics, and a new inter-connectivity between God, man, this world and the hereafter, resulting from Sharīʿatī’s effort to promote religious renewal and social justice, through his innovative interpretation to tawḥīd.

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