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


in Die Welt des Islams
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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.


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


in Die Welt des Islams

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References

1

See Charles Kurzman“Historiography of the Iranian Revolutionary Movement, 1977–79”Iranian Studies 28:1–2 (1995) 34–8; Nikki R. Keddie “Change in Islam; Islam and Change” IJMES 11:4 (1980) 535f.; on Sharīʿatī’s popularity see also Assef Bayat “Shariati and Marx: A Critique of an ‘Islamic’ Critique of Marxism” Alif 10 (1990) 19f.

5

See Shahrough Akhavi“Islam, Politics and Society in the Thought of Ayatullah Khomaini, Ayatullah Taliqani and Ali Shariati”MES 24:4 (1988) 404–31.

14

RahnemaAn Islamic Utopian246–9.

22

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23

See Meir LitvakShiʿi Scholars on Nineteenth-Century Iraq: The ʿUlamaʾ of Najaf and Karbalaʾ (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1998) 21–44 193.

24

See Rula  Jurdi AbisaabConverting Persia: Religion and Power in Safavid Iran (London: I.B. Tauris2004); Hamid Algar Religion and State in Iran 1785–1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period (Berkeley: University of California Press 1980) 22ff. 27f.

28

See SharīʿatīIslām shenāsī11–5.

36

Priest (ed.) Jean-Paul Sartre20–57;  Jonathan Webber “Existentialism” in  John Skorupski (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Ethics (London & New York: Routledge 2010) 230–40; entry “Jean-Paul Sartre” in Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online edition: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sartre/ (22 April 2004).

37

Priest (ed.) Jean-Paul Sartre20–57;  Jonathan Webber “Existentialism” in  John Skorupski (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Ethics (London & New York: Routledge 2010) 230–40; entry “Jean-Paul Sartre” in Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online edition: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sartre/ (22 April 2004).

44

On this idea see also Emmanuel Sivan“Sunni Radicalism in the Middle East and the Iranian Revolution”IJMES 21:1 (1989) 1–30.

45

See Mehrzad BoroujerdiIranian Intellectuals and the West: The Tormented Triumph of Nativism (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press1996) 52–76 106–12; Ali Mirse­passi Political Islam Iran and the Enlightenment: Philosophies of Hope and Despair (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2011) 28–33.

46

See Ali MirsepassiIntellectual Discourse and the Politics of Modernization: Negotiating Modernity in Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2000) 58–64.

51

Thomas LanganThe Meaning of Heidegger: A Critical Study of an Existentialist Pheno­menology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul1959) 13–41; see also Martin Heidegger The Question of Being; translated with an introduction by William Kluback and  Jean T. Wilde (New Haven CT: College & University Press Publishers 1958).

53

See SharīʿatīInsān bī khūd77–144; see also ʿAli Shariʿati “Civilisation and Modernisation” in Lloyd Ridgeon (ed.) Religion and Politics in Iran: A Reader (London: I.B. Tauris 2005) 175–96.

59

SharīʿatīInsān bī khūd136–44.

60

See Robert S. GallBeyond Theism and Atheism: Heidegger’s Significance for Religious Thinking (Dordrecht & Boston; Lancaster: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers1987);  John Reynold Williams Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion (Waterloo ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press cop. 1977); James K. A. Smith “Liberating Religion from Theology: Marion and Heidegger on the Possibility of a Phenomenology of Religion” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 46:1 (1999) 17–33.

62

See Negin Nabavi“The Changing Concept of the ‘Intellectual’ in Iran of the 1960s”Iranian Studies 32:3 (1999) 333–50; Ervand Abrahamian “The Guerilla Movement in Iran 1963–1977” MERIP Reports 86 The Left Forces in Iran (Mar.–Apr. 1980) 3–15.

63

NabaviThe Changing Concept of the Intellectual347.

76

Sharīʿatīal-Insān wa-l-islām18.

77

Sharīʿatīal-Insān wa-l-islām19.

78

See Terenjit Sevea“Islamist Questioning and [C]olonialism: Towards an Understanding of the Islamist Oeuvre”Third World Quarterly 28:7 (2007) 1375–400; Fathi Osman “Mawdūdī’s Contribution to the Development of Modern Islamic Thinking in the Arabic-Speaking World” MW 93 (2003) 465–85.

81

See Ellen Kennedy“Bergson’s Philosophy and French Political Doctrines: Sorel, Maurras, Péguy and de Gaulle”Government and Opposition 15:1 (1980) 75–91. See also entry “Henri Bergson” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy online edition: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bergson/ (12  July 2011).

82

On this concept see L. Gardet“al-Ḳaḍāʾ wa-l-Ḳadar” in EI2 IV 364–7; See also William M. Watt “Free Will and Predestination in Early Islam” The Moslem World 36:2 (1946) 124–52.

90

Sharīʿatīal-Umma wa-l-imāmā37–42.

92

See Sharīʿatīal-Umma wa-l-imāma195.

93

See Sharīʿatīal-Insān wa-l-islām22 185–209; Sharīʿatī Islām shenāsī 210–3.

94

Sharīʿatīal-Insān wa-l-islām209.

96

See C. Ernest Dawn“The Formation of Pan-Arab Ideology in the Interwar Years”IJMES 20:1 (1988) 67–91; Yusri Hazran “The Rise of Politicized Shi‘ite Religiosity and the Territorial State in Iraq and Lebanon” MEJ 64:4 (2010) 525;U. Haarmann“Abū Dharr: Muḥammad’s Revolutionary Companion” MW 68 (1978)285–9.

97

Mir Mohammad IbrahimSociology of Religions: Perspectives of Ali Shariati (New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India2008) 89f.

100

See Mehdi Abedi“Ali Shariati: The Architect of the 1979 Revolution of Iran”Iranian Studies 19:3–4 (1986) 229–34; Mohammad Emami “Commentary: Louis Massignon and Ali Shari’ati: An Enigmatic Encounter of Christianity and Islam” Religious Studies and Theology 30:1 (2011) 101–6.

104

SharīʿatīIslām shenāsī56–63.

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