Ali Shari Ati: Ideologue Of The Iranian Revolution

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The second half of the twentieth century was for Iran a period of immense political and social change. The struggle to reconcile its advancement toward secular Westernization with its strong Islamic roots led to great social upheaval. Indeed the “culture of distrust” that marked the Iranian political sphere created a sense of paranoia among the masses on which revolutionaries like Ali Shari’ati acted. But many of the conspiracy theories that prevailed were not without legitimacy; Iranians felt that imperial powers controlled their leaders—which in fact they did. For example, it was the British who helped Reza Khan rise to power just as it was the CIA with Britain’s MI6 that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in the 1953 coup, fearing that the “wily Oriental” was a threat to their power. This rising discontent in a modern working class that had grown to half a million strong became increasingly problematic for the Shah in the years leading up to the Islamic Revolution in Iran (1978-1979). Moreover, the 1920s-early 1940s were marked by the Shah’s oppression of socialism, communism, and trade unions as a result of the 1931 Anticollectivist Law. Reza Khan, who formally installed himself as Reza Shah Pahlavi in the early 1920s, …show more content…
Ervand notes that Shari’ati distinguished between two types of Islam: the Islam of the Caliphate and the rulers and the Islam of the people, which fights for justice and equality. A return to the purest form of Islam, or the Islam of Ali, Shari’ati argued, would come from intellectuals, not the clergy. Again, Shari’ati called for active, revolutionary Islam that would lead to a “just” and “classless” society, combining the Karbala narrative with Marxist ideas of universal class

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