- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: I.B.Tauris; Reprint edition (June 3, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1860645526
- ISBN-13: 978-1860645525
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shari'ati Reprint Edition
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Dr Rahnema has given us an example of objective writing. He offers insights into the complex life, actions and writings of Shariati while never burdening us with judgement or synthesizing the matter for us. He lays the story out and let's us draw our own judgements. Rahnema gives us facts from the sources and doesn't draw conclusions or lead us to a thesis. He let's us draw our own.
The story is divided into three parts - the young Shariati at odds with his intelligence finding a haven in poetry. He then takes up the struggle between classical poetry and modern poetry. Rahnema uses this to prepare us for the last third of the book where Shariati carves out a modernist theology of Shia Islam in the face of the classical and institutionalized system. In the middle we learn of his education and exposure to the post war critical thinkers in Paris. Rahnema takes us through Shariati's complex synthesis of Economic theory, political theory, liberation theology, Sunni and Shia thought and how Shariati wove these sometimes with his own fictive additions to arrive at a living Shia ism which was definitely at odds with the traditional interpretations. Shariati found himself trying to change Shia thoughts and beliefs into a dynamic revolutionary system -- not anti western, but true to Iranian culture and history and the problems of Iran, not regurgitated problems of the West. His was definitely an Iranian centric view of the world, but taking from and using Eastern and Western thought where it was appropriate.
To Rahnema's credit he never bothers us with his judgement or critique of Shariati's work. He presents a man whose thoughts are complex and who often revised his own thinking. He presented the facts as he could of Shariati's concessions to SAVAK and his role as one of the flames of the Revolution. But through all this we see a man who was often frustrating to his supporters and critics and yet true to himself, even as his ideas may have evolved.
This isn't a quick read but it will definitely enlighten you and fuel your desire to go further with Shariati and inner complexities of Iran, the Shia themselves, Sufism and ideological transition and revolt.