|Shariati: Illustrious sociological thinker of the 20th century||
Dr. Ali Shariati, the distinguished sociologist, was undoubtedly among the most original and influential Iranian social thinkers of the 20th century. He wrote many books and in all his writings he tried to present a clear and genuine picture of Islam. He strongly believed that if the intellectual and new generation realized the truth of this faith, attempts toward social change would be successful.
Shariati studied and experienced many philosophical, theological and social schools of thought with an Islamic view.
Born 1933 in Khorasan Province, he completed his elementary and high school in Mashhad. He later left for France where received his doctorate in sociology in 1964 from Sorbonne University.
Returning to Iran, he was arrested at the border and imprisoned on the charges that he had participated in political activities while studying in France. He was released in 1965 and started teaching at Mashhad University.
As a Muslim sociologist, he sought to explain the problems of Muslim societies in the light of Islamic principles-explaining them and discussing them with his students. Soon he gained popularity with the students and among the religious classes in Iran. For this reason, the regime of Shah felt obliged to discontinue his university courses.
Then he was transferred to the capital where he managed to continue his active career. His lectures at Houssein-e Ershad religious institute attracted not only students who registered in his summer classes, but also many thousands of people from different backgrounds who were fascinated by his Islamic teachings.
Faced with the success of Shariati’s courses, the Iranian police surrounded Houssein-e Ershad Institute, arrested many of his followers and thereby put an end to his activities.
For the second time, he underwent an eighteen-month prison term under extremely harsh conditions.
Popular pressure and international protests obliged the Shah’s regime to release Shariati on March 20, 1975. However, he remained under close surveillance by SAVAK (Security Agency of Iran). Since he could neither publish his thoughts nor contact his students. Under such sti?ing conditions he decided to migrate out of the country. He went to England but was found dead three weeks later in his apartment on Jun19, 1977. It is widely believed that he was murdered by SAVAK.
Well known and respected for his work in the field of sociology and history of religions, Shariati began his Islamic revival with enlightenment of the masses particularly the youth.
He believed that if the masses and particularly the youth had true faith, they would totally dedicate themselves and become active elements who would give everything including their lives for their ideals.
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