Marxism and Other Western Fallacies
Marxism and Other Western Fallacies
T HIS IS A BOOK that speaks for itself too eloquently to need a lengthy and laudatory introduction. The appreciation of its intrinsic interest may, however, be enhanced by an awareness of the political and intellectual context in which it was produced-that of Islamic Iran moving inexorably forward to the heroic destruction of one of the most hideous tyrannies of modern times and the immense task of creating a new state, society, economy, and culture.
Among the architects of this movement, the most important is indisputably Imam Khomeini himself, who in rare, almost unique fashion has come not only to exercise political and religious leadership, but also to be the symbol of Iranian nationhood and, beyond that, a precious exemplar of the human ideal of Islam. But other than Imam Khomeini, no one has had a more penetrating influence than the writer of this work, the late Ali Shari'ati. We will not repeat here the detailed and analytical biography of Shari'ati that has been published elsewhere, 1 but instead draw attention to the amplitude and depth of his posthumous influence on the Iranian revolution.
In all the diverse speeches, lectures and writings of Shari'ati, there is barely a single reference to the political, economic and other miseries of Pahlavi Iran, and yet it is necessary now to designate him as the chief ideologue of the Iranian Islamic revolution. His lectures at the Husayniya-yi Irshad 2 in Tehran and in other forums around Iran (the texts of which were generally recorded, transcribed, and disseminated throughout the country) awakened new interest and confidence in Islam, not merely as a private form of worship, but as a total world-view ( jahanbini, one of his favorite terms), fully autonomous, superior to the creeds and ideologies of past and present, and bearing in its heart a revolutionary mission. A large number of the secularly educated intelligentsia who had become alienated from Islam-and thereby from their society and the masses of the Iranian nation-were drawn again to Islam as the pivotal point of both personal existence and national destiny by the eloquence, range, and originality of Shari'ati's thought. He had a style unique among modern Muslim thinkers. He had mastered (in every sense of the word) the intellectual legacy and actuality of the West, and, eschewing apologetics, superficial modernism, and the mechanical coupling of "the best of both worlds," he was able to set against it a coherent, fresh, and powerful vision of the spiritual and philosophical essence of Islam, a vision that millions of Iranians found inspiring and convincing. Further, Shari'ati endowed the discussion of religious topics in Iran with a new tone of thought, a new style of discourse, and a whole set of new terms. This, indeed, was a revolutionary achievement.
This achievement bore fruit in the twelve months of intensified struggle, beginning in January 1978, that led to the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty and the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the mosques of Iran became the ideological and organizational centers of the revolution, echoes from the work and ideas of Ali Shari'ati could be heard in many of the sermons and addresses that inspired the Iranian Muslim people to seek martyrdom. Memorable sentences from his writings served as ready-made revolutionary slogans, without need for any elaboration or commentary, and they were inscribed on banners carried in all of the great demonstrations of the Iranian revolution: "The martyr is the heart of history!" "Every day is Ashura; every place is Karbala!" Most importantly, many of those who with their blood bought the foundation of the Islamic Republic in this world, and Paradise in the hereafter, were, directly or indirectly, the pupils of Shari'ati.
On April 23, 1979, a terrorist group by the name of Forqan assassinated General Muhammad Vali Qarani, first chief of staff of the Irani