Discussed during Shariati and Criticism of the West session
Shariati made a sociological approach to problems
19 Jun 2012 17:20
During the session ‘Shariati and Criticism of the West’, Hassan Shahrestani said: Shariati was a committed intellectual and in love with Iranian-Islamic culture that suffered from the humiliation imposed on Iranian people. Considering his educational background he made a sociological approach to the problems.
IBNA: Concurrent with the 35th death anniversary of Dr Ali Shariati, a commemorational session was held at Shariati Museum House on Saturday (June 16) during which Hassan Shahrestani made a speech on ‘Shariati and Return to the Self’ and ‘Shariati and Criticism of the West’.
At the outset, he termed Shariati as a committed intellectual and in love with Iranian-Islamic culture and said: “Elevation of Iran was a constant concern of Shariati. He suffered from the humiliation imposed on Iranian people. Considering his educational background he made a sociological approach to the problems.”
Shahrestani added that the first step when facing social diseases is to diagnose the disease. Like Jalal Ale Ahmad, Shariati found westoxication and alienation with the self as a current problem in society. Jalal has brought many characteristics for intoxication one of which is pestilence. The invaded wheat shows no alteration in appearance but it is annihilated from within and this only shows itself in harvest time.
According to him emotional encounter with the west is the most serious weakness of Iranians, “we are emotional people and we people of excessive behaviors. This is how we faced the west and our bafflement began when we saw their artillery and weapons. Artillery, weapons and murder are the symbols of western modernity in Iran. That is why Dr Shariati keenly uses ‘renewal’ instead of ‘civilization’ in his book.
Shahrestani continued: “Nasereddin Shah had many travels to the west but the things he tried to apply in Iran were of no use. He brought no book or laboratory equipments to Daralfonun and instead, he brought food and cloth and women’s portraits. A documented list of the king’s purchases is available.”
He added: “After the constitution with the translation movement, we only sufficed with translating catalogues. Whereas during the 2nd and 3rd centuries the translation movement was undertaken with keenness as then the basics of Greek philosophy were already converted and after 80 years of Islamic civilization there was no need for western sciences.”
He continued: “Shariati was born in the translation movement period after the revolution and Reza Khan’s modernization. He was a result of fear, anxiety, and speed and this is visible in all his writings and speeches.”
“Shariati as a social physician found the cause of this pain in separation from culture and origins and so he advised a return to the self as the only remedy. He emphasized that the return to the self does not mean mourning over the bones of the ancestors, we should rather discover our own potentials.”
“Shariati mentioned Henry Corbin’s visiting Allameh Tabatabaei as an example of return to the self. He described this as the wrestling of a 1500 year old man (Allameh Tabatabaei) with a 250 year old man (Corbin) and explained that a 1500 year old man never surrenders to the 250 year old man.”
He went on to say that Shariati’s speeches usually lasted for hours without exhausting the audiences. One reason for this was his literary background. His 8-page prose ‘Hussein, the Heir of Man’ is one of the most beautiful pieces written in the last 200 years.
Shariati lived in a period when on the one hand Marxist theories dominated many parts of the world, and on the other hand Iranian Muslims had suffered from centuries of recession and despair. Dominating governments humiliated and suppressed the people and the faithful had to hide their beliefs, he added.
As a committed sociologist Shariati knew that one should not act as the agents of westerners in the third world. We should find our own voice and rebel against alienation with the self. Shariati found return to the self as similar to return to Imam Ali’s holy Quran. In a word, he offered a different social reading of religion.