Why did I write this book for a non-Iranian global audience? I think this is a very cogent question. Why should an Iranian thinker who died fifty years ago be of significance for a global audience today? The first thing I can say is that Shariati is not well known outside of Iran and a broader discovery of his work is in order. Why? Because he is one of the most significant sociologists outside of the European and American context, who can enhance our global understanding of the future of humanity as a species.
Secondly, I think he belongs to a wider tradition of critical social theory that so far has been conceptualized in a Eurocentric frame of reference. In other words, critical social theory needs to be reconceptualized in non-Eurocentric terms, and once this has been done, then Ali Shariati will be one of its global pioneers.
Another important reason that I think this book could be of importance to scholars is the question of the “sociological canon,” which is defined in a fashion wherein sociologist of non-Western origins fall outside its expansive walls. This book challenges this view and also provides a concrete alternative in this regard.
The fourth reason that I think shariat is of importance for the global audience is the way in which he reconstructs “religion” and the concept of Islam specifically. In Shariati’s perspective, religion is not solely a sacred taboo, but it could also be stupefying. In this context, the question becomes: how to emancipate stupefied individuals and societies. Shariati is not passé, but rather he must be studied along side critical theorist such as Walter Benjamin, Erich Fromm, Theodor W. Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Jürgen Habermas, Rudolf J. Siebert, and Herbert Marcuse, and other critical theorist as well as existential philosophers.
~ Seyed Javad Miri, Ph.D.
Seyed Javad Miri’s book, Ali Shariati: Expanding the Sociological Canon, is available through Amazon.com: Here