While studying in Paris in the 1960s Ali Shari’ati (1933-1977) carried the
Islam within him into a fateful conversation with radical revolutionaries and revolutions around the globe – with those in Cuba and Algeria in
particular. Just like his contemporary Malcolm X (1925-1965), Shari’ati
was shedding one skin after another in exposing his faith to ever wider
revolutionary circles, mobilizing his Islam to face potent insurrectionary
uprisings – a global reconfiguration of power in which Islam had to play
an integral, but never a definitive, role. It is in that role that Islam could
have, and yet has not, discovered its renewed cosmopolitan worldliness.
Shari’ati moving from Iran to Paris, just like Malcolm X moving from America to Mecca, connected two colonially divergent worlds to make
room for a far wider domain of revolutionary engagements – one that
would make no distinction between a center and its peripheries, between
a Christian who had become a Muslim, and a Muslim who had gone global.