Red Shi'ism, Iran and the Islamist Revolution

by Alastair Crooke
from Red Pepper

From the Iranian revolution to the Palestinian struggle, it has often been Islamic ideas that have inspired resistance to imperialism. Here, Alastair Crooke argues that the left needs a more complex understanding of the thinking, critical forms of political Islam

It is 30 years now since the Iranian revolution, and it is approximately 30 years since Ali Shariati, its foremost ideologue, coined the term ‘Red Shi’ism’ to describe the ideas propelling the upheaval that was to mobilise and energise tens of millions in Iran, and millions more around the globe. It remains one of the most significant events of the era.

When Shariati raised the banner of ‘Red Shi’ism’, it was not intended to suggest that the revolution was Marxism cloaked in a Shia rhetoric, as a few in the west may assume. Shariati was contrasting the revolutionary ethos that he and his colleagues were projecting with that which he termed ‘Black Shi’ism’ – the Shi’ism of ‘mourning’, as he called it. more

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