Hamid Dabashi in conversation about his new book:The Last Muslim Intellectual: The Life and Legacy of Jalal Al-e Ahmad


Hamid Dabashi is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He received a dual PhD in Sociology of Culture and Islamic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. He wrote his dissertation on Max Weber’s theory of charismatic authority with Philip Rieff (1922-2006), the most distinguished Freudian cultural critic of his time. Professor Dabashi has taught and delivered lectures in many North American, European, Arab, and Iranian universities. Professor Dabashi has written twenty-five books, edited four, and contributed chapters to many more. He is also the author of over 100 essays, articles and book reviews on subjects ranging from Iranian Studies, medieval and modern Islam, and comparative literature to world cinema and the philosophy of art (trans-aesthetics). His books and articles have been translated into numerous languages, including Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Danish, Russian, Hebrew, Italian, Arabic, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Urdu and Catalan. His books include Authority in Islam [1989]; Theology of Discontent [1993]; Truth and Narrative [1999]; Close Up: Iranian Cinema, Past, Present, Future [2001]; Staging a Revolution: The Art of Persuasion in the Islamic Republic of Iran [2000]; Masters and Masterpieces of Iranian Cinema [2007]; Iran: A People Interrupted [2007]; and an edited volume, Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema2006. His most recent work includes Shi’ism: A Religion of Protest (2011), The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism (2012), Corpus Anarchicum: Political Protest, Suicidal Violence, and the Making of the Posthuman Body (2012), The World of Persian Literary Humanism (2012) and Being A Muslim in the World (2013).


The first comprehensive social and intellectual biography of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, this book explores the life and legacy of Jalal Al-e Ahmad (1923-69), arguably the most prominent Iranian public intellectual of his time and contends that he was the last Muslim intellectual to have articulated a vision of Muslim worldly cosmopolitanism, before the militant Islamism of the last half a century degenerated into sectarian politics and intellectual alienation from the world at large. This unprecedented engagement with Al-e Ahmad’s life and legacy is a prelude to what Dabashi calls a post-Islamist Liberation Theology. The Last Muslim Intellectual is about expanding the wide spectrum of anticolonial thinking beyond its established canonicity and adding a critical Muslim thinker to it is an urgent task, if the future of Muslim critical thinking is to be considered in liberated terms beyond the dead-end of its current sectarian predicament. A full social and intellectual biography of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, a seminal Muslim public intellectual of the mid-20th century, this book places Al-e Ahmad’s writing and activities alongside other influential anticolonial thinkers of his time, including Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire and Edward Said. Chapters cover Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s intellectual and political life; his relationship with his wife, the novelist Simin Daneshvar; his essays; his fiction; his travel writing; his translations; and his legacy.