The Last Muslim intellectual: The Life and Legacy of Jalal Al-e Ahmad — Hamid Dabashi's Official Website
Hamid Dabashi


The Last Muslim intellectual: The Life and Legacy of Jalal Al-e Ahmad

(Edinburgh University Press, 2021)

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Official Page on Edinburgh University press

The first comprehensive social and intellectual biography of Jalal Al-e AhmadThis 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. Hamid Dabashi places Al-e Ahmad beside other towering critical thinkers of his time, showing how he personified a state of Muslim anticolonial modernity that has now disappeared behind the smokescreen of sectarian politics. 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 – 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. Key Features• A full social and intellectual biography of Jalal Al-e Ahmad, a seminal Muslim public intellectual of the mid-20th century• 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

Hamid Dabashi is Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. He is the author of many books and articles on the social and intellectual history of Islam, both medieval and modern, many of them translated into other languages. He is a globally recognized critical thinker on contemporary affairs and a regular columnist for Aljazeera.


Hamid Dabashi’s remarkable work on Iranian ‘cosmopolitan humanism’ has already expanded the parameters of discussions on non-western thought to highlight the quest for an anticolonial modernity as integral to its global reach. In this well-balanced and elegantly written volume, Dabashi treats Al-e Ahmad, a preeminent intellectual of his time, as a pioneering -anticolonial theorist who Islamist thinkers, such as Ali Shari‘ati, would only later develop an elective affinity for, in the process recasting him an anti-western nativist. Dabashi situates Al-e Ahmad alongside other anticolonial thinkers to remind us that “Al-e Ahmad could not have anticipated Shari’ati would have taken him all the way to the borderlines of a committed Islamist ideologue.” Along the way, this provocative work raises important questions about the evolution of an anticolonial canon and the crystallization of sectarian divisions.

– Ali Mirsepassi, Albert Gallatin Research Excellence Professor, New York University

In prose crackling with an urgency and tenor reminiscent of Jalal Al-e Ahmad’s own style in Persian, Hamid Dabashi delivers an impassioned argument for reading Al-e Ahmad as the last cosmopolitan Muslim intellectual on a par with the likes of Césaire and Fanon.

– Nasrin Rahimieh, Howard Baskervile Professor of Humanities, UC Irvine

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Array ( [2] => Array ( [title] => [text] => "A leading cultural observer." Washington Post "Our most prominent intellectual." Shirin Neshat "Renowned Columbia University scholar on Iranian culture." Boston Globe "Spectacular, important, and incisive. Dabashi's work is crucial for our times." Zillah Eisenstein
Ithaca College, NY
"Hamid Dabashi lovingly writes about the history of Iran that teaches us how to understand a people overshadowed by the grand narratives of political (mis)representation." Gayatri Spivak
Columbia University
"You are with a humanist who deeply loves his country, and invites you to feel very much at home." Susan Buck-Morss
Cornell University
"Superb authority... Dabashi provides a tour de force on Iranian art, politics and culture." Shirin Neshat "Great erudition and imagination... bringing out rich aspects of Iranian culture that are little known or not recognized." Vanessa Martin, Royal Holloway
University of London
"Hamid Dabashi, is one of the most significant intellectual voices outside of Iran since the Islamic revolution." Shirin Neshat "A leading light in Iranian studies." The Chronicle of Higher Education "Cuts through the myths, past and present, that Americans have been told about Iran... presenting Iran's history through the lens of its literary cosmopolitanism." Susan Buck-Morss
Cornell University
"Magisterial." Houchang Chehabi
Boston University
"An important man in New York." Sir Ridley Scott "Much-needed in our troubled times." Gayatri Spivak
Columbia University
"Exemplary of a new Leftist discourse that is undogmatic and non-sectarian... open and intimate." Susan Buck-Morss
Cornell University
"Hamid Dabashi beautifully lays out the alluring dynamic between Iranian art and politics." Shirin Neshat "A rare cultural critic." Mohsen Makhmalbaf "Dabashi's passion and extraordinary vision, gives us the knowledge and commitment to stand against war and build the possibilities for peace and global justice." Zillah Eisenstein
Ithaca College, NY
"Hamid Dabashi's piercing revelations have been as instrumental in fashioning my own films as have Scorsese, Rossellini and Bresson." Ramin Bahrani "Superb and brilliant." Bruce Lawrence
Duke University
"Fresh, provocative and iconoclastic." Ian Richard Netton
University of Leeds, UK
"Learned... sparkles with verve and a sometimes punishing wit. Hamid Dabashi is the perfect guide." Edward W. Said "There are few better places to begin than with Dabashi's subtle and vividly presented wealth on Iran." Said Amir Arjomand
SUNY, New York
"Objective and empathetic... unlike many others on contemporary Iran." Ervand Abrahamian
Baruch College, New York
"Enthusiastic... clear and accurate... impressive." Oliver Leaman
Liverpool John Moores University, UK
"Original, creative and insightful." John L. Esposito
Georgetown University
"Extraordinary." Daniel Brumberg
Georgetown University
"Dabashi has an astonishing ability to range over some of the most complex issues of modern intellectual life." Sudipta Kaviraj
Columbia University
"If anyone can lay claim to Nima Yushij's statement that this world is his home, it is Hamid Dabashi. I want a very broad readership to know the quality of his writing and thinking, of his immense epistemic and historical scholarship." Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Columbia University
"Dabashi is learned, poetic, ranging from philosophy to film, every word written with a commitment to the possibility of a just world. I have worked with him in the past and will work with him again in the future." Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Columbia University
"Hamid Dabashi is one of the foremost exponent today of postcolonial critical theory, whose work deserves to be called post-colonial with all the multivalence of this description." Sudipta Kaviraj
Columbia University
"Hamid Dabashi's writings on Iranian culture and politics brilliantly re-imagine the rich heritage of a shared past and a conflicted present. His reflections on revolution and nationhood, poetry and cinema, philosophy and the sacred, are urgent, provocative, complex, and highly original." Timothy Mitchell
Columbia University
"Equally fluent in philosophical reasoning, literary interpretation, visual hermeneutics and writing with a rare combination of penetration and lyricism, Dabashi's work continues values of both modern critical theory and the highly sophisticated and subtle intellectual traditions of Iranian... reflection -- for both of which he is an wonderfully sympathetic reader." Sudipta Kaviraj
Columbia University
"Hamid Dabashi belongs to a marvelous tradition of poetic thinkers, whose deep insights are crafted in magnificent poetic prose." Gilbert Achcar
University of London
"Dabashi provides his readers with the wine of literary pleasure along with rich food for thought." Gilbert Achcar
University of London
"In Dabashi's work, post-coloniality does not mean a denial or denunciation of the modern European tradition of philosophy and social theory, but their effortless absorption into a larger, more complex reflection." Sudipta Kaviraj
Columbia University
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