Ali Shariati was born in 1933 in Mazinan, a suburb of Mashhad, Iran. He completed his elementary and high school in Mashhad. He later attended Teacher Training College. He was graduated from college in 1960, and on a scholarship he pursued graduate studies in France. Shariati received his doctorate in sociology in 1964 from Sorbonne University.
When he returned to Iran he was arrested at the border and imprisoned on the charges that he had participated in political activities while studying in France. He was released in 1965, and began teaching again at Mashhad University.
As a Muslim sociologist, he sought to explain the problems of Muslim societies in the light of Islamic principles-explaining them and discussing them with his students. Very soon he gained popularity with the students and among the religious classes in Iran. For this reason, the regime of Shah felt obliged to discontinue his courses at the university.
Then he was transferred to Teheran. There, Dr. Shariati continued his very active career. His lectures at Houssein-e Ershad Religious Institute attracted not only students who registered in his summer classes, but also many thousands of people from different backgrounds who were fascinated by his Islamic teachings.
Faced with the success of Dr. Shariati's courses, the Iranian police surrounded Houssein-e Ershad Institute, arrested many of his followers and thereby put an end to his activities. For the second time, he underwent an eighteen-month prison term under extremely harsh conditions. Popular pressure and international protests obliged the Iranian regime to release Dr. Shariati on March 20, 1975. However, he remained under close surveillance by the SAVAK (Iranian Security Agency of Iran).
Since he could neither publish his thoughts nor contact his students. Under such stifling conditions according to his believe and the teachings of the Quran he decided to migrate out of the country. He went to England but was found dead three weeks later in his apartment on June 19, 1977. It is widely believed that he was murdered by the SAVAK (Iranian Security Agency of Iran).
Dr. Shariati studied and experienced many philosophical, theological and social schools of thought with an Islamic view. He was neither a reactionary fanatic who opposed anything that was new without any knowledge nor was he of the so-called westernised intellectuals who imitated the west without independent judgment.
Dr. Shariati wrote many books. In all his writings, he tried to present a clear and genuine picture of Islam. He strongly believed that if the intellectual and new generation realized the truth of this faith, attempts toward social change would be successful.
He began his Islamic revival with enlightenment of the masses, particularly the youth. He believed that if the masses and particularly the youth had true faith, they would totally dedicate themselves and become active and Mujahid elements who would give every thing including their lives for their ideals.