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Abdolkarim Soroush

Birth:1945

Death:

Abdolkarim Soroush is an engaging contemporary Muslim thinker, born in southern Tehran in 1945. He has emerged as a potent and formidable intellectual critic of the post-Khomeini theocracy in Iran. He is a leading scholar on Maulana Rumi and his readings and interpretations of the Mathnavi are given to packed houses. Soroush underwent his primary schooling in the Qa`imiyyeh School, in south of Tehran. After spending six years there, he began his secondary education at Mortazavi High School, and a year later moved to the newly inaugurated Alavi High School. Upon finishing high school, Soroush took part in the universities nation-wide entrance examinations in both physics and pharmacy. He was successful at both exams and so opted for pharmacy on the recommendation of the late Mr Ruzbeh. After completing his degree, he spent two years in the army rendering the national compulsory service, and after that he set off for Bushehr to render part of his medical service, the ``Out-of-Centre Service'', where he was director of a chemical laboratory. When the Revolution began, Soroush returned to Iran and there he published his book "Knowledge and Value" (Danesh va Arzesh) the writing of which he had completed in England. After returning to Iran, he went to Tehran's Teacher Training College where he was appointed the Director of the newly established Islamic Culture Group. Not a year had elapsed that the movement for closure of universities by some students began and culminated in total closure of all universities. Shortly afterwards, a new body was formed by the name of the Cultural Revolution Institute comprising seven members, including AbdulKarim Soroush, all of whom were appointed directly by Imam Khomeini. The purpose of this institute was to bring about the re-opening of the universities and reviewing of the syllabuses. Some students and certain individuals who had been involved in the Cultural Revolution expected the universities to remain closed for a period of at least twenty years in order that they may undergo fundamental reforms. Soroush and his colleagues brought their case to Imam Khomeini and requested him to issue instructions for accelerating the re-opening of the universities, which he did in one of his public speeches. After a year and a half, the universities began to be re-opened and, with new syllabuses, gradually resumed their work. In 1983 (1362), owing to certain differences which emerged between him and the management of the Teacher Training College, he secured a transfer to the Institute for Cultural Research and Studies where he has been serving as a research member of staff until today. In the same year, the Cultural Revolution Institute was changed to the Cultural Revolution Council and its membership was increased to seventeen. Soroush participated in no more than one of this Council's sessions; he submitted his resignation from membership to Imam Khomeini and has since held no official position within the ruling system of Iran, except occasionally as an advisor to certain government bodies. From the year 2000 onwards Abdulkarim Soroush has been a Visiting Professor in Harvard University teaching Islam and Democracy, Quranic Studies and Philosophy of Islamic Law. Also a scholar in residence in Yale University, he taught Islamic Political Philosophy at Princeton University in the 2002-3 academic year. For 2003-4 he will be a visiting scholar in the Wissenschaftkolleg in Berlin.

Compiled by:Source: http://www.seraj.org/biog.htm

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