Abdulkarim Soroush (pseud. of Hossein Dabbagh) was born in Tehran in 1945. After being trained in Tehran as a pharmacologist and philosopher he left for the United Kingdom where he studied history and philosophy of science, particularly the philosophy of Popper and Kuhn. During the months preceding the Islamitic Revolution of Iran Soroush had a large share in the gatherings of young muslims, opponents of the Shah’s regime, that took place in the London imam-barah. His book, Dialectical Antagonism, a compilation of his lectures delivered in the imam-barah, was published in Iran. When the revolution began, in 1979, Soroush returned to Iran. In the spring of 1980 Soroush was appointed member of the Council for the Cultural Revolution, established by Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1982 he left this council for good and never accepted any governmental offices after that. Among the subjects he taught in Tehran University and elsewhere the Islamic mysticism, especially Rumi’s Mathnawi, was a major one. Soroush became member of Iran’s Academy of Sciences in 1990. However, he became gradually more critical of the political role played by the Iranian clergy and after a few years distanced himself from this role. As a result he not only became subject to harassment and censorship, but also lost his job and security and was forced to leave the country for England and Canada in 1996.

In 1990 he and a number of his closest friends founded a monthly magazine Kiyan which soon became the most visible forum ever for religious intellectualism. In this magazine he published his most controversial articles on religious pluralism, hermeneutics, tolerance, clericalism etc. The magazine was clamped down in 1998 among many other magazines and newspapers by the direct order of the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. About a thousand audio tapes of speeches by Soroush on various social, political, religious and literary subjects delivered all over the world are widely in circulation in Iran and elsewhere.

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 is currently teaching Islamic Political Philosophy at Princeton University. For the next academic year he will be a visiting scholar in the Wissenschaftkolleg in Berlin.

November 2004