A Study of the Prophetic Career of
The problem of prophethood
After his appointment
The miracle of the Qur\u2019an
The change in Mohammad's personality
The establishment of a sound economy
The advance to power
Prophethood and rulership
Women in Islam
Women and the Prophet
God in the Qur\u2019an
Genies and magic
Cosmogony and chronology
by F. R. C. Bagley
The religion of Islam, founded by Mohammad in his prophetic career which began in 610
and ended with his death in 632, has helped to shape the cultures and lifestyles of many
In the last hundred years, numerous scholarly books have been written about Mohammad,
the Qur\u2019an, and Islamic theology, laws, sects, and mystic movements. Foreign scholars
have accomplished essential tasks of gathering and analysing data. Indigenous scholars
have for the most part written expositions and apologia, and with exceptions such as the
Egyptian Tam Hosayn, who lived from 1889 to 1973 and was blind, have not paid much
attention to difficulties.
The book Bisl O Seh Sal (Twenty Three Years) by the Iranian scholar Ali Dashti
(l89~1981-2) is valuable because it discusses both values and problems which Islam
presents to modern Moslems.
Born in 1896 in a village in Dashtestan, a district adjoining the port of Bushehr on the
Persian Gulf, Ali Dashti was the son of Shaykh Abd ol-Hosayn Dashtestani. At a young
age he was taken by his father to Karbala in Iraq, which then belonged to the Ottoman
empire. Karbala, where the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Hosayn was martyred in 680,
and Najaf(about 70 km. or 43 m. to the south), where the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law
Ali was martyred in 661, are visited by Shi'ite Moslem pilgrims and have colleges
Despite the unsettled conditions in the First World War, Ali Dashti received a full
training in thesemadrasas and acquired a thorough knowledge of Islamic theology and
history, logic, rhetoric, and Arabic and Persian grammar and classical literature.
After his return from Iraq to Iran in 1918, however, he decided against a clerical career.
Having strong patriotic feelings and an awareness of world developments, he preferred to
devote his fluent pen to journalism. Eventually he succeeded in establishing his own
newspaper at Tehran, Shafaq-e Sorkh (Red Dawn), which lasted from 1 March 1922
unti1 18 March 1935. He was its editor until 1 March 1931, when Ma'el Tuyserkani took
over. In 1919 Ali Dashti was imprisoned for a time after he had written articles criticizing
the proposed Anglo-Iranian treaty of that year (which was later dropped), and in 1921
and subsequently he spent some more short spells in prison. He described his experiences
and thoughts in articles which were collected in a book, Awam-e Mahbas (Prison Days).
With its radical and modernizing tone, shrewd observations, pleasant humor, and fluent
style, this book won immediate popularity and was several times reprinted in amplified
editions. Shafaq-e Sorkh (Red Dawn) became noted for the high quality of its articles on
social and literary subjects written by Ali Dashti and his then young collaborators, among
whom were distinguished men such as the poet and literary historian Rashid Yasemi and
the scholarly researchers Sa'id Nafisi, Abbas Eqbal, and Mohammad Mohit Tabataba'i.
During those years, Ali Dashti taught himself French and began to read widely in modern
French literature and in English and Russian literature in French translations. He also
read material in French on current affairs, music and painting (in which he was
interested), and Islamic subjects. He was one of the few Iranians who took an interest in
modern Arabic, particularly Egyptian, literature. At a time when most writers of Persian
prose were still addicted to elaborate metaphors and complex sentences, he developed a
fluent but elegant style which was widely admired and copied, the only adverse criticism
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