OUR SCHOLARS | Hossein Kamaly

Hossein Kamaly is an assistant professor in the Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures Department at Barnard College. Kamaly specializes in Middle Eastern history and Islamic Studies. His research interests focus on intellectual history, and the broad field of Perso-Islamic studies. Kamaly is committed to close reading of classical texts, and teaches courses in which important themes are traced across texts and societies.

Prior to his arrival at Columbia, Kamaly worked as a graduate affiliate at the Center for Middle East Studies at Harvard University and a simultaneous interpreter at the United Nations and World Summit of Religious Leaders. After years of working as an electrical engineer, computer programmer, mathematical analyst, and simultaneous interpreter, he obtained a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 2004.


So, combating the soviets was not just an ideological matter. It was a very politically significant matter to the integrity of Iran as, as a nation and as a nation-state. Now, in, in the 1960s, and we know what was happening in the world in the 1960s with anti-colonial movements, anti-colonial uprisings in the world especially after [the 1953 coup of Mossadegh] after that coup that brought down the [prime minister] who was a staunch advocate for the rights of the people. He had stood up to the British and taken back the Iranian rights to its natural resources.


Iran-Iraq War

And the Iranian troops were called the troops of God. The enemy was of course the troops of evil, the troops of Satan. Again, there is a very important element of theology in, in this propaganda in this way of formulating the war. Yes. Again, in solidarity with all Muslims, came up with the idea of a week because there is a few days of difference between the day that Sunni Muslims celebrate the Prophet’s birth and the day that Shiite Muslims, Twelver Shiite Muslims do. According to the Shiite version, the birth of the Prophet and the birth of the sixth Shiite Imam occurred on the same day. So, this is very important because the sixth Imam has a major role in Shiite history in the formulation of Shiite jurisprudence and law. Therefore, the Shiites think–maintain that this is not a coincidence.


Islamic Law and the 2009 Incident

Do we need to tamper with Islamic law to find room for women’s rights or do we go about reforming society and then Islamic law will follow? We don’t need to care about that. Or is it the combination of both? These are the contemporary discourses in Iran. The 2009 incident that you mentioned was part of this conflict. was part in this conflict. In my view, one party in this debate chose not to engage in 2009, right? It’s like playing chess and then kicking the chessboard. It’s violating the rules of the game.