Nikpour’s article explores the emergence of new iterations of Islamic universalism in the mid-twentieth century by examining two important 1960s texts that are rarely if ever discussed in the same context: The Autobiography of Malcolm X and a travelogue titled Khasi Dar Miqhat (Lost in the Crowd) by Iranian intellectual Jalal al-e Ahmad. Malcolm X’s famous autobiography was published in 1965, just a few months after both he and Al-e Ahmad had returned to Iran from the hajj trip that is narrated in the 1966 Khasi Dar Mighat. Nikpour argues that these hajj texts signal a new political and ethical imaginary of the anticolonial era. Malcolm X and Jalal Al-e Ahmad were both political thinkers whose lives were marked by restless intellectual and political exploration. Though both men had worldly concerns, they are each more generally read from within the provincial national concerns found in American and Iranian studies respectively. Whereas Malcolm’s sudden death in 1965 is often interpreted as the tragic cutting short of his newfound ethical engagements, Al-e Ahmad’s abrupt death in 1969 is seen as minor footnote in the locomotive momentum of the Islamic ideology of the Islamic Republic he is said to have helped found with his writing. This essay asks whether it is possible to read the ethical horizons imagined by these political theorists without collapsing them into common tropes of black nationalism (for Malcolm) and linear precursors to the 1979 Iranian revolution (Al-e Ahmad).

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