This paper examines socio-historical roots of the emergence of the idea of “Islamic Protestantism” within Iranian Shi’i tradition. The central focus of this study is to present thoughts and activities of so-called “Iranian Luthers” as the agents, actors, and prime movers of the birth of Islamic reformation in Iran.
These actors whose ideas of Islamic reformation have had great influences and reached broader audiences beyond Iranian territory include Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Ali Shari’ati, Mehdi Bazargan, Hashem Aghajari, and Abdul Karim Soroush.
There are a number of Iranian reformers deserve credits for their thoughtful, controversial ideas of Islamic reformations. These Iranian reformers are considered “the Luthers of Islam” for their deep admiration of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, and their calls for Islamic reformation just like Luther did in the sixteenth century Europe.
By the socio-historical and descriptive analysis, this paper is not intended to compare two religious reformations in Iran and Europe, but rather to study and analyze their notions with regard to Islamic reformation.