Hamid Algar (born 1940) is a British-American Professor Emeritus of Persian studies at the Faculty of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He writes on Persian and Arabic literature and contemporary history of Iran, Turkey, the Balkans and Afghanistan. He served on the UC Berkeley faculty for 45 years (from 1965 to 2010). Algar remains an active scholar and his research has concentrated on the Islamic history of the Perso-Turkish world, with particular emphasis on Iranian Shi'ism during the past two centuries and the Naqshbandi Sufi order.[1][2] Algar is a Shia Muslim.[3][4]

Algar, who was born in England, first converted to Sunni Islam and later chose to follow Shia Islam. He has also translated books written by contemporary political Shiite theologians, like Ruhollah Khomeini's book Velayat-e Faqih and books written by Ali Shariati, Murteza Mutahhari and Mahmoud Taleqani.[5] For his enthusiastic promotion of Khomeinism as well as his heroic admiration for Ayatollah Khomeini, National Review dubbed him as "Khomeini’s Favorite American".[6][7][8][9]

Life and career

After earning his B.A. with first-class honors in Oriental Languages (Arabic and Persian) at Trinity College, Cambridge, he was offered a scholarship to Tehran University in Iran, where he planned to work for his Ph.D. He then moved to Cambridge and defended his thesis in 1965. Algar wrote his Ph.D. on the political role of Shi'a religious scholars in the 19th century.[10]

In regards to his conversion to Islam, Algar has said, "I don't look like the average person's idea of a Muslim."[10]

Views and scholarly critiques

Algar is described as "a seasoned scholar who knows his Islamic theology and modern Middle Eastern history".[11][12][13][14][15]


He caused a public incident in April 1998, during an on-campus commemoration of the Armenian genocide organized by the Armenian Students' Association, when he allegedly said that Armenian genocide never happened and made other controversial remarks.[7][8][9] A subsequent complaint prompted the university to carry out an investigation. In January 1999, the five-month-long investigation concluded and found that while Professor Algar's comments "seem to fall within the bounds of constitutionally protected speech", it did not mean that "the University condones the type of speech used by the parties."[7]

The Complaint Resolution Office did, however, issue an apology to the students on behalf of the university.[16] Not satisfied with the university's response, the students turned to the Associated Students of UC Berkeley, which unanimously passed a resolution entitled "A Bill Against Hate Speech and in Support of Reprimand for Prof. Algar" on March 10, 1999.[17]



  1. ^ "Professor Hamid Algar, the Distinguished Shia Muslim Scholar in USA". Imam Reza Network. Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
  2. ^ electricpulp.com. "Consulting Editors – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org.
  3. ^ "Professor Hamid Algar, the Distinguished Shia Muslim Scholar in USA". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  4. ^ "Hamid Algar". Al-Islam.org. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  5. ^ Behnegarsoft.com (2010-11-22). "دکتر حامد الگار كيست". جهان نيوز (in Persian). Retrieved 2019-05-18.
  6. ^ Caschetta, A.J (6 June 2020). "'Happy Birthday, Hamid Algar' — Khomeini's Favorite American Turns 80". National Review. Archived from the original on 7 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Hovsepian, Shaké. "You Stupid Armenians, You Deserve to be Massacred." Usanogh. April 24, 1999. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  8. ^ a b Johnson, Chip (February 27, 1999). "Free Speech Shows Bad Judgment / Professor's ugly remarks should not be tolerated". San Francisco Chronicle. p. A21.
  9. ^ a b "Armenian Students Win Historic Vote on Berkeley Campus". Armenian Reporter. 32 (25). Paramus, New Jersey: 22. March 20, 1999. ISSN 1074-1453.
  10. ^ a b "A Conversation with Hamid Algar - Campus Watch". www.campus-watch.org. June 2003.
  11. ^ Brown, L. Carl (3 June 2017). "Review of Wahhabism: A Critical Essay". Foreign Affairs. 81 (5): 216. doi:10.2307/20033330. JSTOR 20033330.
  12. ^ Keddie, Nikki (3 June 1972). "Review of Religion and State in Iran 1785-1906: The Role of the Ulama in the Qajar Period". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 92 (1): 116–118. doi:10.2307/599662. JSTOR 599662.
  13. ^ Rahman, Tariq (3 June 2017). "Review of Roots of the Islamic Revolution in Iran: Four Lectures by". Islamic Studies. 42 (4): 711–714. JSTOR 20837313.
  14. ^ Mirza Malkum Khan: A Study in the History of Iranian Modernism by Hamid Algar, Reviewed by Ervand Abrahamian Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 96, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1976), pp. 308-309
  15. ^ An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry by Mounah A. Khouri; Hamid Algar, Reviewed by Francis X. Paz Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul., 1977), p. 241
  16. ^ Hernandez, Daniel. "Professor's Actions Exonerated." Daily Cal. February 24, 1999. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  17. ^ "UC Berkeley Senate Calls On Prof. to Apologize." Asbarez. March 16, 1999. Retrieved April 19, 2011.
  18. ^ Bill, James A. (1982). "The Politics of Extremism in Iran". Current History. 81 (471): 9–36. doi:10.1525/curh.1982.81.471.9. ISSN 0011-3530. JSTOR 45317329. S2CID 251522496.