Dzhemal was born in Moscow in 1947. He studied at the Institute of Oriental Languages at Moscow State University, and was one of the members of the "Iuzkinskii Circle" (Южинского клуба) of Soviet dissidents that had been in existence since the 1960s, and included the poet Evgenii Golovin (1938-2010) and the novelist Yuri Mamleev (1931-2015). This group develeoped an interest in Gurdjieff, and then in Traditionalism, and was also joined by Alexander Dugin.
Dzhemal and Dugin became friends, and together joined Pamyat, the first ever independent political organization to come into being in the USSR. After the collapse of the USSR, both Dzhemal and Dugin left Pamyat and proceeded independently, though both they and their respective followers remained generally on good terms. While Dugin became one of the leaders of the National Bolshevik Party, Dzhemal established the Party of the Islamic Renaissance in Astrakhan (in southern Russia), and then returned to Moscow, where he established and led the Islamic Committee of Russia. Neither organization was particularly significant, but Dzhemal himself became well known, both in the mainstream media and through his own books, which criticized modernity, especially in its global liberal form, from a perspective that mixed Traditionalism, politics, radicalism, and Islam. He had a small, informal group of followers.