Wrestling with Modernity Contending Visions of Religion and Religiosity in Iran since 1941

About this Article

This article explores the role of religion in the formation of social-political culture in Iran. Additionally, the general public’s attitude, as well as those of the intellectuals toward religion since the middle of the 20th century, is addressed here. In fact, this article goes back even before the stated date of 1941 in order to set the stage for these religious-intellectual developments. Accordingly, the anti-religious sentiments, opinions and movements are also covered in this article. The connection between peoples’ religious beliefs and the on-going social-political and cultural sensibilities is systematically addressed here. This is a well-researched work, probing into various schools of Shia and Islamic thoughts toward religion, society and politics. The political ramifications of these religious beliefs and attitudes are also thoroughly discussed along with the role of institutions, organizations and practices which were formed because of them. This article also sheds light on Iran’s encounter with the West and modernity vis-à-vis religion and religiosity.

With the intervention of the Allied forces in Iran and the abdication of Reza Shah in 1941, there was a new opening of the social-political atmosphere in Iran. Political ideas found new life. In this period, Iran’s political thoughts came into contact with Western liberal ideas and especially with the socialistic-communistic strand, which provided a unique approach toward Iran’s political predicaments. This encounter, while providing new knowledge and understanding, posed new problems for political thought and political culture in Iran. The religious culture was not unaffected by these developments, either. It was in this decade that, for the first time, religious groups gained even more internal strength and ascendency than the time of the Constitutional Era.

Defining religion’s place in a modernizing society

After Reza Shah’s abdication religious forces, which Reza Shah had relegated to the private sphere, once again entered the social-political arena, as they had during the Constitutional Movement. The political, economic, and moral turmoil caused by Reza Shah’s departure caused some political leaders to invite Ayatollah Hossein Tabataba’i-Qomi to return to Iran in order to advance their own political agenda. Exiled to Iraq following the Goharshad Mosque incident,1 Qomi seized the opportunity to call for the implementation of Sharia law in Iran. It was at this time that under the spiritual leadership of several ayatollahs, a few seminary students formed the first religiously inclined political groups. Subsequently, Ayatollah Seyyed Abol-Qasim Kashani, also, left Iraq for Iran.

Around the same time, some religiously inclined individuals who were Western educated and had become familiar with modern sciences returned to Iran introducing a new religious narrative based on socialist activism. Mehdi Bazargan’s early writings took the empirical sciences’ approach, whereas Mohammad Nakhshab, and later on the ‘60s, Ali Shariati focused on the social justice elements of Islam. Some Shia clergy, by this time, held political office and had executive presence in Iran’s political scene. With the tenacious activities of religious oppositional forces culminating in the assassination of the outspoken critic of Shi’ism Ahmad Kasravi in 1946, ideological Islam had arrived in contemporary Iran. Toward the end of the decade, Rohullah Khomeini with his Kashf ul Asrar also appeared on Iran’s political scene. In the early 1950s, Ayatollah Kashani, as the Head of the Parliament, played a key role on the political disputes among the National Front, the Tudeh party and Shah’s Royal Court. The second major activity of Fadaian-e-Islam, as a Shia ideological force, after Kasravi’s assassination, was the assassination of the Prime Minister, General Razmara.

The three main political currents of the 1940s, namely, The National Front, Tudeh Party and Democratic Party which actively opposed the policies and decisions of the Royal Court, were all influenced by Nationalism, Communism and Liberalism. The political personalities leading these political organizations were Mohammad Mossadegh, Iraj Eskandari, and Ghavam al-Saltanah. Under those political conditions, religious groups, relying on the strong religious beliefs and sentiments of the people, called for the full enforcement of Sharia law. In the more open social-political climate of the 1940s, these religious groups gained new opportunities to speak of the need to form an Islamic governance based on Islamic principles. Some of the religious statesmen could be called “Principlist,” in that they wanted to avenge the Constitutional Era’s ascendency of common law over the sharia law. However, another segment of the religious forces, who were also aware of modern Western ideas, began to spread the seed of religious intellectualism and religious renewal in Iran. This group of individuals reinterpreted socio political events of their own time basing their epistemology and thoughts on religious writings such as Nai’ni’s Tanbih al-Ummat va Tanzih al-Mellat (“The Awakening of the Community and Refinement of the Nations.) Aside from relying on the classical-traditional Moslem political thinkers, this group also took inspiration from more recent religious figures, such as Mohammad Kazem Khorasani, Abdullah Mazandarani and Mohammad Hossein Nai’ni.

One of the most effective and active religious groups of the period was the Center for the Publication of Islamic Facts in Mashhad. The open political atmosphere after Reza Shah’s exile in August 1941 facilitated the establishment of this Center under the tutelage of Mohammad Taghi Shariati.

Shariati’s main objectives for founding this Center were: to provide a novel interpretation of Islam and a new understanding of its decrees, 2 to fight against heretical readings of Islam and other deviant religious currents especially those of the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party, and Kasravi’s anti-Shi’ite nationalism; to disseminate Islamic truths, and to raise the interest of the youth to the ways of Islam. Gradually, this Center became a sanctuary for the more educated, young people, and seminary students for cultural and their political activities.3

In the transcript of Islamic Truths published in 1947, the objectives of the Center are stated as follow:

  1. Proving the necessity of religion and enumerating its advantages in this world and thereafter in contrast with irreligiosity.
  2. Proving the legitimacy of Islam and the Islamic way of life as the only way to genuine happiness through the observation of Quranic decrees.
  3. Demonstrating the wrongfulness and defining and disseminating the positive actions which they must immediately undertake to right this wrong.
  4. Generating religious fervor.
  5. Fostering unity, sincerity and mutual cooperation among Muslims.
  6. Unwaveringly fighting the devastating corruption which has shaken the foundation of Shia Islam and their community.
  7. Engaging in the widespread teaching and interpreting of the Quran.
  8. Encouraging the practice of enjoining the Good and prohibiting Evil.
  9. Reviving the performance of Shia rites and rituals.
  10. Proving the conformity of Islam with proper science and civilization.
  11. Defending Islam and responding to the claims of the ill-wishers.
  12. Raising public understanding with Islamic teaching.
  13. Educating people on the station of the Muslim clergy and encouraging the public to respect and cherish those who deservedly and rightfully are worthy of the name.
  14. Centralization of various activities.
  15. Creating forums for talks, discussions, and debates.4

The Center for the Publication of Islamic Truths, followed by other religious forces, broke with the National Front and Tudeh parties, which had established the Theist Socialist Movement. This Movement was among many other organizations advocating for the centrality of religion and religiosity in politics and policymaking. From such organizations, individuals who offered a political reading of religion, such as Mohammad Taghi Shariati, Mehdi Bazargan, and Mohammad Nakhshab, rose to prominence. No doubt, everyone, both from the religious and secularist camps addressing the role of religion in politics, had read Nai’ni’s Tanbih-al-Ummat va Tanziat-al-Mellat. Some of the topics addressed in this treatise, like social justice, were discussed with an entirely new approach to political participation and public policymaking. Religious doctrines became the central issue for political writers in that era. However, it must be added that there was a fundamental difference between Nai’ini’s work and other political-religious currents of the 1940s in that these other currents were profoundly influenced by secular European schools of thought and thus their task was to combine these philosophies with Islam’s teachings. Islamic-Marxism is a prime example of this type of attempt at integration.

With the fall of Reza Shah, a small number of Islamic political groups, such as the Assembly of Mujahedin Muslims (led by Abolqasem Kashani), the Muslim Community (led by Abdolkarim Faghihi-Shirazi), the Islamic Propagation Association (of Ataollah Shahabpur), and the Union of Iranian Muslims (under Mehdi Seraj-Ansari) were formed. The most prominent of these groups was the Feda’ian-e Islam (Devotees of Islam). Seyyed Mojtaba Mirlouhi, known as Navab Safavi, announced the birth of this organization in 1945, shortly after attempting to kill Kasravi.5 Navab, who was looking to establish an Islamic government, initially cooperated with Mossadegh and the National Front Party; however, once he found out that the National Front’s objective was not to establish an Islamic government in Iran, he ended his affiliation and, indeed, began to oppose them. Navab was arrested after the monarchist coup d’état of 28 Mordad of 1953 and executed in 1955. After his execution, Feda’ian-e Islam lost its centrality, but continued activities in smaller and more independent, decentralized groups.

In the early 1940s in order to combat the anti-Islamic pressures of the Tudeh party and the Baha’is, on the one hand, and to address the political and economic conditions of the country on the other, university students began to hold small and scattered gatherings. From these gatherings two main groups led by Jalal Ashtiani and Mohammad Nakhshab, began to cooperate and formed an organization called the God-fearing Socialists Movement in 1943.

Neku Rooh calls the God-fearing Socialists Movement “moral leftists.” These were “moralist” Muslim youths who held that the foundation of Islam is based upon Piety and Fairness as the following two Quranic verses proclaim: “Dearest to God is the one with the most piety" and that “Everyone must reap the benefits of their work proportional to their efforts and its value.”6

Quoting Habermas that “history is the human’s reaction to the prevailing conditions,” Nakhshab repeatedly emphasized the need to observe ethics in politics and society. What is at stake in Theism is that every object-phenomenon has lost its sacred station as if there is “no god.” What has happened in Eastern countries, especially among Muslims, is that they have failed to rid themselves of “superstitions,” so that “the self, I, and you” could form the collective identity of the “we.” Nakhshab argued that it is only with the attitude of “God-worshipping that one can find ‘oneself’, that human beings are myth-making individuals and that not all problems stem from our materialistic approach."7 The belief in God eliminates the arrogant and absolutist attitude of the people in advance. With this multidimensional pluralistic attitude, which is the foundation of all kinds of freedom including that of thought, of expression, and of political freedom, “one can guarantee the constant reproduction of reality.” This attitude entails “reality, itself, is always a process in the making” and as such it is not absolute. Based on our own personal experiences, we view myth and faith as the source of identity. In any case, we human beings, by privatizing our religious experiences and even defining religion itself in those personal terms, and by generalizing or extending those personal experiences to humanity at large, already have presupposed and have accepted absolutism within ourselves.8

The God-fearing Socialists Movement, relying on the approach of “negative theology”, believed in paving the way for human development and growth by dispelling these myths and absolutes. The monotheistic Abrahamic religions that are the source of this negative theological approach thus became the foundation of the God-fearing Socialists Movement. They sought to provide a philosophical-intellectual foundation for “self-making,” development and progress for humanity. Their reasoning was simply that once one accepts God as the only absolute being, then all other absolutists and absolutism itself is rejected, whether it is absolutism of time, space, speech or imagination. In addition, then, there is no word that can even describe that one absolute being. As the Quranic verse states” there is nothing like Him.” 9

From the late nineteenth century, when the colonial expansion of the West brought in Western social, political and philosophical values and shook the foundation of Muslim beliefs and values, the appeal of modernism in the realm of religion gained traction among the intellectuals in Iran. From inception, the call for modernizing Islam had the single aim of preserving Islam against Western invasion. But in addition,, it had three basic goals, especially from the perspective of Sunni intellectuals: “First, the unity of Muslim nations against the threat of cultural and political domination; second, to cleanse Muslim beliefs from superstition and darkness while returning Islam to its original pure era of the Rashidun Caliphate; and thirdly, harmonizing the Islamic decrees with rational and modern standards.”10

In addition to the social and political efforts to return Islam to its original purity, cleanse it of superstitions, and modernize it, some Muslim thinkers tried to provide theoretical and rational arguments that Islam, substantively, lacks nothing found in modern science and its methods. A clear example of this sort of thinker was Iqbal Lahuri. He was a poet and a thinker from Pakistan whose book, Revival of Religious Thought in Islam, provided modern, western, rational and scientific arguments for Islam as a dynamic and up to date religion and quite aware of the ongoing problems of Muslims living in the modern era. 11

Almost all intellectuals who called for reform and innovation in Islam were of the Sunni sect. Only two Shi’ite scholars took the same path and voiced the same concerns as their Sunni counterparts. One was Seyed Jamal al-Din Asadabadi (1838-1897) and the other was Seyed Amir Ali (1850-1928), a high-ranking Indian jurist and scholar. Their ideas and efforts, however, were more influential among Sunni thinkers. Nevertheless, in Iran, the center of the Shiite religion, the idea of reforms or reformation was also deliberated. After Seyyed Jamal al-Din, Shari’at Sangelaji fostered in the circle of religious seminaries the idea of reforming and modernizing Islam. Indeed, the followers of Shari’ati Sangelaji called him “the great reformer” for his efforts in modernizing Islam” 12

Ahmad Kasravi was the most prominent intellectual to address religion and religiosity in Iran. However, he took a different path from the reformists: he believed that religion is time bound; in every stage of human history, the necessity for the appearance of a new religion with a new rationality and new ethical considerations is felt. For this reason, he despised being called a “religious reformist.” From his point of view, it was impossible to reform religion under current conditions, and to return to the original pure tradition of Islam also was impossible. Kasravi was especially critical of the project of Wahhabism, arguing that Wahhabism could in no way confront modern science and Western methods of governance, which inevitably would find their way to Saudi Arabia, too. Therefore, he thought that the slogan of “returning to the original purity of Islam” was less likely than being able to “move mountains.” 13

Considering Kasravi’s attitude, beliefs, and efforts regarding religion and Islam, one could surely ask: if he is not to be called a “religious reformer,” then what are his intentions, goals and proposals about religion and religiosity? Kasravi’s answer is clear: we must return Islam to its Quantic foundation—which means “not viewing the physical universe as a useless device; accepting the Creator; living according to reason and the belief in the life thereafter. These, he thought, are the core common beliefs of all religions. However, Kasravi’s goal is to create a new path forward for Islam– not to return Islam back to its original essence. He thought that sustainability of such a path forward is contingent upon the following:

  1. Fighting against those new thinkers who do not value religion and try to explain to them the true meaning of religion.
  2. Fighting against all new religions derived from Islam and destroying them at their roots.
  3. Fighting the corrupting ideas both new and old: “the Greek philosophy, Sufism, Asceticism, Nihilism, Philosophical Materialism and the preoccupation with literature…”
  4. Providing knowledge-based rational arguments for foundational beliefs of religion.
  5. And establishing “guiding principles of life” based on those foundational beliefs. 14 Obviously, these principles, offered by Kasravi for his religious renewal project, are too general. They are meant to provide a basic framework and in no way encompass all Islamic laws and pillars.

Debating the separation of religion and politics

The idea of the separation of religion from politics, started among Muslims in the Nineteenth century, when they encountered the invasive power of the West. For a long time, the Ottoman Turks, who were at the frontline of this constant Western encounter, were of the belief that the only way to combat this powerful enemy was to increase and modernize their military capabilities. Since they viewed power only in military and security terms, irrespective of social-political reforms, the Turks blamed Islam and the Sharia for their deficiencies. It was this approach which made the Turks much more open to the idea of the separation of religion and politics than any other Muslim nation. This explains why Ataturk’s government suddenly decided to break away from religion altogether.

Many Muslim intellectuals, such as Jamal al-Din al-Assadabadi and Muhammad Abduh, had already called for the renewal of Islam in more modern terms; but after Ataturk’s Revolution in Turkey and the separation of religion and politics there, in spite of the massive objection of Moslems around the world, many people followed those two reformers and saw the necessity of grounding governance on the principles of political science, not religious decrees.15

Mehdi Bazargan, on the other hand, was in his initial intellectual phase an ardent defender of the presence of religion in politics. He advocated for a kind of native Islamic modernity, independent of the Eastern or Western models, to provide new solutions for society. This places Bazargan on the right wing of the Islamic paradigm. In the second phase of his intellectual life, however, Bazargan became a modernist accepting secularism, self-governance, and democracy. According to Bahrami Kamil, Bazargan, thus became one of those religious intellectuals who aspire to establish a Modern Islamic state.16

In Iran, the separation of religion from politics was implemented with the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911—even before Turkey. During the Constitutional Revolution, the contribution of the clergy was decisively felt. They fought on two fronts: either they joined the ranks of the Constitutionalists and fought against tyranny with their mighty pen, their sermons, and weapons, or they provided a rational justification for the legitimacy of democracy. Among the defenders of democracy, Sheikh Mohammad Hassan Nai’ni ardently tried to demonstrate the compatibility of the Constitutional Revolution with the principles of religion and Shariah. In his famous Tanbih-al-Ummat va Tanziat-al-Millat he argues that “the best way to attain a just government, protecting the national interest, is for the guardian or the ruler to possess an inner purity so that he is governed only by God’s will.”17 If this is not attainable, just people will have to rule. However, since these two types of governance are not common and are outside of the people’s control, the best way is to first create a set of rules “establishing the duties of the ruler and the limitations of his powers as well as the rights and liberties of the people.” Secondly, a group of knowledgeable and benevolent individuals must be in charge of overseeing the observance of those rules. This group of people are indeed peoples’ elected representatives in the Majles (parliament). Naini rejects the claims of those who oppose the Constitutional Revolution on the grounds that the principles of democracy - such as freedom and equality - are against religion or even heretical and contrary to the principles of Imamate. He provided solid arguments in defense of democratic principles and democracy as a form of government.

Thus, Shi’ite scholars fought on two theoretical and practical fronts for democracy. They used the belief in “Imamate” and in “leaving the gates of ijtihad 18 open” to make Islam flexible enough to embrace modern democratic changes. However, the clergy’s participation in the Constitutional Revolution, which led to the ratification of the new Iranian Constitution, put the clergy in an awkward position. Under Article 27 of the new Constitution, sovereignty emanates from the people, not, as Islamic tradition maintained, from God and His Will. Iran’s clerical community realized the awkwardness of this position after the victory of the Constitutional Revolution and the ratification of the new constitution. Regarding the controversy between the mullahs and the intellectuals during the first Majles, the Secretary of the British Embassy, Walter Smart, wrote:

The members of the clergy are well aware of the design of their opponents. They are also sensitive to the danger threatening their very existence. However, they have fallen into a horrifying trap from which there is no escape…

Sayyed Mohammad Mujtahid (Tabatabaei), who is not a typical Mojtahid and is considered to be the paragon of virtue, often says things which reveal the clergy’s vision for the future. When the topic of the Courts of Justice came up, he questioned the way these Courts were being shaped and with a doubtful smirk he said:

“With the establishment of such Courts, what is left for the mullahs to be the guardian of? This is why the clergy, in order to protect their rights, forced the Majles, to add a provision to the Constitution that requires all legislation to be referred to a five-member committee of the clergy lest passed laws compromise the decrees of Sharia.”19

Despite the opposition from progressive elements in the first Majles, the five-member committee set up by the mullahs was envisioned in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Although this Amendment allows for the establishment of a religiously based government, it never went beyond the written words and that Committee was never formed. Thus, the principle of the separation of religion from politics with the success of the Constitutional Revolution was realized in Iran; yet it remained a topic of theoretical discussions and debates. Kasravi has expressed his views on this subject in the article “Religion and Politics.” He is critical of the community of the clergy, which is practically in favor of the idea of the separation of religion from politics:

What is politics? Politics is all that is needed to run and maintain the country: Governance, establishing a bureaucracy, passage of laws, raising an Army, efforts for development in every municipality, cohesiveness with neighboring countries, fighting the enemy… Now, if we separate these from “Islam,” which is what the clergy wants, what will remain of the religion!?

What will remain is varying opinions on praying, fasting, pilgrimage, charity, etc. This means that a group of people have nothing to do with the affairs of the State and her development; freedom and sovereignty will not be their concerns; they are putting their heads down and occupy themselves with praying, fasting and other above-mentioned tasks.[20]

Kasravi believes that the separation of religion and politics has taken place in Islam, because Islam has lost its political aspect– thus destroying the source of Moslems’ dynamism and empowerment.The concept of caliphate, which is the foundation of Islam, has been abandoned; Jihad has been forgotten, Islamic laws have been set aside and racial unity has replaced religious unity among Moslems. Accordingly, the problem of the separation of religion from politics is dealt with in this way; it is a fait accompli!

Of course, Kasravi is being critical and sarcastic about this “accomplishment” of the clergy in Iran. He does not want the elimination of Islam from politics. He views the period in which he lives as the “age of ideals.” All nations foster their own ideals and aspirations, but Moslems’ ideals are confined to the supervision of rituals and rites.20 Islam’s fruitful commandments are forgotten, and the fault lies with the clergy, especially in Iran and after the Constitutional Movement. Because, contrary to the interest of the clergy, in order to “keep their own business of religion, they separated religion from the love of the county and the demand for liberty…” 21

Despite these comments, Kasravi was no longer wedded to the idea of the reunion of religion and politics, because he did not think that Muslims were sufficiently prepared for this reunification. His reasons were that on the one hand, the four pillars of Islamic politics, namely, the Islamic State, the Caliphate, Sharia and Jihad had lost their appeal in the modern world and on the other hand Muslims themselves are not dedicated to these pillars any longer. We must bear in mind that Kasravi’s project was to find a new path for “religious purity” based on an Islamic foundation. For him, “life moves on and must keep up with that progress.” 22 But, he left the idea of the separation of religion and politics alone—not taking a clear stance on it. However, the expectation from a thinker like Kasravi, who addresses every problem head on, is to be clear on this important subject of the separation of religion and politics. Nevertheless, he chooses to pass by this topic and limit his thoughts to criticism of the clergy and the Muslim community.

The rise of ideological Islam

At the time of the nationalization of the oil industry and of the coup d’état of 1953, religious forces again entered the political arena. The Islamist ideology which had been introduced a decade earlier was to be tested as a practical experiment. Feda’ian-Islam, entered the political arena as supporters of the Nationalist forces; however, when the tension between the nationalists’ pro-Mosaddeq groups and Shah’s administration rose, Feda’ian took the side of the Royal court.

According to Abrahamian, the Feda’ian -e-Islam was a group that started its political campaign by combatting all types of atheism under the leadership of a 22-year-old seminarian Mojtaba Navab-Safavi. To achieve their goal of establishing an Islamic government and enforcing Islamic Sharia, they began by engaging in a series of assassinations: Ahmad Kasravi, َAbdolhosein Hajir, Hajali Razmara and many others. These acts of terror were coordinated with Ayatollah Abolqasem Kashani. This relationship between the Feda’ian and Ayatollah Kashani was so well known that foreigners believed that Ayatollah Kashani was the leader of Feda’ian despite the fast the Feda’ian came mostly from the lower classes while Kashani was traditional cleric who came from a middle-class family.

Kashani, along with his family, three businessmen and a prayer leader, were leading the Mojahedin-e-Islam Society. This organization, despite its more pronounced religious characteristics, was not an uncompromising fundamentalist group. The main objective of the Mojahedin was to support Kashani’s political stance. Kashani had publicly declared his demands: the implementation of Sharia laws; the repeal of all of Reza Shah’s non-religious decrees; compliance with Hijab; and holding a unified stance against the West.23

Navvab-Safavi and his followers were acquitted in a military court for the assassination of Ahmad Kasravi, for two reasons. Firstly, they had the support of the clergy, and secondly, the government official hoped to use this group against the Tudeh party.24 Kashani’s writings supported the Royal Court politically by providing religious justification for the monarchy, and with his anti-communist stance. This cooperation and coordination between the Royal Court and the clergy led to the attack on the Baha’is and their places of worship. Their administrative buildings, Baha’i Centers, and their holy sites under the guidance of Falsafi and with the cooperation of security forces were destroyed. The clergy and religious forces also used this level of cooperation to promulgate their faith.25

Because Baha’is are not considered to be of the “people of the book”, unlike Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians, they are considered infidels. As such, their lives are not protected by Islam; moreover, as “infidels” of this sort, legally, they do not exist and thus so not have the protection of the law or the judiciary. For example, on 21 of September 1993, two individuals who were accused of murder in Shahr e Ray were exonerated because the victim was “a member of the deviant Baha’i Faith.” In other words, the religious beliefs of the victim determine whether charges will be filed, or any punishments will be assigned by the prosecutors’ office or the courts.26

The lack of serious provision in the Constitution written after the Constitutional Revolution on the one hand, and the political and the diplomatic challenges of the more modern Pahlavi Governments on the other, prevented the country from adopting a more secular, more democratic form of government in which the rights and privileges of the people from all sects and religions are protected. The prevalent anti-communist phobia of the Royal Court and the Shah himself, was another reason for the cozy relationship of the Royal Court with the more fundamentalist and traditional clergy. This group of the clergy encouraged the Royal Court to remain faithful to the particular provision in the Constitution which declares Shia Islam as the official religion of the nation.

The research by Fereydoun Vahman and Touraj Amini shows that contrary to the Islamic Republic’s ideological propaganda, the Baha’is were not immune to social and legal harassment during the Pahlavi era. Indeed, the law enforcement authorities, for political expediency, engaged in inhuman treatment of the Baha’is on the behest of the Shia sect.27 The inhumane treatment of the Baha’is took place when Baha’is, under Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, were fostering the culture of modernity and modernization through their active participation in social and economic endeavors such as building new modern schools, new factories and financial institutions. In addition, a large segment of the educated civil servants, technocrats and university professors was of the Baha’i faith. However, the Revolution of 1979 and the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty were disastrous for the Baha’is, disrupting their personal and social lives. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic and the rule of Shia fundamentalists in Iran, Baha’is have been deprived of their basic civil and human rights.

In the 1950s and 60s, the extremist forces of the Feda’ian-e-Islam were eliminated from the political scene, but they reconstituted themselves ideologically and organizationally by building coalitions with other groups like the Motalefe (the Islamic Coalition Organization) of the Tehran bazaar. Ayatollah Hosein Boroujerdi assumed the Shi’ite Marja’iyat—the pinnacle of the Shi’ite clerical hierarchy—while Abolqasem Kashani was pushed to the political margin. Religious technocrats began to engage in commercial and cultural activities. The early 1960s were pivotal years for religious activists. The Shah’s Land Reform and the feudal landlords’ protests placed the religious forces against the Royal Court. The first of these groups to campaign against these reforms were the Nations of Islam Party and The evolutionary Movement of Iranian People (JAMA). The first action of the Islamic Coalition Organization was the assassination of the prime minister, Hassan Ali Mansour. Another religious organization, The Iranian Freedom Movement, was established attracting religious activists. With the appearance of Rohullah Khomeini Shia fundamentalism grew in Iran. The more traditional political groups such as the National Front and the Tudeh Party along with the newly formed Confederation of University Students added their own independent voices. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) was also among one of these newly formed organizations. Toward the end of the 1960s, individuals such as Mehdi Bazargan, Ali Shariati, and Morteza Motahari under the influence of modern science and of Western fundamentalism began to provide a theoretical justification for political Islam.

In the early 1960s, guided by Ayatollah Khomeini, the remnants of Feda’ian e Islam started to campaign in a more organized manner within Tehran’s Bazaar, Tehran’s influential business district. United around the idea of establishing an Islamic State, they formed The Islamic Coalitions Committees, Motalefe. This coalition with his key lieutenants like Morteza Motahhari, Mohammad Beheshti, Mohammad Javad Bahonar, Haj Mehdi Araqi, Mohammad Bukharaei, and others played an important role in spreading Khomeini’s messages to the people of Iran. The Islamic Nations Party, whose agenda was to lead an uprising and eventually overthrow the Pahlavi regime through violent means, was established with the efforts of Abolghasem Sarhadizadeh, Mohammad Kazem Mousavi Bojnourdi, and Mohammad Javad Hojjati Kermani, etc. However, with the arrest of their key members in 1965, the Islamic Nations Party was short lived.28

By that time, the only political arena left for these religious activists was to revive the political writings of their predecessors and draw out the implications and limitations of their political theories. It was at this time that Sayyed Mahmoud Taleqani published Naini’s dissertation,“Governance in Islam,” with his commentary in order to defend the idea of political Islam and to voice his opposition to Pahlavi rule. Aside from the publication of this book, no other campaign was initiated until the 1970s when Sayyad Ruhollah Khomeini openly protested the government in power. Before that, most of the energy of religious forces was consumed by interpretation and explanation of “Islamist ideology.” It was after this period that Khomeini started discussing and explaining the concept of “Islamic Rule,” aspiring to combine popular participation and the right to self-determination with a system of government based on religious beliefs. With the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the framework of political Islam began to change in accordance with the exigencies of the time and the transformation of the Shi’ite clergy’s political views, as well as the Muslim youths’ understanding of this new system.

The 1970s is the decade of intense appeal of political Islam. The results were the Islamic Revolution and the rise of theocracy to power. With the formation of the Islamic Republic, “religion and religiosity” manifested in new ways. The first of genuine religious political parties such as the Islamic Republic Party or the Moslem Peoples’ Republican Party were formed. The Constitution and other legislation were based on religious decrees and society was governed according to a religious model and framework. For a few years, political parties of the bygone era, like MEK and JMA, were allowed to operate again. Other segments of religious minded people also organized themselves in opposition to Islamic rule. The educational and cultural centers were now governed by Islamists. Under these circumstances, some people moved away from organized religion and gravitated toward the more personalized-individualistic and even mystical aspects of Islam. Other religions, the Zoroastians, the Baha’is, the Jews, and Christians came under pressure. Sufis and Dervishes were also targeted. As a reaction to the established official religion in the country, some people became more open to the ideas of secularism or atheism. Western ideas, especially Liberalism and Democratic Socialism, gained new appeal to some. As the religious rule congealed in Iran, political parties and organizations stopped operating, became inactive or migrated outside of the country. The government began officially endorsing and propagating religious teachings.

Ayatollah Khomeini began his political activities with a narrow focus on the Reza Shah’s disregard for Sharia law. In his book “Kashf-e-Asrar,” (“Discovery of Secrets,” 1943), revealing his political approach, Khomeini’s criticism of Reza Shah is limited to some of his secular policies. Closing religious schools, banning religious endowments, anti-clerical propaganda, replacing religious courts with state courts, allowing alcohol consumption and playing stimulating music, opening co-ed schools, forcing men to wear Western-style hats and banning women from wearing long clothes, forcing them to go “naked” were some of the polices for which Khomeini criticized Reza Shah in that book. In this early writing, Khomeini never mentions anything close to calling for the Shah’s abdication; in fact, he upholds the obligation of loyalty to the monarch and especially to a benevolent one. There, Khomeini points out that Shi’ite scholars have never stood against the monarch; not even when the monarch issued anti-Islamic decrees. He contends that the clergy has not been rebellious, for they always valued even a bad administration over no administration at all. Khomeini also pointed out that the Shi’ite clergy had never thought that the right to rule belonged to them. In the Majles, clerics had always supported the regime and held political office; they had encouraged the people to pay taxes and cooperate with the government officials. Even when the clergy criticized the government, they refrained from criticizing the “monarchical system.” Khomeini also reminds his readers of Imam Ali’s loyalty to the caliphs, before him–even the worst ones.29

From June 12, 1977, when numerous harsh editorial commentaries by some oppositional groups were published, to February 11, 1979, when the last of Shah’s military posts had fallen, it was popular activism that uprooted Iran’s monarchical system. Religious fundamentalists with the assistance of other oppositional forces seized power. Non-religious and nationalist political organizations were all marginalized; the newly formed government belonged to the religious ideologues and their forces. But, the overthrow of the Pahlavi regime did not all stem from the power of the oppositional forces; the regime itself was plagued by fundamental economic, political, and legal problems.

Building Religious Government

The Referendum of April 1, 1979 solidified the role of religious thinking in the political arena and policy making. The Referendum drove other revolutionary groups to the margins of Iran’s political scene. Mehdi Bazargan, who belonged to both the National Front and the Freedom Movement organizations, became the Prime Minister in charge of the Cabinet; however, the de-facto power belonged to the leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei and his Revolutionary Council. It did not take too long for the forgotten ideological differences between the more conservative wing of the National Front and the Freedom Movement with the scholastic-fundamentalism of the religious forces to reappear, this time publicly. The attack on the U.S. embassy by these fundamentalist forces combined with their constant disruptive interference with the executive offices of the Prime Minister, forced Bazargan to resign. This congealed the fundamentalists’ political power in the newly formed Islamic Government. It did not take too long for the religious-nationalist factions to become the target of these fundamentalist forces. The supporters of Bazargan’s religious-nationalists faction, little by little ,were dismissed from their official positions; some were sent to exile and some were executed, all in the name of establishing a religious governance based on the scholastic guardianship of the clergy.

In fact, Mossadegh’s Nationalism, and religious intellectualism, with the passing of “Pahlavi-ism”, lost the ideological war to fundamentalism and Khamenei-ism. Furthermore, the political narratives of both the religious intellectualism and of Mossadegh’s Nationalism were ejected from Iran’s cultural-political discourse. The prevalent narrative and the dominant discourse of the next three decades under the Islamic Republic was all about combating the discourse of democratic liberalism and that of renewed monarchical Pahlavi-ism—although from time to time the discourse of the Left, including Stalinism, Islamic Marxism, modern Communism, and that of democratic Socialism, also became their target. These marginalized discourses, in light of post-revolutionary conditions in Iran and in consideration of all the developments in the modern world since the Revolution, were compelled to reexamine their grand narratives—albeit through trial and error.

In the struggle for power and control, and in competition with other political factions who participated in the Revolution, the fundamentalist Islamists soon consolidated power and began to shape the institutions of power in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence. Thus, they strengthened their own fundamentalist organizations. The doctrinal and intellectual foundations of all these fundamentalist groups were rooted in Shi’ite political teachings which were activated as a political force a decade before the Revolution. The formalization of the jurisprudential approach to Islamic governance, accepting Ayatollah Khomeini’s authority and guidance in politics and in governance, combatting foreign influence and the preservation of the Islamic Revolution were the top priorities of all religious ideologies within the Islamic Republic during its initial phase. The most important of all these fundamentalist organizations was the Islamic Republic Party, whose founders were students and followers of Khomeini’s political and jurisprudential leadership.

The Islamic Republic Party became the first political party under the new regime and officially began to operate on February 18, 1979. However, The genesis and the theoretical foundation of this party dates back to the 1960s.30 At that time, the three common tenets of the fundamentalist groups were: 1) Belief in the creation of an Islamic government led by Ayatollah Khomeini, 2) Supporting the armed struggle against the Pahlavi regime, and 3 ) Confronting the ideology of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. These core beliefs were common to many of these fundamentalist groups such as, Ummat-Vahedeh, Badr, Fallah, Tawhidi Saf, Falaq - Mansourun and Movahedin. These groups were formed before the Revolution and actively participated in the Revolution. However, after the Revolution, they settled in the political, military and security institutions of the Islamic Republic and created a new organization, “Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution” on 5th April 1979. 31

The militant movement whose agenda during the monarchy was to overthrow the regime and establish an Islamic state became a political party operating within the new regime and trying to advance its political agenda. The presence of the leaders of the Islamic Coalition Organization in various revolutionary foundations and institutions of the Islamic Republic made this organization one of the most powerful forces in the country. The constitutive body of the Islamic Coalition Organization, which had been a part of the now dissolved Islamic Republic Party for several years, made the necessary preparation for reorganizing and reinstituted the party in 1988. With a new Charter and a new Board of Directors, in hand, they became active in 1990 as the “Association of the Islamic Coalition.” The organizational Charter, comprising 18 Articles and 14 Amendments, was approved by the Founding Board on May 26, 1990. The Interior Ministry issued their official license in 1990, under the name, “the Society of Islamic Coalition;” which became The Islamic Coalition Party in 2003.32

The dominance of the religious culture in the political structure of the country confined the political spectrum to two opposing views: Those who wanted tighter control of the government in both the social and the political arenas, and, those who were in favor of economic liberalization. These two factional divisions, commonly known as the Religious Right and the Religious Left, were the first of their kind. The Combatant Clergy Association of Tehran and the Assembly of Combatant Clerics emerged from these ideological divisions within the regime.

Bazargan’s one-year tenure as the first prime minister of the Revolutionary government, posed serious epistemological and existential challenges to the core idea of the Iran Freedom Movement–the idea of combining political Islam with nationalist sentiments put forward in the 1960s.

The establishment of a religious state by Shi’ite political fundamentalists posed a new problem for the apolitical fundamentalists. These apolitical fundamentalists were the individuals who stayed away from politics in order to promote religious culture. They believed that, based upon Shia teaching, all governments in the absence of The Hidden Twelfth Imam, are illegitimate, thus justifying their stance about staying away from the political arena. Mehdi Ha’eri is considered one of the most notable critics of political Islam and an ardent supporter of the separation of religion from politics. He acknowledges the legitimacy of democratic, non-religious government. Ha’eri expressed these views in his Wisdom and Governance. There is a Shia political doctrine known as the Representation through Common Proprietorship. According to Ha’eri, this doctrine legitimizes the establishment of democratic governments based upon the people’s common ownership of their natural habitat which also allows them to collectively choose their advocates or representatives in the absence of the Hidden Imam.

The seemingly calm, but in fact stressful transition from the Iraqi War to the condition of peace in 1988 strengthened religious conservatism in the country. The post-war atmosphere drew the attention of public officials toward the themes of sovereignty and independence. The Islamic Republic tried to reaffirm its sovereignty and independence in every social, economic and political layer of the Regime. This phenomenon, like many events of the past, was named, “the Current of Reformism.” But this phenomenon was based on the vision of Ayatollah Khomeini for Iran’s domestic and foreign policy, the same vision upon which the Islamic Republic was built. This vision, especially after the war and Khomeini’s death and in light of all the changes that had taken place in the world since the Revolution, was confronted with new challenges.

Reformism dominated the political structure for four years, but, eventually, lost the political game to her opponents. Among the organizations designed to help advance the Reformists’ agenda were the Executives of Construction Party and then the Islamic Iran Participation Front. These two organizations were responsible for converting and implementing the Reformists’ ideas into practical policies, but they lost their appeal and power due to the electoral realignment that followed. None of these groups fit the technical definition of political parties; they were more like a circle of friends who happened to be Administrative Officers. Both of these organizations, ultimately, were confronted with the same ideological dead-end that had beleaguered many other religiously oriented ideologies which mushroomed after the establishment of the Islamic Revolution. Despite the Reformists’ inability to gain control of the real centers of power in the Islamic Republic, the emergence of Khatami’s discourse in Iran’s contemporary cultural scene brought about a new epistemological understanding. It also provided a new criterion for the legitimation of power, creating a shift. The presidential election of May 23, 1997, in fact, created a major change, shifting from the legitimation of power through a traditional charismatic figure to a more modern, legally-based and democratically elected method of legitimacy—from an authoritative scheme to a popular consent model.

With the election of Mohammad Khatami as the president, the discourse of modernity moved away from the margins to the center of official political power. For the first time in Iran, a new class had a representative in the highest level of the State. This was a symbolic victory for the new generation and a new class of people whose rights had been traditionally pummeled, a class of people who had been repeatedly humiliated for years. It was not coincidental that many of Khatami’s supporters were women and youth who had directly felt the inequities and injustices of the system. A clear example of this shift in attitude could be seen in the social acceptability and activism of this generation in the electoral turnout and in their other forms of political participation which continued even beyond Khatami’s era.

The election of May 23, 1997 can be analyzed and interpreted through several different layers. In the political arena, this election shifted the legitimation of power from the traditional charismatic method to a more modern legally- based method; it also changed the authoritative process of elections to a consensual democratic model. In the cultural sphere, the discourse of modernity moved away from the margins to take center stage and challenge the old way of thinking. Finally, in the social sphere, the middle class managed to find a representative and a spokesperson in the government for the first time in contemporary Iran.

The set of ideas put forward by Khatami revolved around the formation of civil society. With his knowledge of the culture of modernity and of modern civilizations, he contended that concepts of “freedom,” “the rule of law” and “tolerance” were all based on modernity’s rational thinking and knowledge. Khatami believed that as all non-Western cultures were challenged and beguiled by the Renaissance, its modern rationality and its new technology, so is the Iranian-Islamic culture and civilization. As such Iran will not be able to solve its current socio-economic problems in the same old ways.

Khatami contends that understanding modernity and overcoming the gap between that new culture and that of the old indigenous culture, is one the most important responsibilities of scholars and intellectuals. He writes, “the attempt to understand Western culture (both for those who idealize the Western lifestyle and those who have a different design) is an intellectual responsibility and a historical necessity. Also, in the political arena, no scientific or intellectual endeavor will be fruitful unless and until we understand the minds and the ways of the West which has provided, especially during the past several centuries, a different outlook from those of their predecessors about human beings and their affairs.”33

Khatami’s views, in this regard, on the one hand stems from his understanding of the social-cultural evolution that modernity has brought and on the other hand is related to his new innovative way of thinking about religion and religiosity—opening up a new horizon. Khatami separates the ideational essence of religion from the historical and social manifestations of it, while acknowledging the permanency of the relation between religion and mankind. He states that “I believe that religiosity is innate in human beings. And I interpret the spirit of religion in the following manner: Existence is full of mysteries; the difficulty is that we, as human beings, desire to discover these secrets of the universe; sometimes, we even succeed. However, existence is too complex; unravelling of a single mystery leads to hundreds more! We, as human beings, live in the midst of this wondrous universe. Religion is an answer to these curiosities. As long as there are human beings, there will be curiosity; and as long as there is curiosity, there is religion. Hasn’t religion been always around, everywhere!? However, religion has had various manifestations and has impacted our lives in different ways and degrees; sometimes its influence has been more extensive and sometimes narrower. At this point, I find it necessary to pose this question: Is Religion inherently something entirely “sacred” and “holy?” Or does it, in its essence, contain both the “sciences'' and the “holy?” “34

Khatami, based on this outlook which insists on the separation of the epistemological aspect from the historical aspect of religion, sees the central problem facing the religious believers as the challenge of reconciling the historical-epistemological understanding of religion, which is conditional and relative, with the sanctified and holy essence of it, which is absolute and permanent. His bold and enlightening statement is quite revealing: “I believe that anyone, who is hopeful about the future of humanity, even under these turbulent and stormy conditions, will see how the seeds of a new Islamic civilization will eventually blossom; and he, surely, will be relentless in helping this process. It is with this outlook that the essence of religion is preserved; it is only natural that there will also be some casualties along the way.” 35

The eight and the ninth presidential elections, which brought Ahmadinejad to power, replaced the previous administrations’ conservative technocrats with the revolutionary Principlists. Ayatollah Khamenei’s objectives and ideals went through yet another rendition with this new administration. The scholastic forces were now in charge of the economic, the political and the military institutions of the country.

Renewed appeal of personal spirituality, modern and traditional

Historically, in Iran, when there is cultural, economic, political or moral uncertainty and turmoil, instead of listening to the voice of experience and the dictates of wisdom, the people take refuge in mysticism and personal intuition. In the past two decades, we have witnessed the resurgence of these mystical elements in various cultural-societal levels—even as the phenomenon of globalization was realizing modernity’s ideals. This time, though, Iranian society with a modern globalizing approach, searching for meaning, was more receptive to the theoretical concepts and practical methods of modernity and away from their own traditional framework.

The most recent in-depth studies in psychology reveal that the appeal of Gnosticism in ancient civilizations was due to the presence of fear, the feeling of alienation and desire for material existence. These types of feelings in individuals may explain the reappearance of Gnosticism and its appeal in the modern world as well. This Gnosticism and “spirituality toward the body” is divided into two forms in the modern world:

  • The Theoretical Approach, used by the reconstructed Gnostic and mystical schools of ancient India and Latin America, calls on its followers to free themselves from social problems and avoid political and moral sensitivities.
  • The Practical Approach, which calls for individuals to engage in therapeutic treatments to fulfill the spiritual needs in their lives and also to help them cope with their personal problems.

The current approach to mystical beliefs and spiritual practices in Iranian society, is, on the one hand, the result of the upheaval taking place within the social, political and economic spheres; on the other, it is due to the demise of traditional spiritualism. In Iran, it is unprecedented for the defining norms of mysticism to come from outside of Iranian culture and for those outside norms to have such an appeal. As stated, the social disarray and the ineffectiveness of public policy in solving the social problems of the people combined with the struggles within the outdated traditional culture, which saw these as an epistemological crisis within that culture, were two major causes of gravitation toward modern spiritualism.

On the other hand, the growth of urbanization and the expansion of communications and cultural interactions facilitated by new technologies such as satellites and the internet paved the way for providing a sense of spiritual serenity and of mental tranquility for the people and the culture. In fact, Iranians were in sync with a global trend that sought to provide meaning for existence and thus reach a state of internal peace and inspirational calmness which could not have been reached through with the outdated traditional spirituality.

However, one manifestation of this has been the growth of interest in Sufism. Sufism’s emphasis on a personal experience of the divine, and its de-emphasis of scholastic theology does not coexist easily with the concept of Velayat-e Faqih and the regime’s militant discourse. Javad Nourbakhsh writes, “in the traditional school of Sufism based on Islamic oneness, the term Dervish refers to a person who is truly self-less, free of care for existence, without any concern for the universe and except friend and friendship pays attention to nothing else… The first lesson for “Dervish-hood” is the love of humanity and respect for the opinion of all without being judgmental or critical of their thoughts and opinions…Sufis must love and cherish everyone while serving all with utmost sincerity and humility.”36

Dervishes are the largest religious minority in Iran. According to Fars News Agency, twenty different Houses of Dervishes have been identified in Iran. The Nematollahi dynasty, the Gonabadi Dervishes, the Qaderi Dervishes of Kurdistan, etc. are among Iran’s community of Dervishes but the regime of the Islamic Republic lumps them together as the “deviant sects.” The Islamic Republic of Iran has been persecuting this religious minority group, arresting them and desecrating their facilities.37

“The Ring Mysticism” or “Cosmic Mysticism,” which was officially registered in Iran in 2001 is another mystical school. Several years ago, they drew the attention of the authorities and until recently they were labeled as “misguided sect.” The Islamic Republic restricted their activities; arrested their leaders and barred their congregational assemblies and teaching sessions. 38

Assessing religiosity and religious values is one of the most challenging issues for scholars of religion and ethics to begin with; but the multiplicity of religions and the diversity of existing value systems in the world have made this assessment even more difficult. The voluminous comparative studies’ in these two areas, itself, is a proof for this claim. In Iran, such research becomes more important because our society is in the process of transitioning from a traditional society to a more modern industrial one. This transition period, which is affecting every aspect of peoples’ lives and shaping their value system, poses a dichotomy for the people, but especially for the youth. So, on the one hand, religion has been incorporated in every aspect of peoples’ lives, quite visibly one may add; and, on the other hand, because the country is being governed by a theocracy, justifying political power through religion, religion has had a lasting effect on various aspects of individuals’ lives- especially shaping the mentality of the up and coming younger generation.

Finally, how does one go about measuring the degree of religiosity in Iran? Considering that religious education is both compulsory and that students from the 1st to the 12th grade are taught the history of Islam and the core values of the Shia sect, measuring students’ knowledge of Islam cannot truly gauge students’ religiosity. For this reason, many researchers have refrained from measuring this dimension. 39 The results of a study on the religiosity of young people in recent years showed that the respondents scored highly in understanding the religious dimensions of religious beliefs, ethics, and personal obligations;; they tended toward low scores in knowledge of mass prayers, political decrees, religious rites and participation. This discrepancy between these two sets of numbers suggests that traditional religiosity, which demands full compliance, is on the decline among students. These results also indicate a tendency towards a more genuinely private and personal aspect of religion as opposed to the collective and communal aspect of religion.

On the other hand, by relying on the findings of his research, Taqi Azad-Armaki believes that nowadays, Iranians have become more religious than in the past and that their religious considerations have deepened. Their personal struggles and conflicts, much more than the previous generations, belong to this realm of religion and religiosity, for they have experienced a kind of religion that is rarely seen in other cultures in the modern era. Armaki contends that today, while Iranian people themselves are the main actors in this drama between religiosity and irreligiosity, they seem to also be the judge and the jury in that theater. The combination of these two different roles have made them more religious in a deeper sense. This will make the possibility of religious behavior completely different in the future. Armaki also believes that younger people, in comparison with other age groups, assign more importance to God—a conclusion which is contrary to Inglehart’s findings.40


  1. Adamit, Fereydoun, Historical Articles, Shabgir Publications, Tehran, 1973.
  2. Bahrami Kamil, Nezam, Typology of Iranian Intellectuals, Kavir Publications, 2014.
  3. Pajoum, Jafar; Memoirs of Mohammad Taghi Shariati, Qom, Khorram, 1991, first edition.
  4. Jafarian, Rasool; Currents and Religious Political Organizations of Iran, Tehran, Islamic Revolutionary Documentation Center, 2004, Fifth Edition.
  5. Jalali, Gholamreza; Mashhad in the morning of Imam Khomeini Movement, Tehran, Islamic Revolutionary Documentation Center, 1998, first edition.
  6. Haqdar, Ali Asghar. Khatami’s cultural-political discourse. Shafiee Publications, 1999.
  7. Rajzadeh, H. And Tavakoli, M. (2001) “Operational study of religiosity in social research”, in research letter, No. 21 and 20.
  8. Zabihi Moghadam, Siamak. (2014). Fereydoun Wahman: One hundred and sixty years of struggle against the Baha’i' Faith. Irannameh, 29 (1).
  9. Saheb Al-Zamani, Nasser al-Din, An Introduction to Leadership, (third edition, pocket cut), Ataiee Press Institute, Tehran, 1968.
  10. Enayat, Hamid, Political Institutions and Thoughts in Iran (Lectures at the Faculty of Law).
  11. Enayat, Hamid, “Modernity of Religious Thought in Sunnis”, Article, Journal of the Faculty of Law and Political Science, No. 6, Summer 1971.
  12. Enayat, Hamid, Political Thought in Contemporary Islam, translated by Baha’uddin Khorramshahi, Tehran: Kharazmi Publications, first edition of the English text, 1982. McMillan London.
  13. Enayat, Hamid, A World of Alien Self, (collection of articles), second edition, Farmand Publications, Tehran, 1970.
  14. Kasravi, Ahmad (1945) On the Way of Politics, Peyman Publications
  15. Kasravi, Ahmad 1969 on Islam, Fifth Edition, Paydar Bookstore, Tehran 1969, p.95.
  16. Peyman Magazine, Year 6, Issue 10, December 1940.
  17. Mozaffari, Ayatollah; Contemporary Iranian Studies, Qom, Zamzam Hedayat, 2008, third edition.
  18. Nourbakhsh, Dr. Javad, “Farhang Nourbakhsh, Terms of Sufism”, Nematollahi Khaneghah Publications, Tehran, December 1987.
  19. Nourbakhsh, Dr. Javad, Forty Words and Thirty Messages, Second Edition, Yaldaqalam Publications, Tehran, 2002
  20. Abrahamian, E., & Toprak, M. (2002). Humanism: Islam cumhuriyeti üzerine denemeler: Khomeiniinism, essays on the Islamic republic. Metis.
  21. Cooper, R., & GROUPEMENT, P. (1982). The Baha’is of Iran. Minority rights group. Translated by Houri Rahmani, Persian text editor: Wahman, Fereydoun, 2011, Baha’is of Iran, Baran Publishing.

  1. The Goharshad Mosque rebellion was a largely peaceful uprising against Reza Shah’s modernizing policies, especially the forced unveiling of women, that took place in 1935 and was put down forcefully by the Shah. ↩︎

  2. Jafarian, 2004, p.104. ↩︎

  3. Jalali, 1998, p. 104. ↩︎

  4. Pejum, 1991, p. 41, Jafarian, 2004, p. 105. ↩︎

  5. ↩︎

  6. Nekuruh in Iran today 2014. ↩︎

  7. Ibid. ↩︎

  8. Ibid. ↩︎

  9. Ibid. ↩︎

  10. Enayat, 1971. ↩︎

  11. Ibid. ↩︎

  12. Sahib Al-Zamani, 1968, p. 136. ↩︎

  13. Peyman Magazine, 1940, sixth year, tenth issue. ↩︎

  14. Ibid. ↩︎

  15. Enayat, 1970, pp. 79-82. ↩︎

  16. Bahrami Kamil, 2014, p. 248. ↩︎

  17. Enayat, 1983 ↩︎

  18. Ijtihad is the Islamic legal concept of independent or original interpretation of problems not covered by the Quran, the Hadith (traditions concerning the Prophet Muhammad’s actions and sayings), or ijma, (scholarly consensus.) Over time, Sunni scholars agreed that ijtihad was no longer an option in almost all legal cases, but in Shia Islam ijtihad was still allowed to qualified jurists. ↩︎

  19. Adamit, 1352, p. 113. ↩︎

  20. Kasravi, 1945, pp. 7-8. ↩︎

  21. Kasravi, 1945, pp. 14-15. ↩︎

  22. Kasravi, 1969, p. 95. ↩︎

  23. Abrahamian, 1982, p. 317. ↩︎

  24. Abrahamian, 1982, p. 318. ↩︎

  25. R. K: One Hundred and Sixty Years of Struggle against the Baha’i Faith, pp. 104-379. ↩︎

  26. Sadeghzadeh Milani, Hesami 2012, p. 308. ↩︎

  27. See: One hundred and sixty years of struggle against the Bah به’ئین Faith, pp. 379-104; Documents of the Baha’is of Iran from 1320 to the end of 1331. ↩︎

  28. Mozaffari, 2008. ↩︎

  29. Abrahamian, 2002, pp. 27-28. ↩︎

  30. Mozzafari, 1387, Islamic Republican Party. ↩︎

  31. Ibid,Oral History of seven Muslim militant groups; The Mojahedin Organization of Islamic Revolution: from beginning to dissolution. ↩︎

  32. Ibid. ↩︎

  33. Haghdar, 1387, p 29. ↩︎

  34. Ibid, p49. ↩︎

  35. Ibid. ↩︎

  36. Nourbakhsh, 1366, p 23. ↩︎

  37. Official website of “Majzooban-e noor”: ↩︎

  38. Official website of erfanehalgheh: ↩︎

  39. Seraj zadeh, 1380, pp. 159-187. ↩︎

  40. Azad Armaki, 1393, Etemad Newspaper. ↩︎

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