Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-State Relations in the Pahlavi Period

Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-State Relations in the Pahlavi Period

Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-State Relations in the Pahlavi Period

Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran: Clergy-State Relations in the Pahlavi Period

Synopsis

Indispensable for understanding the recent conflicts in Iran, Religion and Politics in Contemporary Iran provides a political history of the fluctuating relationships between the Islamic clergy and Iranian government since 1925. How different factions of the clergy, or ulama first lost and then regained a powerful position in Iran is the subject of this book.

Akhavi analyzes how various factions within the clergy have responded to the government's efforts to encourage modernization and secularization, giving particular attention to the changes in the madrasahs, or theological colleges. He examines the main themes of the Ayatullah Khymayni's book, Islamic Government, and concludes by examining the alignments among the clergy in the past that indicate how they may develop in the future."

Excerpt

Upon the abdication of Rizā Shah in September 1941, the organization of the clergy had reached a debilitated stage. the madrasahs, according to the data, were suffering the consistent application of the secular policies and legislation discussed earlier. the economic devastation brought on by the second World War and the military occupation of the country by the Allies had severely affected the financial solvency of these schools, so heavily dependent on revenue from the lease of endowed properties. the political system faced pressures from several directions at once: fissiparous tendencies among the tribes in key provinces; requisitioning of natural resources by the occupying armies; factionalism among the politicians in the capital; bureaucratic breakdown; incipient class conflict among the strata that had been engendered by the modernization program of the previous Shah.

Yet, the seeds of the growth of ̔ulam̓ influence lay in these difficulties, and especially in the dramatic rise of foreign influence in the forms of western culture and communism. Thus, by 1951 the mujtahids again were intervening in politics in a major way and issuing fatvās decreeing the nationalization of the Anglo- Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). There may be no doubt that this development marked the highest point of politicization of the clergy's role in society since the Constitutional Revolution. Such is the case even though the traditional scholasticism and bookishness of the religious leadership characterized the behavior of the sole marj̔-i taqlīd of the time: Āyatullāh Muhammad Husayn Burūjirdī (d. 1961).

Politicization of clergy ranks derived in large measure from the ideas and actions of Sayyid Abū al-Qāsim Kāshānī (d. 1962). This quintessential political . . .

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