The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61)

The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61)

The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61)

The Flourishing of Islamic Reformism in Iran: Political Islamic Groups in Iran (1941-61)

Synopsis

During the 1940s and 1950s, Islamic reformism flourished in Iran. This text examines how Iranian Islamic groups came to rethink traditional accounts of religion and nurture a politicized version of Islam.

Excerpt

The unabated factionalism within the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past decade has shown that the Islamic Revolution has two different faces: a fundamentalist face and a modernist one. the 1979 Revolution was not merely a dismissive reaction to Western civilization, but was also a product of an intellectual tradition attempting at reconciling Islam with new sciences and schools of thought originated in the West, and enabling it to respond to the requirements of modern life. What distinguishes the fundamentalists from the modernists is not so much the issue of foreign policy as the way they think about society, politics and religion. Whereas the fundamentalists claim that they follow Islam in its pure form, the modernists accept certain types of borrowing from other schools of thought. This affects the way that the two groups interpret Islamic teachings. Whereas the former follow a strict approach in interpreting religious scripts, the latter have a broader view that allows reliance on reasoning and new sciences, when interpreting the scripts. Nevertheless, Islamic modernists and fundamentalists have one belief in common, the need for direct involvement of religion in politics. Modernist and fundamentalist approaches towards Islam have been coexisting, as well as competing, among religiously minded political activists in Iran, at least since the mid-twentieth century. the 1979 Islamic Revolution was a product of the coalition of the advocates of these two approaches, under the charismatic leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The developments leading to the formation of fundamentalist and modernist tendencies among Islamic activists in Iran can be traced back to the all-embracing encounter of Iranian society with Western civilization, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Since then, the winds of change have swept through Iran, with far-reaching consequences. the process of transformation of Iranian society reached its climax in the period between the Constitutional Revolution of 1906

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