Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Editor's Note

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

As in the previous issue of this fiftieth anniversary volume, the lead essay here takes a long-range view of its subject matter: Irano-Islamic politics and society. It delves to the heart of the matter with the insight of a scholar who has spent a long and distinguished career studying a subject he loves. Peter Avery discusses the maintenance of balances that, in his own words, "is an issue of the peace and stability and effective governance of a territory...." (p. 177). The concept is critical when one views the past fifty years of the history of the Middle East, a history littered with disastrous wars, and conflicts political, religious and societal. Those conflicts are perhaps, as Avery reminds us, the consequence rather than the cause of things gone awry, not in Iran alone but in the region as a whole.

If balances are not maintained politically, socially and economically, then as a body that is not sustained by a balanced diet, the state, the nation becomes weak and falls ill. It may be just a chill at first, but if not attended to, a fever develops, and if ignored, the patient becomes seriously ill. It then takes so much more time and effort to bring the patient back to health, than if the chill had been treated at the onset.

Avery offers the treatment: balancing the needs of the people and the state, a concept which is at the very core of Islamic culture and civilization. Spelled out, that means inclusiveness of the various social, ethnic, and religious groups in society; respect and tolerance for views and beliefs that are not necessarily those of the dominant groups; equitable distribution of at least some of the vast resources available; and meaningful political participation of the members of society. The cure may be found in the societies themselves: in their cultures, traditions and beliefs from whence springs the desire for balance and order. …

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