The Secret of Divine Civilization and the Development of Iran

Western Europe through various forms of welfare state. The situation of Iran, however, was entirely different. The main structural feature of Iran is that all these four system problems have appeared at the same time, while none of them have already been resolved. 20 th century Iran witnessed the emergence of all these system problems at the same time, and without sequential intervals. The most important and fundamental problem is that in modern Iran the question of the relation between church and state has never been resolved, and therefore, it is mixed with other social problems, leading to distortion and confusion of all system problems in a way that no problem can be resolved in terms of its own logic. That is why the reform movements of Iran in 20 th century have failed, for in Iran the most elementary and foundational question of a modern society, namely the church-state relation, has not yet been successfully resolved. For this reason, 20 th century Iran is a century in which the struggle for democracy turns in to the political dominance of the clergy, and the slogan for democratic republic converts to the slogan for government by the religious jurist. Both these questions are also mixed with the issue of distribution. Consequently, People like Shariati and People’s Mujahidin speak of Islam as the religion of communism. But where were those intellectuals who could understand the obvious and evident contradiction of a clerical theocracy with the ideas of democracy and liberty? History of the modern Iran is not only a history of the emergence of all system problems at the same time, it is also a history of a reactionary approach to the question of church-state relation, leading to an increasing dominance of the culture of blind imitation and prejudice from the 16 th century up to recent decades. At the same time that the Western Europe moved towards separation of church and state which became a basis for the emergence of a culture of freedom of conscience and individual rights, which paved the way for the eventual emergence of political democracy and welfare state, Iran of the 16 th century experienced a form of the unity of church and state in the triumph of the Safavid dynasty. The young Shah Ismail legitimized his political rule by being the leader of a religious Sufi order. This mystical royal theocracy was at first different from a clerical theocracy. But since the safavids imposed Shi’ism on Iran, separated themselves from the Sunni Ottoman empire, destroyed the unity of Islamic world and were forced to import Shi’i clerics to Iran, giving them much advantages and power to the clerics. Gradually, the religious authority of the kings decreased and was transferred to the clerics. By the time of Sultan Husayn, the king is absolutely subservient to the clerics and follows their intolerant policies to non-Shi’is, which paved the way for the destruction of the Safavid dynasty. Throughout the 19 th century, and after a century of civil war and fragmentation during the 18 th century, the Qajar dynasty ruled over Iran. However, this time the Qajar kings were completely devoid of any religious authority and they owed their legitimacy to the blessing of the clerics. During the 19 th century the economic, social, cultural and political power of the clerics was rapidly increasing leading to a situation that the clerics began to think of themselves as the representatives of the hidden 12 th Imam, entertaining the idea that the Qajar kings are usurpers of authority, and that the clerics themselves could be the rulers in both religious and temporal domains of Iran. Finally, in 20 th century, after religious and secular intellectuals spoke of the progressive and revolutionary nature of the clerics, and defined them as representatives of democracy, freedom and human rights, the people of Iran with an amazing enthusiasm, successfully made a revolution and willingly submitted political power to the clerics. History of modern Iran is a movement from a royal and mystical theocracy towards a clerical theocracy. As we can see, the culture of the unity of church and state has been the main reason for the distorted response to various social questions like participation and distribution.

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