The Secret of Divine Civilization and the Development of Iran
On the other hand, as we shall see later, the Secret affirms that the west has also deviated from many principles of civilization and true modernity. Consequently, he argues, both Iran and the West must move towards reform and true modernity: All the peoples of Europe, notwithstanding their vaunted civilization, sink and drown in this terrifying sea of passion and desire, and this is why all the phenomena of their culture come to nothing… A superficial culture, unsupported by a cultivated morality, is as “a confused medley of dreams,” and external luster without inner perfection is “like a vapor in the desert which the thirsty dreameth to be water.” For results which would win the good pleasure of God and secure the peace and well-being of man, could never be fully achieved in a merely external civilization. 5 The peoples of Europe have not advanced to the higher planes of moral civilization, as their opinions and behavior clearly demonstrate. Notice, for example, how the supreme desire of European governments and peoples today is to conquer and crush one another, and how, while harboring the greatest secret repulsion, they spend their time exchanging expressions of neighborly affection, friendship and harmony… Be just: can this nominal civilization, unsupported by a genuine civilization of character, bring about the peace and well-being of the people or win the good pleasure of God? Does it not, rather, connote the destruction of man’s estate and pull down the pillars of happiness and peace? 6 Furthermore, the Secret speaks of the affinity of authentic Iranian culture and Islam with the principles of development and modernity. Consequently, movement towards reform and true modernity is not a move towards self-alienation or Westoxication. On the contrary, it is rather a movement towards the creative spirit of Iranian culture which during the pre-Islamic era manifested itself in the form of a magnificent center of human civilization, and subsequently, during 9 th and 12 th centuries, brought about the most shining expression of an Islamic culture. According to the Secret, what is truly contrary to the authentic creative spirit of Iranian culture is the movement towards religious prejudice, intolerance, blind following of the clerics, and discrimination among various people in the name of religion. The Secret argues that in the long run, the main reason for the backwardness of Iran and the decline of its past glory and majesty was the victory of the culture of intolerance, prejudice and blind obedience to the clerics which suppressed the creative spirit of Iran and left it a weak country unable to resist the Western domination. It was this religious repression and violation of the freedom of conscience that broke down the foundation of Iranian cultural, scientific, economic and social creativity. The secret defines civilization and development on the basis of some universal principles. They include: A particular approach to humans and society which affirms the sacredness of Human beings and reason; liberation of the members of society from the bondage of religious despotism and the movement of culture towards independent thinking of individuals; separation of church and government, reconstruction of law in the direction of the equality of the rights of all people; democracy and the participation of people in political decision making; universal education which would encourage the institutionalization of freedom of thought and the engagement of people in creative economic, industrial, commercial and cultural activities; reform of the culture towards encouraging high aspiration, workmanship, and creativity to serve the people and exalt the country, so that poverty, idleness, liturgy,
5 Ibid, pp. 60-61. 6 Ibid, pp. 61-62.
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