The Rise Of Islamic Fundamentalism In Iran

1563 words - 6 pages

The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in Iran

Over the course of the last century, the Islamic Republic of Iran (formerly known as Persia) has seen colonialism, the end of a dynasty, the installation of a government by a foreign power, and just over three decades ago, the popular uprising and a cleric-led revolution. These events preceded what could be considered the world’s first Islamic state, as politics and fundamentalist religion are inextricably linked in contemporary Iran. Looking at Iran from the mid 1940’s until the present day, one can trace the path that led to the rise of fundamental Islam in Iran in three distinct periods. The first is that which began with the rise of secular nationalism and the decline of Islam. In the second, the secular, western-friendly government eventually gave way to the Islamic revival in the form of a government takeover by hard-line clerics and disillusioned, fundamentalist youth; both motivated and led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Rule of Iran by these fundamentalist clerics then led to the formation of the fundamentalist Islamic theocracy that governs present-day Iran. The current government has some democratic appearances, but all real power is in the hands of the supreme leader, an Ayatollah who is chosen by the Assembly of Experts, a group of clerics chosen by the Guardian Council. With the Iranian Revolution, political Islam was born, with the fundamentalists holding the reins of power in Iran to the present day.
Reza Shah Pahlavi’s rise to power ended the 131-year reign of the Kajar dynasty and established the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925. Much to the chagrin of not only Muslim clerics, but also the general population, Reza Shah Pahlavi leaned heavily towards secular westernization and consolidated power in large part by repression of Islamic groups. Then, in 1951, Nationalists led by Mohammad Mossadeq managed to gain political control of Iran. In a classic case of western countries meddling in the foreign affairs of a sovereign nation for their own national interests, the American CIA and British intelligence conspired to topple the democratically elected government in 1953. They succeeded in restoring the exiled Pahlavi dynasty to power by installing Reza Shah Pahlavi's son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as the Shah of Iran. After taking office, Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi continued and expanded upon a policy of westernization begun by his father and aggressively repressed Iran's fundamental Islamists to consolidate his power. The Pahlavi dynasty’s restoration fostered anger among the citizens, as Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was seen as a western puppet and therefore a more contemporary extension of the humiliating colonialism endured at the hands of the west. Fostering women’s rights, western dress, toleration of alcohol and the suppression of Islamic customs, traditions and clothing all served to earn him the ire of the general population and Islamic clerics. Milton-Edwards...

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