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Chapter Summary

Recent events have vividly demonstrated the continuing power of religion as a force to be reckoned with in the life of the Iranian people. The role of religion as a catalyst in revolutionary movements is well known, yet it is surprising how many otherwise perceptive commentators failed, even at the eleventh hour, to appreciate fully how critical a factor traditional Shiʿism might become among the forces of opposition to the Pahlavī regime. Guenter Lewy and others have argued cogently against a narrow Marxist or quasi-Marxist interpretation of sectarian and millenarian revolt as "phenomena of an ongoing class struggle in societies within which the class conflict has not yet become conscious," maintaining that "medieval heresy in all its diversity should be treated as genuine religious dissent rather than purely as a manifestation of the class struggle" and that "in the case of millenarian sentiments and movements, Marxist thesis is similarly unsupported".

Keywords: Iranian people; quasi-Marxist interpretation; traditional Shiʿism



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