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Religion and politics in contemporary Iran

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This article discusses religion and politics in contemporary Iran, with an emphasis on Shia radicalism, revolution, and national character. The relationship between religion and politics in Iran is analyzed in an historical context from the ancient time, the role of religious leaders in the Iranian political movements is discussed with a focus on the Iranian Revolution and on the Islamic Government, and aspects of Shia radicalism and Iranian national character are analyzed in some details. It is argued that the Iranian innovation in introducing Shi'ism as a minority, radical sect of Islam has been a manifestation of Iranian national character of independence and of her historical tradition as a great regional and world power. Shi'ism is a byproduct of the Iranian ancient traditions of state, religion, and politics, and of her cultural contributions to the Islamic and world civilizations; hence a remarkable continuity in Iran's past heritage of asserting her independence in the modem world of global transformation led by the superpowers. Iran is the motherland and springboard of Shi'ism and Shi'ism is an inalienable part of Islamic Iran, just as Zoroastrianism was of the ancient Sasanid Persia.

Affiliations: 1: Northern Kentucky University, Department of Political Science, Highland Heights, KY 41099-2207, USA


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