Iranian Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century by Ali Gheissari

By Ali Gheissari

Since the center of the 19th century, Iranian intellectuals were preoccupied via problems with political and social reform, Iran's relation with the trendy West, and autocracy, or arbitrary rule. Drawing from a detailed studying of a wide array of fundamental resources, this booklet bargains a thematic account of the Iranian intelligentsia from the Constitutional circulate of 1905 to the post-1979 revolution.

Ali Gheissari exhibits how in Iran, as in lots of different international locations, intellectuals were the leading mediators among the forces of culture and modernity and feature contributed considerably to the formation of the fashionable Iranian self picture. His research of intellectuals' reaction to a few basic questions, corresponding to nationalism, id, and the relation among Islam and glossy politics, sheds new gentle at the components that ended in the Iranian Revolution—the 20th century's first significant departure from Western political ideals—and is helping clarify the complexities surrounding the reception of Western ideologies within the center East.

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The publication of Qânoun, financed by the fortunes made in the lottery affair, may have been Malkam’s way of restoring his damaged reputation in Iran. 78 The pro-Constitutional ulama approached the question of law in society and the role of religion from an altogether different perspective. The ulama and those who became known as the Islamic reformists believed in the necessity of law, but of a kind that had to be not only compatible with Islam but also entirely derived from it. The ulama viewed Islam as an eternal and universally valid source of legislation.

In their support of Constitutionalism, the ulama justified certain political concepts as being in accordance with Shi i tenets. In the later proConstitutional arguments by the ulama, special attention was paid to the role of reason ( aql), which, though distinct from the modern concept of rationality, also differed from its more traditional and scholastic versions. Here, as before, reason was employed to reflect upon and search for verdicts regarding present questions by taking into account contemporary exigencies.

Ancient Iran became yet another ideological element the reformists could use to criticize the backwardness of the country. In 1874, Mirzâ (Mohammad-) Ebrâhim Khân Badâye -Negâr, a court chronicler who was a contemporary of Mohammad Shah and Nâser al-Din Shah (r. 1848 –1896), wrote as follows: It has been four hundred years since the New World was discovered. At the beginning people there numbered two million and all were savage and in the shape of beasts and brutes. Now it has nearly a hundred million people, with so much wealth and strength and prestige and grandeur that one can 19 02-T5763 10/1/2001 4:34 PM Page 20 Iranian Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century say they have become the first people and the first state on earth.

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