Construction of a Shia political ideology in the Modern Age

Authored by: Alireza Raisi

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Politics and Ideology

Print publication date:  August  2021
Online publication date:  August  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367417826
eBook ISBN: 9780367816230
Adobe ISBN:


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Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, analysts and pundits started to explore the interaction of religion and politics in Iran. They examined the role of religion in mobilizing the masses, the guardianship of jurists, the components of theocracy in Iran, and its implications for policymaking. 1 Despite these scholarly efforts, the relationship between religion and ideology has been relatively overlooked. This chapter aims to explain the origin of a Shia political ideology in Iran. It examines how a Shia political ideology emerged from traditional Shia thoughts by reviewing the ebbs of flows of this journey in Iran's modern era. In answering this question, the chapter demonstrates the impact of ideas, factional interests, and transnational forces on the rise of Shia political ideology in modern Iran. It argues that in pre-revolutionary time, the ideas, particularly a leftist reading of the history of Islam, laid the ground for the rise of a Shia political ideology. In the post-revolutionary time, however, policymaking and factional competition contributed to the evolution of Shia ideology, and in a post-9/11 world, transnational and regional power struggles impacted the ideological choice of Iranian ruling elites.

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