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Islam and Modernism the Iranian Revolution of 1906

Auteur : Vanessa Martin
Éditeur : I.B.Tauris Date & Lieu : 1989, London
Préface : Pages : 262
Traduction : ISBN : 1-85043-101-9
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 135x210 mm
Code FIKP : Liv. Ang. Mar. Isl. 1670Thème : Religion

Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
Islam and Modernism the Iranian Revolution of 1906

Islam and Modernism the Iranian Revolution of 1906

Vanessa Martin

I. B. Tauris

Since the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Shi'ite Islam has acquired a formidable reputation for militant opposition to secular government. Shi'ite clerics have become synonymous with political agitation.

This book looks at Shi'ite relations with the state in the earlier part of the century and considers the Shi'ite clerics' struggle to control the processes of modernization against a background of social and economic change. Through a detailed examination of the role of Iranian clerical leaders in the Iranian constitutional revolution, it queries the view that in the nineteenth century the Persian ulama viewed the Shah as a usurper and therefore illegitimate. It examines the social and economic base of clerical influence and the underlying causes of that revolution. It also looks at how the revolution affected the clergy as an elite in traditional society. It makes particular reference to the ulama of Teheran and to those clerics who opposed constitutional change, and establishes beyond question that the clergy were divided both in their attitude to modernism and constitutionalism, and by their family and factional connections to the court and the bazaar. Though several prominent clergymen played a crucial role in anti-government agitation, the ulama in reality often responded to pressure from their followers rather than acting from personal conviction.

This is the first study of the Iranian clergy's response to Western political ideas and institutions to be based on a detailed examination of their role in the constitutional revolution. It draws extensively on original sources and presents without ideological bias the opinions of clergymen who both favoured and opposed political reform. It also surveys the changes in the relationship between the religious establishment and the state between 1909 and 1979 and provides crucial background information on Iran's unprecedented experiment with theocratic government.

Vanessa Martin is a historian specializing on Iran whose research was undertaken at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. She has lived and worked in Iran and Egypt.



My thanks for advice and support go first and foremost to Professor Malcolm Yapp, my former supervisor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, for his invaluable guidance in the original planning, research and writing of this work. Much would not have emerged without the questions he raised, and a great deal of improvement was due to the criticisms and suggestions he made. I am also grateful for the advice of Dr Norman Calder, who has given much time and assistance particularly on the subject of the relations between religion and state. Dr John Gurney of Wadham College, Oxford, has been particularly helpful in suggesting source material and allowing time for me to use the excellent collection of Persian works at Wadham College. I am also grateful to Mrs Anne Enayat for advice and references on the mercantile background, as well as for her most helpful comments and suggestions as an editor.

I would like to thank many friends and acquaintances for lending books, sending photocopies of references and drawing my attention to particular points. I am most especially grateful to the British Institute of Persian Studies, without whose financial assistance and interest my research could not have been started nor the book completed. My thanks are due also to the School of Oriental and African Studies whose award of an Exhibition enabled me to carry on with my research, originally undertaken for a thesis. I owe a great deal to the support and encouragement of my parents, and of my husband, who has given considerable time to reading and checking the work.


The nineteenth century saw the beginnings of a process of change in Iran which would transform the country from a traditional feudal society into a modernized and centralized state. This movement, the product of the impact of the West, accelerated in the early part of the twentieth century. A significant point in the process of change was reached during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-9, which was the turning point where the old order was finally broken and the beginnings of the new one established. In the old order Shi'ite Islam was secure as the ideology of the state and as the law according to which the shah ruled, and the 'ulama (who were its interpreters and proponents) enjoyed a position of privilege and respect. The new order would bring uncertainties as to the place of Islam and the 'ulama in a modern state, most particularly by establishing the law of parliament alongside the law of Islam, the shari'a. It was during the Constitutional Revolution that the problems facing Islam in the conflict between the old order and the new first became apparent.


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