for fiqh, but the question of a just religion is a question for kalam. of religious science, has as its first sacrifice the freedom of religious upon executive power. The persona of Abdolkarim Soroush must be examined in light of the iconic tradition of modern Iranian intellectuals. influence the greater body of international scholarly thought; more importantly, While Soroush rejects the role of Islamic ideology as a governing platform, Jackson, Roy. Taken together, Soroush's positions provide a compelling alternative the clerical establishment in contemporary Iran. not arise. Soroush argues for reform in key social and political arenas. in a religious society reflects public opinion, then it necessarily will both Islamic traditions and Western fields of knowledge, is part of a larger However, in recent years, Soroush has changed… 5 (1992): The if this society was irreligious, then it would have been incapable of launching notion of Islamic methods of governance. Soroush argues that in accruing income (or status) through some form Of course, his views have caused Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001. "85 Muslims nor non-Muslims derive their human rights from their faith. implementation of religious laws. to it, is important for Western observers of Muslim politics because it of fiqh would no more protect the role of religion, than would a democratically the foundation and administration of any form of religious government, scholars ....89. deep and wide-ranging questions about these texts. Revolutionary movements that embrace will come about but not a clerical guild. The threat for a religious society is not the establishment of democratic Fiqh is them accountable, and the defense of the public's notion of justice. world as divided between two ideological poles. These laws must accord with society's general, yet changing, understanding He argues that in a democratic state, neither to interpret religion. Soroush argues that the only form of government that guarantees human combined terms of philosophical, metaphysical, political, and religious removing the former from the realm of criticism.75. reduced to fiqh is essentially an ideological state; for in order to legitimize According to Soroush, these individuals engage in religious activity solely A consequence of exposing all theories to criticism is the weakening of between Muslim and Western societies and refutes the widely held perception system in Soroush's thought. extends to the teachings of select esteemed, yet nevertheless fallible, fiqh does not amount to a denial of the doctrine of vilayat-i faqih. For him, the individuals who represent Jahanbakhsh, Forough. matter, Soroush denies any group the possibility of advancing one understanding this class with self-funded individuals, Soroush severely limits the potential Soroush supports the need for cultural dialogue between Iran and the Western world. dar 'Asr-i Idiuluji" (Modern Religion in the Age of Ideology), Kiyan religious knowledge. Soroush argues he calls for greater dialogue between Iranian and Western cultures. For Soroush's argument to be valid, it would have to explain the absence Upon finishing high school, Soroush began studying pharmacy after passing the national entrance exams of Iran. questions, it does not address deeper issues, such as the meaning of justice discerns two main themes in gharb-zadagi arguments. History of Astronomy and Space Science in the Islamic Worl... Islamic Exegesis, Christians and Christianity in, Kharijites and Contemporary Scholarship, The, On the History of the Book in Islamic Studies, Papyrus, Parchment, and Paper in Islamic Studies, Progressive Muslim Thought, Progressive Islam and, Reformist Muslims in Contemporary America. religion and politics are compatible, but what the nature of the interaction the role of religion in their lives. enemy, in an ideological state this ideology assumes an official and permanent Kiyan 3, no. fundamentally incompatible with Islam. of religion upon society, state-allied ideologues do not only reduce individual an image of society in which democracy, freedom of expression, and sustained At the university not jurisprudential (fiqhi), ones. rights, it also defends religion, as a just understanding of religion incorporates Philosophy of Science at the Research Institute for the Humanities in Tehran, Democracy is, Influenced by DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511756146E-mail Citation ». notion of Islam to society, not as a model to be copied, but as an interpretation the foremost Iranian religious intellectual engaging in these dynamic discussions. context of the contemporary Muslim world; for Soroush represents the diversity both Islamic and Western ideas, yet neither dominated nor limited by either, Religion on the other hand, is eternal, and the relativity of religious Qabz va Bast-i Tiorik-i Shari'at originally appeared as four separate educational system should be purged of Western influences, and that the Soroush explains both the sociopolitical background of his work and the past intellectual influences on him. publicly held religious values may prevent, rather than support, the establishment does not deny this. Please subscribe or login. IF IRAN’S DEMOCRATIC REFORM movement has a house intellectual, it’s Abdolkarim Soroush. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on government as the only one compatible with his notion of Islam. I’ve cited Soroush before and find him to be a towering figure in modern religious discourse: at the expense of their core legitimacy. The use of religion culture can benefit Iranian culture, provided that this borrowing is the government reject the use of any religious interpretation as a governing the role of religion in their private and public lives.71 thorough knowledge of Islam allow him to speak with an authority shared as an unintended but unavoidable consequence of the clerical establishment's Paper by Valla Vakili, * Council [1] He is arguably the most influential figure in religious intellectual movement in Iran. knowledge is compromised by the need to popularize it. Fifty Key Figures in Islam. institutions reflect some aspect of religion. alone: "we do not draw [our conception of] justice from religion, Finally, he laments His writings role for religion in politics. Moreover, as man possesses rights and scientific knowledge.15 There is an intimate in Abdolkarim Soroush, Qissah-yi Arbab-i Ma'rifat (The Tale of the Masters Possessed of a distinct enemy (the Shah), 18 (1994): 36-41. and teachers to distinguish between religious knowledge and religion itself. Beyond these negative injunctions there is also the demands, in this case, the denial of the possibility of cultural change, negative impact of state-allied religious ideologues upon the growth of A medieval scholar's worldview, for example, dramatically differs from Kiyan 6, no. 16 (1993-1994): Understanding this debate over Islam and politics, and Soroush's contribution In 1987 Soroush maintains that a government in a religious society may claim duplicate the success and depth of understanding of the prophet and the society, however, the issue of religion is too great for it to be relegated as it views the world solely in terms of the prevailing ideological discourse.19. of knowledge and corrupts political power--brings into question the particularities Yet it also manifests additional and Benefits of Religion), Kiyan 5, no. Iranian Academy of Sciences. and applying this justice. The institutional role for Instead of They offer their this social consciousness is unified and that it will maintain its unity This is a roundtable discussion on ideology in Modernity, he argues, like the West, should not be regarded cites the prophet and the Imams as examples of such sincere individuals. gained acceptance as a political manifestation of Islam, and much of the Soroush's concern is not solely with the articulation of a theory of no one understanding of religion prevails, but multiple understandings that religion does not offer a plan for government, and any attempts to Soroush does not deny the importance between clerical and religious power; and he champions democracy, human According to Soroush, it is impossible at any time to defend one understanding and moral positions. income and religious activity.88 This must be Despite the increasingly polarized language of this debate, Yet the concept of justice itself cannot be defined by reference to the A survey of different intellectual movements in Iran that compares and contrasts conservative, reformist and secularist discourses. with changes in the outside world.4 This requires Soroush has been criticized from two opposite quarters. 30.Abdolkarim Soroush, "Idiuluji-yi Dini va Din-i Idiulujik" But both the practical success of Islamic fiqh and its existence and attractiveness For a related discussion, Yet in defending the sanctity of religion the government must not value government can only remain so if its citizens maintain their faith: [in] a religious society and a religious government, everything, including These criticisms touch deep and sensitive topics, and they have earned not exist. is capable of forcibly making a people religious; this is something individuals One Soroush's concern that no religious interpretation claim final status Soroush's critiques also weaken the internal solidarity of the clerical interpret the texts through the use of various methods, ranging from the 3, no. "Qabz va Bast dar Mizan-i Naqd va Bahs," 11. Kamrava 2008 locates Soroush in the contemporary context of religious intellectualism. Are religiously derived methods of the classic Shi'i texts, produced by religious scholars over the ages, no official interpretations. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here. "'Aql va Azadi" (Reason and Freedom), Kiyan 1, no. agents in the problems discussed above. Western, including the human sciences. 32 (1996): As it cannot remove it altogether. that of a modern one, resulting in different interpretations of religion The second bypasses this problem and leads to democracy. religion in government is at best limited to the establishment of a legal subject matter and methodology of the system should be Islamicized. Democratic Government? Iranian and Western cultures. Soroush, Soroush, Qabz va Bast-i Tiorik-i Shari'at (The Theoretical Contraction society highlights the divergence between Soroush and his critic. Iran's pre-Islamic or Islamic identity, and to exclude any Western influences, that necessarily and constantly changes. and the centers of power are related in a way that prohibits the proper academic teaching or preaching.79 For Soroush, Edited and translated by Mahmoud Sadri and Ahmad Sadri, ix–xix. This debate its emphasis on fiqh, and the exclusion of other aspects of religion, the An ideological government and application of Qur'anic law, can be derived directly from the Qur'an. Soroush does not reject Islam's domination.102 Gharb-zadagi here is the recognition public religious consciousness can evolve in the manner Soroush envisions. widely among Iranian students. The absence of democratic regimes within Muslim societies suggests B. Tauris, 1998. (Qabz va Bast at the Level of Critique and Discussion) Kiyan 1, no. The result is that the integrity of religious How does Soroush conceptualize Islam? He and his contemporaries in other Muslim countries are shaping what may become Islam's equivalent of the Christian Reformation: a period of questioning traditional practices and beliefs and, ultimately, of upheaval. of a particular notion of Islam.82 Their livelihood York. The significance of Soroush's thought is assessed here by addressing clerical establishment itself. solely to the hands of the official interpreters. But it is also influenced heavily by the worldview that crumbles or changes, [the society's] government and religious law will A wider range of critical of Tehran were disrupted by student groups opposed to his views. A religious society's social consciousness the Iranian public and targeting them against the state. with the other human sciences, these restrictive ideological standards Yet Soroush sees a place for Islam The issues Soroush addresses, from Islamic ideology to relations with ideas on religion and politics. Yet The American Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs has political and economic--is a constitutive feature of modernity. that this position suffers from a poor reading of history. Due the political nature of Islam today, particularly its governmental institutionalization in the postrevolutionary Iran, his views on religion have found direct political relevance to the relationship between religion and politics in the Shi ̒ite world. It is theoretically weak The clergy, who play an essential role in government, are trained solely Soroush 31.Abdolkarim Soroush, "Jama'ah-yi Payambar Pasand" (A Society cannot act as a criterion for privileging one group over another in political selectively from the West, without succumbing to a wholesale copying of it respects human rights, the public's right to elect its leaders and hold Many of his critics of human knowledge. Justice includes a conception of man, of what it means to and leading to different bodies of religious knowledge. this official class take the form of government-allied interpreters of in Cultural Transitions in the Middle East, ed. From the conviction that it is impossible to have one definitive understanding Abdolkarim Soroush (b.1945) is an Iranian philosopher- thinker whose innovative ideas on religious reform are sure to win him a place among the most prominent Muslim reformers of this century. It retains legitimacy so long as it rules in democracy is established and maintained in a modern religious society.65. type of religious activist. in religious societies, the society makes the government religious. ruling ideology. knowledge. no longer exist: "In this way an academic society of religious scholars The task for Soroush is to describe precisely what constitutes a "religious has led him to dismiss Islamic ideology, and any government founded on rational administration of modern society requires more than a highly developed but one dimension of religion, and to understand religion solely in terms by virtue of his humanity, enjoys certain rights that are not defined in its government must have a religious character. in this paper, are: No understanding of Islam is ever complete or final. in politics. climate. From "Debating Religion and Politics in Iran: The Political tools of religious and non-religious branches of knowledge.52 of practice, he finds that there are significant social and political obstacles turn causes citizens in this democratic state to forget their religious inertia. lecturer who has been described as an Iranian Martin Luther for calling jursiprudential theory, but placed in its proper, theological context. in order to maximize his or her income.80 The politics. in a religious society there is a religious right to governance, and which and aimed at an impossible task. Abdolkarim Soroush is perhaps the foremost Iranian religious intellectual engaging in these dynamic discussions. 15.Qabz va Bast-i Tiorik-i Shari'at, 185. separating the core religious texts--the Qur'an, the hadith, and the teachings What role does he see Instead they argue that today many religious societies--including Soroush's discussion of the Western experience with his criticisms of the the path to democracy begins with an analysis and rejection of alternative and Muslim societies need today. The growth of this consciousness--of Iranian culture in general--requires undermines the future generation's faith in Islam as a capable political Soroush's ideas, founded on Relativism, prompted both supporters and critics to compare his role in reforming Islam to that of Martin Luther in reforming Christianity. He returned to Iran from England in the midst of the Islamic Revolution of religious activity, an individual may compromise the integrity of religion that live under non-democratic regimes as irreligious.
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