The issues of religion and secularization are among the most pressing concerns in Iran today. Religion has historically played different roles and has been present at different levels within the society. Followers of different religions either have chosen total submission based on literal readings of the scriptures or have followed a rationalist perspective using their own interpretations of religious teachings. During the past several centuries, as a result of the dominance of secularization and laïcité, religion throughout the world took a backseat and the “death of God” was witnessed. After this lengthy retreat, we now observe the reemergence of religions in different forms. Religion has proved to have “nine lives,” and each time, the death of God turned into the resurrection of God. But the resurrected God and reemerged religions are not one and the same as before. They have now assumed new roles. Along the same line, in its long historical process secularization has also had its ups and downs and has thus evolved. In some cases it has been open and flexible, and in others, rigid and fundamentalist. Hence new theories must closely explore the evolving relationship between secularization and religion. In both theory and practice, the boundaries within which religion can or cannot operate, and the extent to which religion should or should not play a role in the public sphere, must be scrutinized. There are two types of religiosity, one rigid and literalist and the other rationalist and humanist, and there are two types of secularism, a rigid and fundamentalist one that denies any role for religion in society and a flexible and tolerant one that only restricts religion from interfering in the state. In this “post-secular” environment, the rationalist religious intellectuals and the tolerant secularists can coexist and find mutual understanding. Iranian intellectuals, whether religious or nonreligious, or liberals, nationalists, socialists, or social democrats, should agree on one principle and that is that they all can freely compete in civil society, but they should not bring their ideologies into the state.
Reza Alijani; Pre-Secular Iranians in a Post-Secular Age: The Death of God, the Resurrection of God. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 May 2011; 31 (1): 27–33. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-2010-049
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