Iran’s advance to it pre-Islamic roots could help ‘Arab Spring’ succeed in 2012
By Sheda Vasseghi
Monday, January 01, 2012
The gap between the destinies of Iran and Arab countries continues to grow exponentially given the differences in their respective culture and history.
Iran has been in a state of identity crisis since the Arab Muslim invasion some 1400 years ago, while the rise of Islam gave Arabs a sense of unity and national identity. Islam has served as the glue needed to bring warring, scattered Arab tribes under a centralized bureaucracy dependent on a theological doctrine, while ancient Iranian imperial statehood has been in chaos with the loss of its earlier secularist governance due to Islamic influences. Hence, Islam and secular Iran are each on opposite ends of a see-saw.
Despite the efforts of the Pahlavi kings in pulling Iran away from decay and backwardness between 1925 and 1979 with an unprecedented speed, the Iranian society was persuaded by a radical Islamic movement in 1979 as it was unable to fully break away from mixed ideological signals in reaching its full potential and re-joining the advanced nations while successfully dodging foreign influences given the nation’s vast natural resources and important geopolitical position.
The failure of the “1970’s Iranian generation” brought on the painful lessons of the last 33 years under an Islamic regime fully based on Sharia laws — reversing any and all of its earlier 20th century modernization accomplishments. Additionally, the past six months have brought on tremendous economic and emotional strains for the Iranian people as they face continuous international economic sanctions threatening a potential foreign military action and/or civil war resulting in bloodshed, destruction and an uncertain outcome. With the coming of 2012, Iran remains on the forefront of international concerns. This is simultaneous with the Arab Spring that began a year ago with its final path still unresolved.
Comparing the suspended Iranian Spring of 2009 to the ongoing Arab Spring of 2011, it is easy to note the major differences as the people of Iran are putting behind its Islamization in the quest for true democratization while the Arab world has yet to experience the various political and social pains and gains of the Iranian people partly because of their major differences in culture, heritage, history and point of view.
Iranians are non-Arabs with an ancient and timeless philosophy that history has named Zoroastrianism (more appropriately Mazdaism); while Arab philosophy called Islam is relatively new to world history in
Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges
Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of all (God).
the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed
by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of all (God).
comparison and so far unwilling or unable to shift accordingly with the needs of modern times. The Iranian psyche deep within and currently fully expressive therefore is based on progress, modernization and pursuit of happiness in this lifetime; while the Arab psyche focuses on gaining happiness and pleasure in the afterlife.
Iranian people are rejecting any and all opposition groups that are in whole or in part religious-thinking as opposed to majority of empowered Arab opposition groups that are based on Muslim brotherhood policies. For Iranian women, for example, freedom in social and work environments were experienced not too long ago; hence, Iranian women today have been able to continue their fight in reverting their status since the 1979 Islamic revolution. In contrast, for the majority of Arab women such social and political achievements have been unattainable and never experienced.
Islam remains a foreign influence among Iranians and thus can easily and readily be put aside or marginalized by them, but for Arabs it is by them and for them. There is no doubt that Islam must be reformed as its fellow Abrahamic religions have in the past, but regardless of reformations, it will remain irrelevant to a new Iran as it remains a non-Iranian concept in opposite to its national identity.
In a 2011 study, 40 percent of Iranians surveyed for a presentation at the University of Edinburgh clearly labeled pre-Islamic traditions such as the ancient city of Persepolis as symbolic of Iran itself and their sense of national identity (50 percent said they “loved” their pre-Islamic history; 10 percent were alienated from Iran’s pre-Islamic past). This is significant given in the past 33 years the mullahs in Tehran have spent an unlimited amount of money both domestically and abroad (planting pro-Islamist professionals in Western institutions) to quash Iran’s pre-Islamic history and knowledge in favor of Islamization which can only be achieved in conjunction with Arabization.
In conclusion, 2012 may not be the year Arab Spring reaches democratization as long as its opposition groups are primarily theocratically-based, but Iran will see a major shift to a final secularism that will open the path for Iranians to experience and participate in a democracy. By embracing its pre-Islamic roots and philosophy, Iran will see a dawn of a new era which the Arab world can only experience if it radically reformulates Islamic teachings including separation of mosque from state.
In case of an unwise and unfavorable military action against Iran advocated by some across the U.S., an already-volatile Middle East will quickly fall into chaos threatening world peace including the global, oil-based industrial economy. For the Free World to avoid further unnecessary wars and exhaustion of manpower and resources, it should support the Iranian secular, nationalist movement as it can defeat the mullahcracy in Tehran.
A secular and stable Iran will once again promote balance in the Middle East and Central Asia. A free Iran can help those among the Arab Spring movement aiming at a secular democracy without losing their Arab identity. Further, a free Iran will gravitate towards Western nations rather than expansionist Russia or communist regimes such as China since its native culture readily meshes with modernization, progress and a free market system.
Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation, and is a regular contributor to Freepressers.com and WorldTribune.com on Iran’s affairs. Join The Official Site of Sheda Vasseghi on Facebook.
This artcile also published on World Tribune
This artcile also published on Free Pressers