For centuries now, Islam as an ideology has gone more or less unchallenged in Iran. Or rather, put in other words, it has not faced any great external ideological challenges for a good many centuries. In the absence of such forces it has managed to hold its grip on the Persian people despite their strong, subconscious desire for the distant past.
This trend, however, was greatly disturbed after the mid and late periods of the 20th century when a range of factors, including technological advances, opened the floodgates to Western Liberalism and various other alternatives to the long held philosophical beliefs of certain classes of people.
Today, the ferocity with which the religious fanatics of our time are resisting this modernising trend of liberal thought has great light to shed on the nature of their beliefs.
In his wonderful book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig tells us that “you are never dedicated to something that you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
Much like the crisis of the church during the period of the renaissance in Europe, it is quite ironic that doubt and uncertainty are the elements at the very core of a faith based ideology with the promise of certainty to its followers.
All systems harbor their own seeds of destruction and will sooner or later give birth to their own opposites. Where once was faith and certainty, doubt and uncertainty will dwell. This may not destroy the system entirely but will forever render it powerless in the face of the opposite trend.
And on a side note I should also mention here that I do not adhere to a cyclical view of history but rather to an upward spiraling trend of linear events that build on our previous experiences and thus carry us into the future. There are also a number of side effects resulting from the previously mentioned resistance against new ideas that are of particular interest to me here.
Firstly the fanatics are quite thoroughly discrediting the very faith they strive to spread and thus further expose and weaken the roots of their ideology.
Secondly their harsh fanaticism and suppression of the majority alienates them from the masses and builds greater resistance against what is more and more apparent to the Iranian people to be an alien faith and thus drives people further back towards their own past roots. This we can easily witness in the form of the newly rejuvenated passion with which such pre-Islamic rituals as Norooz and Chaarshanbeh Soori are being celebrated in recent years.
Now in order to further clarify my point I'd like to employ the example of vaccination against diseases as an analogy here. It is precisely the presence of an external virus in the body that builds resistance to that particular foe and thus makes the body stronger against it. For a time, however, the body will be weakened and will seemingly be taken over by the virus. This may even lead to sickness and fever as it often does in small children, but the end result is always greater resistance.
And lastly I'd like to remind my brethren in arms that this is a crucial point in our history. With effort we can transform this time into a hinge at which our fate could turn a new page and give us the opportunity to freely create our own destiny on the blank canvas of tomorrow. The enemy is weak and retreating. Its cause forever lost and its roots exposed. This is the time to strike. This is the time for dealing hammer after sledge hammer of philosophical blows to the roots of this evil which has for so long befallen our proud nation.
A clear and practical philosophy, sufficiently appealing to the young masses must, however, be readily available to replace the current toxic mindsets. But I believe that a simple reawakening of the old is not enough. We must combine the values of our Persian forefathers with the wealth of knowledge and experiences we have gained throughout the ages and create a new pair of lenses through which we can peer at the world around us.
That world is changing, changing faster than some like to believe. It's a brave new world and its message simple. Adapt. Or perish.