I am under the impression that some people are in search of a democratic Iran without the consideration of the geopolitical and/or sociopolitical situation. Some Iranians are stuck in a mindset that the religion of Islam is the cause of all evil in the Iranian struggle to advance and that Iranians were “defeated” because of the introduction of Islam into their society. For many, the IRI represents a government that promotes the same religion that corresponds to the downfall of the great Persian Empire and its advance society.
To some, revolution is the simplest way to put all of our past behind and move forward. Possibly, the lack of chronological documentation about the Iranians in the past might be a direct result of historical confusion among Iranians. Pre- Islamic Iran for some is as unclear as the post Islamic. The question is whether Iranian conversion to Islam or the modification of Islam to fit the Iranian traditions is at all relevant? How far back should we go to find whether Iranians like or dislike their religion?
The more recent history of Iran and Iranians from the past one hundred years indicates the devotion of Iranians towards the Shia Islamic traditions. No one should defend the historical mistakes that were made, but instead focus on the dominant traditions that existed as norms in the society. Judging a society based on the standards that existed at a particular time in history is accurate and educating. Demonizing Shia Islam in the Iranian society is the simplest way out of finding correct answers. One does not need to agree with an ideology in order to fully understand it.
In the case of Shia Islam, one could argue that it has roots in the Iranian culture and traditions; if it didn’t before 1400 years, it certainly does today after 1400 years. Disregarding this kind of influence cannot be accurate. History is not comprised of disjointed instances; all parts are connected. When one part is still making history, we need to open it up and carefully investigate its contents. We need to realize all the attractive parts of Shia religion that has magnetized the Iranian society and combine it into our political ideology. Successful change is more possible based on the modification of already existing norms in a society.
The current debate among those who oppose Islam all together as an Arabic enforced culture into the Humane Iranian society is a dangerous one; certainly not dangerous for the current regime of Iran but for many young Iranians. Those Iranians, who otherwise should understand the realities of our society, would fall into an empty mirage of useless nationalistic tricks not too different from what our ancestors wrongly perceived. We have witnessed through our past that history will repeat itself for those who don’t learn from it. This non democratic regime in Iran will continue as long as we are ignorant to the facts and search for a quick answer to very complicated and fragile socio-political realities.
Lack of understanding about our current and historical social component is the root of the Iranian paradox. If most Iranians agree about the role of religion in their lives, then we can move forward to resolve its shortcomings. Yet one can see that many still are not convinced that Iran is a semi traditional and religious society and try to resolve her issues based on the western formula. If we understand our social components then our contribution would accelerate the journey to modernization. If we continue to disregard our realities, then we are only part of the confusion that will slow down our cultural advancement. To learn history correctly, one must ask questions that begin with “why” and “how so”.
We should understand Iran better than we know her now. Iranians must become very careful and more patient about our country’s path and focus on a permanent fix rather than a quick or short term solution. Iranian society is going through dramatic changes that are transforming the traditional Iran in to a modern culture. IRI has shown many Iranians the realities of our traditional thinking and norms, this is a valuable lesson that we need to cherish rather than disregard. I am optimistic that ultimately we will pass this transformation victorious.