Adapting religion for modern times

From: Seyed Fazel Alyasan

As we know from soroushs` works, he is afraid that religion - and even faith itself - will die if religion is not relieved of the stiffling constraints of the 3 forms of manifestation of religion, namely - doctrinal, jurisprudence and ideological types of religion. If Soroush`s programm is not accepted by the iranian people and iranian intellectualls, it seems likely that the iranians and iranians intellectualls will simply choose secular modernism - devoid of any commitments or at least religious commitments - since secular modernism is increasingly well known, and attractive too.

Soroush`s achievment is to formulate a religious concept which enables religious cermonies to survive in a society increasingly marked by modernity.

One can say that modernity brings to Iran something new, namely a strenghtening of the state and a strenghtening of the rule of law. Now, we have mentioned that during previous times religion, in the 3 above mentioned forms, was clearly fashioned to take care of social functions which the then weak state could not fullfill.

One could also say that these three first forms of religion had an interest in preventing a strong state and the rule of law from appearing, since otherwise religion would loose its function.

Soroush on the contrary, encourages the appearance of a strong state and the rule of law; in consequence, religion has to adapt by letting go some of its old social functions.

Seyed Fazel Alyasan
Bergen, Norway
Department of sociology
ssotb@sos.uib.no

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