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Superstition as Ideology in Iranian Politics
From Majlesi to Ahmadinejad


Part of Cambridge Middle East Studies

  • Author: Ali Rahnema, The American University of Paris, France
  • Date Published: August 2011
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107005181

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About the Authors
  • A superstitious reading of the world based on religion may be harmless at a private level, yet employed as a political tool it can have more sinister implications. As this fascinating book by Ali Rahnema, a distinguished Iranian intellectual, relates, superstition and mystical beliefs have endured and influenced ideology and political strategy in Iran from the founding of the Safavid dynasty in the sixteenth century to the present day. As Rahnema demonstrates through a close reading of the Persian sources and with examples from contemporary Iranian politics, it is this supposed connectedness to the hidden world that has allowed leaders such as Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mahmud Ahmadinejad to present themselves and their entourage as representatives of the divine, and their rivals as the embodiment of evil.

    • An eminent Iranian intellectual explores the revival of supernatural beliefs and anti-rationalism amongst leaders in modern Iran
    • Based on Persian sources, the book affords a brilliant examination of the work and influence of the seventeenth-century Shi'i cleric, Majlesi
    • An alternative perspective on modern Iran for students of the Middle East and religious studies
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'An important book.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107005181
    • length: 334 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 162 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Politicizing Occult Islam:
    1. Ahmadinejad: a touch of light
    2. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi's supernatural Shi'ism
    3. Shah Esma'il Safavi: the quintessentially occult Shi'i king
    Part II. Popular Shi'ism: Majlesism:
    4. Milieu, childhood, sanctity and fame
    5. From conceptualization to officialization of a religio-political ideology
    6. Deficiency and defectiveness of the human mind
    7. Society needs the leadership of jurists and/or kings
    8. Superstitious education: fogging minds, fostering resignation
    9. Reconfigurating the necessities of belief: articulating a state religion
    10. Majlesism as an ideology

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Iranian Women's Resistance Strategies: Gender Discrimination and the Law since 1979
    • Politics & Religion: Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon
    • West and South Asian Studies- Culture and Politics of Middle East
    • Women and Witchcraft in Age of Belief
  • Author

    Ali Rahnema, The American University of Paris, France
    Ali Rahnema is Professor of Economics and Director of the Master of Arts program in Middle East and Islamic Studies at The American University of Paris. His many publications include An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shariati (1998, 2000), Pioneers of Islamic Revival (1994, 2006), Islamic Economic Systems (with Farhad Nomani, 1994) and The Secular Miracle: Religion, Politics, and Economic Policy in Iran (with Farhad Nomani, 1990).

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