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Thread: Iranians are becoming more and more secularized

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    Iranians are becoming more and more secularized

    Take it or leave it

    Ordinary Iranians are losing interest in the mosque

    Iran is the modern world’s first and only constitutional theocracy. It is also one of the least religious countries in the Middle East. Islam plays a smaller role in public life today than it did a decade ago. The daughter of a high cleric contends that “religious belief is mostly gone. Faith has been replaced by disgust.” Whereas secular Arab leaders suppressed Islam for decades and thus created a rallying point for political grievances, in Iran the opposite happened.

    The transformation of Shia Islam into an ideology undermined both the state and the mosque. The great irony of the Islamic revolution is that inadvertently it did more to secularise the country than the tyrannical shah, who ruled Iran after a coup in 1953 and persecuted clerics. By forcing religion on people it poisoned worship for many. They are sick of being preached at and have stopped listening.
    This article is a few years old, but certainly still relevant.

    There is reason to be optimistic about Iran in the longer run (unless global warming boils us all). The population has secularized to an extent that is probably very rare for the region it is located in.

    This also matches what I know about Iranians living in the West. Many of them don't practice Islam, or even self-identify as Muslims.

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    Iran is far more liberal than Saudi Arabia but still repressive. If you are Muslim it is against the law to change, apostasy..

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    I too get the impression that while Iran is repressive, and the current regime is worse than the tyrannical Shah, Saudi Arabia is far harsher. I don't know if the reason for this is history or culture, or some inherent difference between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam.

    Yes, Iran punishes apostates with death. But of course they still exist in the closet in Iranian society.

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    You have to look at history. Iran has a long and rich history. Iranians feel it.

    Saudi Arabi cane out of tribal warfare by essentialy camel jockeys. I can say that not being a politician.

    The Saudi constitution enshrines the Saudi family and king as 'defender of the faith'. That is the fundamental divide and source of conflict in the r4egion. Persians and Arabs both claiming to be the true inheritors of Mohammed. It goes back to the early days of Islam. When oil was discovered he capped the wells, he thought it would be a corrupting influence. Saudi Wahabianism is ultra conservative and anti west.

    Take away sanctions from Iran and they would like become an economic power in the region, they are poised for it. The Saudis are still playing medieval palace intrigue.

    Saudi culture began with the first Saudi king. No intellectual traditions, only the Koran. Before that they were nomads. Think of them as the Beverly Hillbillies of the mid east.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    You have to look at history. Iran has a long and rich history. Iranians feel it.

    Saudi Arabi cane out of tribal warfare by essentialy camel jockeys. I can say that not being a politician.

    The Saudi constitution enshrines the Saudi family and king as 'defender of the faith'. That is the fundamental divide and source of conflict in the r4egion. Persians and Arabs both claiming to be the true inheritors of Mohammed. It goes back to the early days of Islam. When oil was discovered he capped the wells, he thought it would be a corrupting influence. Saudi Wahabianism is ultra conservative and anti west.

    Take away sanctions from Iran and they would like become an economic power in the region, they are poised for it. The Saudis are still playing medieval palace intrigue.

    Saudi culture began with the first Saudi king. No intellectual traditions, only the Koran. Before that they were nomads. Think of them as the Beverly Hillbillies of the mid east.
    Racism aside, Saudi Arabia's creation was no different in basic character than that of any other imperial nation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    You have to look at history. Iran has a long and rich history. Iranians feel it.

    Saudi Arabi cane out of tribal warfare by essentialy camel jockeys. I can say that not being a politician.

    The Saudi constitution enshrines the Saudi family and king as 'defender of the faith'. That is the fundamental divide and source of conflict in the r4egion. Persians and Arabs both claiming to be the true inheritors of Mohammed. It goes back to the early days of Islam. When oil was discovered he capped the wells, he thought it would be a corrupting influence. Saudi Wahabianism is ultra conservative and anti west.

    Take away sanctions from Iran and they would like become an economic power in the region, they are poised for it. The Saudis are still playing medieval palace intrigue.

    Saudi culture began with the first Saudi king. No intellectual traditions, only the Koran. Before that they were nomads. Think of them as the Beverly Hillbillies of the mid east.
    Racism aside, Saudi Arabia's creation was no different in basic character than that of any other imperial nation.
    I think what he meant was that the identity of Saudi Arabia is pretty much only (Salafist) Islam. Iran has a broader, more multi-faceted culture that the mullahs are unable to eradicate.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    You have to look at history. Iran has a long and rich history. Iranians feel it.

    Saudi Arabi cane out of tribal warfare by essentialy camel jockeys. I can say that not being a politician.

    The Saudi constitution enshrines the Saudi family and king as 'defender of the faith'. That is the fundamental divide and source of conflict in the r4egion. Persians and Arabs both claiming to be the true inheritors of Mohammed. It goes back to the early days of Islam. When oil was discovered he capped the wells, he thought it would be a corrupting influence. Saudi Wahabianism is ultra conservative and anti west.

    Take away sanctions from Iran and they would like become an economic power in the region, they are poised for it. The Saudis are still playing medieval palace intrigue.

    Saudi culture began with the first Saudi king. No intellectual traditions, only the Koran. Before that they were nomads. Think of them as the Beverly Hillbillies of the mid east.
    Racism aside, Saudi Arabia's creation was no different in basic character than that of any other imperial nation.
    I think what he meant was that the identity of Saudi Arabia is pretty much only (Salafist) Islam. Iran has a broader, more multi-faceted culture that the mullahs are unable to eradicate.
    Indeed. My hometown had a large Persian population; I never heard anyone refer to themselves as Iranian. But then, refugee communities are not the most unbiased ear on the ground. I wonder how much of this is a question of relative scale... I imagine the regime itself has a much lower bar for what it would consider intolerably secular than would most outside observers. There might be quite some airspace between "disgusted with the reigning theocracy" and "prepared to embrace a Western-style liberal-friendly secular democracy."

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    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    I would dispute the idea that Saudi Arabia doesn't contain quite a lot of diversity. The Wahabist philosphy of the ruling house comes from the central part of the country. The Hejaz and Gulf coasts are quite culturally distinct. I suspect that even within these regions, there are many interesting differences.

    I agree with the central argument that there's a lot going on in Iran culturally, and they are poorly represented by their religious government. However, I don't see the need to bash the Saudis in the process. The Saudis are also poorly served by their anachronistic absolute monarchy. I hope that both countries find something better, and that peace can result. For my part, I see no reason to take sides in the Sunni-Shia conflict.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post

    I think what he meant was that the identity of Saudi Arabia is pretty much only (Salafist) Islam. Iran has a broader, more multi-faceted culture that the mullahs are unable to eradicate.
    Indeed. My hometown had a large Persian population; I never heard anyone refer to themselves as Iranian. But then, refugee communities are not the most unbiased ear on the ground. I wonder how much of this is a question of relative scale... I imagine the regime itself has a much lower bar for what it would consider intolerably secular than would most outside observers. There might be quite some airspace between "disgusted with the reigning theocracy" and "prepared to embrace a Western-style liberal-friendly secular democracy."
    I assume that they refer to themselves as "Persians". I'd think the term "Iranian" is more inclusive, but less specific, as it also includes the other ethnic groups in Iran, like Kurds and Azeris.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    I would dispute the idea that Saudi Arabia doesn't contain quite a lot of diversity. The Wahabist philosphy of the ruling house comes from the central part of the country. The Hejaz and Gulf coasts are quite culturally distinct. I suspect that even within these regions, there are many interesting differences.

    I agree with the central argument that there's a lot going on in Iran culturally, and they are poorly represented by their religious government. However, I don't see the need to bash the Saudis in the process. The Saudis are also poorly served by their anachronistic absolute monarchy. I hope that both countries find something better, and that peace can result. For my part, I see no reason to take sides in the Sunni-Shia conflict.
    These are good points.

    My opinion was mainly that the Saudi regime seems harsher than the Iranian regime. I would not take any side in their regional conflict, two tyrannies fighting each other. I think it is disgusting that some Western countries support the Saudi regime, when we if anything should be supporting secularist, democratic forces in the region. Which neither Saudi Arabia or Iran are at this moment.

    The point of the regional origin of the ruling dynasty of Saudi Arabia is interesting. The country is only a few generations old. Presumably various older local customs have survived to this day.

    Ideally, both regimes should be replaced with secularist, democratic governments. Unfortunately it is so unlikely to happen anytime soon.
    Last edited by Tammuz; 06-19-2019 at 08:41 PM.

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