Iran is not likely to follow other Muslim nations in undergoing revolutions that allow Islam to retain a role in national affairs.
It is more likely that any movement to revolt against the Iranian regime will be more secular than religious, writes sociologist Ahmad Sadri. In the e-newsletter Sightings (March 3), Sadri writes that because Iran’s “religious autocracy” has the means and will to crack down on any protest, the “critique of religious government is slowly turning into the kind of anti-religious sentiment one could only find among eighteenth-century enlightenment philosophers, nineteenth-century Latin American positivists and twentieth-century Marxist Leninist countries like Cambodia and Albania.”
An example of this attitude could be seen in a recent debate among Islamic reformers, where younger dissidents, such as Mahmoud Moradkhani, himself the son of an Islamic reformer, argued that reform is only possible by rejecting “Islam, root and branch” and its “delusional” beliefs.Sadri adds that theocratic rule in Iran has led its critics to use a discourse of a “rationalist binary that relegates religious intellectuality to dogmatic subservience and claims that only by liberating oneself from religion can one join the dynamic flow of secular thought.” He concludes that revolutionary thought need not take a secularist turn.
The grandfather of the Iranian uprising known as the Green Movement, Ayatollah Muntazeri (1922–2009), used Islamic legal thought to first support the revolution of Khomeini and then become its critic, eventually issuing a “subversive legal opinion … spelling out the conditions for the dissolution of not only the Islamic Republic but indeed any polity.”