Continuity and Change in the Role of Mysticism under the Islamic Republic of Iran

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The current study will evaluate the role of ‘irfān [the inner perception of knowledge; combining elements of philosophy, theosophy, mysticism and Shi’i thought] within the Islamic Republic of Iran as a significant component of Iran’s cultural heritage. It will focus on several prominent clerics and intellectuals who represent the regime’s diverse political factions. This article will demonstrate that under the Islamic Republic, ‘irfān evolved from a marginalized area to a central phenomenon and became a tool to debate the political direction of the state and the relationship between its revolutionary and republican elements. While mysticism in the service of politics was more wide-spread among the reformist camp, ardent supporters of the regime resorted to ‘irfān to enhance an exclusive perception of authority based on the rule of the Supreme Jurist. It also created a shared spiritual basis among the Islamic State’s diverse voices. The result was a new blend between mysticism, philosophy, Western thought, politics, Islamic law, and even messianism, within an inter-connectivity between the mystical path and the Shari‘a. Consequently, a complex understanding of ‘irfān has to take into consideration the multiple fusions between Islamic mysticism and other trends and evaluate the result in a specific socio-political context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalSociology of Islam
StateE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Place: Leiden, The Netherlands Publisher: Brill


  • Islamic Republic
  • mysticism
  • culture
  • factions
  • conservatives
  • reformists


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