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The Mostadha’fin’s Confusing Journey from Sharia’ti’s Revolutionary Utopianism to Khomeini’s Dystopian Reality 1976-1982

Ronen A. Cohen

Among the players in the Iranian Revolution were tens of groups, including the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the Forqan Group, the Hojjatiyeh, and the Tudeh, among others. Yet, one was not so well-known and, unlike others that embarked on revolutionary paths, this group was not big or active enough to do any serious damage to anybody, except perhaps to themselves, by scratching out their own innovative brand of ideological revolution. Sharia’ti’s ideology and revolutionary thought was on the front lines of the Revolution playing its modest part. Moreover, on second, third, or even fourth look, the Islamic Revolution could not have gone on without them. Though their contribution may have been modest and not easily detected, their role was nonetheless very important and must be understood to fully comprehend the main theme of the Revolution.

This book speaks to the Arman-e Mostadha’fin’s story. Confused and frustrated, this group tried to make its contribution to the Revolution’s spirit, in particular how to understand Sharia’ti’s ideological path. At the end of the day, their impact was too little to influence the wave of the Revolution; however, their existence within it helped to serve Sharia’ti’s ideology in a way that changed the shape of the Islamic Revolution’s first days.

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According to the Rastakhiz newspaper in 1922,

The corruption existing in Iran is entirely the fault of the clergy. In dealing with them absolute and final steps must be taken.1

1922, one needs to remember, was the year in which Iran was still being ruled by the ineffective Qajari monarchy and its prime minister was no other than Reza Khan who would very soon become Reza Shah under new monarchy of the Pahlavis. A few years later, when Reza Shah was fully aware of the country’s situation and was addressing it, the same newspaper made the following declaration:

The root of our evil is not insecurity; it is the class of the clergy. If this root is not attacked soon, all the gains of the army and the army itself will vanish. The best method of eradicating the clergy is to take away their means of livelihood. The Waqf lands should be taken away and sold to poor peasants.2

The anticlerical attitude and feeling that existed during the Islamic revolution was not something new in Iran and, as we see from the above, more than 70 years of the Pahlavi regime had made this very clear. The two Shahs, both son and father, tormented the clergy and blocked their way to influence in the ← 121 | 122 → Iranian society but both were blind to the reality of who was the real power in Iranian society. The clergy had influenced Iranian society...

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