Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Comparative Sociology

Advisor's Name

Barry Levine

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Keywords

Marxists, Iran, Muslim, Revolution, Sociology of Knowledge

Date of Defense

11-13-2007

Abstract

This dissertation examines the influence of Islamic ideology on Iranian Marxists during the 1979 revolution. The purpose of this study is to extricate the influence of Islamic culture, ideology, and terminology on Marxist organizations and on individuals who identified themselves as Marxists in Iran. This is especially of interest since in many ways Marxism and Islam are ideologically in conflict. Were Marxists aware of the influences of Islam in their behavior and ideology? To investigate the irony publications put forth by several Marxist organizations before and after the 1979 revolution were examined. A history of such influence both ideologically and contextually is depicted to demonstrate their political and cultural significance.

Through the study of Marxist political organs, theoretical publication and political flyers distributed during and after the revolution, the phenomenon of Marxists converting to an Islamic ideology became clearer. Many Marxist organizations were demonstrably utilizing Islamic political ideology to organize and mobilize masses of Iranians. This study shows a historical precedence of Marxists’ usage of Islam in the political history of Iran dating back to early twentieth-century.

Primary and secondary Marxist literature showed that Islam was an inescapable social and political reality for Iranian Marxists. Not only was there a common upbringing but a common enemy fostered provisional collusion between the two. The internalizing the idea of martyrdom—of Shi’a Islam—was a shared belied that united Marxists with Muslins in their attempt to effect sociopolitical change in Iran. Studying Marxist publications shows evidence that many Iranian Marxists were not conscious of using Islamic ethics and terminology since Islamic beliefs are part of the taken-for-granted world of Iranian culture. This contextual belief system, pervasive within the culture and a change of political ideology is what created the conditions for the possibility of Marxists becoming Muslims.

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