[P6414] Conceptual Histories of Reform (Islāhāt) in Contemporary Iran: Critical Lineages of a Familiar Idea

Created by Eva Zahiri
Wednesday, 12/01/21 11:30 am


The purpose of this panel is to interrogate the idea of reform in contemporary Iran from a multidisciplinary perspective and to demonstrate that the concept of reform has not only enjoyed a complex and intricate history, but that it continues to retain crucial intellectual resources upon which we can draw in the present. Indeed, its manifold meanings and temporalities have varied depending on whether one focuses upon doctrinal issues, political contestations, or the politics of everyday life. As a result, it is incumbent upon us to reflect further upon methodological and epistemological challenges relating to the concept of reform, as well to promote a critical and self-reflexive approach. The panel will achieve this through an examination of ideological, theological, and legal iterations of 'reform' from the mid-twentieth century to the present day.

In addition to conveying the concept of reform's plural and manifold lineages and permutations, the panel aims to highlight the diversity of research fields and disciplines engaged by Iranian thinkers to address the challenge of reforming religious, political and economic thought. In this respect we seek to explore how the demands of reform deploy various methods and concerns in philosophy, political economy, theology and law in order to interrogate and explore the concept, in conjunction with its political and institutional consequences.

In this panel our ambition is to underscore the methodological and epistemological specificity of each approach, by taking stock of the various scholarly and theoretical transformations that have occurred over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. First, a focus on the political and economic thought of Ayātollāh Mahmūd Tāleqānī (d. 1979) will enable us to understand how it prefigured many present-day critics of Iranian capitalism. Secondly, the study of the Islamic philosophy of ʿAllāmeh Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn Ṭabāṭabāʾī (d. 1981) helps us understand the extent of his influence upon contemporary Iranian reformist thinkers and followers of the new theology (kalām-e jadīd). Thirdly, the questioning of the notion and content of religious reform will pave the way for understanding the context of the elaboration of kalām-e jadīd in Iran as well as its justifications. Finally, the exploration of new theories of law emerging in Iran will help us examine new developments in which Islamic law (fiqh) is gradually reconsidered as a heritage and tradition in lieu of a structuring element of law.


Rel Stds/Theo; Hist; Hist; Hist; Rel Stds/Theo



Sajjad Rizvi

(University of Exeter)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi

(Goldsmiths College, University of London)
Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi is Assistant Professor in Comparative Political Theory at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Goldsmiths, University of London. He was previously British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Eva Zahiri

Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Constance Arminjon

Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;