Be it in any political science or sociological discourse, the terms ‘progressive’ and ‘backward’ are so intertwined with the timeline of any country. Any discussion on modern-day Iran is incomplete without the mentioning of the Islamic Revolution. On last Sunday Iran marked the 39th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution which ushered in significant changes in both geopolitical and social hemispheres as well economic sectors.
Although Iran has ‘progressed’ in so many sectors in the last four decades, yet the country has faltered in human rights, especially women’s rights and has failed to curb the ever-growing shadow of Islamic life. The return of Shiite Ayatollah Khomeini from his France paved the path for a complete U-turn from the liberal Shah era.
Did Ayatollah Khomeini fulfill his promise of economic and social reforms for the disadvantaged in the society? It is indeed a tough question to answer but it is clear that Shah and his queen never came back to Iran and the country slowly fell asleep with hardcore Islamic agenda.
The journey of Iran as an ‘Islamic Republic’ was a calculated one as one can remember the appointment of Mahdi Bazargan as prime minister of provisional government along with the formation of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the new Constitution and inevitably the coronation of Ayatollah Khomeini as the Supreme leader of the country. The removal of Shah, a western puppet, diminished the fruits of the 1963 White revolution.
Anyhow, let’s not forget that the Shah era witnessed huge crackdown upon the Communists and Islamists. The fall of the 2500 year long monarchy ultimately paved the path of Islamic Iran which changed the dynamics of Middle East altogether. If there had been no Islamic Revolution, a Sunni dominated the Middle East would have made a very different perception of Asian Islamic pre-context as well.
One can only say that the Islamic Revolution pushed the Iranians decades backward from secularism and equality and changed the Islamic discourse in the Middle East forever.