Essay: Iran Afghanistan and American Perspectives on Islam

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Iran, Afghanistan, And American Perspectives on Islam:

Since the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, the global perspective on Islam has changed significantly, especially because of the global war on terrorism. After these attacks, Osama bin Laden rapidly became America's leading enemy as the Bush Administration planned for war against Iraq. While officials started to avoid mentioning Osama's name in public during this period, the administration officials continued to link Saddam Hussein with the threat of terrorism. This initiative of linking Saddam with terrorism threats is regarded as an attempt to generate public support for the war against Iraq (Althaus & Largio, 2004, p.795). However, there have been major concerns about America's perspective on Islam since the country's war on global terrorism seems to target the Islamic world and nations. Unlike Iran and Afghanistan, the United States appears to view Islam as an enemy since most of the threats to homeland security originate from the Islamic nations and the Islamic world.

Iran's Perspective on Islam:

The Islamic religion has continued to be the official religion of Iran since the Islamic conquest of Persia between 637 and 651. This conquest contributed to the end of the Sassanid Empire and the ultimate destruction of Persia's Zoroastrian religion. The Islamization of Iran took place after this conquest where the Islamic population in Iran grew from 10% to 40% and then nearly 100% by the end of the 11th Century. While Iran was Islamized during this period, it was Arabized since Persians remained Persians. However, Iran has continued to develop as one of the major Islamic nations to an extent that it's currently known as a stronghold of the Shi'a Muslim faith.

Iran's perspective on Islam is clearly depicted in the fact that its thinkers are classified into traditionalists, religious intellectuals, fundamentalists, traditionists, and anti-religious intellectuals. As a result, of the Islamization of Iran and the Islamic Revolution in this country, Iran has a fundamentalist perspective of the Islamic religion. This fundamentalist view of Islam was developed in the early 20th Century following the end of secular humanism. Actually, the pioneers of the Islamic fundamentalism in Iran are currently considered as the nation's role models and foremost heroes.

The fundamentalist perspective of Islam in Iran is evident in the fact that the Islamic religion has continued to play a crucial role in Iranian politics. Actually, Iran was the first nation to adopt political Islam as a rallying campaign for successful revolution in the post-World War II era. As a result of this perspective and calls for a successful revolution through political Islam, Iran officially approved political Islam as its ruling ideology. However, some analysts consider Islamic fundamentalism as an anti-imperialistic political strategy against the dominance of the Western nations in the Islamic world. Moreover, the concept is also regarded as a dialogue for opposition against westernizing secularist political elite.

In the past few years, there have been numerous debates regarding the role of the Islamic religion in Iranian politics despite of the fact that political Islam is Iran's ruling ideology. These modern debates on the role of Islam in Iranian politics are influenced by five main historical incidents i.e. 1906 Constitutional Revolution, 1963 White Revolution, 1979 Islamic Revolution, 1997 Reform Movement, and 2009 Green Movement (Kar, 2010). The recent history of Iran is a description of conflicts between ambitions for and hindrances to political involvement. As a result of the country's clashes between tradition and modernity, dramatic consequences have been experienced such as two revolutions. The country has failed to develop a legitimately-based political framework despite of the long lasting effect of traditionalism and authoritarianism or modernism throughout its history.

Afghanistan's Perspective on Islam:

In the past 50 years, there has been a recurrent use of religious Islam as an ideology that is commonly known as political Islam or Islamism. The ideology has specifically been used in groups advocating for the establishment of an Islamic state. Afghanistan is a mountainous land-locked nation located in Central Asia that has a history and culture that stretches back to more than 5000 years ago. The official state religion of this country is Islam since an estimated 99.7% of its population is Muslim. The majority of Afghan's Islamic population practice Sunni Islam while approximately 20% are Shia Muslims.

Afghanistan received more attention in the 1980s because it developed as a country that was the rallying point for Islamists. Islam and Islamism in Afghanistan can be understood through an evaluation of the initial appearance of an Islamist movement within the country in the 1960s (Mendoza, n.d.). The salient aspects of the conventional structure of Afghanistan show that Islam played a crucial role in the development of this nation. While the Islamic experience has influenced and constrained the structure of the Afghan society, it has also been influenced by the structure of the country's society.

After the war on Afghanistan, there are huge concerns on the role of Islam in Afghan's society and the country's perspective on Islam. This is particularly because Islamists are trying to affect the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which is facing a daunting task of rebuilding a state and the legal system. Generally, Afghanistan can be considered as a nation with an Islamist perspective based on its historical foundations and the present demands. Afghanistan is a nation made up of almost completely Muslims as Islam saturates the Afghan life through offering a system of norms and foundation of social morality.

Afghanistan can also be regarded as a popular Islam state because the Islamic religion shapes daily life, populates language, enhances a cultural identity, and provides meaning to the population's experiences. Afghan's Islamist perspective is based on popular Islam concept which incorporates a global understanding of the religion as a system that directs goods and the belief that social and economic justice is ensured by obedience to several specific rules. The country's popular Islam perspective is also based on the inclusion of Islam of the village that is directed by a leader with monopoly of religious activity within the village.

As a result of its perspective on Islam, the Afghan society has become more Islamized despite of the violence characterizing the Taliban and Rabbani governments. Actually, the violence experienced by these governments has increased the political Islamization of Afghanistan. Moreover, the Afghan society is gradually shifting towards the ideology of fundamentalist Islam, which contributes to the turn down of the impact of Sufism. Unlike, fundamentalist Islam ideology, Sufism has historically been a moderating force that stresses the greater jihad i.e. spiritual striving rather than lesser jihad i.e. striving through fighting.

American Perspective on Islam:

As compared to other countries across the globe and in the Islamic world, America has a suspicious view of Islam since majority of the nation's population has an unfavorable impression of Islam. In the past few years, the American public has continued to express conflicting perspectives of Islam to an extent that favorable opinions over the religion have decreased since 2005 ("Public Remains Conflicted Over Islam," 2010). In the past two years, there have been relatively no changes in the percentage of Americans stating that Islam is likely to encourage violence than other religions.

Since 2002, America's perspective of Islam, particularly on the likelihood of the religion to encourage violence than other religions, has fluctuated. However, this perception is mainly attributed to the fact that many Americans know little about the religion. According to a study by Pew Research, many Americans who believe that Islam is likely to encourage violence have stated that they know absolutely nothing about the Muslim religion. Therefore, their perspective on the religion is misguided because it's not based on knowledge about the religion.

In addition to America's suspicious perspective of Islam, Americans also have a negative view of this religion. The negative perspective of Islam by America is… [END OF PREVIEW]

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