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Guide to unit III

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Lecture Guide #4

I. An Introduction to Islam

A. The Absolute Basics

B. On Mohammed

C. The Koran

D. Five Pillars of Islam

1. Declaration of Faith

2. Worship with Ritual Prostration

3. Charity

4. Fasting during Ramadan

5. Pilgrimage to Mecca

E. Sunnis & Shi'ites

F. Shi'ism and Iran

G. Summary

II. Iran (Persia) to the 1970s

A. Major Factors in Iranian History

B. Foreign Intervention & Influence

C. Opposition to Foreign Intervention

D. The 1906 Constitution

E. The Constitution Compromised

F. Autocratic Modernization

G. The Pahlavis and Islam

H. Summary

III. Opposition to the Shah and the Career of Khomeini

A. Opposition to the Shah

1. Tudeh party

2. Religious traditionalists

3. National Front (linked to Mossadeq)

B. Expressions of Opposition

C. Ruhollah Khomeini: Main Moments in His Life

D. Khomeini's Islamic Government

IV. The Iranian Islamic Revolution: Its Basic Contours

A. Conditions for the Revolution's Outbreak

B. Further Escalation in 1978

1. Cinema Fire

2. Black Friday

3. Expulsion of Khomeini from Iraq

C. The Shah's Collapse

V. From Revolution to Constitution

A. Unity of Opposition Unravels

B. Khomeini's return and Dual Power

C. For of the New Government

D. Towards a New Draft of the Constitution

E. Highlights of the Constitution

F. The Iran-Iraq War

VI. Constitutional Revision (1989)

A. Context: Multiple Centers of Power

B. Results

C. Revision of principle of velayet-e faqih

D. The Rushdie Affair as Distraction

Dynasties & Regimes of Iran

Qajar dynasty (1796-1925)

Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1978)

Reza Shah Pahlavi (ruled 1925-41)

Mohammed-Reza Shah Pahlavi (ruled 1941-79)

Islamic Republic (1979-present)

Faqih (Religious Leader)

Ruhollah Khomeini (Ayatollah), 1979-1989

Ali Khamenei (Ayatollah), 1989-
Presidents of Islamic Republic of Iran

Abul-Hasan Bani-Sadr, 1980-1981

Ali Khamenei (*), 1981-1989

Ali-Akbar Hasheni Rafsanjani (*), 1989-1997

Mohammed Khatami (*), 1997-2005

Mohammed Ahmadinejad, 2005-

(*) indicates presidents who were religious clerics

1501 Shi'ism established as official religion of Persian state

1891-92 Tobacco Rebellion (against British tobacco concession)

1905 Russo-Japanese war precipitates Revolution of 1905 in Russia

1906-11 Constitutional revolution in Iran

1907 Britain & Russia agreement carving Persia into spheres of influence

1921 Coup of Colonel Reza Khan leading to overthrow of Qajar dynasty in 1925

1941 Britain & USSR force Reza Shah from power, establish zones of influence

1951 Prime minister Mossadeq oversees nationalization of Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.

1953 Mossadeq forced from power American- & British-led coup

1957 Creation of domestic security apparatus, SAVAK

1963 Mohammed-Reza Shah's reform movement known as the "White Revolution"

1971 Mohammed-Reza celebrates 2500 years of Persian monarchy at Persepolis

1972 President Nixon authorizes sale of sophisticated US weapons (but not nukes) to Iran
1976 Nov Election of Jimmy Carter as US President

1977 Dec Carter visits Tehran & praises Shah's Iran as "island of stability"

1978 Jan Semi-official newspaper article harshly criticizing Khomeini

Massive demonstrations in response to article

Aug Fire in cinema in poor part of Tehran; almost 400 die

Sept Black Friday: Mass demonstrations in Tehran in defiance of martial law

Oct Expulsion of Khomeini from Iraq to France

Dec Regency gov't created by Shahpour Bakhtiar

1979 Jan Shah leaves Iran on "vacation," never to return

Feb Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran from France

Khomeini authorizes creation of provisional gov't under Mehdi Bazargan

Royalist forces fully defeated; Bakhtiar escapes to France

March Popular referendum on "Islamic Republic" on new form of gov't

May Formation of Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran)

Oct US finally admits Shah from Mexico

Nov Radical Islamic students take American embassy staff hostage

Dec Constitution of the Islamic Republic approved and goes into effect

1980 Feb Bani Sadr elected first President of Islamic Republic

April Disastrously unsuccessful US attempt to rescue embassy hostages

July Death of Shah in Egypt

Sept Iraq invades Iran, beginning eight-year war between the two states

Nov Ronald Reagan elected new American President (takes office Jan. 1981)

1981 Jan American embassy hostages finally released

(?) Islamic Dress Law requires veiling of women in public

June First President Bani-Sadr forced from office

Bomb explosion at headquarters of Islamic Republican Party, killing 80+ people

Attempted insurrection of Mojahedin against religious authorities

Oct Ali Khamenei becomes president of Iran, first cleric to hold that post

1982 May Iran recaptures Persian Gulf port Khorramshahr from Iraq

Sept Iran rejects favorable peace terms brokered by Saudi Arabia

1988 July Khomeini reluctantly agrees to UN Resolution to end war

1989 April Khomeini authorizes review & revision of constitution

June Death of Khomeini; succeeded as Faqih by Khamenei

July Amendment of the Iranian constitution

MOHAMMED, the Prophet (ca. 570-632). The Prophet of God who began to receive revelation in 610; in essence the "founder" of Islam; began to process of Islam's rapid spread through the Middle East & North Africa.

KHOMEINI, Ayatollah Ruhollah (1902-89). Relentless opponent of Pahlavi gov't from 1963; popularized idea of rule by a supreme Shiite jurist; guiding personality of the Islamic Republic.

MOHAMMED-REZA Shah (1919-1980). Second and last shah of Pahlavi dynasty (ruled 1941-79); launched ambitious reforms known as the "White Revolution" and sought to make Iran a major power in Middle East; forced out of country during the Islamic Revolution.

MOSSADEQ, Mohammed (1882-1967). Prime minister who oversaw the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951; overthrown by an American- and British-led coup in 1953.

REZA Shah (1878-1944). First shah of Pahlavi dynasty (ruled 1925-41); headed a coup in 1921 that led to overthrow of Qajar dynasty in 1925; forced to abdicate by British & Soviet forces in 1941.

Islam = "submission" (to God); Muslim = one who submits

Koran (or Qu'ran) = the revelation of God through the Angel Gabriel to Mohammed; the holy book of Islam

ulama (sing. alim) = learned class of religious & legal scholars in Islam

Mecca & Medina = holy sites in Islam, destinations for Muslim pilgrimage

hijra = "emigration," referring esp. to that of Prophet & companions from Mecca to Medina in 622 (starting point for Islamic calendar)

Fatiha = "The Opening," the first chapter of the Koran, frequently uttered in many contexts

hajj = "pilgrimage" to Mecca, in principle an obligation of each Muslim once in life.

Ramadan = holy month of fasting, when Koran was first revealed

Shi'a = "party," "faction" or "sect." Shi'ism denotes several sectarian divisions in Islam, the most common feature of which is that their adherents attribute special political & religious authority to descendents of the Prophet Mohammed. Adherents = Shiites or Shias.

Sunni = other major sect in Islam, making up the majority.

Imam = a leader of prayer; in Twelver Shi'ism the term denotes the 12 individuals regarded as the successive legitimate, sinless, and infallible leaders of the religious community.

mujtahid = an Islamic religious scholar who has competence to practice ijtihad (independent judgment on religious matters).

Ayatollah ("sign of God") = honorary title of high-ranking Shia religious authority in Iran (in effect an especially revered mujtahid or imam)

faqih = one who has mastered sources & methods of jurisprudence to determine Islamic religious law (sharia)

fatva (fatwa) = written opinion of an Islamic religious scholar

Persia = Greek name for Iran, used by most westerners until the 1930s

Tehran = capital of Iran

Majles = Iranian parliament created in 1906 (roughly akin to Russian Duma)

SAVAK = Iranian domestic security apparatus, created in 1957

Tudeh Party = Iranian communist party, although it included secular leftists of various stripes. Contributed to victory in the revolution, but later outlawed by the Islamic Republic in 1983.

Mojahedin = Islamic Marxists, originating among religious wing of National Front. Contributed to the revolution, but later went into opposition against the Islamic government of Khomeini.

Islamic Government = Khomeini's 1970 lectures in Najaf (Iraq), transcribed and published in Iran and elsewhere

Velayat-e faqih = key concept developed by Khomeini proposing that legitimate political authority may be held by a meritorious Shiite religious scholar (faqih = one who has mastered the sources & methods of jurisprudence needed to interpret Islamic religious law).

Islamic Republican Party (IRP) = a party formed by various clerics close to Khomeini that became one of the real centers of political power in the Islamic Republic.

Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) = an armed force created in May 1979 designed to deal with threats to the revolution, mostly on the basis of existing militia groups like Hezbollahis.

Pahlavi dynasty

Reza Shah (1925-1941)

Mohammed-Reza Shah


Koran (Qur'an)

Mohammed (the Prophet)

Mecca & Medina









Constitutional revolution


Anglo-Iranian Oil Company

Mohammed Mossadeq

National Front

Autocratic modernization

"White Revolution"


Rastakhiz (Resurgence) party

Ali Shariati

Ruhollah Khomeini

Islamic Government

Velayat-e faqih

Tudeh Party


President Jimmy Carter

Black Friday (8 Sept 1978)

Islamic Revolutionary Council

Islamic Republican Party

Revolutionary Guards

Mehdi Bazargan

American embassy hostages

Constitution of the Islamic Republic

Assembly of Experts


Guardian Council

H. A. Khamenei

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Constitutional revision (1989)

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